Government Relations Manager -
Environment & Natural Resources
AMC's Government Relations staff perform a variety of services for member counties. From overseeing development of the AMC Legislative Platform to working with state agencies and discussing county concerns with state legislators, policy analysts work year-round on often complex issues that have significant ramifications on county budgets.
Every two years, AMC adopts a new legislative platform, which coincides with the biennial legislative session. This platform broadly outlines AMC’s vision, as well as eight to 10 basic principles underlying any legislative positions. Under each of the basic principles are specific statements supporting policies and outlining action statements, which form the basis for AMC policy analysts’ lobbying efforts during the legislative session.
The AMC platform encompasses virtually all areas of county concerns, including financing of human services programs, administration of jails, county board authority, funding for health and long term care services, economic development, affordable housing, agriculture policy, solid waste management, transportation financing, the county/state fiscal relationship and many other areas.
Development of the platform is based largely on the recommendations of our five AMC Policy Committees, which meet at least four times during the year to refine policies related to their respective areas: General Government, Health & Human Services, Environment & Natural Resources, Public Safety and Transportation & Infrastructure. More than 130 delegates serve on these committees. Each member county is represented by at least one delegate on one of the four policy committees, with committee assignments determined by each of 10 AMC districts. Each district selects delegates to serve on each policy committee. The committees often make use of subcommittees to delve into specific topics and provide the larger committee with background and recommendations.
County officials and staff have additional input into the platform during district meetings, which occur at least two times per year. During fall district meetings, counties receive copies of the draft platform and are invited to submit resolutions and amendments to the platform. Both the draft platform and any proposed resolutions are voted on during the AMC Annual Meeting, which takes place during the AMC Annual Conference in late November/early December.
While the platform forms the groundwork for the policy analysts during the legislative session, it is important to note that the platform is always a "work in progress." Changes are considered by policy committee members throughout the following year, with our March Legislative Conference providing an opportunity for the full delegate assembly to revise the platform.
Activities at the State Legislature
More than 80 percent of all bills introduced to the Minnesota State Legislature have some sort of impact on counties; consequently, the legislative session proves to be an intense few months for AMC policy analysts. They work proactively to incorporate county concerns into legislation and reactively as they respond to proposed bills that would positively or negatively affect county government. The analysts attend House and Senate committees, talk with legislators and their staffs, and correspond regularly with other local government entities.
Policy analysts spend a good deal of time in communicating with counties, whether it be through faxes and the AMC Update electronic newsletter. Because the county message is often best heard when delivered by commissioners in legislators’ own areas, counties are often called upon to contact their own legislators to share their concerns directly.
Working with State Agencies, Other Entities
Counties don’t operate in a vacuum, and neither does AMC. Staff, committees and volunteer leaders meet often with state agencies and other local government entities on joint areas of concern. AMC is active on many intergovernmental organizations, where we work closely with representatives of state departments such as Human Services and Corrections. State officials are often invited to speak before AMC Policy Committees as delegates struggle with policies or gather background information. AMC works closely with other local government associations, such as the League of Minnesota Cities, since changes in legislation and/or policy often also affects them.