Federal Advocacy Update

October 11, 2013

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NLC Continues to Urge the Feds to Open for Business
Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.3023

As the federal fiscal standoff that has shut down the federal government and threatens an unprecedented default continues, it remains unclear whether the House, the Senate, and the President are any closer to reaching an agreement to end the stalemate.  NLC and city leaders continue to call on our representatives in Washington to open for business and avert going over the fiscal cliff. Lend your voice to the effort! »

City Fiscal Conditions Improving, But Tenuous
Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

City financial officials reported cautious optimism about city finances in the 28th annual City Fiscal Conditions report, released this week by NLC. Cities reported an increase in sales and income tax revenues, as well as an increased ending balance in 2012. However, this optimism was tempered by continued concerns about declining property tax revenues, growing health benefit expenses, pensions, and infrastructure costs.NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony raised concerns that these gains could be threatened by the federal government shutdown. "This recovery could be overwhelmed by the inability of the federal government to put its house in order," said Anthony. "Cities will feel the impact of the current government shutdown and will certainly feel the consequences of the nation not raising the debt ceiling on time." Read the report »

Chairman Releases Online Sales Tax Principles
Lars Etzkorn, 202.626.3173

Recently, the House Judiciary Committee opened the door to movement on the online sales tax issue by releasing principles to guide the committee's work on the subject. As part of the announcement, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) acknowledged that the issue is real and needs to be addressed. The principles are encompassed within a Senate bill passed earlier this year, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 (S. 744). A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), H.R. 684.However, Chairman Goodlatte says he wants a new "simpler" bill.  Unfortunately, he has yet to announce a process or timeline to draft one or get it through his committee. In response to inquiries, Chairman Goodlatte's staff suggested that the Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing on the principles, after they have been reviewed publically. NLC believes that H.R. 684 represents a solution, and is continuing to ask Chairman Goodlatte to schedule a hearing on the bill. Read more »

NLC Responds to Proposed Fair Housing Rule
Mike Wallace, 202.626.3025

In September, NLC joined the National Association of Counties and the United States Conference of Mayors in expressing concerns about a proposed fair housing rule. NLC endorsed comments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that raised concerns that the proposed rule provided insufficient protection for jurisdictions from litigation for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act. HUD stated that one goal of the proposed rule was intended to reduce the lawsuits faced by HUD grantees attempting to comply with currently unclear Fair Housing requirements. NLC encouraged HUD to incorporate a safe harbor provision into its final rule that would protect jurisdictions whose fair housing plans had been accepted by HUD. The comments also suggested that the proposed rule reaches too far in its requirement for cities to consider factors not specifically authorized in the Fair Housing Act when creating fair housing plans, such as access to education, employment, and environmental health. Read NLC's comments »

NLC Opposes Changing Money Market Funds
Lars Etzkorn, 202.626.3173

In comments to the Securities and Exchange Commission, NLC opposed proposals to move money market funds from a stable $1.00 price per share to a floating net asset value or to subject prime funds to redemption restrictions in the form of fees or gates. These proposals were intended to reduce the willingness of investors to run during a panic, as they would share in the fund's losses if the value declined.  NLC argued that the proposals are not in the best interests of investors or issuers; rather, they would undermine a key instrument that investors rely on for stability and liquidity, while depriving local governments of an important cash management tool and would cause local governments to pay more to borrow money to finance the construction of basic infrastructure such as schools, roads, bridges, sewers and hospitals.  There is no public target date for a final decision. Read NLC's comments »

Blog Posts

Visit CitiesSpeak.org, NLC's blog, for these and other recent posts on important federal advocacy issues:

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