Spring 2018 County Lines

Page 1

The Official Publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties

County Lines SPRING 2018

United We Stand Page 28

Update on opioid litigation Page 22


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In This Issue SPRING 2018

Features State launches opioid web portal for physicians........................11 Cover Story: United We Stand......................................................28 New system to standardize death reporting...............................32 Justice Bridge saving jails money, reducing liability..................36 Lawrence County’s ’dream’ is realized.........................................37 Craighead County sheriff honored by national group................38 Rising from the ashes......................................................................39 AAC Staff Profile: Johnna Hoffman...............................................52

Inside Look Annual conference information and registration.....................33 Coroners talk substance abuse, profiling at meeting................43 Division of Rural Services conference held in May.....................44 More than 90 attend AACRMS safety conference....................45 Collectors talk veterans’ disabilities, budgeting.........................46 AAQC 75-member board holds its April meeting.......................47

Treasurers discuss 911 funding, property tax relief...................48 Elections, Voter ID on county clerks’ spring agenda...................49 Logan County plays host to assessors..........................................50

Departments From the Director’s Desk...................................................................7 President’s Perspective.....................................................................9 From the Governor............................................................................11 Research Corner...............................................................................12 Governmental Affairs.......................................................................15 Legal Corner.......................................................................................16 Seems to Me..................................................................................... 19 Litigation Lessons.............................................................................22 County Law Update...........................................................................24 Savings Times 2................................................................................25 Law Clerk Update..............................................................................26 NACo News Update...........................................................................53


Cover Notes: Counties, cities, state announce opioid litigation

From left to right, AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, Attorney Jerome Tapley, Arkansas Municipal League Executive Director Don Zimmerman, and Mike Rainwater of Rainwater Holt and Sexton answer questions from the media following a March 21 news conference on the state Capitol steps. — Photo by Christy L. Smith


(Cover photo courtesy of Stone Ward)

n March 15, 2018, a coalition of cities and counties, along with the state of Arkansas, filed a lawsuit in Crittenden County Circuit Court against almost 60 opioid manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. The litigation argues, among other things, that opioid makers were grossly negligent, caused a public nuisance, and endangered the public health, welfare, and safety of Arkansans. The suit asks that the opioid industry be held responsible for paying for the prevention, education, and treatment programs necessary to alleviate the state’s opioid epidemic. Arkansas experiences more than 400 fatal overdoses a year, an increase of nearly 300 percent since 2000 that coincides with opioid sales quadrupling. Arkansas also has the second highest opioid prescribing rate — behind Alabama — in the nation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It is hard to find anyone who hasn’t felt the effects of an opioid addiction from family, friends or even in themselves,” Arkansas State Drug Director Kirk Lane said in a news release distributed at a March 21, 2018, news conference announcing the litigation. Turn to page 22 for an update on the lawsuit. Beginning on page 28, we offer an overview of the March 21 news conference.




2018 June 12-15 Assessors Inn of the Ozarks, Eureka Springs June 13-15 Circuit Clerks Hilton Garden Inn, Conway June 20-21 Coroners Fairfield Inn & Suites, Benton


Mission Statement: The Association of Arkansas Counties

he Association of Arkansas Counties supports and promotes the idea that all elected officials must have the opportunity to act together in order to solve mutual problems as a unified group. To further this goal, the Association of Arkansas Counties is committed to providing a single source of cooperative support and information for all counties and county and district officials. The overall purpose of the Association of Arkansas Counties is to work for the improvement of county government in the state of Arkansas. The Association accomplishes this purpose by providing legislative representation, on-site assistance, general research, training, various publications and conferences to assist county officials in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of their office.

Contact AAC

1415 West Third Street Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 372-7550 phone / (501) 372-0611 fax www.arcounties.org

Chris Villines, Executive Director cvillines@arcounties.org

Risk Management/ Workers’ Compensation

Anne Baker, Executive Assistant abaker@arcounties.org

Debbie Norman, Risk Mgmt. & Insurance Director dnorman@aacrms.com

Samantha Moore, Receptionist smoore@arcounties.org

Debbie Lakey, Workers’ Comp Claims Mgr. dlakey@aacrms.com

July 13-16 National Association of Counties Gaylord Opryland Convention Center, Nashville, TN

Mark Whitmore, Chief Legal Counsel mwhitmore@arcounties.org

Cathy Perry, Admin. Asst./Claims Analyst cperry@aacrms.com

Colin Jorgensen, Litigation Counsel cjorgensen@arcounties.org

Kim Nash, Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster knash@aacrms.com

July 18-20 County Clerks Lodge at Mount Magazine, Paris

Johnna Hoffman, Litigation Support Specialist jhoffman@arcounties.org

Renee Turner,Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster rturner@aacrms.com

Josh Curtis, Governmental Affairs Director jcurtis@arcounties.org

Riley Groover, Claims Analyst rgroover@aacrms.com

August 8-10 AAC Annual Conference John Q. Hammons Convention Center, Rogers

Lindsey Bailey, Legal Counsel lbailey@arcounties.org

Greg Hunt, Claims Analyst ghunt@aacrms.com

Christy L. Smith, Communications Director csmith@arcounties.org

Kim Mitchell, Administrative Assistant kmitchell@aacrms.com

Holland Doran, Communications Coordinator hdoran@arcounties.org

Karen Bell, Administrative Assistant kbell@aacrms.com

Karan Skarda, ACE Program Coordinator kskarda@arcounties.org

Ellen Wood, Admin. Asst./Receptionist ewood@aacrms.com

Cindy Posey, Accountant cposey@arcounties.org

Brandy McAllister, RMS Counsel bmcallister@arcounties.org

Mark Harrell, IT Manager mharrell@arcounties.org

Becky Comet, Member Benefits Manager bcomet@arcounties.org

June 20-22 Treasurers DoubleTree, Fort Smith June 28-29 Collectors Lake Point Conference Center, Russellville

Sept. 12-14 Judges Wyndham, North Little Rock Calendar activities also are posted on our website:





County Lines County Lines ([ISSN 2576-1137 (print) and ISSN 2576-1145 (online)] is the official publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties. It is published quarterly. For advertising inquiries, subscriptions or other information relating to the magazine, please contact Christy L. Smith at 501.372.7550. Executive Director / Publisher Chris Villines Communications Director/ Managing Editor Christy L. Smith Communications Coordinator/ Editor Holland Doran

AAC Executive Board: Debbie Wise – President Brandon Ellison – Vice President Rhonda Cole – Secretary-Treasurer Jeanne Andrews Terri Harrison Debra Buckner Sandra Cawyer Kevin Cleghorn Terry McNatt Debbie Cross Brenda DeShields Ellen Foote Jimmy Hart Gerone Hobbs Bill Hollenbeck John Montgomery Heather Stevens David Thompson

National Association of Counties

(NACo) Board Affiliations Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is the Randolph County Circuit Clerk, vice president of the AAC Board of Directors and chair of AAC’s Legislative Committee. Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. He serves on the Jefferson County Quorum Court. David Hudson:Vice Chair of NACo’s Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Sebastian County Judge and member of the Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee. Barry Hyde: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Pulaski County Judge. Gerone Hobbs: Membership Committee. He is the Pulaski County Coroner. Kade Holliday:Arts and Culture Committee and International Economic Development Task Force. He is the Craighead County Clerk.



‘Strength in numbers’ axiom is evident with opioid lawsuit


y wife and I attended a wedding recently. It was a wonderful outdoor event with the clouds shielding the sun just enough to Chris Villines AAC keep temperatures comfortable. We are at Executive Director the age that many weddings have lined our path, and one wedding metaphor we’ve heard many times is the “cord of three strands.” For those of you who have forgotten this metaphor — because you all have heard it, it is a simple life-truth based on Ecclesiastes 4:12. It is often applied to weddings. The verse reads, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Of course, it is often applied in the marriage ceremony as being two strands standing for the couple, with the third being God woven into the marriage. What is interesting about this scripture is that it is contextually seeded in labor, not marriage. To use it only in connection to marriage is short sighted. Strength in numbers is an axiom known through the ages. This idea of a bond made stronger through unity is something the state of Arkansas and her citizens are now witnessing firsthand, as evidenced by the cover shot of this magazine. The counties, cities and state of Arkansas are strategically unified in a landmark opioid lawsuit that has been filed in Crittenden County. While part of me laments the idea that we have let so many opportunities for unity pass us by, I am reassured of the hope at all levels of government to take good care of our citizens in critical times like these. Over the last few months we have had numerous requests for interviews on this lawsuit. Media outlets from CNN to Newsweek to HBO have contacted us to visit about our unique approach. To answer their questions as different groups focused on the same purpose has been an enlightening experience. Counties, cities and the state have very different damages because of the opioid abuse in Arkansas, but there are so many shared spaces of gray area that it becomes difficult to see where the city issue ends and the county one begins, or the state. To solve the jail overcrowding and misapplication of incarceration for substance abuse is largely a county problem. To solve homelessness caused by heroin abuse in the urban back alleys is largely a city problem. And to give the tools to our medical providers to educate them on when opioid prescriptions might not be appropriate is largely a state problem. We are all positioned differently but focused on the same goal. Each of these three levels of government has different tools they can contribute to help eradicate opioid abuse. Mother Teresa once said, “I can do things you cannot; you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” This is the landscape of the Arkansas affront to the opioid epidemic. And while I am disheartened by the problem, I am at the same time so very proud to be a part >>> 7



of this cooperative effort. A key word being bounced around The unity of counties, cities and the state in this process right now in our political world is “civility.” We crave the idea has galvanized resolve, and we look forward not only to of treating one another with regard, especially in the political explaining the problem, but also to working through the prevention, education and treatment needs we will find as we arena where polarization has obliterated peaceful discourse. form solutions. What we are As someone doing right now who has worked in Arkansas in in government this lawsuit is a he unity of counties, cities and the state in this process has for almost 20 model for unity years, I find and civility. galvanized resolve, and we look forward not only to explaining myself thankful It is simply for the many three layers the problem, but also to working through the prevention, education and people we work of governwith who realize treatment needs we will find as we form solutions. ment working that while our together to find processes may the solutions for be different, our common when we focus society. Governon the end results and work together, civility reigns. ment has long paid the price for opioid abuse, and with the This cord is made strong, not by three strands, but by the march toward fentanyl and heroin we stand at the precipice of a drug disaster that could dwarf any we’ve seen before. Ci- hundreds and thousands of strands woven together in our state. What we can accomplish … what we WILL accomplish vility is borne of one common goal, to eliminate to the best … is a testament to this strong braid. of our ability this scourge on our state.


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Summer paves way for busy 6 months


ummer is just around the corner, and I know many of you look forward to taking much-deserved vacations with friends and family. That time spent with loved ones is irreplaceable, so enjoy it to its fullest. The beginning of June marks a busy period for us all. Many of you will still be campaigning for re-election — knocking on doors, attending community events, and spreading the good news of what you have accomplished for your county. I wish all of you the best of luck. All eight county associations have continuing education meetings scheduled between the first part of June and midJuly. These meetings are invaluable, as we learn from one another and expand our knowledge about issues affecting the offices we hold. This year, each association will finalize its legislative package. All the groups have been working diligently over the last six months — or even longer — to identify laws that need to be clarified, processes that need to be updated, and challenges that need to be solved. I commend you all on your dedication to making county government operate more efficiently and more effectively. Several county and district officials will attend the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) 2018 Annual Conference & Exposition. The four-day event features more than a 100 workshops, committee meetings, forums, and sessions that will explore topical issues such as the national opioid epidemic, criminal justice and behavioral health, and disaster recovery, to name only a few. The NACo conference gives us an opportunity not only to interact with our counterparts in other states and learn best practices, but also to help shape federal policies. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) are just two federal programs Arkansas counties rely on and must ensure are preserved. Soon after the NACo conference, hundreds of us will gather in Rogers Aug. 8-10 to celebrate the Association of Arkansas Counties’ (AAC) 50th anniversary. The AAC and its staff have been a valuable resource for elected officials

We want your news COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

for five decades. We rely heavily on the staff ’s input and the expertise they demonstrate at the state Capitol. I hope you can attend this year’s conference to celebrate alongside the AAC staff — and to learn from the wide array of DEBBIE WISE speakers and presenters. AAC Board President; From there, we move into our fall Randolph County Circuit Clerk association meeting schedule. And, of course, many of us face opponents in the November election. We’ll say a bittersweet goodbye to retiring officials, and we will welcome some new faces at the December New-Elect training hosted by the AAC. County officials who are elected or re-elected this year will serve a four-year term for the first time ever. We won that right by waging a hard-fought battle at the state Capitol in 2015. We are so appreciative to the state legislators who supported and referred the four-year term initiative to the 2016 ballot. And we are grateful to the voters who overwhelmingly approved the measure. Four-year terms bring stability to our offices and allow us to accomplish much more without the distraction of waging a re-election campaign before we even get settled at our desks. In the end, it is our constituents who reap the rewards. In closing, please enjoy your summer — but also prepare to work hard alongside your colleagues across the state during the next six months. We have much to get accomplished.

Debbie Wise Debbie Wise Randolph County Circuit Clerk / AAC Board President

Did an aspect of county government “make news” recently in your county? Did any of your county officials or staff get an award, appointment or pat on the back? Please let us know about it for the next edition of County Lines magazine. You can write up a couple of paragraphs about it, or if something ran in your local paper, call and ask them to forward the story to us. We encourage you or your newspaper to attach a good quality photo, too: e-mail csmith@arcounties.org.




Increasing the homestead property tax credit


n Arkansas, we keep looking for ways to put money back in taxpayers’ pockets. [On April 16], I announced my support for legislation next year that will increase the state’s Homestead Property Tax Credit from $350 to $375. Arkansas homeowners deserve a break, and with our state’s growing economy and conservative budget, we can afford to make this change. The Homestead Property Tax Credit came into being in 2001 after Arkansas voters approved Amendment 79 to the state constitution. The original tax credit was $300, and in the years since, it has risen to $350. The extra $25 credit will be a relief for homeowners without any extra cost to counties. In granting the tax break, the proponents wanted to protect counties from economic harm through the loss of tax revenue. So the General Assembly passed enabling legislation to levy a statewide 1/2-cent sales tax. That money goes to the Property Tax Relief Trust Fund. The money from that fund, in turn, goes to counties to reimburse them for the loss created by the credit. In a meeting in February, the executive director of the Association of Arkansas Counties asked me to support the idea of the $25 increase, and he followed up with a letter explaining why this was a good time for the change. I asked the Department of Finance and Administration to

analyze the impact of the increase. The department’s analysis demonstrates that this plan is the right thing to do. The new credit will reduce taxes to counties by almost $18 million. At the end of the fiscal year Hon. ASA 2017, the balance of the tax relief HuTCHINSON fund was $78 million, which is Governor of Arkansas more than sufficient to cover the increased tax credit. So I offer my enthusiastic support for increasing the Homestead Property Tax Credit. Any idea that allows us to put money back in the hands of Arkansas taxpayers can be a good idea. I am confident the General Assembly will approve this change so it will become a reality next year.

Asa Hutchinson The Honorable Asa Hutchinson Governor of Arkansas

State launches educational web portal to aid in fight against opioid abuse

Pictured with the Governor are (from left to right) state Rep. Kim Hammer, Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam, State Drug Director Kirk Lane, and Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe. Other legislators, UAMS Interim Chancellor Stephanie Gardner, and other partners in the project were also present. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on April 30, 2018, the launch of a free weekly educational and consultation service for Arkansas health care providers. The Arkansas Improving Multidisciplinary Pain Care Treatment (AR-IMPACT) will be hosted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Science (UAMS). The goal of AR-IMPACT is to help health care providers better manage chronic pain patients and those who need their opioid dosage reduced, according to a UAMS news release. Other partners in the project are the Office of the State Drug Director, the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the Arkansas State Medical Board, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the Arkansas Medical Society, and the Arkansas Academy of Family Physicians. — Photo by Holland Doran 11



Meeting the challenges of the opioid crisis


enjamin Franklin famously advised fire-threatened Philadelphians in 1736, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This famous axiom is attributed to Franklin’s advocacy and establishment of the first fire department in the city and the first union fire department. Franklin also in 1752, helped establish an insurance company to issue insurance policies for coverage due to loss from fires. The fire insurance company he founded is still in business today. We are facing a mega crisis much larger than even loss from fires. The mega crisis that has stricken the United States is from substance abuse, in particular opioid abuse. In 2016, the number of persons dying from motor vehiclerelated deaths was 37,461; the number of deaths due to overdoses was approximately 64,000; and the number of deaths due to overdoses relating to opioids was approximately 40,000 (with 20,100 deaths related to fentanyl — a 540 percent increase over the three previous years). In 2016, the number of deaths in Arkansas related to overdoses was 401. This unprecedented crisis needs the leadership and common sense demonstrated by Franklin. The AAC in October 2017 issued five opioid crisis action items (https://www. arcounties.org/site/assets/files/4766/opioidactions.pdf ). As well, the National League of Cities (NLC) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) have produced a joint report setting forth state, local and federal action items called: “A Prescription for Action” (http://opioidaction. org). Below is a brief description of some of the key action items on what you and your community can do to fight the substance and opioid abuse crisis hitting Arkansas. The focus should be on prevention and treatment. Prevention is first and foremost. Youth drug awareness programs are vital. The recommendations of the joint report seek to reach children early, in school as well as outside of school. The report further recommends a major increase in the general public awareness by all available means. We need to include higher education, as well. The Arkansas Sheriffs Association (ASA) has long conducted a youth drug and alcohol awareness program — the Arkansas Counties Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Crime Prevention Program. The program is being reformatted to include education about the dangers of opioids. Children and adults alike have a misapprehension that prescription drugs are not harmful. Programs such as provided by the ASA program will be essential in reaching our youth. We will need all hands on deck to deliver these new educational programs. We’ve learned from past efforts, such as the cigarette cessation programs, that youth education is key. After decades of litigation and prevention efforts, in 2017 the number of 12

smokers in the U.S. was reported to be at an historic low — 15 percent of the adult population. Even this success story has had disparate results. Despite a settlement by tobacco companies in excess of $112 billion dollars and attaining historic low levels Mark Whitmore of smokers generally, certain AAC Chief Counsel population demographics have a 40 percent rate of smoking. Higher rates of smoking are found with person identified with lower economic level, living in rural settings and having a lower level of education. Despite major accomplishments in smoker cessation, the use of e-cigarettes and vaping nicotine is on the increase with kids. There is no panacea or silver bullet to the substance abuse and opioid crisis. The efforts to address the problems arising from the crisis are long-haul undertakings. All counties in Arkansas have safe disposal sites for prescription drugs. Initially, safe collection and disposal of prescription drugs was driven by the need to have pure and uncontaminated water. All counties in Arkansas have prescription take back days and boxes for the collection of prescription drugs. They are largely successful. On April 30, 2016, local agencies in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) collected over 447 tons of prescription drugs (over 4,000 pounds just in Franklin County, Ohio). Our own Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery established a collection box in July 2010. The county’s first drug take back effort in Baxter County collected 119,192 pills, a number that far exceeded the goal of 70,000 pills. The county properly incinerated the drugs with an incinerator purchased and donated to the county by Roller Funeral Home. Another axiom from Benjamin Franklin is, “Well done is better than well said.” Drug take back days and prescription drug collection boxes work. But despite their accessibility in Arkansas, they are still underutilized. Saturday, April 28, 2018, was National Drug Take Back Day. You and your community organizations — like Rotary, Lion’s, Elks and local churches — need to get into the action. We need to help increase awareness for full use of drug take back days and prescription drug collection boxes. One of Arkansas’ greatest prevention programs is the Arkansas Drug Take Back. To date more than 131 tons of prescription medication have been collected and destroyed. Kirk Lane, drug director for the state of Arkansas, explains: “The Arkansas Drug Take Back Program is an educational program to teach Arkansans to monitor, secure, and dispose of their unwanted, unused, expired prescription medicaCOUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018



tions. This is necessary because it is estimated that over 70 of Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) for the criminally percent of the prescription medication that is abused comes involved. However, the coverage under Medicaid and health from our homes. Arkansas partners with the DEA, Arkansas insurance for behavioral health treatment and/or substance National Guard, and hundreds of Arkansas law enforceabuse treatment was woefully lacking. It is absolutely necesment agencies throughout the state to make this available. sary that health insurance and Medicaid provide coverage In addition to designated take back dates, we have 200 for prescriptions and treatment services for behavioral 24-hour take back boxes installed at law enforcement agen- health and substance abuse. Persons suffering from mental cies, and there is at least one take back box located in every illness, from substance abuse or both may need prescription county in Arkansas. Arkansans can find these box and event drugs and other treatment services. locations by going to www.artakeback.org. This outstanding Failure of our health insurance or Medicaid to adequately program gives the ability to every Arkansan to weigh in to provide coverage, and thereby access to prescriptions drugs resolve the opioid epidemic.” and treatment, will destine our combat of the crisis for It is imperative that naloxone, an overdose recovery failure. This is a major action item under the “Prescription medication, is made widely available in each community in for Action” report from the NLC and NACo. The Arkansas Arkansas. Naloxone is a lifesaver. The Arkansas Naloxone Department of Human Services (DHS) is in the process Program is funded through a series of federal grants, founof making improvements to the state’s Medicaid program dation grants, asset-seized funds, and private donations. that we believe will improve access to behavioral health Naloxone allows someone and substance abuse who has overdosed on treatment for Medicaid opioids to breathe again. beneficiaries. Given the Director Lane underissues related to opioid ailure of our health insurance or Medicaid scores the importance of abuse that states across this medication. the country are facing, to adequately provide coverage, and thereby “It is important to realit is important that we ize that, if they are alive, make these changes now. access to prescription drugs and treatment, will that there is a hope for DHS is phasing out destine our combat of the crisis for failure. recovery, and we must some programs — Remake every effort to give habilitative Services for those that are subject to Persons with Mental Illan overdose the tools to ness Program (RSPMI), overcome their substance abuse disorder. In cases of acciSubstance Abuse Treatment Services Program (SATS), and dental overdose it has been a proven and effective lifesaving the Licensed Mental Health Practitioner Program (LMHP) tool. Arkansas has over 3,300 first responders trained to — on June 30 and transitioning to a more comprehensive date and supplied with these kits throughout our commuand robust program called Outpatient Behavioral Health nities, with a plan to increase those numbers in the days Services. to come. Our program has been touted by the Surgeon All Medicaid beneficiaries will have improved access to the General of the United States as a model program for other services, provided by an expanded network of Independently states. We would encourage everyone that knows someone Licensed Mental Health Providers and Behavioral Health that is struggling with an Opioid Substance Abuse Disorder Agencies, designed to address both behavioral health and to obtain Naloxone to safeguard that person’s life, and we substance use issues. In addition, beneficiaries will have access have made that possible through the Standing Order Proto- to an enhanced array of services, including residential services col that was passed in September 2017,” Lane said. for adults with serious mental illness and children who are Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Director Lane and our local law transitioning back into the community from inpatient care. enforcement officials have demonstrated a vital element to An independent assessment will determine access to services mitigating the opioid crisis — leadership. for those with the highest needs, and these beneficiaries will A major key to combating the crisis is to assure coverbe assigned to a care coordinator through a Provider Led age under Medicaid and health insurance for behavioral Shared Saving Entity (PASSE). Based on the independent health and substance abuse treatment. The Council of State assessment, those entering PASSE will have a comprehensive Governments (CSG) studied our criminal justice system Person-Centered Persons with mental illness in a civil context and pointed out needs for reinvestment of resources. The can be ordered to comply with MAT to prevent them from CSG noted that one of the major shortcomings of Act 570 being a danger to themselves or to others. of 2013, the Public Safety Improvement Act of 2013, was See “CRISIS” on Page 14 > > > the lack of funding. Act 570 of 2013 authorized the use







Continued From Page 13

Senate Bill 299 of 2015 filed by Sen. David Johnson was in furtherance of MAT. The bill had support of a broad coalition, including the AAC, the Mental Health Council of Arkansas (MHCA), Judicial Equality for Mental Illness (JEMI), and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Access to treatment by virtue of MAT or otherwise absolutely hinges on funding, such as coverage under Medicaid and health insurance policies, including Arkansas Works. If adequate coverage is provided, criminally involved persons can be effectively ordered by the courts to comply with treatment orders, including taking prescribed medications and attending counseling, etc. And due to coverage, treatment is genuinely accessible. Dr. Nick Zaller, director of the Office of Global Health and associate professor of Health and Behavior Health at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) explains: “We know that our prisons and jails disproportionally house individuals with significant behavioral health disorders. And we know that using incarceration as a means to an end with respect to ending drug use among our citizens won’t work — we have decades of irrefutable proof of this. There is another way. We have medications that can treat opioid addiction, yet access to these medications in Arkansas, and especially within criminal justice settings, is extremely limited. One of the most important ways in which we can reduce the harmful consequences of opioid misuse and addiction is to expand access to lifesaving treatment. But access to medications alone is not sufficient. We need to make sure that our system of care is comprehensive. We need to ensure appropriate, evidence-based behavioral health treatment, including counseling services such as cognitive behavioral therapy, is available to all who are in need. This will take strong community advocacy and strong political will in order to invest the resources needed to provide the care and healing needed among some of our most vulnerable individuals, families and communities.”


The Governor, General Assembly and DHS have successfully commenced to address a major need in Arkansas of establishing crisis stabilization units (CSUs). Act 423 of 2017, Medicaid and $6.4 million in general revenue have resulted in the approval of four regional CSUs in Arkansas. The Sebastian County CSU commenced operations in March. The CSUs for Craighead, Washington and Pulaski counties are in the works. The counties committed to providing the physical facility for the CSUs. A CSU is the place and operation to take persons in a mental health crisis. CSUs are more efficient and less costly than emergency rooms. Also, CSUs provide persons in crisis treatment. CSUs are an effective and cost-efficient means to address persons in crisis. Jails and emergency rooms are not effective, cost efficient or a means to dispense behavioral health or substance abuse treatment. The collaboration with DHS and various stakeholders in the establishment of CSUs in Arkansas is an example of Arkansans pulling together to address our needs in Arkansas. Finally, a lawsuit has been filed in Crittenden County, Arkansas, on behalf of all 75 counties, the state and 15 major cities. The suit is an example of a unified, unprecedented and efficient collaboration of the counties, state and cities to pursue a means of addressing the crisis. The efforts to address and mitigate the crisis will take years and cost billions of dollars. The lawsuit is against 65 companies that manufacture or distribute pharmaceuticals and other parties. The complaint (https://www.arcounties.org/opioid-crisis-in-arkansas/) sets forth the basis for the culpability of the parties. The AAC and the various county officials and stakeholders have asserted their leadership roles. Each leader, official, and active citizen must do his part to address this epic crisis. We need everyone to implement the action items from the Opioid Task Force and the “Prescription for Action” report by the NLC and NACo. Please do your part.

Join us for the 20th annual Randy Kemp Memorial Golf Tournament 12 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018 The Creeks Golf Resort Cave Springs

Visit www.arcounties.org/events for details. 14




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ate last year the 115th Congress debated and ultiThe Opportunity Zone program mately passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. does not guarantee investment will The media focused on the Republicans and Demo- happen. Counties should work with crats fighting about tax cuts and who would actu- the business community, nonprofally benefit from the legislation. One significant part of the its, banks, and community development organizations to build a coalilegislation was the establishment of “opportunity zones.” Opportunity Zones are a new community development tion to set up the proper funds. A program designed to encourage long-term investments in low- unified front is attractive to invesJosh Curtis income urban and rural communities nationwide. The Op- tors because they know when probGovernmental Affairs portunity Zones program provides a tax incentive for investors lems arise, everyone will work to Director to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into Opportunity overcome the obstacles. “We will work closely with comFunds that are dedicated to investing into Opportunity Zones. munities to find the right investment opportunities,” said ArGov. Asa Hutchinson announced in an April press release kansas Economic Development Commission Executive Directhat he had nominated 85 Opportunity Zones. In a follow up press release in May, the Governor announced the U.S. tor Mike Preston, “that will create jobs to suit their workforce Treasury Department had approved all 85 of his nominations. and local economic development efforts.” The next step in the process is for the IRS to issue rules and “Treasury’s approval means that some of our communities regulations governing the Qualified Opportunity Fund, an inthat are struggling economically will have the chance to enjoy vestment vehicle organized to make investments in Qualified the new opportunities that come with fresh thinking and new Opportunity Zones. investment,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “This money is a downpayment on a better quality of ARKANSAS OPPORTUNITY ZONE NOMINATIONS life for many Arkansans.” Eligible zones are based on U.S. Census tracts, and goverClay Fulton Randolph Boone Benton Baxter Carroll nors of each state may nominate Marion Greene Sharp up to 25 percent of eligible tracts Izard Madison for approval. The U.S. Treasury Lawrence Washington Newton Craighead Searcy Stone Department has final approval 49 § ¦ ¨ over the designations. Independence Van Buren 555 Crawford Cleburne Poinsett § ¦ ¨ There are 337 eligible low-inJohnson 55 Jackson § ¦ ¨ come community census tracts Pope Franklin 40 Conway White Cross Crittenden § ¦ ¨ in Arkansas. Officials said those Logan Sebastian Woodruff Faulkner nominated were chosen based on St. Francis their potential for economic sucYell Perry 40 Prairie § ¦ ¨ cess and ability to attract investScott Pulaski Lee Lonoke ment. The 85 designated zones in Saline Monroe Garland Arkansas span 49 counties. 30 Montgomery § ¦ ¨ Polk “I’m excited about the potential Phillips 530 Jefferson investment that will be encour§ ¦ ¨ Hot Spring Arkansas Grant aged in low-economic areas of Pike Howard Clark our state,” the Governor said in a Sevier Dallas Cleveland Lincoln press release. “One of my goals as Desha Little River governor from day one has been Ouachita Legend Nevada to increase economic opportuniCensus Tract Calhoun ties for all Arkansans. By investNominated for Drew Miller "Opportunity Bradley ing in these high-potential areas, 49 Zone" (Total 85) § ¦ ¨ Ashley Lafayette we will be able to breathe new Chicot Union 0 25 50 Miles Columbia life into communities and ensure our state remains economically Mapped by Arkansas Economic Development Commission 4/20/2018 diverse and healthy.” 15



Arkansas officials act swiftly against federal withholding of drug task force funds


ov. Asa Hutchinson announced in early JAG funding applicants are contraMarch that he will be releasing $600,000 in dictory to the statute establishing Rainy Day funding for Arkansas’ 20 inter- the grant, the constitutional sepagovernmental drug task forces, a move later ration of powers, and also “would approved by the Joint Budget Committee of the General undermine public safety and effecAssembly in response to an unforeseen halt of federal dol- tive policing in the City ... .” On LINDSEY BAILEY lars that had been funding the task forces. The Edward Sept. 15, the court issued a partial General Counsel Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program injunction stating that the DOJ unwas created in 2004 to help state and local governments der Attorney General Sessions had work cooperatively in addressing illegal drug sales and re- exceeded the authority conferred by Congress with its notice lated crime. Made up of employees of local sheriffs, police and new “access conditions” to 2017 Byrne JAG applicants. chiefs, and prosecutors, Arkansas’ drug task forces rely on However, the court upheld Sessions’ authority to require a certhe Byrne JAG grant to pay for necessary equipment, ad- tificate of compliance “with all other applicable federal laws” ministrative salaries, and operational expenses. For Fiscal from all applicants. Year 2017, which runs from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, Sessions immediately appealed the lower court’s ruling Arkansas was eligible for to the Seventh Circuit over $2 million in Byrne Court of Appeals, and JAG funding. has since withheld all rug task forces across the country have been Drug task forces across Fiscal Year 2017 Byrne the country have been JAG awards, whether the routinely receiving these funds for over a routinely receiving these recipients were found to funds for over a decade be incompliant with the decade now with little interference from federal ofnow with little interferDOJ’s new regulations or ence from federal officials not. Additionally, in Janficials until recently. until recently. The halt uary, The DOJ issued a of grant money comes as press release revealing that a result of a deep-seated it had sent a letter to 23 battle over immigration policy and places that have come to states or localities, including the City of Chicago, demanding be known as “sanctuary cities.” The term refers to localities that they provide proof of compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373, that have refused to cooperate with Department of Homeland the federal statute “that promotes information sharing related Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offi- to immigration enforcement and with which compliance is a cials as required by new federal regulations. condition of FY2016 and FY2017 Byrne JAG awards,” or be In July, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new subject to federal subpoena, potentially losing, or even having Department of Justice (DOJ) regulations that would require to pay back some Byrne JAG funding. states or local jurisdictions that seek federal funding to coMeanwhile, the Fiscal Year 2017 Byrne JAG funding that operate with federal immigration agents. Specifically, agencies Arkansas task forces expected to receive and that both the Arseeking funding must give ICE officials notice when illegal kansas Governor and General Assembly relied on when passimmigrants are nearing release from custody, allow ICE agents ing budgets is being held up amid the litigation. Drug task access to local jails, and give ICE 48 hours’ notice “where prac- forces across the state have held meetings to discuss the uncerticable” before a person that ICE agents suspect is an illegal tainty the task forces face when the Byrne funds inevitably dry immigrant is released from custody. Sessions announced that up. No other source of state revenue is available to keep these those agencies applying for Fiscal Year 2017 Byrne JAG fund- task forces operational, and local jurisdictions certainly do not ing in September 2017 must meet these new requirements. have the extra money budgeted to supplement the task forces In response, the City of Chicago filed a lawsuit in the U.S. administrative and operational costs. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in August In response to this uncertainty, and the detriment that the 2017. The lawsuit alleges that the new requirements for Byrne state could face if the drug task forces were forced to shut




AAC down, Arkansas leaders have reacted swiftly and unequivocally. U.S. Sen. John Boozman from Arkansas’ Third Congressional District in Northwest Arkansas authored a bipartisan letter to Attorney General Sessions asking him to lift the hold on the Fiscal Year 2017 funding for states that are in compliance with the DOJ’s new regulations, including the over $2 million in funding for which Arkansas is eligible. The letter states, “[t]he Department’s decision to withhold all FY17 Byrne JAG awards has left out states short of the resources they need to be a partner with the federal government on shared law enforcement responsibilities,” and adds, “[w]ith increased efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, Byrne JAG funding for local law enforcement is more important than ever.” An April 17 press release from Sen. Boozman’s office references a recent meeting in Washington where Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane said Arkansas drug task forces’ ability to carry out their duties had been compromised by the withholding, noting that the money would inevitably be gone this spring. Absent new funding, the task forces would effectively be put out of business. In response, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on March 7 that he would be releasing $600,000 in Rainy Day funds to Arkansas drug task forces, which the Joint Budget Committee of the General Assembly approved. Gov. Hutchinson called this one-time funding “a needed lifeline to law enforcement



until the federal funding issues can be fixed.” At a sit-down meeting with the press on April 16, the Governor reiterated the importance of releasing those funds to keep the task forces in operation. When asked if any other Rainy Day funds would be released, the Governor replied that he remained hopeful that the DOJ would do the right thing and release Fiscal Year 2017 funding to the jurisdictions in compliance with current DOJ regulations, including Arkansas, but that if no action was taken, Arkansas would have to come up with some money to keep the task forces afloat. To date, the DOJ has not released any other funding. The Seventh Circuit’s three-judge panel issued a ruling in Chicago v. Sessions on April 19 unanimously upholding the lower court’s partial injunction against the DOJ’s efforts to require cooperation with ICE officials as a condition to receiving Byrne JAG funding. However, one judge did issue a dissenting-in-part opinion on the lower court’s nationwide injunction against the federal government, as opposed to protecting only Chicago. Similar injunctive rulings have been issued in Philadelphia, San Fransisco, and Los Angeles. At the time of this article, it was not clear if the DOJ would continue to withhold funds and appeal the Chicago lawsuit further, release the 2017 Byrne JAG funds in whole or in part, or take some other action.


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County office success - Be the right kind of leader and hire the right employees


he true measure of a leader is how they treat their employees, not their equals. The flip side of that is that most employees don’t quit jobs; they quit their bosses. Counties have many resources but the one that we often overlook when doing an inventory is the talent and skill of the men and women who work for county government. From custodians to administrators; from truck drivers and heavy equipment operators to office personnel; from law enforcement officers to road department laborers; we are fortunate to have individuals who, in many cases, have dedicated their work lives to serving residents of our counties. We cannot all do the same job — but the job requires us all. Every calling is great when greatly pursued. We need the right person in the right position, and we need to adequately compensate in order to keep the right people. As an elected county official or department head do you hire the right person or do you just fill the position? If you don’t hire the right person, then you’re just asking for problems. If you wonder why some private sector companies take so long in deciding which candidate to hire for a particular position, it’s because they’re looking for the right person. They know that selecting the wrong person can run into thousands upon thousands of dollars, not to mention the potential negative impact to morale and productivity. During an interview an applicant gave an unusual response when asked how she would solve an issue. She said “Nike.” When asked what that meant, she said, I “just do it.” She then continued to answer most questions with I “just do it.” Although “Just Do It” has been a successful trademark tagline for Nike commercials since 1988, it is not the answer to every job interview question. I assume she was not hired. The Harvard Business Review points out that as much as 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. In Arkansas county government we like to blame a low pay scale for the employee turnover. No doubt, that is a significant cause for turnover in Arkansas county government, but there is no good reason to doubt the studies that blame a lot of the turnover on bad hiring decisions — hiring someone who is not a good fit for the job and for the rest of the staff, or making a sympathy hire. Don’t do it. The interview process should be thorough and exhaustive. Pay attention to what the applicant says during the interview and to their reactions to your questions and comments. One man said he was interviewing a young man for a customer service position (most county government jobs are customer service positions). He had worked at a hair salon and in describing his experience there, he said, “I had to deal with a lot of old biddies.” Needless to say, that’s where his candidacy ended. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

In another true story, a woman was being interviewed for a clerical position. On her application, she checked “Yes” to a felony conviction and wrote, “Will explain during the interview.” She said she got Eddie A. Jones mad at her now-ex-husband and hired County Consultant someone to kill him. But at the last minute she called it off, and he is still alive. She stated she was now on medication and is “all right.” The interviewer said, “She was a great interview up until that point.” The success of your office operation or department depends on the quality of your employees. One bad hire can ruin the entire team’s productivity. With many relatively small office operations in county government, you should consider obsessing over hiring. Here are some hiring pointers from successful entrepreneurs and companies: • Always look for integrity. Often it is more important than experience. • Attitude and work ethic are always more important than a set of technical skills. Almost all skills can be trained, but a person’s personality and demeanor are difficult to adjust. Make sure they will fit your team. • Let the applicant do 90 percent of the talking. It’s amazing what they will say. All you need to do is listen. • Pick people with natural enthusiasm for life and a connection to the cause and mission. • Identify candidates willing to roll up their sleeves and make things happen. • Look for — and hire — humble, hungry and smart people. These are the key ingredients to building a great team, and when those traits are in balance, great things happen. • The most important criteria for hiring are competency and fitting the team. • Hire for passion first, experience second, and credentials third. Attitude and aptitude come first. You can train for skill. • Never make a compromise hire. You are better off waiting to get the right person than settling for a less than ideal candidate. You can’t get best results with a mediocre employee. Never compromise your hiring standards. We have addressed the hiring of the right employees, now let’s see if you’re the right kind of boss. At this point you may be like the parishioner who said, “The preacher has stopped See


Page 20





Hiring preaching and started meddling!” But I believe if you’re the elected official or department head you should be and want to be, then you want to be a real leader — a true public servant. Leading is not about your position. It’s more about your passion for excellence and making a difference. You can lead without a title. C.S. Lewis wisely said, “Do the right thing, even when no one is looking. It is called integrity.” Integrity is by far the most important asset of a leader. It is refreshing and motivating to employees to have a leader — a boss — that strives to do the right thing no matter how difficult. Never punish loyal employees for being honest. Loyal employees tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. To be leaders, we have to understand that 1) loyal criticism is a true blessing; 2) loyalty is built on honesty and trust; and 3) loyal employees are precious gems, not steppingstones. Never push loyal people to the point where they don’t care anymore. If we are not ready to be loyal to our loyal employees, we are not ready to lead them. Loyal people are those who have these characteristics: • They care about success — of the team, of the boss, and their own; • They tell you what you need to hear; • They do not disagree with you in public and support your decisions publicly; and • They work hard and are dependable. To earn their loyalty you must: • Take their problems as your own; • Be there for them when they need you; • Create an atmosphere of appreciation and mutual trust; • Never patronize them, never criticize them in public; and • Create opportunities for them. As a general rule, people don’t quit jobs. They quit their bosses. The worst place an employee can be is stuck in a situation with a micromanager who doesn’t care about their development, and there are no opportunities for growth and advancement. Micromanagement is a complete waste of everybody’s time. It sucks the life out of employees, fosters anxiety, and creates a high-stress work environment. Hire the right people and give them room to get on with the job. If things aren’t going the way you desire in your office or department — there is always a better way than micromanaging people. Train, mentor and coach employees and give them clear objectives. Then get out of their way. The best ideas and advancements in an operation come as a result of empowering your team. Bad bosses keep employees down. Good bosses lift employees up. Never take employees for granted. They need: • Opportunities to excel; 20

Continued From Page 19

• • • • • • •


To be listened to; Feedback to help them be their best; Recognition and reward for a job well done; Less stress and more support; Honesty and integrity from leadership; Respect, trust and empowerment; and Leadership that is ready to go to the moon and back for them.

If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your constituents your county. If you treat employees like they don’t make a difference, they won’t. If you don’t show appreciation to those who deserve it, they’ll learn to stop doing the things you appreciate. Employees are tired of being treated like dirt. A great county operation depends on hiring the right people and being the right kind of boss. You don’t hire people like those recently listed in a survey of human resource professionals that shared excuses from employees arriving late to work that are so horrible, they’re funny. A few of the “crown jewel” excuses for being late: 1. Rough night. Employee woke up on the front lawn of a house two blocks away from his home. 2. Cozy parking. Employee was late to work because he fell asleep in the car when he got to work. 3. Free candy = national holiday. Employee thought Halloween was a work holiday. 4. The suspense was brutal. Employee was watching something on TV and really wanted to see the end. 5. Short-term memory loss. Employee forgot that the company had changed locations. Take the time and make the effort to hire the right people for the job, and then treat them like a real leader should. Hire tough so you can manage easy. Promote the right ones for the right reasons. Albert Einstein said, “I was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.” That goes back to what I said in the beginning: The true measure of a leader is how they treat their employees, not their equals. You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat people, especially those that may be below them in position. We should all take note of what Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Note: Quorum Courts should take note. Although, in most cases, the quorum court does not have direct employees under their supervision, they must provide the funding — the appropriation — to properly compensate both the employees and the county elected officials of their county. To some degree, the success of the implementation of the precepts of this article depend on proper funding. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

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Opioid justice for a united Arkansas


n a unique and unprecedented display of unity and astated public health and welfare in collective action, nearly every Arkansas county has Arkansas. Drug-poisoning deaths joined with a collection of Arkansas cities and the are now the leading cause of injury state as co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against 65 opioid and death in the United States — manufacturers, distributors, and criminally-convicted Arkan- outnumbering those caused by sas pharmacies and healthcare professionals to seek a compre- firearms, car crashes, suicide, and hensive remedy to the Arkansas Opioid Epidemic. homicide — and Arkansas has been Colin Jorgensen We’d like to again thank the 72 county judges who select- at the forefront of the national epiRisk Management ed the legal team assembled by the Association of Arkansas demic. Arkansas’ near tripling in Litigation Counsel Counties (AAC), including the AAC and several private law overdose deaths since 2000 coinfirms to represent the counties in this historic case. We are cides with a span in which opioid honored and humbled, and we are working as hard as we can sales have quadrupled in Arkansas. In 2016, Arkansas saw the toward the goal of securing a comprehensive solution to the number of drug overdose deaths rise to 401 — at least 335 of Arkansas Opioid Epidemic. In the unified effort that we have which were opioid-related. There are now more opioid prenamed Opioid Justice scriptions in Arkansas for a United Arkansas, than people. Arkansas we seek a remedy for has the second highest all of Arkansas, includopioid prescription rate he complaint contends that prescription opioids ing all Arkansas counties in the country: 114.6 have devastated public health and welfare in Arand most importantly, opioid prescriptions for Arkansas communities, every 100 persons. Drug kansas. Drug-poisoning deaths are now the leading cause companies sold over Arkansas families, and Arkansas addicts. 235 million opioid pills of death in the United States — outnumbering those The original comacross Arkansas in 2016, plaint was filed on making opioids the topcaused by firearms, car crashes, suicide, and homicide March 15 in Crittenden selling class of prescripCounty Circuit Court. — and Arkansas has been at the forefront of the nation- tion drug in Arkansas The complaint alleges and more than twice al epidemic. Arkansas’ near tripling in overdose deaths that since the late 1990s, as prevalent as the next opioid manufacturers highest selling prescripsince 2000 coincides with a span in which opioid sales have engaged in a multition drug class. Accordmillion dollar marketing ing to the complaint, have quadrupled in Arkansas. scheme designed to misArkansas is now awash lead doctors and patients in opioids and engulfed about the benefits and in a public health crisis, risks of prescription opithe likes of which has oids, and to persuade doctors and patients that opioids should not been seen before. In addition to the direct problems of be prescribed long term to treat chronic pain. According to adult addiction, abuse, and overdose, the opioid epidemic has the complaint, the drug companies’ marketing campaign was created a ripple effect, touching lives across all demographic wildly successful and reversed the widespread medical un- groups and straining public resources. derstanding that opioids are addictive drugs, unsafe in most The Arkansas Opioid Epidemic strains law enforcement, circumstances for long-term use. And according to the com- courts, hospitals, and jails and prisons. It contributes to complaint, the deceptive marketing efforts of the drug companies munity blight, lost productivity, and lost tax revenue for state created and fueled the opioid epidemic so that opioids are now and local government. Arkansas’ prosecutors and other state the most prescribed class of drugs and generate billions of dol- officials, county judges, mayors, sheriffs, police chiefs, corolars in revenue for drug companies every year. ners, and other local officials desperately want to do what they The complaint contends that prescription opioids have dev- can to remediate this epidemic. We need to increase public




AAC awareness about the dangers of opioids. We need to educate children from elementary school through high school and into college, including specialized training for medically assisted treatment, long-term treatment, and addiction counseling. We need to implement prevention programs in communities throughout the state. We need to develop and expand treatment options in our courts, jails, and communities. We need a comprehensive approach to prevent addiction on the front end, and to help addicted citizens recover — before they overdose and die. All of these initiatives are expensive, and an effective strategy to solve this problem in communities throughout Arkansas is very expensive. Arkansas public officials are ready to work together to implement such a comprehensive strategy. We cannot wait for others to solve this problem. But our governments have very limited funds — especially given the extreme strain on budgets from the ongoing costs of the opioid epidemic. The unified litigation approach being taken by the governments of Arkansas, including all 75 counties (72 represented by the AAC-led legal team), is a unique strategy nationwide. To our knowledge, counties and cities have not united in this way in any other state. Our hope is that through cooperative litigation by Arkansas governments against the drug companies that manufacture and distribute opioids, we will expose and prove the drug companies’ alleged responsibility for the opioid epidemic in Arkansas. The complaint seeks a court declaration that the drug companies have violated Arkansas law, and an injunction prohibiting the drug companies from continuing to misrepresent the risks and benefits of opioids. And the complaint seeks to require the drug companies to provide the funding necessary to implement a comprehensive strategy to remediate the opioid epidemic that they allegedly created in the communities of Arkansas. Specifically, the complaint seeks a remedy that would provide the resources necessary to comprehensively intervene in the Arkansas Opioid Epidemic to prevent opioid use, injury, and death; to treat, cure, and prevent opioid misuse and addiction; to reduce the supply of dangerous opioids; and to reduce crime and involuntary commitments associated with opioid addiction. If successful, this case would provide neces-


sary resources to, among others, Arkansas law enforcement, first responders, jails, schools, hospitals, clinics, and treatment centers, and it would equip those on the front lines to end this epidemic. The remedy that we seek for all of Arkansas in this historic case is outlined in a section at the end of the complaint entitled the “Prayer for Relief.” If Arkansas is to recover from this opioid epidemic, the united litigation we are pursuing on your behalves must be successful. We pray for a comprehensive and effective solution to the Arkansas Opioid Epidemic on behalf of the counties, cities, communities, families, and addicts of Arkansas. And again, we thank you for the opportunity to pursue Opioid Justice for a United Arkansas.

For the latest news about the Arkansas Opioid litigation, go to

www.arcounties.org/opioid-crisis-in-arkansas COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018



COUNTY LAW UPDATE ‘Prisoners of Municipalities’ finally defined by state Supreme Court


ities have a duty to pay the county for housing “Prisoners of Municipalities,” an undefined term until the recent victory for Mississippi County in a lawsuit filed by the City of Blytheville. Definition of “Prisoners of Municipalities”: The Arkansas Supreme Court has now said, “[W]e agree with the County that the term ‘prisoners of municipalities’ as used in section 12-41-506 includes those offenders who are arrested by municipal law enforcement officers and delivered to the county jail for incarceration, from the point of intake until (a) charging on a felony offense; (b) sentencing on a misdemeanor offense; and (c) release on a municipalordinance violation. Mississippi County v. City of Blytheville, 2018 Ark. 40, at 16. No Jail Tax Offset: The City of Blytheville also asserted that it was entitled to an offset of the jail fees it owed on account of the amounts its residents had paid toward the county’s jail tax. The Supreme Court rejected that argument: “The circuit court’s finding that the City can be given credit for a countywide jail tax paid by its residents, who are also residents of the County itself, is illogical and is not authorized by the provisions in section 12-41-506.” Mississippi County v. City of Blytheville, 2018 Ark. 40, at 17. Ark. Code Ann. §12-41-506 Controls: The Supreme Court’s opinion reaffirms and clarifies that Ark. Code Ann. §12-41-506, entitled “Expenses of Municipal Prisoners Held in County Jails,” controls. “That code section allows counties to choose one of several arrangements with the local cities. Contract Option: A city and a county have the freedom to enter into “an agreement on jail costs” whereby the county houses the city’s prisoners on a “per inmate day” basis or for a flat monthly rate. See also Ark. AG Opinion No. 2009-043. A county may permissibly enter into a separate and distinct agreement for housing prisoners with each city that wishes to share its jail. See Ark. AG Opinion No. 2009-043. Per Diem Fee Ordinance Option: The county is

under no duty to enter into an agreement with local cities and may, instead, pass an ordinance setting a daily fee for housing prisoners of municipalities. See Ark. Code Ann. § 12Jason Owens 41-506 (a)(1) stating that the Risk Management county quorum court “may by Legal Counsel ordinance establish a daily fee.” If the quorum court chooses to set a daily fee by ordinance, it then has a statutory duty to base that fee upon “the reasonable expenses which the county incurs in keeping such prisoners in the county jail.” Ark. Code Ann. § 12-41-506(a)(2); Ark. AG Opinion No. 2009-043. In Mississippi County v. City of Blytheville, the Circuit Judge said the County’s “method of calculating a reasonable jail fee — dividing total actual expenses [which included capital costs/depreciation] by total inmate days to arrive at a “per inmate day” fee amount — is reasonable and appropriate.” Recommendation Not to Seek Unbilled Arrearages: The Mississippi County v. City of Blytheville decision eliminates — by statutory clarification — one of the nagging disputes between counties and cities and is a watershed moment in the jail funding arena. Our recommendation is to apply this decision prospectively. In other words, we recommend you not all-of-a-sudden seek payment for arrearages that have historically not been billed. On the other hand, this new decision provides the opportunity to decide, anew, how the county wants to proceed from this point forward. We recommend that the county try to come to a working agreement with the local cities. If no agreement can be reached, then a per diem ordinance can be enforced — using the definition now finally provided by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Jason Owens is an attorney with the Rainwater, Holt & Sexton law firm. Owens represented Mississippi County in the Mississippi County v. City of Blytheville law suit.

www.arcounties.org 24




Step up and be recognized

It’s time to gear up for the 2nd Annual Arkansas Digital Government Transformation Awards


rkansans are resourceful people. Displays of Arkansas ingenuity are all over the state. Those who work in local government are resourceful and innovative people, especially in the use of technology. Counties in Arkansas have used technology to better serve their constituents by driving down costs, making more efficient use of agency resources, and developing new service channels. Much of this innovative work went unnoticed for far too long. Then in September 2017, the inaugural Arkansas Digital Government Transformation Awards (ADGTA) recognized the achievements of Arkansas government offices and public servants at the state and local level. Faulkner, Pulaski, Saline, and Washington Counties were among the award recipients honored for using technology to make positive, measurable changes in the state. They were also recognized in the fall 2017 issue of County Lines magazine. These counties along with more than 20 agencies entered 31 projects in award categories that included: Citizen Service Award, Business Service Award, Digital Pioneer Award, Efficiency Award, Lawmaker Award, and Governor’s Digital Transformation Award. It is now time for the Second Annual ADGTA program sponsored by the Arkansas Information Consortium (AIC), the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC), and others in partnership with the Information Network of Arkansas (INA) board, the Department of Information Systems, the Office of Transformation, and the Governor’s Office. This year’s submission period begins in June — and it is open exclusively to county and city government offices. Winners will be honored for demonstrating how their use of technology has created efficiencies or service improvements — or had any positive impact on their county or city. A panel of judges will evaluate all entries, and winners will be selected in August. Details about award categories, nomination criteria, sponsors, COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

judges, and the awards event itself will be coming soon. All winners, finalists and honorable mentions will be recognized at an awards luncheon in September in Little Becky Comet AAC Member Rock. It will be a free event. Benefits Manager At last year’s awards ceremony, Arkansas Secretary of State and INA Board Chairman Mark Martin, “We’re here tonight to honor the work that you all have done in moving our state forward to bring the best possible service to our citizens and make the best possible use of their valuable tax dollars. The work you have done has saved the state millions of dollars, eliminated countless sheets of paper, and multiplied the capacity of our workforce — all while providing better and faster service to citizens.” A lot of counties have done amazing work to improve their office operations. So step up and share your creative advances. Let the people of Arkansas know about the things you have done to better serve them. Contact Christy Williams at christy.williams@ark.org for more information and to receive updates about the Arkansas Digital Government Transformation Awards.




County Youth Councils — Investing in the community leaders of tomorrow


n recent years, county officials have reported they feel their communities are underserved in the area of local civics education. At the same time, youth face unique and evolving challenges to their success and resilience, and public understanding and education have moved toward national, not local, civics studies. Today’s youth are coming of age in a time when national policy and politics overshadow the reality that the majority of transformative change happens at the local level. To work toward a population of more civically engaged youth, many communities across the country have implemented programs called youth councils, which work to enhance the understanding of local government and its role for public service oriented youth. Why form a youth council? Today’s youth face complex social pressures and forces such as fragmented family and social systems, public disengagement, and a lack of access to supportive programs and services. Youth are challenged in today’s increasingly involved world in terms of education, future employment, and developing the social and emotional skills needed to succeed. Communities can support youth against these risks and pressures in developing the next generation of community members and leaders. Young people should know about democracy as a process in which they can engage, policy as a way they can achieve goals, and community as a vehicle for these actions. We build a better society and economy when we engage youth. Rural counties are experiencing the out-migration of talented youth who leave for professional or educational opportunities and choose not to return home. While some students may choose not to return home due to professional opportunities elsewhere, young adults often would like to return home, but are unaware of available professional opportunities in the community. Youth councils can expose talented young adults to opportunities in the community that may be available upon high school or college graduation and provide invaluable professional and leadership development experiences that will add additional value and experience to the community workforce. Youth councils can promote civic engagement by giving youth a role in local decision making, offering real world experience with elected and advisory bodies, educating youth on the role of local government, increasing communication between youth and adults, increasing youth 26

volunteerism, and enhancing civic education. Youth councils allow local government to be more representative of the entire community, encourage youth to be more active in the political process, and work to create sustainable leadership for the future of the community.

Amie Alexander AAC Law Clerk

Who’s involved with a youth council? A youth council may be created and overseen by a variety of individuals at the discretion of the county implementing the program. Some communities delegate this authority to an individual county official or department, while others choose to work in collaboration with a local high school, an extra-curricular student organization, an area nonprofit organization, or a combination of partners. The audience of a youth council is wholly dependent on the selected purpose and mission of the program, as well as the unique needs and network of the county. It is crucial to recruit a diverse group of youth that reflects the makeup of the community so participants can contribute perspectives from a variety of life experiences shaped by issues affecting the community. While the age and number of participants selected is solely at the discretion of the county implementing the program, most youth councils work with youth who are between grades eight and 12. These participants should be competitively selected through an application process. What should a youth council focus on? Program planners should make sure to strike a balance in the program between engaging young people in meaningful opportunities while still understanding they are young people with talents, opinions, and passions still forming. Programs should include material for professional, leadership, and character development, as well as material focusing on informing youth about current issues and policy options to address those issues. Most youth councils operate on a monthly system and rotate through different topics. The following are examples of local government issues that some youth councils have focused on: Introduction to County Government; County Budgeting and Financing; Health and Human Services; Education; Local Businesses and Economic Development; COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

AAC State Government; and the Judicial System and Public Safety. Youth councils should also provide material for personal development, such as material focusing on communication and networking skills, leadership development, financial literacy, and volunteer and community service. How do you establish a youth council? Counties establishing a youth council should keep in mind two driving principles: (1) a commitment to building a solid foundation for the program and (2) an unwavering belief that youth engagement in government is good for government. Beyond these two guiding principles, County Youth Council planners can focus on several steps. 1. Form the Foundation: Organize and outline your intentions for the program. What is your vision for this youth council? What is its mission? What objectives and goals does the county have for this program, and how will these objectives be achieved? 2. Assess Community Needs and Program Capacity: What specific community needs do you foresee a youth council might address? What resources are available to you? Are there organizations or individuals in the community that would serve as beneficial strategic partners? Could these organizations or individuals offer their expertise in the planning process, by participating in the program, or by offering community service projects or speaking to program participants? 3. Plan and Develop Capacity: One or more planners should focus on selecting topics of focus, developing curriculum, developing collaboration plans with those who will provide their expertise for the youth council, and developing a scheduling structure. Others should focus on the drafting and adoption of bylaws, drafting the application process, publicizing the youth council, and collaborating with community organizations and key stakeholders to recruit the youth council’s future members.


4. Seek Feedback: Program planners should seek feedback from community stakeholders on the structure, focus, and curriculum of the council. 5. Plan for Program Maintenance and Sustainability: County Youth Council planners should plan with the future in mind. Will the initial funding be available for additional years? Will the council’s focus depend upon each incoming class of participants, or will it remain set in stone for each year? County Youth Council planners should also plan for program evaluation methods in order to gain feedback from participants, collaborators, and community members and stakeholders on the program. Implemented feedback will serve to strengthen the program, demonstrate its impact, and assist in securing ongoing funding and other resources. Where do I start? This year, while working as an Association of Arkansas Counties law clerk, I worked to develop a resource guide that puts the tools for creating a youth council into the hands of county officials. This resource guide is intended to save county officials time and resources in determining whether a youth council would be beneficial for their counties and, if they decide to do so, planning the youth council. The full-length guide provides more in-depth information on the background and research-demonstrated need for youth councils, specific guidance for the planning process, and examples of each step along the way. The guide also includes best practice research from existing youth councils both on the national level and from existing Arkansas programs. If you are interested in forming a youth council or are looking for more information after this overview, you may download the guide at www.arcounties.org/site/ assets/files/4707/countyyouthcouncilstoolkit.pdf. It is my hope that a guide of this nature will make creating a youth council more accessible and manageable, leading to thriving County Youth Councils that foster civic education, deepen the discussion of local policy issues, and develop leadership and public service values in future community leaders.

75 Counties - One Voice COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018






United We Stand cities, counties, state seek opioid justice for a united arkansas


ounty, city and state government leaders gathered on the state Capitol steps March 21 to announce they had filed a unique and unprecedented lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for allegedly contributing to the state’s opioid crisis. Their litigation approach is unlike any others in the country and will represent 90 percent of Arkansas’ population. At press time, all 75 Arkansas counties and more than 250 cities are participating. It is believed that it will cost billions to stop the Arkansas opioid epidemic and that this money should come from the companies that allegedly caused the problem — not from taxpayers. “Though other lawsuits have been filed in federal courts across the country, Arkansas is the only state that has united in this fashion,” said Chris Villines, executive director of the Association of Arkansas Counties. “Instead of fighting and competing with each other on critically needed settlement dollars for our cities and counties, all of the cities and counties are working together to do >>> what’s best for Arkansas.”

Photo courtesy of Stone Ward



Among those speaking at the news conference were State Drug Director Kirk Lane, who shared alarming statistics about opioids in Arkansas. Lane said between 2013 and 2016, more than 1,000 Arkansans had died due to overdose. “In 2016 alone, a minimum of 401 lives were lost attributed to drug overdose — 355 of those to opioids,” he said, noting that the numbers will only climb. “In 2017, the death toll in Arkansas — overdose deaths — will exceed 401 as preliminary overdose rates are showing to be 30 percent higher than those in 2016,” Lane said. “I applaud these city and county and state leaders that are represented here today for being able to recognize this important issue and having the tenacity to do something about it.” Other speakers included Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, the 2018 president of the National League of Cities who discussed the research of the National City-County Task Force on the Opioid Epidemic; Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, who said he has seen an increase in property crimes and heroin use in the last two years; and Trumann Police Chief Chad Henson, who discussed how opioids have changed the role of law enforcement officers. Arkansas Municipal League Executive Director Don Zimmerman spoke about the process by which cities, counties and the state came together in this effort starting last fall when the first County Opioid Task Force meeting was held. Zimmerman, who was a guest at the meeting, said he left convinced that county, city, and state officials must work together to achieve the best resolution to the state’s opioid problem. “Arkansas’ one-voice approach to this lawsuit is one that gives us a seat at the table,” Zimmerman said. “Neither the state or any county or city is big enough alone; this litigation approach ensures that recovered damages remain in Arkansas.” 30

Top: Arkansas Municipal League Executive Director Don Zimmerman (left) shakes hands with AAC Executive Director Chris Villines during a news conference announcing that cities, counties and the state had filed suit against the opioid industry. Middle: City, county and state officials, as well as members of the public, attended the news conference. After final remarks, the speakers entertained questions from the media and the audience. Right: Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery (left) and Jerome Tapley, an attorney representing the cities and counties in their litigation, listen to the speakers.

Photos courtesy of Stone Ward COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018



State Drug Director Kirk Lane

If we fail, we will be the first generation that has not left a better place for the next generation. It is so urgent that we stop the carnage — and together we can do just that.

AAC Executive Director Chris Villines

Arkansas is taking the brunt of this problem hard. Each year we lose over 400 people in our state to fatal overdoses. This number has increased nearly 300 percent since 2000 and coincides with opioid sales quadrupling in Arkansas over the same period.

Arkansas Municipal League Director Don Zimmerman

A statistic that struck me the other day was given at the National League of Cities meeting. They said that 84 percent of the world’s opioid usage is in the United States, and we have only 3 percent of the world’s population.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola

There’s been a lot of statistics that have been passed around. The most important statistic has to do with our children. ... Arkansas ranks first in the nation for ages 12 through 17 in the misuse of painkillers.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery

Every one of my colleagues across this great state is having to deal with this crisis every single day. Our prisons and our jails are full. Good people are getting caught up in criminal activity after becoming addicted.

Trumann Police Chief Chad Henson

In the past, we law enforcement have been the ones to go out and fight crime and put people in jail. Today, the men and women behind me are having to divert their time and money to combat the consequences that accompany addiction, including violence, petty crimes and child neglect. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018




New system to standardize death reporting for counties, state Story and Photo by Holland Doran AAC Communications Coordinator


he lack of a standardized system to report and record deaths in coroners’ offices across the state has led to skewed data and stalled investigations. It has even prevented state and local agencies from receiving grant money that could fight the opioid crisis. In a multidisciplinary effort, Arkansas counties, the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas State Crime Lab, and law enforcement are working to correct this problem with a standardized death investigation reporting system called Medicolegal Death Investigation (MDILog). The system is an efficient and secure way for coroners to Saline County Coroner Kevin Cleghorn browses through the MDIlog death reporting system in his Benton office. The system is expected to log sudden, unexpected deaths. Users enter details such as improve reporting for all manner of deaths, including opioid overdoses. date, time, cause and manner of death; descriptions and photos from the scene; and any corresponding documents. MDILog can then generate a report that coroners can than the 800 found in federal databases, the Arkansas personalize and send to state and federal agencies to aid Democrat-Gazette reported in April. Cleghorn believes MDILog can set Arkansas back on them in statistical research and in solving other deaths. MDILog users can also search national databases to help course in data collection and exchange, especially with them in an investigation. its ability to pinpoint areas of the state that need more Another benefit of the system is that the state can more community education and crime prevention. accurately track the number of deaths related to opioids. Arkansas State Crime Lab Executive Director Kermit Arkansas State Drug Director Kirk Lane and Saline County Channell says the system will increase the professionalism Coroner Kevin Cleghorn, who is president of the Arkansas and accuracy among death investigations in Arkansas. Coroners’ Association, have been instrumental in overseeing “It provides consistency, and that’s based on national the roll out of the system to counties and the state. standards,” he said. “I think that elevates the professionalism “Having just a universal reporting system in Arkansas at and knowledge across the board of all 75 counties.” one location actually cuts waiting on statistics. We don’t Channell said the quick and accurate exchange of have to wait a year out to gather statistics for 2018. We’ve information from a coroner to the crime lab is paramount got them in real time,” Cleghorn said. “That’s huge. We’ve in determining the cause and manner of death. never had that in Arkansas.” Channell has seen the impact of opioids on the state first In March, several counties were already using MDILog. hand. More than half of those who died due to a drug overdose The system is free of charge for five years. — and whose bodies were sent to the crime lab for autopsies “No more waiting, going back to the office or faxing the report,” Cleghorn said. “It’s all paperless now. It’s all done — have prescription opioids in their systems, he said. However, because of inaccurate data or the lack of data, immediately and in real time as we go.” Accurate statistics are essential when solving the cause and the lab cannot detect the specific type of opioid, such as manner of a death, says Lane, whose office is working to oxycodone, morphine or fentanyl, found in the bodies. MDILog improves the chances of identifying the specific secure grants necessary to fight the opioid crisis in Arkansas. “Currently we are trying to solve problems with 2016 opioid that caused the death, in turn generating reliable data,” Lane said. “Having outdated information reduces statistics for state and national databases. “It tells us what our communities are fighting,” Cleghorn the opportunity to get competitive grant funding and apply said. “With these kinds of statistics, it tells our law funding to effect current data-driven issues.” Due to inaccurate reporting, officials say the four-year enforcement around the state where they need to focus … death toll from opioid overdoses in Arkansas is likely higher where the hotspots are.” 32



50 ANNUAL CONFERENCE Embassy Suites and John Q. Hammons Center Rogers, Arkansas

August 8-10, 2018

The AAC’s 50th Annual Conference will be Held at The Embassy Suites and John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, Arkansas! We encourage you to go to www.arcounties.org to register online or fill out the enclosed registration form and mail it back to AAC along with payment. Also, enclosed is hotel information for the conference. The Embassy Suites in Rogers, AR is our host hotel, but the room block sold out very fast this year! We have blocked rooms at two alternate hotels that are very close in proximity to the Embassy Suites. When making reservations at any of the hotels, please remember to mention you are attending the Association of Arkansas Counties Conference. We are in the process of planning an informative and fun meeting for all attendees and a tentative agenda will be available closer to the conference. For your planning information, registration will be open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM on Wednesday, August 8. The Opening General Session will begin at 1:00 PM and individual association meetings will begin at 3:15 PM. Our Southern Fish Fry will be at 7:30 PM. The 2018 conference theme is “Honoring our Past, Celebrating the Present, and Envisioning the Future!” The theme is very fitting for our 50th Anniversary! The Dinner Dance will continue that theme with:

“Peace, Love, Counties, and Rock and Roll” REGISTRATION FORM

on Page 34



Embassy Suites and john Q. Hammons Center

August 8-10, 2018

Pre‐Registration Deadline is Wednesday, August 1, 2018 PRE‐REGISTRATION ON‐SITE REGISTRATION Officials, Employees, and Guests $125.00 $145.00 Spouses $80.00 $100.00 Non‐Members $145.00 $165.00







_________________________ TITLE ___________________________________




_________________________ STATE ______________ ZIP _______________



SPOUSE / GUEST REGISTERING YES __________ NO __________ (Pre‐Registration ‐ $80 for Spouse / $125 for Guest)

SPOUSE / GUEST NAME _____________________________________________ (Non‐County Employee)


REFUND POLICY: Notify AAC Office before 4:30 PM on Wednesday, August 1st to Receive Refund of Conference Registration Fees – NO Refunds will be Issued After August 1st

COMPLETE REGISTRATION AND MAIL WITH PAYMENT TO: Association of Arkansas Counties • 1415 West Third Street • Little Rock, AR 72201 or E‐Mail to abaker@arcounties.org For registration questions please call: (501) 372‐7550

50th ANNUAL CONFERENCE Embassy Suites and john Q. Hammons Center August 8-10, 2018 CONFERENCE HOST HOTEL

Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway Rogers, Arkansas 72758









++ Rate does not include Applicable Sales Taxes



STAYBRIDGE SUITES (1.1 Mile from Embassy Suites)

(479) 845-1300

(479) 845-5701

Mention “Association of Arkansas Counties” to get the Group Conference Rate

Mention “Association of Arkansas Counties” to get the Group Conference Rate

***COMPLIMENTARY BREAKFAST AVAILABLE FOR ALL OVERNIGHT GUESTS*** Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn & Suites, and Staybridge Suites

20th Annual Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament Join us at 12:00 PM – Tuesday, August 7, 2018 The Creeks Golf Resort, Cave Springs, AR • • • • • •

Contact Josh Curtis for more information at (501) 372-7550 or jcurtis@arcounties.org

Shotgun Start at 1:00 PM Two-Person Scramble Format $80 Per Person All Proceeds Benefit the Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Fund Includes Cart, Green Fees, Lunch, Balls, Beverages, Snacks, and Goodie Bag Prizes Awarded for First, Second, and Third Place Teams in Each Flight

REGISTER ONLINE AT WWW.ARCOUNTIES.ORG Registration Deadline is July 31st




Justice Bridge saving jails money, reducing liability Story and Photo by Holland Doran AAC Communications Coordinator


ransporting an inmate from a holding cell or prison to a courtroom for an arraignment hearing is a costly and risky endeavor for counties. It’s a risk the Association of Arkansas Counties Risk Management Fund (AACRMF) is working to help eliminate with Justice Bridge, an innovative video arraignment system. Justice Bridge is a simple video/audio communication bridge for law enforcement, state prisons and the judiciary. The program allows visits and hearings to be conducted via teleconference, connecting a judge in a courtroom to an inmate who is potentially four to six hours away. The program is offered free to all AACRMF member counties. As of May, 54 counties have joined AACRMF. Within those counties, 14 county jails and 16 prisons are using Justice Bridge, with additional installations ongoing. The system includes a high-tech jail phone with a 15inch color screen, which is placed in a secure box inside the jail’s holding cell. The phone connects to a videophone in the courtroom. This allows for the inmate, judge and others in the courtroom to see and hear each other. “We are really excited to offer Justice Bridge to our RMF members,” AACRMF Manager Chris Villines said. “The upside to saving member counties money is tremendous.” Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery spearheaded

the initiative to find a safer and more efficient method of transporting inmates to hearings. He took the idea to AACRMF, which teamed up with Keystone Data Technologies to develop Justice Bridge, an encrypted, oneof-a-kind video arraignment system customized for counties. Montgomery explained that for a deputy to drive an inmate four to six hours across the state for a 10-minute hearing is inefficient and potentially dangerous. “If you look at the sheer number of inmates having to be transported back and forth across the state, [there is a lot of ] potential for accidents, escapes and for someone to get hurt,” Montgomery said. “To be able to reduce that exposure is just huge on top of the cost savings.” Out of 31 cases, Sebastian County has saved $6,335.70 in salary, 490 man hours and approximately 34,720 miles, according to Sebastian County Jail Administrator William Dumas. Sebastian County is on course to save even more money, said Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck. “We’re potentially talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings over time to wear and tear on the vehicles, fuel, potential liability issues that could happen with all these transports that we do,” Hollenbeck said. Twelfth Judicial Circuit Judge Shannon Blatt, who has been using Justice Bridge in her courtroom for almost a year, says the system is “very efficient.” “With [Justice Bridge], I can pick up the phone, make a phone call, someone’s there. The bailiff doesn’t have to leave, the person needing to participate by phone is in court, and they get to have a meaningful hearing,” she said. In addition to Justice Bridge, AACRMF member counties can benefit from a host of top-of-the-line services that have been selected based on the pressing needs of counties. These services include the Guardian RFID inmate monitoring system; codification of substantive county ordinances; CDL drug and alcohol testing through National Medtest Inc.; and pre-disaster inspections through Metro Disaster Specialists.

Sgt. Eddie Smith with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office demonstrates how an inmate would use a Justice Bridge jail phone. The phone is housed in a secure box, and the phone connects to a videophone in the courtroom. 36

To learn how to become an AACRMF member, contact Debbie Norman at 501-375-8247 or dnorman@aacrms.com. For more information on the Justice Bridge, contact Mark Harrell at 501372-7550 or mharrell@arcounties.org. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018



Top left: The new Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center opened March 6, 2018, in Walnut Ridge. Bottom left: This is an inside view of one of the detention center pods. Above: Gov. Asa Hutchinson was on hand to help Lawrence County Judge John Thomison and Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Yates cut the ribbon.

Lawrence County’s ‘dream’ is realized The Governor and county officials unveil a new detention facility built with voter approval.


Story by Christy L. Smith Photos by Holland Doran AAC Communications Department

awrence County cut the ceremonial ribbon on its new Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center on March 6, 2018. The $8.5 million facility increases the county’s inmate capacity from 42 beds to 100 beds. It will house local and state inmates — both male and female. “Designating certain detention facilities to hold local and state female detainees creates efficiencies in part from more efficient use of bed space and staffing in other local detention facilities that can avoid or greatly reduce housing female inmates for periods of time,” said AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore. Constructed adjacent to the Lawrence County Courthouse, the new detention center replaces a jail built in the 1960s. Arkansas Jail Standards (AJS) threatened that facility with closure in 2014 following an inspection that found chronic overcrowding and deficiencies, such as jail COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

cells that needed to be replaced. Lawrence County Judge John Thomison said the new jail had been a dream for many years, but high costs and other obstacles prevented the county from building a new facility for a number of years. Then, in 2015, Lawrence County officials successfully went to voters with a solution. The voters approved a 3/8-cent sales tax increase to pay for construction of a new jail — this increase has a sunset clause and will expire in 22 years. They also approved a permanent 1/8-cent sales tax increase to pay for facility maintenance, making the dream of a new jail possible. “The embrace of this project by the local citizens and the completion of this new facility is a success story,” Whitmore said. Gov. Asa Hutchinson served as keynote speaker at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. He lauded the county and its residents for building the detention facility without help from the state. He also expressed hope for the inmates housed at the facility. “I hope everyone who enters the Lawrence County Detention Center leaves with a second chance at life,” he said. 37



Craighead County sheriff honored by national social workers’ group


raighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd has earned honors for his work in helping raise awareness of mental health issues, including his work to help establish crisis stabilization units (CSUs). The National Association of Social Workers named Boyd their 2018 Arkansas Public Elected Official of the Year. The group said Boyd played an instrumental role in getting Senate Bill 136, now Act 423 of 2017, approved by the state legislature. The criminal justice reform measure created CSUs and set aside funding for the projects, among other things. CSUs allow law enforcement officers to place non-violent offenders who are suffering a mental health crisis in a place other than jail. Sheriff Boyd was a vocal proponent of CSUs, testifying before legislative committees during the 2017 Legislative session. A CSU opened early this year in Sebastian County. Three others are slated to open this year in Craighead, Pulaski and Washington counties.

Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd (center), along with Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck (right), testify in 2017 before the House Judiciary Committee about the need for crisis stabilization units (CSUs) in Arkansas. Boyd has been recognized by the National Association of Social Workers as their 2018 Arkansas Public Elected Official of the Year.

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Photo by Christy L. Smith Above: The first two courthouses in Franklin County’s Northern District of Ozark were either destroyed or damaged by fire. The current building was reconstructed in 1944 incorporating surviving elements of the 1904 builiding, whose second floor burned, and using a “less is more” approach.

Rising from the ashes Franklin County courthouses rebuilt stronger after multiple fires.


Story by Mark Christ Photos by Holly Hope Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

s with many of the 10 Arkansas counties with dual county seats, Franklin County has a pair of historic county courthouses; though with a 1940s reconstruction of the building in Ozark, Franklin may be able to claim 2 1/2. Franklin County was created from part of Crawford County in 1837, and Ozark on the Arkansas River was designated its seat of government — a situation that would endure until 1885. The first courthouse was a 20foot square, one-story wood-frame building constructed on the northwest corner of the town square for $400 COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

during the 1839-1840 court term. By 1851 the prosperous county had outgrown the structure and a new two-story brick courthouse was built in the middle of the square with Kendall Webb’s low bid of $2,450. Unfortunately, this structure suffered the fate of many other county courthouses around the state and was burned down during the Civil War. In 1869, the county accepted a $9,700 bid to construct a new courthouse atop the ashes of the old one, though by the time the sturdy two-story brick building was completed that cost had ballooned to $13,000. Thirty-five years later, the county decided to trade in the plain, square building for See


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a new and elaborate structure. Officials hired prolific Little Rock architect Frank W. Gibb on May 2, 1904, and he provided a splendid Italian Renaissance-style design that featured a lofty, 114-foot-tall clock tower, as well as a shorter tower punctuated with an arched arcade. Warren builder Edward L. Koonce, a frequent collaborator with Gibb, was hired to construct the building. The former courthouse was demolished in July 1904 and the new edifice was open for business one year later. It had cost $60,300. The new building almost suffered the same fate as its 1851 predecessor when a fire started in the flue of a wood stove in the Farm Security Administration office on January 10, 1944. As fire raged on the building’s second floor, courthouse employees and townspeople rushed into the courthouse to move records to safety and local Boy and Girl Scouts helped remove books from the basement library. The inferno gutted the second floor and destroyed the roof, but the first floor and clock tower remained largely intact (in fact, the clock kept time and continued to strike through much of the fire, finally stopping at 10 minutes before 2 p.m.). County business was moved to the Arcade Building beside the Bank of Ozark as officials weighed their next move. They decided to hire Fayetteville architect T. Ewing Shelton to design a reconstruction of the courthouse incorporating the surviving elements of the 1904 building. Shelton abandoned the architectural excesses of the original structure and instead followed the emerging aesthetic of the International style — a school that embraced the term “less is more.” The reconstructed second floor was faced with buff brick, and the steep hipped roofs from 1904 were replaced with flat surfaces behind parapets. The clock tower Top: An eagle embellishes the Ozark courthouse. Bottom: Durwas shortened considerably and its original tall, arched ing reconstruction, interior embellishments were limited to marwindows became rectangular glass-block openings. The ble wainscoting in the hallways. other tower was reduced in size until it rose just above the roofline. Interior embellishments were limited to marble wainscoting in the hallways. A second district was approved for Franklin County on Franklin County voters approved a $37,000 bond sale to pay for the “new” courthouse on Nov. 7, 1944, and March 14, 1885, spurred by the difficulty of crossing the the final term of court in the Arcade Building adjourned on Arkansas River to transact business in Ozark. Charleston Aug. 20, 1945. The next term convened in the reconstructed was officially designated the southern county seat in 1901, Franklin County Courthouse, Northern District, on Sept. with the Arkansas River serving as the dividing line between the two districts. 17, 1945, and county business continues there today. Court business was conducted in a two-story stone The story of the southern district courthouse is considerably less dramatic than that of the Ozark building. building in Charleston from 1885 until 1922, when 40




Left: The hallway of the Franklin County Courthouse at Charleston. Right: The courthouse in Charleston is a stately Colonial Revival building.

the home of the remarkably named Col. John Peregrine Falconer was moved to provide space for a new courthouse. The ubiquitous Frank Gibb was again hired, and he chose a simple but stately Colonial Revival design for the building. The red brick structure features arched windows with fanlights and pilasters that divide the walls into a series of bays with stone panels and capitals providing additional details. The building was officially completed on March 23, 1923, when a memorial stone from Falconer’s chimney was installed in his honor. The $70,000 Franklin County Courthouse, Southern District “is fire proof and is equipped with steam heat and plumbing,” according to the Arkansas Gazette, which perhaps helped it escape the fate of its northern neighbor. The Charleston courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 18, 1976, while the Ozark Courthouse was listed on Sept. 22, 1995. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

Among the many programs and services of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is the County Courthouse Restoration Grant Program. Created in 1989, this grant program has helped to extend the lives of courthouses that hold vital links to community pride and local history. These grants are funded through the Real Estate Transfer Tax, administered by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Since the beginning of the program, the AHPP has awarded more than $22.9 million to 74 historic courthouses and courthouse annexes around the state for use in rehabilitating, preserving and protecting these important historic resources. Since 1989, Franklin County has received 14 grants totaling $478,231 for the two Franklin County Courthouses.

AHPP County Courthouse Restoration Grants awarded for Franklin County Courthouse, Southern District (Charleston) FY1989 FY1990 FY1993 FY1997 FY1999 FY2002 FY2009 FY2015 FY2015

Restoration Master Plan Roof repair and brick repointing Window restoration, interior repairs ADA ramp and electrical upgrades Exterior work, electrical upgrades HVAC system, electrical panel Entrance and masonry restoration Stair and porch restoration Roof, door and stair restoration

$18,000 $23,800 $1,200 $7,500 $2,626 $15,110 $16,274 $15,320 $154,000

AHPP County Courthouse Restoration Grants awarded for Franklin County Courthouse, Northern District (Ozark) FY1992 Courthouse wall restoration $2,000 FY1996 Clock and masonry restoration, electrical $7,500 FY2000 HVAC, replace boiler, window restoration $25,000 FY2007 Condition assessment, electrical upgrade $46,000 FY2017 Roof restoration $141,901 Grand Total:



AACRMF benefits continue to strengthen program!


he AAC Risk Management Fund program offers General Liability, and Auto and Property Protection. The fund is managed by a board of trustees comprised of your county colleagues. As a member, you help develop the fund’s products to meet the needs of our unique and valued county resources and employees.


ur latest added benefit is the Justice Bridge video/audio communication system for law enforcement, prisons and the judiciary. The program allows inmate visits and hearings to be conducted via teleconferenece, provides advancements in parole and probation processes, and improves courtroom safety and efficiency.

Justice Bridge This innovative program is a simple video/audio communicaiton system for use in circuit and district courts, sheriff’s offices, inmate box portals, and state prisons. Benefits include: n Reduced inmate transports to court hearings. n Reduced liability due to vehicular accidents, inmate assaults and medical costs. n Reduced contraband in prisons. n Reduced escape potential; increased public safety.

Other AACRMF benefits Guardian Inmate tracking system n 20x faster and more defensible than barcode. n Exclusively endorsed by the National Sheriffs’ Association since 2008, the first product in the world to earn this distinction. n The only Inmate Management System in the world that exclusively leverages radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. n GUARDIAN RFID® Mobile™ is the most widely used mobile app in corrections, actively deployed in 25 states.

Codification of county ordinances n A single-bound volume of your substantive county ordinances gives you easy access.

Drug testing n Free CDL drug testing with participation in the RMF Auto Program.

Partnership with Metro to provide P.O.M Services n Your peace of mind partnership for emergency claim services. RMF members receive priority response with participation in the Property Program.

For information: Debbie Norman, Risk Management Fund Director, (501) 375-8247

Becky Comet, Member Benefits Manager, (501) 372-7550



Coroners talk substance abuse, profiling at meeting Top: Coroners, law enforcement officers, and death investigators gathered for the Arkansas Coroners’ Association’s symposium, “Bridging the Gap,” held May 23-25, 2018 in North Little Rock/Pulaski County. Garland County Coroner Stuart Smedley (left) and Amy Patton with Pinpoint Laboratories focus on a speaker. Middle left: Private investigator and speaker Michèle Stuart offers symposium attendees strategies on internet profiling and intelligence gathering. Middle right: Arkansas Coroners’ Association President and Saline County Coroner Kevin Cleghorn speaks. Bottom left: President of ACT on Drugs, Inc. and speaker Lynn Riemer speaks to attendees on the issues caused by illicit drug abuse. Bottom right: Perry County Coroner Bill Greene holds Narcan nasal spray. Narcan contains medicine to temporarily reverse an overdose due to an opioid. Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane brought the Narcan for attendees to examine.





USDA’s Hazlett speaks at rural development conference Top: The Senate and House Committees on Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development hold a joint meeting during the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services’ conference May 22-24, 2018. Middle top left: State Rep. David Fielding (left), Phillips County Judge Clark Hall, and Mountain Home Mayor Joe Dillard talk. Middle right: During her keynote address, USDA’s Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announces the USDA is investing more than $7 million into two water infrastructure projects in two Arkansas cities. Middle bottom left: State Rep. Michael John Gray (left) chats with Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips. Bottom left: State Rep. Vivian Flowers speaks during a political roundtable discussion led by Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock. Bottom right: Gov. Asa Hutchinson briefs attendees on his plan to improve rural Arkansas by improving education, roads and high-speed internet access.





More than 90 county officials, OEM employees attend safety conference Top: Union Pacific Railroad special agents Shay Cobb (right) and Matt Boyd (left) talk to more than 90 county officials and emergency personnel at the 2018 AAC Safety Conference held May 16, 2018. Cobb and Boyd gave an overview of Arkansas railroad crossing laws and how to identify railroad safety signs. Middle left: New AAC Risk Management Services Loss Control Consultant Ed Piker answers attendees’ questions about safety inspections. Piker replaced longtime AAC Loss Control Specialist Barry Burkett, who retired earlier this year. Middle right: Glenn England from Washington County asks a question during the conference. Bottom left: David Stults with the Office of Emergency Management in Baxter County listens intently to the speakers. Bottom right: Rave Mobile Safety Director of Strategic Accounts JP French gives an overview of the Rave Panic Button and Smart 911 emergency response services.





Tax collectors talk veterans’ disabilities, budgeting Top left: Lonoke County Tax Collector Therese O’Donnell and Carroll County Tax Collector Kay Phillips-Brown enjoy a session during the Arkansas County Tax Collectors’ Association spring 2018 meeting held April 18-20, 2018, in North Little Rock, Pulaski County. Top right: Jefferson County Tax Collector Stephanie Stanton listens closely and takes notes during the conference. Middle left: AAC Governmental Affairs Director Josh Curtis provides tax collectors with an overview of proposed legislation he is working on to improve Arkansas 911 call centers’ response time and provide more funding for emergency services. Middle right: Assistant Director of Veteran Services at the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs Gina Chandler gives an overview of veterans’ disability qualifications. Bottom right: Collectors get in touch with their fun side during an interactive game. 46




AAQC 75-member board holds its April meeting

The Arkansas Association of Quorum Courts (AAQC) 75-Member Governing Body is comprised of one justice of the peace from each Arkansas county. The group holds an annual meeting every April. Top left: Clark County Justice of the Peace Albert Neal, Drew County Justice of the Peace Carole Bulloch, and Chicot County Justice of the Peace Theodore Brown visit before the start of the meeting, held April 14, 2018, at the AAC. Top right: AAC Legal Counsel Lindsey Bailey, who also serves as liaison to the AAQC, gives the JPs an update on legislative task force meetings. Middle: Jackson County Justice of the Peace Tommy Young offers input on an issue being discussed by the group. Bottom left: Hempstead County Justice of the Peace Daulton Brewer responds to comments about 911 funding and infrastructure. Bottom right: Ashley County Justice of the Peace Ronnie Wheeler listens intently during the meeting, which also included a discussion of proposed legislation for the 92nd General Assembly and opioid litigation. COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018




Treasurers discuss 911 funding, property tax relief

Top: Little River Treasurer Dayna Guthrie comments at the Arkansas County Treasurers’ Association spring conference held in Benton/Saline County March 28-30, 2018. Middle left: White County Treasurer Janet Hibbitts takes treasurers on a “trip back to the basics” during her session “Treasurer 101.” She delivered an overview of treasurer duties, including accounting of monies received and disbursed, depository agreements, time warrants, and redeeming checks. Middle right: Faulkner County Treasurer Scott Sanson leads a discussion on the intricacies of creating a county and municipal aid distribution turnback report. Bottom left: Montgomery County Treasurer Betty Boling makes a comment during a roundtable discussion of various topics, including funding for 911 and voting equipment. Bottom right: Association of Arkansas Counties’ Consultant Eddie Jones answers questions during the conference.





Elections, Voter ID and more on County Clerks’ spring agenda Top left: Arkansas County Clerks’ Association President and Boone County Clerk Crystal Graddy introduces Charlie Daniels, former Arkansas State Auditor, Secretary of State, and Commissioner of State Lands. Daniels, who is from Bryant in Saline County, stopped by the Benton Event Center March 26 to visit with the clerks. Middle left: Crittenden County Clerk Paula Brown (far left), Crittenden County Deputy Clerk Erin George, Phillips County Clerk Linda White, and Nevada County Clerk Julie Oliver (far right) confer on meeting topics during a break. Approximately 100 clerks gathered for the spring meeting to review topics such as voter identification, upcoming school and primary elections, probate cases, voter precinct boundaries, and more. Bottom left: State Land Commissioner John Thurston, who is running for Secretary of State, speaks to the clerks at their spring meeting March 25-27, 2018. Bottom right: Pulaski County Assistant Chief Deputy County Clerk Jason Kennedy (left) and Pulaski County Circuit Clerk Brandon Wood look over the agenda.





Logan County plays host to assessors Top right: Assessors listen intently during the Arkansas Assessors’ Association Conference, March 13-16, 2018, at Mount Magazine State Park/Logan County. The assessors’ discussions focused on topics such as a legislative agenda, Amendment 79, and property assessments. Middle left: Arkansas County Assessors’ Association President and Pope County Assessor Dana Baker leads assessors in compling a list of items the association would like to bring before the 92nd Arkansas General Assembly in 2019. Middle right: Wayne Hamrick with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) explains the features assessors can take advantage of on the DMV’s new website. Bottom left: Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department (AACD) Director Bear Chaney and AACD Deputy Director Angela Hill share a laugh at the meeting. Bottom right: Pike County Assessor Beckie Alden makes a comment during an open discussion at the meeting.



AAC AAC a m i l yo n f e rr ei enncdes »




Association of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Compensation Trust

» » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » »


hen you participate in the A A C Wo r k e r s ’ C o m p e n s a tio n Tru s t, you can relax in the hands of professional staff members who are going to take care of your needs. The AAC team has decades of experience in handling county government claims – t h e y ’ r e s i m p l y t h e b e s t a t w h a t t h e y d o ! Did we mention that participants in our plan are accustomed to getting money back? Since we started paying dividends in 1997, the AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust has declared almost $ 2 7 MI L L I O N dollars in dividends, payable to members of the fund. In fact, we mailed $1,000,000 in savings back to member counties in August 2014.

The service is available for any size county government and other county government-related entities. We’ve got you

c ov e r e d!

Members enjoy dividends! $27 Million paid since 1997

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Experienced & licensed examiners

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Claims Manager

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RMS Counsel

ance Director


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1415 West Third Street • Little Rock, Arkansas 72201



Litigation Support Specialist — Johnna Hoffman Family information: I grew up primarly in North Little Rock, graduating from Old Main High School. I relocated to Conway about five and a half years ago to be closer to family. I have two adult children, Rachel and Tanner. Rachel lives and works in Conway, and Tanner is currently a junior at Arkansas Tech in Russellville pursuing a degree in nursing. I am also one proud “Bubbie” to a 4-year-old granddaughter, Emery Claire.

At the top of my bucket list is to: Travel to the Tuscany region of Italy. The hardest thing I have ever done is: Survive a business calculus class. You might be surprised to learn that: I love reading biographies and American history. My pet peeve is: Dirty dishes in the sink.

My favorite meal: Pasta carbonara. When I’m not working I’m: Studying and simply spending Saturdays with my grandbaby.

Johnna Hoffma n

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: When my son graduated high school in 2015 and enrolled at Arkansas Tech, I enrolled in college myself. I am currently a non-traditional student at Central Baptist College in Conway and am pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Managment. As of March, I have a cumulative GPA of 3.95.


Motto or favorite quote: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

How long have you been at AAC and can you describe some of your successful projects? I started in February 2018 and was brought on board to assist attorneys as they prepare to address the opioid crisis across our counties by way of litigation. What do you like most about your position at AAC? Making a difference.





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 counties. 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 innovative solutions through education and research and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.

Trump Administration releases latest regulatory plan; includes updates to WOTUS By July Ufner, Zach George On May 9, the Trump Administration released its biannual Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain). The Unified Agenda contains expected regulatory actions for all federal agencies in the next six months. Included in the agenda are proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that could impact counties. A significant update in the agenda is the 2015 Obamaera Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule (http://www.naco.org/ resources/waters-us-rule). Previously, EPA had promised that a proposed rule would be released [in May 2018] and finalized by the end of the year. However, the Unified Agenda indicates that the withdrawal of the rule will occur in November 2018. A new WOTUS definition will be proposed in August 2018 and finalized in September 2019. Due to confusion surrounding the withdrawal process, the EPA will release a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking for the 2015 WOTUS rule later this month. This supplemental rulemaking notice will be open for public comment for 30 days. In addition to WOTUS, the agenda includes publication and final rule dates for several other regulations important to counties. Some key regulations include: • Rewrite of EPA’s Risk Management Program rule for emergency management around chemical facilities • Updating the Lead & Copper rule for drinking water systems • Requiring waste streams to recycle aerosol cans • Revising rules for disposal of excess pharmaceuticals House FAA reauthorization bill passes with Disaster Recovery and Reform Act attached By Jacob Terrell On April 27, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Disaster Recovery and Reform Act as part of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4). The Disaster Recovery and Reform Act would provide funding for hazard mitigation programs, as well as new reforms to programs authorized under the Robert T. Stafford Act, which outline many of FEMA’s key roles in disaster response. Key funding for local governments authorized in the bill include $950 million annually through FY 2022 for Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG), which provide fedCOUNTY LINES, SPRING 2018

eral funds to assist state and local governments with hazard mitigation assistance, including risk assessments, designing and conducting emergency exercises, training and funding support of emergency management personnel. Additionally, the bill would authorize $4 million annually through FY 2022 for Emergency Management Assistance Compact Grants, which are used support coordination between the federal government with state and local governments in responding to disasters. Key reforms included in the bill are also designed to enhance FEMA’s focus on predisaster and hazard mitigation benefitting county governments and residents, as well as providing technical fixes to programs that have caused FEMA to de-obligate financial assistance that has been provided to state and local governments following a disaster. New provisions included in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act would prevent FEMA from de-obligating disaster assistance grant funding for projects that have been completed for at least three years, unless there is evidence of fraud, or in instances when local governments relied on inaccurate information from a technical assistance contractor. In addition to the reforms related to de-obligated financial assistance, the bill would direct the federal government to provide direct funding to local governments to support base and overtime wages for new employees to facilitate the implementation and enforcement of building codes. The bill would also direct FEMA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to develop and issue guidance for local governments regarding the identification, design and construction of evacuation routes to help move residents and workers away from hazardous areas impacted by disasters. Amongst other reforms included in the bill, it would also direct FEMA to provide guidance and training to state and local governments, first responders and utility companies on prioritizing assistance to hospitals, nursing homes and other longterm care facilities to ensure they continue functioning during power outages caused by natural disasters. These changes would also allow local governments to use federal funding to construct new facilities, or expand current facilities designed to replace an existing local facility damaged in a catastrophic disaster. NACo supports many of the key reforms and funding for authorized programs included in the Disaster Recovery and Reform Act. However, counties are also concerned with portions of the bill (section 609 in particular) which would redirect funding from the Disaster Relief Fund. The Disaster Relief See

“NACO” on

Page 54






Continued From Page 53

Fund supports post-disaster recovery efforts at the local level, and is a key component of disaster recovery for many counties across the country. The Senate has not acted on the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill to date, and is currently working with lawmakers in the House to reconcile differences between two versions of the legislation, including the attachment of the Disaster Recover and Reform Act. The Trump Administration released a statement of administration policy following the House passage raising concerns with the inclusion of the Disaster Recover and Reform Act, saying, “The Administration is concerned that the Disaster Recovery and Reform Act will lead to significantly higher taxpayer spending for disaster programs in the medium term, but supports efforts to reduce disaster risk through pre-disaster mitigation and building greater state, local, tribal, and territorial capability.” NACo will continue work with members of Congress and the administration to ensure key reforms benefiting local governments are preserved in a final measure. Early bird registration for NACo conference ends The National Association of Counties’ 2018 Annual Confer-


ence & Exposition will take place July 13-16, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. Early bird registration ended May 31. However, county officials who wish to attend still have to time to register in advance. Advance registration will continue through July 6. After that date, attendees must register on site. The NACo Annual Conference & Exposition is the only meeting that draws a cross section of elected officials and county staff from across the country. Attendees from rural and urban counties, large and small budgets and staff — all come together to shape NACo’s federal policy agenda, learn, network and share best practices all aimed to help improve residents’ lives and the efficiency of county government. This year’s agenda features more than 100 workshops, committee meetings, forums and sessions with topics ranging from criminal justice and behavorial health to the national opioid epidemic. Featured speakers are Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defence Fund; and Eddie George, NFL legend, entrepreneur and Renaissance Man. For details go to www. http://www.naco.org/events/nacos83rd-annual-conference-exposition.

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Articles inside

AAQC 75-member board holds its April meeting article cover image

AAQC 75-member board holds its April meeting

page 47
AAC Staff Profile: Johnna Hoffman article cover image

AAC Staff Profile: Johnna Hoffman

page 52
Law Clerk Update article cover image

Law Clerk Update

pages 26-27
Collectors talk veterans’ disabilities, budgeting article cover image

Collectors talk veterans’ disabilities, budgeting

page 46
Annual conference information and registration article cover image

Annual conference information and registration

pages 33-35
Legal Corner article cover image

Legal Corner

pages 16-18
Division of Rural Services conference held in May article cover image

Division of Rural Services conference held in May

page 44
Elections, Voter ID on county clerks’ spring agenda article cover image

Elections, Voter ID on county clerks’ spring agenda

page 49
Craighead County sheriff honored by national group article cover image

Craighead County sheriff honored by national group

page 38
County Law Update article cover image

County Law Update

page 24
Rising from the ashes article cover image

Rising from the ashes

pages 39-42
Savings Times 2 article cover image

Savings Times 2

page 25
More than 90 attend AACRMS safety conference article cover image

More than 90 attend AACRMS safety conference

page 45
New system to standardize death reporting article cover image

New system to standardize death reporting

page 32
Research Corner article cover image

Research Corner

pages 12-14
Logan County plays host to assessors article cover image

Logan County plays host to assessors

pages 50-51
Coroners talk substance abuse, profiling at meeting article cover image

Coroners talk substance abuse, profiling at meeting

page 43
From the Director’s Desk article cover image

From the Director’s Desk

pages 7-8
Seems to Me article cover image

Seems to Me

pages 19-21
Justice Bridge saving jails money, reducing liability article cover image

Justice Bridge saving jails money, reducing liability

page 36
Treasurers discuss 911 funding, property tax relief article cover image

Treasurers discuss 911 funding, property tax relief

page 48
Lawrence County’s ’dream’ is realized article cover image

Lawrence County’s ’dream’ is realized

page 37
Litigation Lessons article cover image

Litigation Lessons

pages 22-23
Cover Story: United We Stand article cover image

Cover Story: United We Stand

pages 28-31
President’s Perspective article cover image

President’s Perspective

pages 9-10