» » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » FCC halts efforts to cap

About NACo – The Voice of America’s Counties National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the U.S. NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 coun- ties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing inno- vative solutions through education and research and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.

inmate phone call rates in county jails

By Jacob Terrell Te Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has halted its efforts to cap the rates that inmates pay when placing phone calls from jails and prisons. In 2015, the FCC had implemented rules that capped the rates

paid by inmates to between 14 cents and 22 cents per minute. Tis rule was later challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals by prison phone companies who claimed the FCC did not have the authority to cap prices for inmate calls. However, as the FCC’s lawyers were in the process of defending the commission’s position, two of the three sitting Democrat com- missioners on the five-person commission vacated their seats leav- ing a new Republican majority that did not support the rate caps. Since the new majority has been in place, a letter was sent to

the U.S. Court of Appeals stating that the FCC would no lon- ger defend its previous position defending the implementation of rate caps for phone calls placed by inmates. Te case, though, is not over. Although the FCC is sitting on

the sidelines, the court case has continued in a hearing earlier this month at the D.C. Court of Appeals. A portion of the profits made by companies that provide phone

services in jails are returned to the jail as “commissions.” As a re- sult, this revenue can directly impact county jail operating budgets. According to the National Sheriffs’ Association, whose mem- bers operate approximately 80 percent of the nation’s jails, jails incur significant costs in providing phone services to inmates due to factors ranging from taking security measures to ensure that phone calls aren’t used to engage in criminal activities to record- ing and storing phone calls to be provided to the courts.

House moves to kill election-security agency

Te U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on House Ad- ministration voted 6–3 along party lines to advance the Election Assistance Commission Termination Act (H.R. 634). H.R. 634 would eliminate the Election Assistance Commis- sion (EAC), an independent, bipartisan agency created to help states secure their voting systems and the only agency responsible for making sure voting machines cannot be hacked. After the 2000 presidential election, EAC was directed to

convey federal help to states to update and improve their vot- ing systems. In recent years, EAC’s top responsibilities have been to ensure elections are accessible to all individuals, develop and promote election best practices and allocate funds for elections


technologies. While H.R. 634 aims to eliminate the EAC, it does not propose new agencies to take care of its responsibilities. In response to the vote, several voting rights organizations have

expressed concerns to the committee about the security of the United States’ election system and public confidence in the general election system. Tese concerns have been heightened due to pos- sible foreign interference in the recent U.S. presidential election. H.R. 634 will now move to the full House for a vote. County officials are traditionally responsible for overseeing the allocation of voting machines, managing polling locations and ensuring the integrity and efficiency of the voting process in partnership with federal, state and other local election officials. Counties take deliberate steps to ensure the security of voting systems, from ensuring that voting machines are not connected to the internet or to each other to establishing a specific chain of custody for voting records. Before the 2016 presidential election, NACo released a new fact sheet on the role counties play in administering and ensuring the integrity of America’s election process. It can be viewed online at

Drones: latest technology on county radar

By Kevan Stone In 1783, the first hot-air balloon was launched and mankind

could finally touch the sky. 1903 saw the famous Wright Broth- ers flight and the first helicopter flight soon followed in 1907. It stayed that way for nearly a century. Eventually, we began to hear of the U.S. military using something called a “drone” to conduct reconnaissance and eventually military warfare campaigns across the world. It was indeed a brave new world. Fast forward to today, and we find ourselves welcoming the

first new aerial technology in nearly a century. A technology that anyone can own. While manned aircraft was exorbitantly expen- sive to purchase, an unmanned aerial system or UAS — AKA “drone” — is not. While this brings a wealth of opportunity for local governments, it also brings with it many new challenges. Counties have been using drone technology for public safety and

infrastructure inspection. Going where man cannot without danger is a vital resource local governments have been quick to embrace. Instead of asking someone to enter a burning building to search for endangered citizens or asking a county engineer to strap on a harness and check out that bridge, drones can perform this task just as well with no risk of injury.

See “NACO” on Page 50 >>> 49

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