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May 26

Cruickshank becomes president of western counties group

Posted on May 26, 2015 at 4:44 PM by Kristin Cundiff

WASHINGTON, D.C.Valley County, Idaho Commission Chairman Gordon Cruickshank was sworn in on May 22 as president of the Western Interstate Region (WIR), a regional affiliate of the National Association of Counties (NACo).  During his swearing-in at NACo’s WIR conference in Kauai County, Hawaii, Cruickshank spoke of his commitment to be a strong voice for county policy priorities at the federal level.

“NACo’s Western Interstate Region plays a key role in shaping federal policies that directly affect Valley County and other counties across the country,” said Cruickshank.  “I’m proud to represent western counties and advocate for policies that help to improve the quality of life for our residents.”

With critical legislative and regulatory issues being debated in the nation’s capital, county leaders at the conference discussed issues particularly important to western communities. These issues included:

Earlier this month, Cruickshank testified on behalf of NACo before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.  He provided his expertise on species conservation and impacts of the Endangered Species Act on counties nationwide.      

WIR’s membership consists of counties in 15 western states: Alaska, Hawaii, Wash., Ore., Calif., Idaho, Nev., Ariz., Mont., Wyo., Colo., N.M., Utah, N.D. and S.D.  For more information about WIR, visit:

May 06

County commissioner testifies on potential improvements to Endangered Species Act

Posted on May 6, 2015 at 11:18 AM by Mindy Linn



CONTACT: Brian Namey,, 202.942.4220
County commissioner testifies on potential

improvements to Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Counties (NACo) Western Interstate Region First Vice President Gordon Cruickshank today was on Capitol Hill to offer his expertise on species conservation efforts and impacts of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on counties. He provided insights from counties nationwide on how the Act could be improved to achieve shared goals of environmental protection and responsible land use.

Cruickshank, commissioner chair, Valley County, Idaho, testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at a hearing entitled, “Fish and Wildlife Service: The President’s FY2016 budget request for the Fish and Wildlife Service and legislative hearing on Endangered Species bills.”

“Healthy, safe and vibrant communities cannot exist without
healthy ecosystems and safe environmental conditions,” said Cruickshank. “ESA impacts on counties and residents are far-reaching. That’s why we must have a seat at the table as decision-makers in conservation efforts.”

Speaking on behalf of NACo, Cruickshank outlined for the committee four main points, including:

  • Counties support safeguarding our nation’s wildlife, fish and plants

  • ESA decisions must consider economic along with species impacts

  • Federal agencies can help to alleviate local financial costs of ESA compliance, and

  • Stronger intergovernmental collaboration would benefit ESA conservation efforts and litigation.

    “When counties, states and the federal government work together, we can achieve a balance between species conservation and responsible land use,” said Cruickshank. “ESA decisions must consider economic impacts along with species impacts, and federal agencies should work with counties to minimize the financial costs of ESA compliance.”

    Commissioner Cruickshanks Testimony.

  • To read Cruickshank’s testimony and for more information, visit ###

    The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo assists America’s 3,069 counties in pursuing excellence in public service to produce healthy, vibrant, safe and resilient counties. NACo promotes sound public policies, fosters county solutions and innovation, promotes intergovernmental and public-private collaboration and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. More information at:


Mar 27

House Extends Secure Rural Schools, Health Care Programs

Posted on March 27, 2015 at 10:13 AM by Mindy Linn

House Extends Secure Rural Schools, Health Care Programs
Thank you for contacting your Representatives! Today, March 26, 2015, your voices were heard as the House overwhelmingly passed legislation that reauthorizes the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program for Fiscal Years (FY) 2014 and 2015, extends the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other health care programs. The bill, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2) passed by a vote of 392-37. To see how your member voted click here, and please remember to thank them for supporting Secure Rural Schools and county health care priorities.
Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Extension
The legislation provides two years of critical SRS funding to rural counties and school districts affected by the decline in revenue from timber harvests on federal lands. It authorizes $500 million to support local schools, roads, law enforcement and other critical services in more than 720 counties and 4,000 school districts in 41 states. H.R. 2 also includes measures to expedite SRS payments to counties by requiring the federal government to make SRS payments within 45 days of the bill's enactment and provides greater flexibility for how a county may elect to spend SRS funds.
Without SRS funding, counties and school districts would be forced to terminate employees, cancel teacher contracts, stop construction on critical infrastructure and reduce many other services.
Medicare and the Health Care Programs
H.R. 2 would permanently correct the formula by which physicians are paid under Medicare, the federal health insurance program for Americans over 65. In addition, the bill extends a number of health and human services programs that counties use to maintain their local health care systems including the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Community Health Centers, National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program—all by two years. It also permanently extends the Qualifying Individuals and Transitional Medical Assistance Programs benefitting low-income beneficiaries. In addition, it delays scheduled reductions to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments by one year. DSH supports county hospitals and others serving a disproportionate share of Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured.
Senate Passage Needed
H.R. 2 must now be taken up by the U.S. Senate. Given procedural and time constraints, if the Senate is unable to pass H.R. 2 by unanimous consent before the two-week Spring recess begins, they will have to take it up after session resumes on April 14, 2015. 
Check out NACo Resources on These Issues:            
For questions regarding the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, please contact NACo's Associate Legislative Director Chris Marklund at or 202.942.4207.  For questions regarding Medicare and health care programs, please contact NACo's Associate Legislative Director Brian Bowden at or 202.942.4275