The Barbed Wire - May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020
RCRC Annual Meeting in Napa County Canceled
Federal Funding for State and Local Government
Small Counties Urge Release of Federal Funds to Meet COVID-19 Demands
Governor Extends Workers Compensation Benefits to Employees Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Executive Order Clarifies Property Tax Penalty Relief Relating to COVID-19
Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 3012 (Wood) – Residential Property Insurance
State Legislative Update - Revised Calendars for the Assembly and State Senate
Guidance Available to Local Governments for COVID-19 Resources and Grant Management
State Water Resources Control Board Adopts Policy for Developing the Fund Expenditure Plan for the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund
Water Infrastructure Legislation Takes a Step Forward
Rural Broadband Deployment Efforts
Governor Declares Wildfire Preparedness Week as State Fire Agencies Brace for Heavy Fire Season
CPUC Imposes Penalties for PG&E for 2017 and 2018 Fires
CalPERS Provides Guidance to Employers and Members Amid COVID-19

RCRC Annual Meeting in Napa County Canceled

The RCRC Annual Meeting 2020 has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This meeting was scheduled to occur in Napa County this September. Several factors led to this difficult decision, most notably, current and future state and local government guidelines. Planning is underway to hold a future Annual Meeting in Napa – most likely in 2022 – in order to enjoy the beauty of the County as well as contribute to its economic recovery. More information on the return to Napa will be forthcoming after consideration and action by the RCRC Board of Directors.

Federal Funding for State and Local Government

On Monday, House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-New York) announced a proposal for the next phase of relief for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Representative Lowey’s proposal will include two separate yet equal funds for counties and cities and will provide vital relief to address both lost revenue and increased expenditures as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the Republican side, during their first face-to-face meeting after five weeks away from the Capitol, Senate Republicans engaged in a vigorous debate about whether to appropriate more money into state and local governments. Some Republicans were sympathetic to the sharp revenue losses experienced by states and municipalities whereas others want to hold the line amid the growing deficit concerns.

RCRC expects House Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to offer the first version of language for the next phase of relief funds, with the goal of giving the House leverage in negotiations with Senate Republicans. However, as legislative efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic shift from immediate crisis response to longer-term economic and public health recovery plan, RCRC expects partisan discourse to return to pre-pandemic levels. As such, no agreement is expected to be reached on additional funding until at least the end of June.

Small Counties Urge Release of Federal Funds to Meet COVID-19 Demands

On Monday, county administrators/executive officers of all 42 of California’s counties with populations less than 500,000 joined in one voice to urge Governor Newsom to release federal funding to address the unprecedented county demands of reducing and containing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

County governments carry the obligation of implementing directives from the State Department of Public Health, providing safety net services, conducting disease tracking and tracing, and providing other direct health-related services. Yet, California’s counties with smaller populations have not received their allocation of federal CARES funding (cities under 500,000 are also impacted). Immediate allocation of these funds would provide urgent cash flow assistance to small counties struggling with the expenditures that specifically relate to the pandemic response. RCRC was helpful in ensuring all 42 counties signed on to the letter, available here; however, a note of appreciation is in order to the administrative offices in Santa Barbara County for crafting and managing the letter.

In conjunction with the effort made by county administrative officers, in a bipartisan letter to the Governor, members of the Legislature – led by Assembly Member Jim Wood (D-North Coast) - advocated for the distribution of these federal funds to counties and cities with populations under 500,000. Legislators urged that the expeditious distribution of the funds to smaller governments would provide them critical resources to continue meeting the demands of the moment. To date, the Newsom Administration has indicated a release of federal funds will occur after the May Revision is unveiled on May 14th.

Governor Extends Workers Compensation Benefits to Employees Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On Wednesday, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-62-20 (E.O.) establishing enhanced and robust workers compensation benefits to qualified employees who contract the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Order is retroactive to March 19, 2020 and applies for sixty days following the issuance of the order (through July 5, 2020). Amongst the aspects of the enhanced workers compensation benefits include the following:

  • Applicable to any employee directed by their employer to return to work outside of the home.
  • Within 15 days of the issuance of the Order, employees with dates of injury prior to March 19 may file claims under the presumption.
  • A positive test must occur within 14 days of performing work outside of the home at the direction of the employer.
  • A claimant must have tested positive or been diagnosed by a licensed physician with a positive test within 30 days confirming the diagnosis.
  • Employers must review and rebut claims within 30 days of filing, or the claim is automatically deemed “approved”; denial would be allowed following the discovery of “new information”.
  • Subsequent payments (i.e. “4850”) may only be enjoyed after an employee exhausts sick leave.
  • Benefits are statutory only and do not include housing or living expenses.
  • Temporary disability recertification is required every 15 days for the first 45 days of the claim; thereafter, the recertification period reverts to normal.
  • Temporary disability may only be claimed after any other state or federal benefits are exhausted.
  • Apportionment to be specifically allowed.

Last week, as part of a coalition of employer-organizations, RCRC contributed to the conversation about how workers compensation benefits should intersect with COVID-19 by laying out core principles to guide any decisions. To see how the Governor’s Executive Order compares to those core principles, read the coalition letter here.

Executive Order Clarifies Property Tax Penalty Relief Relating to COVID-19

On Wednesday, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order specifically authorizing County Tax Collectors to waive late-payment penalties for certain property owners who are unable to timely pay their property taxes due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Several counties had previously implemented programs to assist these taxpayers. The Order clarifies the legal basis for these programs and establishes certain baseline criteria, without limiting any other authority that counties may have to waive, cancel, or excuse penalties, costs, or interest. The Order will remain in effect for one year, until May 6, 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting stay-at-home order have severely impacted the finances of many homeowners and small businesses. As a result, some were unable to pay the recent installment of property taxes due on April 10th, and may also be unable to pay the future installments due in December 2020 and April 2021. Failure to timely pay these taxes results in an automatic 10% penalty, plus other costs and interest. In order to allow counties to assist these taxpayers, RCRC partnered with other county organizations to request that the Governor issue an order clarifying the legal authority for waivers of penalties and interest - subject to specific criteria. View the joint statement here.

Only residences occupied by the taxpayer and property owned by small businesses (as defined by the Small Business Administration) are eligible for waiver of penalties and interest. To obtain this relief, the taxpayer must file a timely application with the County Tax Collector, and demonstrate that they have suffered economic hardship, or were otherwise unable timely pay their property tax, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All taxes on the property must have been current prior to initiation of the stay-at-home order (March 4th), and properties whose taxes are paid through an impound account are ineligible for these waivers, among other criteria.

RCRC-member County Counsels are welcome to contact RCRC General Counsel Arthur Wylene if there are any questions.

Bill of the Week: Assembly Bill 3012 (Wood) – Residential Property Insurance

RCRC has lent its support to Assembly Bill 3012, authored by Assembly Member Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa). AB 3012 would place specified requirements on insurers’ claim reimbursements in the wake of a loss related to a state of emergency, as well as aid non-renewed homeowners in finding insurance coverage.

Specifically, AB 3012 would require insurers to provide payment of no less than 30 percent of the policy limit without an itemed claim, and allow policyholders to recover an equivalent amount for their claim even if they choose to rebuild elsewhere. In addition, AB 3012 would give non-renewed homeowners the ability to find new coverage in their area by educating them about the California Insurance Finder, and the development of a clearinghouse program through the California FAIR Plan. RCRC believes AB 3012 will bring much-needed aid to homeowners that have either suffered total losses due to wildfires or other natural disasters, or have experienced homeowners insurance non-renewal due to their location in a high-fire risk area.

The Assembly Insurance Committee heard AB 3012 on Thursday, where it passed on a 13-0 vote. RCRC testified in support, along with RCRC members Nevada County and Placer County. Notably, representatives from the FAIR Plan also spoke in support of the measure’s provisions directly related to the clearinghouse program that would be created under their purview. RCRC’s letter can be accessed here, and the California FAIR Plan’s letter can be accessed here. For more information, Staci Heaton, RCRC Senior Regulatory Affairs Advocate, can be reached at (916) 447-4806 or

State Legislative Update - Revised Calendars for the Assembly and State Senate

After a month-and-a-half long hiatus, the Assembly resumed its Legislative Session on Monday. The Senate plans to resume its Legislative Session on May 11th. The Recess, which began in mid-March, was imposed in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Over the next several weeks, policy committees in both houses are scheduled to hold hearings to hear and act on hundreds of bills. Work is also underway on the revised state budget that accounts for changes in revenues since January, which is due by May 14th. As the Legislature continues to assess the extraordinary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature and the Newsom Administration will face difficult budgetary decisions.

In addition, the Assembly and Senate issued calendars for the remainder of the 2020 Legislative session. The Assembly calendar can be accessed here. The Senate calendar can be accessed here. For more information regarding state legislative activities, please contact the RCRC Governmental Affairs staff at (916) 447-4806.

Guidance Available to Local Governments for COVID-19 Resources and Grant Management

With all of the potential federal funding for the medical and economic recovery of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is accessible to local government, RCRC staff attended a Grants Management Webcast for best practices and guidance for COVID-19 federal grants for state and local governments. This funding delivers a range of relief, including personal protective equipment, medical equipment, services, and loans to businesses. It also provides grant funding through programs managed by multiple Federal agencies and designed to benefit a diverse set of recipients/programs. The webinar provided a high level overview of the financial management and internal controls over disaster funding, specifically COVID-19 funding. As local agencies shift to manage and distribute new levels of grant funding, preparation and awareness of responsibilities to manage the funds and track performance is a crucial component. Local governments should ensure they understand the process, from eligibility through reporting and auditing.

Here are some helpful COVID-19 resource links for financial management best practices to use when administering COVID-19 grant proceeds.

Other assistance resources:

State Water Resources Control Board Adopts Policy for Developing the Fund Expenditure Plan for the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund

On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) adopted the policy and expenditure plan (here) for the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund (SAFER), stemming from RCRC-supported Senate Bill 200 (Monning; 2019). SB 200 provides up to $130 million per year for communities impacted by unsafe and unaffordable drinking water. The Draft Policy was released for public comment on January 3, 2020 and were due on February 3, 2020; see here for RCRC’s comments. While the Water Board expects to make refinements to this SAFER plan as this new program begins to get underway, many stakeholders expressed consensus during the Water Board hearing.

Water Infrastructure Legislation Takes a Step Forward

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Committee) held a markup for S. 3591, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA 2020) and S. 3590, the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. The legislation as amended passed the Committee by a vote of 21 to 0. AWIA 2020 provides roughly $17 billion in new federal authorizations to invest in US infrastructure projects across the country. It also sets a two-year goal for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete its feasibility studies for potential projects. The Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 reauthorizes Safe Drinking Water Act (S.1251) programs that support drinking water infrastructure and provide resources and technical assistance to communities facing critical drinking water needs.

The two measures are the latest infrastructure-related bills to be reported out of the Committee following the surface transportation bill (S. 2302), which was reported favorably by the committee in July. Together, the three bills represent the Senate’s answer to President Trump’s call for broad infrastructure reform. While President Trump and Speaker Pelosi have pushed for infrastructure investments to be included in the next coronavirus relief package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has said he does not believe it is appropriate to use the pandemic to pay for infrastructure.

Click here to view statements from Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Delaware) on the Committee’s passage of the legislation.

Rural Broadband Deployment Efforts

Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) indicated in a video update his desire to dole out billions of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund dollars as well as continue work on important legislation to improve infrastructure in the United States, especially rural broadband. Additionally, Senate Homeland Security Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-Michigan) and Assistant Speaker of the House Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) sent a letter to Congressional leadership calling for increased investments in rural broadband infrastructure. They requested the allocation of funding in the next coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package to ensure low-interest financing options are available to historically underserved rural communities and public-private partnerships to help deploy broadband.

Congressional leadership has responded to these and other calls for increased broadband deployment in the next COVID-19 relief package, repeatedly mentioning the area as a top priority for funding given how many Americans have recently transitioned to remote work and education.

Governor Declares Wildfire Preparedness Week as State Fire Agencies Brace for Heavy Fire Season

California observed its annual Wildfire Preparedness Week throughout the week of May 3 through May 9 to help raise awareness and prepare residents across the state for the coming fire season. On Monday, Governor Newsom officially kicked off the weeklong educational campaign with an official proclamation, noting that approximately one-quarter of the state’s population lives in high fire risk areas and this year’s fire season is anticipated to be high due to drier than normal conditions.

The state’s top wildfire response officials, including California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, CAL FIRE Chief Thom Porter, CalOES Director Mark Ghilarducci, CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley and USDA Forest Service Region 5 Deputy Regional Forester Tony Scardina, held a joint press conference on Monday to discuss their efforts amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to continue wildfire prevention efforts and planning for this year’s wildfire season. All noted this year’s campaign would necessarily be different due to COVID-19, and would focus on social media and traditional media outreach instead of their usual road trip around the state visiting high fire risk areas. CAL FIRE also stressed their website, which has a variety of resources to help with home hardening, defensible space, and finding programs to help fund those activities for low income residents.

Chief Porter provided a more detailed update on CAL FIRE’s fire preparedness activities to the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection on Wednesday. Reaffirming the Governor’s anticipated high fire potential for this summer and fall, Porter reported that CAL FIRE has hired their first wave of seasonal firefighters and has been doing remote training and in-person drills with social distancing measures following state protocols. Currently CAL FIRE has no COVID-19 cases among its ranks. Porter confirmed that he expects the agency to be fully staffed and will be staffing every engine as the state moves into the peak part of wildfire season. CAL FIRE has also continued to perform controlled burns for fire prevention purposes, and is halfway to their yearly goal for prescribed fire acreage.

RCRC continues to work with state and federal fire prevention agencies to further the goals of fuels treatment and forest health throughout RCRC member counties. The Governor’s proclamation can be viewed here.

CPUC Imposes Penalties for PG&E for 2017 and 2018 Fires

At its May 7th meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) imposed substantial penalties on PG&E for its role in fifteen wildfires that occurred in 2017 and 2018.

The CPUC noted that the penalties included in a proposed $1.675 billion settlement agreement with PG&E were too low relative to the harm. As such, the CPUC increased the financial obligations imposed on PG&E. The penalties bar PG&E from seeking ratepayer recovery for nearly $1.8 billion related to transmission and distribution safety inspections and repairs and costs related to wildfires. Shareholders will also be required to pay $114 million to fund nearly two dozen system enhancement initiatives that include vegetation management, system wide analyses, community engagement initiatives, and work to increase transparency and accountability.

Additionally, the CPUC directed that any tax savings for shareholder obligations arising from the modified settlement agreement (estimated to be $468 million in federal and state taxes) shall be returned for the benefit of ratepayers once PG&E realizes those savings.

Together these, penalties are anticipated save residents about 3% on their electric bills starting next year.

Citing the unique bankruptcy situation, currently utility indebtedness to wildfire claimants, and upheaval in the financial markets, the CPUC declined to impose an $200 million fine on PG&E, which would have been payable to the General Fund and which PG&E sought to pay out of the Fire Victims Trust.

CalPERS Provides Guidance to Employers and Members Amid COVID-19

RCRC recently provided feedback to CalPERS on matters impacting counties, active members, and retirees. In the recently updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), CalPERS answered some of the difficult questions being asked, such as:

  • If There Is an Investment Loss, When Will Those Costs Be Reflected in the Valuation Reports and Need to Be Paid? How Long Are Investment Loss-Related Costs Spread Out for Employers?
  • Will/Can CalPERS Offer the Options for Employers to Pay Just Part of Their Annual Unaccrued Asset Liability (UAL) Costs and Defer the Rest Until Either More Is Known About Employers' Revenues or They Are in a Better Financial Situation?
  • What Is CalPERS Current Financial Necessity Policy? What Does It Take to Qualify?
  • If an Employee Is Collecting Unemployment Insurance During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Is Their Time Considered Pensionable Compensation or Compensation Earnable?

We encourage you to read the information provided by CalPERS. All FAQ’s are available online.

In addition, in a letter to stakeholders on Monday, CalPERS CEO Marcie Frost provided an update on several aspects of CalPERS operations:

  • Operations are currently being managed remotely, and a transition back to the offices will begin on June 1 if the COVID-19 data remains stable and continues to improve throughout this month.
  • Phone appointments for retirement counseling were at their highest level last week, while retirement check processing remains unchanged and other operations continue to run well.
  • Significant changes in the annual rate development process with CalPERS health plans have improved transparency and are expected to lead to better rate outcomes for all participants in the CalPERS health program.
  • The 2020 Open Enrollment period is postponed by one week (September 21 – October 16), as CalPERS has delayed the determination of final rates in order to better understand the likely 2021 impact of COVID-19 on the health delivery system and associated costs.
  • CalPERS will cover out of pocket costs for in-network care related to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
  • As of April 30, CalPERS assets were back in positive territory, although market volatility is expected to continue for some time.
  • The next Board and Committee meetings, scheduled for June 15-17, are expected to be in person through a combination of social distancing and video conference.

For more information about each of these operational updates, the letter is available here.

RCRC members with questions or concerns that are not addressed in the updated FAQ or the latest CalPERS Update may contact RCRC Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer Lisa McCargar by email or phone at 916-447-4809 for help reaching CalPERS for direct assistance.


County Drought Advisory Group Webinar

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has organized two webinars for the sixth CDAG stakeholder meeting to discuss and gather input on the Draft Report and Risk Scoring Tool released on April 14, 2020. This will be a 2-day meeting:

  • Part 1 for the sixth CDAG meeting will be held on May 27, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon via webinar only. The purpose of this part is to review, clarify, discuss, and receive comments on the drought and water shortage risk scoring and tool. Webinar registration information and further details can be found on the event page here.
  • Part 2 of the sixth CDAG meeting will be held on May 28, 2019 from 9 a.m. to noon via webinar only. The purpose of this part is to discuss and receive comments on the Draft Report recommendations addressing drought and water shortage contingency planning for small water systems and rural communities. Webinar registration information and further details can be found on the event page here.

Agendas for both webinars will be posted to their respective event pages prior to each meeting.


First Groundwater Sustainability Plans Public Comment Period Ending Soon

Public comments on the first set of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) are due May 15, 2020. The next comment period closes June 3, 2020. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) extended public comment periods for submitted GSPs by 30 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DWR encourages public review and comment on submitted plans which show how local water agencies plan to manage groundwater basins for long-term sustainability. Comments can be posted and viewed online on the DWR SGMA Portal. Information about how to comment on a plan can be found in fact sheets in English and Spanish. For questions, email


PG&E Announces Weekly Public Webinars on Wildfire Safety and PSPS Mitigation Efforts

PG&E announced a schedule of public webinars at which it will provide information on local Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) and wildfire safety efforts, including how it will make PSPS events smaller in size and shorter in duration, efforts to install new grid technology and harden electrical infrastructure, and enhanced vegetation management activities.

Webinars will take place on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Webinars have taken place for Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. Upcoming webinars are scheduled as follows:

  • May 13 – Placer, Nevada, and Sierra Counties (sign up here)
  • May 20 – Colusa, Yolo, and Solano Counties
  • May 27 – El Dorado, Amador, and Calaveras Counties
  • June 17 – Mendocino and Lake Counties
  • June 24 – Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties
  • July 1 – Humboldt, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties
  • July 8 – Glenn, Tehama, and Shasta Counties
  • July 15 – Alpine, Tuolumne, and Mariposa Counties
  • July 22 – Merced, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties
  • July 29 – San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Kern Counties
  • August 5 – Tulare, Madera, and Fresno Counties

See a full schedule here. Check back to sign up for future webinars.


Career Opportunity – Tehama County Director of Public Works

Tehama County is seeking applicants for the position of Public Works Director. Applications are due by 5pm on May 15, 2020. See here for details.


WIR Conference Gathering Cancelled - Stay Tuned for Alternative Dates

Due to the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation across the nation, after painstakingly thorough consideration, the 2020 National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Western Interstate Region (WIR) Conference scheduled to take place at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, has been cancelled. The letter from WIR President, Supervisor Kevin Cann of Mariposa County, to the WIR Board of Directors may be viewed here.

A tremendous program was planned, and the conference team is exploring alternative options for members to utilize, including the possibility of the 2021 Conference being held in California. We encourage you to keep the WIR conference dates on your calendar. And, please plan to participate in virtual meetings and upcoming WIR workshops that may be offered as a partial replacement for Mariposa County in 2020.

For the latest WIR Conference updates, click here.


Coronavirus Relief Available from the Small Business Administration

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering several coronavirus relief options to help alleviate the financial hardships resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The programs have received an overwhelming number of applications from businesses, so be sure to check the SBA website for the latest updates on the status of these programs.

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program. After initial funding was quickly depleted, the program received an infusion of an additional $310 billion, allowing the SBA to resume the program on April 27, 2020. Be sure to check the SBA website for the most recent information on the application process and availability of funds.
  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance provides up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans can be used to bridge the gap for businesses while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan; small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
  • SBA Debt Relief provides a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are interested in programs for other disasters, the SBA Disaster Loan Assistance portal is available here.


Use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds for Infectious Disease Response

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds may be used for a range of eligible activities that prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Check out the Quick Guide to CDBG Eligible Activities to Support Infectious Disease Response for guidance and additional information.


Economic Development Resources for Communities and Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus

The California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) has assembled resources for communities and business impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The page will be continually evolving as new resources become available. To go directly to the CALED resources, click here.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Resource Page Available

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC), RCRC’s local government partner, continues to provide excellent up-to-date state and federal information to counties on this ever-changing pandemic event. We encourage visiting CSAC’s COVID-19 resource page, which contains vital links to all CSAC COVID-19 advocacy letters and resources. CSAC’s staff continues to work around the clock to update activities so that all of California’s counties can remain properly informed.