Long Beach, CA. – The National Association of Counties (NACo) held their Annual Conference this month in Long Beach, California. During the conference, NACo members adopted a new American County Platform, passed resolutions, and announced their 2016/2017 Leadership and Steering Committee Appointments. Supervisor Buster Johnson was named as one of the Vice-Chairs of NACO’s Information Technology Standing Committee, and also had two resolutions adopted as part of NACo’s national American County Platform along with one resolution on Uranium Mining being accepted. According to NACo, their County Platform is their permanent policy documents whereas resolutions must be written and adopted every year. NACo’s IT Standing Committee, originally called NACo’s Cyber Security Task Force, was launched in 2012 as a public/private partnership to protect county government networks and residents from online computer crime. “With today’s advancing technology, it is important that county officials understand the importance of cyber security,” Supervisor Johnson stated. “Counties are a crucial resource when it comes to public information and information sharing which makes it so important for counties to ensure the taxpayer’s information is secure and safe,” Johnson continued. Supervisor Johnson is also a member of NACo’s Public Lands Steering Committee and sponsored two resolutions dealing with Public Lands. The first resolution he sponsored was in support of the Historic Routes Preservation Act, which is a bipartisan bill that would provide an administrative means for the federal government to confirm rights-of-way on public lands administered by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture. NACo’s National County Platform has always taken a stance on supporting the maintenance and enhancement of public access to public lands. Instead of adopting the resolution, NACo included the language for the resolution in their overall County Platform. “This is a major accomplishment,” Johnson stated. “Not all resolutions end up apart of the overall County platform. By adding into the platform, it shows that the overall voice of counties throughout the nation support preserving our historical right of ways,” Johnson continued. Another resolutions sponsored by Supervisor Johnson, which passed unanimously during the Conference, was in support of uranium activities. In 2012, the Secretary of Interior, withdrew one million acres of the nation’s highest grade uranium ores from mineral entry in Northern Arizona. According to a report by the American Clean Energy Resource Trust, this was a $29 billion hit to local economies in Mohave County and in Southern Utah. “This ban took away much needed jobs from our area. Uranium mining would have brought in nearly 1,078 new jobs to the Arizona strip area with a $40 million annual payroll,” Johnson explained. Included in the NACo platform was also language requiring full coordination with locally affected interests when it came to national monument designations and full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. “Without full funding for PILT, Arizona counties will be forced to shift federal responsibilities to local tax payers or drastically cut essential services such as education, law enforcement, and road maintenance,” Johnson stated. During FY15, Mohave County received roughly … Continue Reading →
Lake Havasu City, AZ – Congressman Paul Cook from California’s 8th Congressional District introduced HR 4313, the Historic Routes Preservation Act. This bipartisan bill provides an administrative means for the federal government to confirm rights-of-way on public lands administered by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture. “This bill has been a long time coming and has taken countless hours of work by our Lobbyist Robert Weidner and Gerry Hiller, the Executive Director of QuadState Local Governments Authority,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. “Robert Weidner and Gerry Hiller did the heavy lifting in DC meeting with Congressional staff and legislators to explain and garner support,” Johnson continued. Supervisor Buster Johnson was instrumental in advocating a bill introduced yesterday in Congress to protect Mohave County’s historic roads and rights of way across federal lands in the county and public lands throughout the west. For years counties, like Mohave, have owned and maintained roads across federal lands only to find out recently that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maps do not reflect County ownership, control or maintenance. Amazingly, BLM Master Title Plats do not reflect the existence of Route 66, one of America’s treasured landmarks. Supervisor Johnson decided to recommend legislation to include process changes in public lands management which were picked up by our friend across the Colorado River, California Congressman Paul Cook (R) who represents the California Desert Counties. At home, Johnson was key in answering questions raised by Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick as she considered whether to be the lead Democrat promoting the bill in Congress. “I was happy to advocate this proposal to Congresswoman Kirkpatrick and her staff and urge that she sign on to the bill on behalf of counties across Arizona, and I am pleased that what I told her helped resolve her questions,” Johnson explained “As a bipartisan bill, the measure has a much better chance of receiving fair consideration from both sides in Congress,” Johnson added. According to Johnson, HR 4313 creates no mandatory financial obligation for counties. “Counties will have the option to voluntarily use this piece of legislation to benefit them or not,” Johnson stated. “For those who do take advantage of this legislation, the burden of proof to have a right-of-way recognized under this bill will be with the governmental unit that files and administrative costs to the federal government should be minimal. The savings seen by counties will far outweigh any administrative costs,” Johnson continued. “The fact is that if this bill were the law of the land, counties like Mohave would save millions and the BLM would have to recognize that roads that are actually in existence by any normal measure of that standard, do in fact, exist and rightfully belong to the counties” Johnson concluded. To read the entire context of HR 4313 please click here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114hr4313ih/pdf/BILLS-114hr4313ih.pdf HR 4313 has been assigned to the House Committee on Natural Resources.