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Understanding us, charting the path to better county government

people acted as one and served as the catalyst for any monumental change. Are there individual leaders? Of course. And followers? Certainly. Are there differing opinions in regards to the solution or plan of action? Absolutely. However, our differences, how we embrace them and how we mingle diverse perceptions into a plan define our successes and failures. Tis has been true in our country since the Constitutional Con-


vention met in May 1787 in Philadelphia to draft the U.S. Consti- tution. It remains true today and this rule of thought will continue to be evident in AAC’s legislative guiding principals, strategy and advocacy. Stuart Scott, an ESPN anchor and cancer fighter, re- cently quoted Arthur Ashe during the ESPY awards as he accepted Ashe’s Courage Award. Ashe said the following about community and public service, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” I think those statements are a good cognitive map for understanding us and devising our plan.

Legislative Methodology — Start Where You Are Te AAC legislative process mimics our organizational structure as a whole. Our member associations — all nine constitutionally elected county officials — have representation on the AAC board of directors. Tose member associations also have representation, a voice and votes on the AAC Legislative Committee. We function as a fully democratic body with a commitment to better and more efficient county government in our DNA. In the last several months as I have networked with legislators, state agency staffers, lobbyists and political party leaders I have learned that AAC has traditionally been perceived as a Democratic organization. Some even said a bureaucratic organization. Tat perception exists, and you don’t go asking questions unless you are willing to listen and implement lessons learned from the feedback. One of my main goals is to put that perception to rest, and to bolster what AAC really is. We are an “A” political and growing organization, and we are entrenched in ensuring that growth is in line with our mission of serving counties and Arkansans to the best of our ability. We pursue this mission in several facets.

Understand Your Toolkit — Use What You Have Our membership boasts savvy members from both sides of the aisle. We thrive on their ability to boil down the issues before them and leave their party affiliation out of the proposed solutions that rise from the dust. Tis process is front and center when our committee and board decide on policy. But in the same breath, we also expect them to bring their party’s perception to the table when we discuss the challenges or legislative adversity before us. Let me touch on that again. We encourage opinions from both sides when trying to best understand the issues; however, we don’t expect those affiliations to be a factor in forming the best policy


oalitions of people make things happen. Don’t you agree?

All significant movements in our culture and soci- ety have one common denominator — a coalition of

for counties and Arkansans at the end of the conversation. Elaborate lobbying is not in our leg-

islative quiver. Our most valuable tool is our ability to provide lawmakers with great information from the division of state government closest to the people. County officials are reliable and expert sources for legislative foreshadowing for proposed legislation on topics from 911 services to elections and from prisons to criminal justice reform. We cover a lot of ground in our counties for our citizens on behalf of the state and those practi- cal experiences make us knowledgeable points of contact when legislators dive into changing, modernizing or repealing state law. Our information is our most valuable tool. I think our knowledge is one of our most unique and exciting charac- teristics. Tis fact will continue to position us very nicely as a conduit in the legislative process in the 90th Arkansas General Assembly.

Legislative Advocacy — Do What You Can AAC member associations are in the process of cultivating and

strengthening their respective legislative committees and teams. Our focus remains to increase the number of county officials who are engaged with their state legislators and state agencies. As we go down that road, we are actively seeking stronger relationships and partnerships with lawmakers and state leadership. It is no sur- prise we can accomplish this through increased communications — proactive and reactive — with our senators and representatives. We aim to learn more about all of them in an effort to dynami- cally serve our constituents. Member associations have also final- ized their proposed legislation for the 90th General Assembly to be approved by the legislative committee and ultimately the board of directors. Te AAC draft legislative package’s underlying theme is modernization. We think that trend will hold true in many others’ legislative efforts during the next regular session as well. Significant challenges face our state, and legislative direction and potential ef- forts for reform will soon be before the General Assembly. Te fate of the Private Option, likely surplus revenue allocation and ap- propriations, criminal justice reform, 911 modernization, teacher health insurance, broadband and elections will top the highlights for the 90th, and let’s not forget a new governor will occupy the north wing of the Capitol. Tis three-part road map explains our recent exercise in under- standing where AAC was legislatively and the dynamics and power of our resources. Now that we fully understand where we are and what we have, it is time to do what we can. We welcome the ensuing activity of pre-session conversations and debate and are pleased to be in the conversation. We look forward to impactful partnerships. Our doors are always open to helping Arkansans make our state better. 75 counties. One voice.


Legislative lines

Scott perkins Communications Director

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