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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.

U.S. Court of Appeals delays WOTUS rule nationwide By Julie Ufner

A federal appeals court has ordered the Environmental Protec- tion Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to temporarily delay the nationwide adoption of the “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. Te order, from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, was in

response to challenges brought by 18 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mis- sissippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Ten- nessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. While numerous WOTUS cases have been filed by 31 states and private par- ties in separate district courts, it was recently de- cided that all state challenges would be consolidated at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals for review. In their deci- sion, two of the three

their claims” and order the rule to be “STAYED, nation- wide, pending further order of the court.”

T appeals

court judges held that the states bringing the chal- lenges “have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims” and ordered the rule to be, “STAYED, nationwide, pending further order of the court.” However, in the coming weeks, the court must determine whether it has the au- thority to hear the case. Te Oct. 9 ruling comes after a separate decision, Aug. 27,

by the U.S. District Court of North Dakota to delay the rule in 13 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Mis- souri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Prior to this latest court ruling, however, EPA and the Corps

were still legally allowed to implement the final rule in the re- maining 37 states. In a related but separate development, on Oct. 13, the U.S.

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied the federal gov- ernment’s request to consolidate the various non-state generated lawsuits filed against the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers on the rule. Tis development only increases the complexity, and likely lengthens the time frame, of the judicial consideration of this rule.

State of Play in Congress

On May 12, the House passed the Regulatory Integrity Protec- COUNTY LINES, FALL 2015

See “NACO” on Page 50 >>> 49

tion Act of 2015 (H.R. 1732) by a vote of 261–155. It would withdraw the final rule and require the agencies to restart the rule-making process, inclusive of state and local governments. Te U.S. Senate has a similar bill, the Federal Water Quality

Protection Act (S. 1140). Te measure would also require the agencies to redo the “waters of the U.S.” rule-making process. It also includes a set of principles the agencies should consider when rewriting the rule, including the types of ditches that should be exempt. Te proposal passed out of committee and is currently waiting for floor consideration. Te Senate could also take up S.J. Res. 22, a joint resolution

expressing congressional disapproval for the rule. Te resolution currently has 49 cosponsors.

Although it

wo of the three appeals court judges held that the states bringing the challenges “have demonstrated a substantial possiblity of success on the merits of

remains unclear how Congress will proceed with fi- nalizing its FY16 appropriations process, both the House and the Senate FY16 In- terior,

ment, and Related Agencies

stop the final “waters of the U.S.” rule from being implemented.

Rising rates likely to impact county finances By Joel Griffith Rock-bottom interest rates and easy money may be coming to an end, as the Federal Reserve prepares to hike rates as early as De- cember 2015. Long-term interest rates have remained historically low for an unprecedented stretch of time. Take a look at the 10- year Trea sury rate, typically considered the standard reflection of a risk-free rate of return. After rarely dipping below 4 percent over the prior five decades, rates plunged to 2 1/2 percent during the financial crisis. Now, six years into the recovery, the rate remains stuck in a narrow range just under 2 1/2 percent. Likewise, the effective federal funds rate which indirectly influences debt pricing nationally, rapidly dropped to near zero in late 2008 in the midst of the financial meltdown. For seven years, it has barely budged.

Unemployment Trending Down

Employment growth remains subdued compared to past recover ies; however, persistent jobs growth combined with a

Environ- appro-

priations bills con- tains language to

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