Recently, county government leaders in North Carolina got together to set the “Legislative Agenda” for counties across the state for the fiscal year 2023-2024. That agenda is really a “wish list” presented to state and federal elected officials that includes proposed law changes, new programs, funding requests and other things that the counties would like to see come to pass in the coming fiscal year.

This year, NC Governor Roy Cooper, NC Senator Lisa Barnes and Department of Public Safety Secretary Eddie Buffaloe Jr. addressed the county leaders at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) Legislative Goals Conference, which was held on Wednesday, Nov. 16 and Thursday, Nov. 17 in Wake County.

Guilford County was represented by District 6 Commissioner James Upchurch, who had to remotely take part in a Guilford County Board of Commissioners Thursday, Nov. 17 meeting since he was in Raleigh that night.

The NCACC is the official voice of all 100 counties in the state on issues being considered by the NC General Assembly, the US Congress and federal and state agencies.

The Association provides advocacy, research, education and leadership training to elected county officials and county government administrators.

At this year’s conference in Raleigh, following remarks by NCACC President and Washington County Board Chair Tracey Johnson, county commissioners from across North Carolina voted to finalize the NCACC’s legislative goals, which, each year, guide the Association’s advocacy efforts.

Governor Cooper had some encouraging words for county leaders.

“County commissioners help make our state a stronger place to live, learn, work and raise a family,” he told them at the conference. “By leveraging new federal funds, we’re working together to ensure more North Carolinians have access to health care, high-speed internet access and resilient infrastructure.”

NCACC President Johnson spoke on the importance of collaboration in the legislative goals process.

“This is a great opportunity to learn about why these goals are important to counties, directly from fellow commissioners,” Johnson said. “The proposals we approve during this conference will provide direction for our advocacy efforts for the next two years – and, because of this process, we are able to speak with the voice of all 100 counties.”

The Legislative Goals Conference is the final step in a process that allows all counties in the state an opportunity to shape the NCACC’s legislative agenda once every two years.

As approved at the conference, the NCACC’s top priorities for 2023-2024 are as follows:

• “Seek legislation, funding, and other efforts to expand digital infrastructure/broadband capability to the unserved and under-served areas and residents of the state.” (Both the Guilford County commissioners and the NCACC have made this goal a big point of emphasis in recent years.)

• “Seek additional revenue sources to address statewide public school and community college capital needs and ensure methods used to distribute school capital funding considers the needs of both low-wealth and growing counties.”

• Revisions to laws and rules that will allow for more access to counties and allow “for faster school construction to include allowing projects that have not previously been awarded a grant to commence and remain eligible for future grant application periods.”

• Support for the state’s expansion of Medicaid. There are many other items as well on the wish list that will be given to state and federal elected leaders.

Photo above courtesy Chris Baucom/NCACC.