IAC works to benefit five northern counties

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Shoshone County Commissioner Mike Fitzgerald speaks during the District 1 Idaho Association of Counties quarterly luncheon in Coeur d’Alene. Photo by JOSH McDONALD

COEUR d’ALENE — The District 1 Idaho Association of Counties met last Friday in Coeur d’Alene for their annual legislative lunch.

Among the attendees were the county commissioners of the five North Idaho counties, as well as many state legislators and other local government employees.

Shoshone County Commissioner Chairman Mike Fitzgerald headed up the luncheon as the 2019 IAC Chairman and he led the conversation during their roundtable discussion.

“The District 1 IAC is a tight-knit group of elected officials representing the people of the five northern counties,” Fitzgerald said. “Our interests and needs vary vastly from those of the rest of the state. It is therefore highly important for the District 1 IAC membership to work together and provide a unified voice when approaching state legislators.”

The discussion was used as a way for local figureheads to discuss several very important topics of relevance — including the upcoming Medicaid expansion, public defense, Idaho Department of Lands’ property acquisition, DMV and drivers licensing changes, and many others.

While many of the topics came across very dry to even many of the legislators, all present took advantage of the opportunity and made sure to communicate some of the issues their communities are facing. This also allowed for the opportunity to see if any of their fellow civil servants had any solutions, ideas or were facing the same issues.

“Topics that rise to the top almost always include some combination of services, delivery of services and costs,” Fitzgerald said. “Currently, major topics include — the roll out and payment of Medicaid expansion; taxes; and funding for schools and roads. Having face-to-face communications with our state senators and representatives comes back tenfold. Out of the gate, it helps us cross the first bridge in communication. This leads to much easier and open conversations when issues that are critical to our area crop up.”

As mentioned, the meeting was well attended, which Fitzgerald really attributed to each member’s desire to improve their community.

“I believe that the strong attendance and openness of discussions demonstrate the quality of individuals representing our communities,” Fitzgerald said. “Each one of the elected persons in that room cares about making things better.”

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