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News State / Region Commissioners lobby for legislative changes

Macon County’s “place at the table” is strengthened by two commissioners on the North Carolina Association of County Commisioners Legislative Goals and Executive Committees that met last week in Raleigh.Corbin and Beale travel to Raleigh to prioritize goals.

Macon County Commissioners Kevin Corbin and Ronnie Beale spent last week in Raleigh lobbying for changes to be made at the local level of government.

Corbin was selected as one of about 30 county commissioners throughout all 100 counties in the state to be a member of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) Legislative Goals Committee.

The Legislative Goals Committee is newly appointed every two years by the NCACC president. Members are selected to assure balance with respect to political affiliation, county population, race, gender and other demographic characteristics. Members of the committee are charged with working to narrow down the NCACC's legislative goals for each year.

The NCACC's legislative goals are broken down into seven categories: Agriculture, Environment, Health and Human Services, Intergovernmental Relations, Justice and Public Safety, Public Education, and Tax and Finance. "We were responsible for taking a large list from commissioners throughout all 100 counties and classifying them into one of the seven categories and then narrowing down which goals are the most pressing for the upcoming year," explained Corbin.

“The NCACC's legislative goals process is thoughtful, deliberative, inclusive and fair,” states the organization’s mission statement. “The investment of time and energy, and value of full discourse, strengthens our association as we navigate the legislative currents. The process is designed to create an informed grassroots organization and to build a cohesiveness of purpose within the organization that, in turn, grants a degree of credibility to the association that is unique.”

The goals identified by the NCACC become the main focus of local governmental lobbyists who work to protect the local level of government.

According to Corbin, all 100 counties submit individual goals to the NCACC, and then as elected members to the Legislative Goals Committee, he and his colleagues were charged with the task of identifying the top goals and narrowing down the list, which was then sent to the NCACC Executive Committee.

Macon County has a unique advantage in the NCACC, because not only is Corbin a voice in the decision making, Commissioner Ronnie Beale was elected as the First Vice President, and is one of six individuals in the state who lead the group.

After the Legislative Goals Committee narrowed the list significantly, the Executive Committee is charged with taking that list and identifying the top five goals and priorities of the NCACC. Those five goals become the NCACC's main focus when lobbying to elected officials on the state level.

With the help of both Corbin and Beale, the NCACC declared that the five most pressing issues that the NCACC wanted to lobby for this year in Raleigh were: 1) Oppose shift of state transportation responsibilities to counties. 2) Reinstate Average Daily Membership [regarding state allocated funds based on school attendance] and lottery funds for school construction. 3) Oppose unfunded mandates and shifts of state responsibilities to counties. 4) Preserve the existing local revenue base. 5) Ensure adequate mental health funding.

"Both the Legislative Goals and Executive Committees worked across party lines to identify these five goals as being the most important focus going into this legislative year," said Corbin. "In addition to the NCACC lobbying as a whole to see that these things get done, as county commissioners we plan to take these goals to our local representatives in both the House and Senate and encourage them to work with us."

One goal that Corbin said he personally spoke up for, but was unable to gain support from other members of the committee was the proposed education goal that asked the state to restore local control of the school calendar. "I encouraged my colleagues to support legislation that would restore control of the local school calendar to local board of education," explained Corbin. "But unfortunately, while this issue is a problem we face in Macon County, it was not a collective concern felt by the majority of the members."

According to Corbin, he believes that the work down by the overall is extremely productive and gives county commissioners a huge advantage when it comes to the decisions made in Raleigh.

"We really are a huge lobbying force and the way we develop the goals is healthy, informative debate that is always driven with the best interest of our citizens in mind."

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