FORT WORTH — More than 2,000 elected and appointed county officials from across the country will meet Friday through Monday in Fort Worth to establish national policies affecting counties.Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, protection of the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds and cyber security are key issues to be discussed during the 2013 NACo Annual Conference: County Solutions and Idea Marketplace at the Fort Worth Convention Center.Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, who was president of the group in 2010-2011, said the annual meeting gives officials a time to exchange ideas about successful initiatives in their counties and to decide priorities for legislative issues at the national and state levels.“From the local perspective, we’re going to be highlighting the whole oil and gas drilling process. We’re trying to answer questions and dispel myths about drilling,” Whitley said.U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will speak about implementation of the Affordable Care Act on Monday.Her speech will be followed by a panel discussion “Where is Health Care Going? The Public Sector Impact.”The panel will be composed of former Health and Human Services secretary, Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt; Dr. Richard Migliori, chief medical officer for United Health Group and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe; and Timothy McBride, Ph.D., professor, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis.Other speakers include J.R. Martinez, Army veteran, actor, author and motivational speaker; and Matthew K. Rose, chairman and CEO of Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway Company.The group’s president, Chris Rodgers, a Douglas County, Neb., county commissioner, said the conference is the most important annual gathering of county officials.“The County Solutions and Idea Marketplace offers the best opportunity for leaders in county government to determine our federal legislative priorities and set a course of action to meet the challenges facing the communities we serve,” Rodgers said in a news release.Tours of Cowboys Stadium and Lockheed Martin’s jet fighter assembly line will be available for the 2,200 attendees, Whitley said.The conference will be capped with a concert by Texas artist Pat Green at Billy Bob’s Texas on Monday.Whitley said the event affords an opportunity to showcase Tarrant County.“We’re just thankful that it’s supposed to be 95 degrees and not 105 while they are here,” he said.
Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981 Twitter: @stevecamp