As representatives closest to the people, the Snohomish County Council brings the concerns of our communities to our state and federal partners. The 2020 state legislative session ended March 12. One of the major actions it took was the response to the COVID-19 health emergency. Legislators approved $200 million to support state and local health agencies in responding to the outbreak. This money will help public health agencies and medical centers test for and respond to positive COVID-19 cases. Part of the money also will help fund increased unemployment claims caused by missed work due to the outbreak. We have seen great coordination between our local, state and federal partners in this response. I also appreciate our community members who have stepped up to support one another during this difficult time.
Another priority for the county during the recent session was the cost of elections. County auditors are responsible for administering elections each year. Most jurisdictions (cities, school districts, fire districts, etc.) pay their share of election costs including staffing, voter pamphlets and ballots. Historically, the state has not paid their share of these costs. We have joined other counties across the state in an attempt to change this. We were successful and the legislature adopted a law that requires the state to reimburse counties for their share of election costs.
At the federal level, two of our key priorities are transportation projects and the expansion of rural broadband access.
We rely, in part, on federal funding to build and expand capacity within our transportation system. We have included funding for five state highways in our federal legislative agenda, with one of those being Highway 9. It is a major route of travel for North County residents and is also the only
north-south highway running from one end of the county to the other, aside from I-5.
We continue to advocate for roadway improvements to this important corridor.
We have been doing a lot of work on rural broadband expansion countywide. We are partnering with the State Broadband Office and Public Works Board to put together a plan for rural broadband. We are also creating the Broadband Action Team, which brings government, business and community partners together to identify needs. We have asked our federal partners for support to bring reliable high speed internet to more communities.
I appreciate the partnership of our state and federal representatives and look forward to continuing to work together to prioritize the needs of the citizens of Snohomish County.
Nate Nehring is a member of the Snohomish County Council and represents District 1, which includes Arlington and Marysville. Nate.Nehring@snoco.org.