, Muskogee, OK

November 19, 2012

Payne learns ways to improve rural life

District 3 commissioner attends national conference

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— District 3 Commissioner Dexter Payne took part in a national organization made up of county officials to shape legislative priorities at the state and federal level.

Payne met three days with colleagues from around the country who met as representatives of the National Association of Counties’ rural action caucus. The group, which met a week ago in St. Landry Parish, La., hammered out its legislative priorities for the coming year.

Those priorities are shaped by the “needs and concerns of rural America.” Payne and other caucus members also discussed ways they could influence federal legislation, regulations and funding that affects county programs and services.

Topics that came to the forefront during this year’s caucus meeting included a reauthorization of the farm bill and federal surface transportation along with rural health care and development funding. Caucus members also discussed the so-called fiscal cliff, the automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect Jan. 2 if Congress fails to pass a comprehensive revenue and spending plan.

“It’s important that leaders representing the nation’s counties work closely with our partners in state and federal governments to promote economic growth and find practical solutions to our common challenges,” Payne said. “Working through NACo’s rural action caucus is an important part of our efforts here in Muskogee County to try to improve the lives of families living in rural communities.”

Payne said the caucus, a bipartisan coalition of county elected officials, serves as a voice in Washington for rural communities. It serves not only as an advocacy arm of NACo, it also “serves as a conduit for technical and programmatic assistance” through the organization’s solutions and innovations division.

The legislative agenda assembled this year in Louisiana will be presented to congressional leaders and key members of the president’s administration.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot