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NACo Human Services & Education Steering Committee Report - 2013 Legislative Conference


Posted Date: 
March 13, 2013
Contact: 
Carl Seilstad, Fergus County Commissioner

The NACo Human Services Committee passed two resolutions at our Legislative Conference in March, 2013.  We passed a proposed Resolution on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  We have been proposing this resolution for the last two years, as we have yet to see any clear legislation dealing with our current immigration system. 

There was an agreement that immigration reform must occur soon.   While immigration is the responsibility of the Federal Government, counties are directly affected by immigration.  Counties provide health, education and community protection to our residents regardless of immigration status.

We also passed a Resolution in Support of Recognizing Prostituted Children and Youth as Victims of Sexual Exploitation.  This resolution considers exploiting youth as children in need of protection and not as criminals. 

We listened to a very informative presentation by Alice Hill, Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security.  Her presentation was on combating Human Trafficking, also known as “Blue Campaign.  Human trafficking is modern day slavery and involves the use of force fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

Any minor under the age of 18, who is induced into commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking under U.S. Law, regardless of whether there is force, fraud or coercion.  Human Trafficking’s a $32 billion per year global industry and there are more than 20 million victims world wide.  The number of youth at risk in the commercial exploitation is 100,000 to 300,000 each year.

The main targeted youth are girls from the age of 12-14 and boys 11-13; runaway children and socially disturbed children.  There recruitment tools are the internet and in the schools.  The Department of Homeland Security is launching a nationwide campaign to get everyone involved in combating these erroneous criminal activities.  If you go to the website www.fletc.gov under Blue Campaign it lists trainings.  This is a place your law enforcement could use to get training information.  I also found that www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/blue-campaign has information available for coffee shop trainings and other sources.  If all else fails you could email scott.santoro@dhs.gov for information.  I have forwarded the information to my, Fergus County Sheriff’s Department,

The Human Services Committee also heard 5 resolutions from other committees, which are:

  1.  Resolution supporting Local Food Systems in the Farm Bill.  This resolution would incorporate into the Farm Bill preference for locally grown and produced foods.  Passed by Human Services.
  2. Proposed Resolution in support of new funding stream for community based Mental Health Programs.  What this resolution does it takes a percentage of the funds collected by the federal government from the manufacturers of firearms and ammunition under the Pittman-Robertson Act (PR Act) to be allocated to the states in order to maintain successful community based programs at the local levels.

    For those not aware the PR Act money goes to the States Fish, Wildlife and Parks Departments.  The designated use of these monies by the Federal Government is very specific for the States Fish, Wildlife and Parks Departments, therefore the monies are used for Administering the Game and Fish Programs, to pay biologist, and other projects.

    In the resolution it stated that the recent rise in gun and ammunition sales hat funding for wildlife conservation under the Pittman-Robertson Act will not experience a decrease, but will be able to maintain its funding.

    As we all know any time gun control is mentioned the sales of guns and ammunition sky rocket.  Eventually, they come back down to normal levels.  This resolution passed out of our committee with 4 no votes, mine being one of the no votes.  I explained that I supported the resolution whole heartily, but not with it being tied to the PR Act, for these reasons:

  • Taking money from the PR Act would be taking money away from states that would have to be made up elsewhere.
  • The increase in the PR Act would not be sustainable.
  • There should be other more reliable/sustainable funding sources for    Mental Health has always been underfunded and tying it to guns and ammunition sales is not the funding solution.
  1. Resolution supporting ongoing Federal support for local Safety Net Providers.  Passed.
  2. Resolution supporting Development and Expansion of Parity for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders under the Affordable Care Act.  Passed.
  3. Resolution on Prevention Efforts related to Community Violence local health jurisdictions are ideally intended to create and implement violence prevention programs, with particular recognition of the health impact associated with community violence. Passed.

As with most resolutions they all come with dollars attached.  At this point I believe we need to try to protect what we have and not ask for more.  Any ones guess is as good as mine as to what is going to happen with future spending  at the Federal level.

Overall the Spring Legislative Conference was very good.

Carl Seilstad | (406) 535-5119 | commissioners@co.fergus.mt.us