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Bills, bills, bills

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By sakhan, on May 23, 2012

With the 2012 Legislative short session in full gear, I’ve had plenty to keep my hands full the past week. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to shadow our Director of Government Relations, Kevin Leonard, as he made his rounds around both the House and the Senate.  In doing so, I realized the numerous different policy areas that NCACC juggles at any given time. While the Association has an extensive Legislative Goals Process that leads to the adoption of the legislative goals for each year, there are a number of issues that can arise spontaneously.  Understanding which are worth pursuit is what makes this process exciting. For the current Legislative Short Session, NCACC has three priorities it is focusing on:

  1. The State Budget- Specifically, increasing county lottery funds and restoring mental health funding
  2. Allow human services administrative flexibility (with a bill now better known as S433)
  3. Authorize county broadband/public-private partnerships

Over the past week, I have become increasingly familiar with these three issues and perhaps more importantly, I have seen the results of cooperation amongst counties to pursue common goals. During NCACC’s legislative goals process, all chosen goals must be approved by all member counties. Every county may not necessarily have a vested interest in each goal, but if they oppose one, it will not be selected. Given the fact that boards of county commissioners can range in the spectrum of political ideologies, I imagined this to be an impossible task. Yet, NCACC exited its last legislative goals conference with a list of 54 goals. Beyond anything, this showcases the potential we have in government to move beyond partisanship and agree to mutual goals.

Next Wednesday, NCACC will host County Assembly Day where county commissioners and staff from across North Carolina will convene on the General Assembly to showcase their united front for the aforementioned issues. They will be provided with tips and suggestions for interacting with their legislators in hopes of reaching these goals.

As far as my fellowship project, we’re moving forward with dates set for our first set of focus groups, to be held with current MPA students. We’ll be hosting two focus groups- June 4th in Raleigh and June 6th in Durham, to understand the perspectives of current MPA students about post-graduate fellowships. I’m looking forward to not only hearing the perspectives of fellow students, but also of gaining the experience of facilitation with focus groups. The next few weeks are gearing up to be exciting, but I’m certainly ready to keep moving forward!

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