Federal Advocacy Update

July 3, 2014

In this issue:

NLC and State Municipal Leagues Call for Transportation Funding

Leslie Wollack, 202.626.3029

As the stalemate over the future of the federal transportation program continues in the House and Senate, in a letter to Capitol Hill, NLC's Executive Director and the Executive Directors of all 49 state municipal leagues continued the push for federal transportation funding. Speaking on behalf of the 19,000 cities and towns across the county, the group urged Congress to take action on a long term reauthorization of surface transportation programs before the current program expires on September 30. Citing local governments' role as majority owners and operators of surface transportation programs, the group also called for a greater say over how federal transportation dollars are invested in local communities. Read the letter here, and write your own letter to Congress taking advantage of NLC's transportation advocacy toolkit.

Adding to the sense of urgency for getting a new program in place is the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary's warning that, without congressional action, the federal highway trust fund will be insolvent as early as August and DOT will be forced to reduce payments to states and transit agencies. By the Congressional Budget Office's estimate, the HTF will need an additional $6.6 billion and the Mass Transit Account will need another $1.5 billion in order to meet anticipated obligations through December 31, 2014.

Tell Your Representative: Oppose H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act

Julia Pulidindi, 202.626.3176

Next week, the House plans to vote on the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA, H.R. 3086), a bill that would strip local governments of the authority to tax Internet access. Please contact your representatives and ask them to vote against this bill.

To help foster the growth of the Internet, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) was first passed in 1998 and placed a temporary ban on taxing Internet access; the current ban expires on November 1, 2014.

On June 18, over opposition from NLC, the House Judiciary Committee approved PITFA. Besides a permanent ban on Internet taxes, PITFA would end the ability of the ten states that were "grandfathered" under ITFA to continue imposing existing taxes on Internet access.

Last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported that, due to the removal of the grandfather clause, PITFA would impose an unfunded mandate on state and local governments. The revenue losses would be significant: Texas could lose an estimated $358 million in revenue; Ohio could lose $65 million; South Dakota could lose $13 million; and Wisconsin could lose $127 million.

To help defeat this bill, NLC is calling on city leaders to contact their representatives and urge them to vote "No" on H.R. 3086. For more information on how to do this, see NLC's Action Alert

Sen. Al Franken and NLC Host Senate Briefing on the Role of Mayors in Education

Neil Bomberg, 202.626.3042

Sen. FrankenSen. Al Franken (MN) speaks during an education briefing.

Last week, NLC and Sen. Al Franken (MN) hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill on the role mayors play in improving local education outcomes. Besides remarks from the Senator, the briefing featured NLC President Chris Coleman, mayor of St. Paul, MN, as well as Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth, TX, and Mayor Edna Jackson, Savannah, GA, who spoke about the important role education plays within their communities; how they are partnering with local education agencies to improve outcomes; and how their efforts contribute to the economic and social well-being of residents in their cities.

Mayors on Education
L-R: Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth, TX; Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Paul, MN; Mayor Edna Jackson, Savannah, GA

This briefing was part of a larger effort by NLC to urge Congress to modernize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in a way that maintains the important balance between local, state, and federal interests.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Passes Senate

Neil Bomberg, 202.626.3042

Last week, by a vote of 95 to 3, the Senate passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that calls for the modernization of the major federal job training program. The bill, a priority for NLC, would help create a robust workforce and adult education system that would be supported by an increased investment in quality services, resources and training. In a message to the Senate before the vote, NLC urged support for the bill because it provided much needed modernization and streamlining of the nation's current workforce system, helping those Americans who are out of work receive the training they need and the support they require to obtain employment.

The bill will be on the House floor next week, where NLC will continue to make the case for its passage.

Proposed NLC Policy Resolutions and Amendments Due August 1

Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.3023

As part of its annual policy development process, NLC invites all member cities to submit National Municipal Policy (NMP) amendments and resolutions for consideration. The deadline for submissions is Friday, August 8.

Each proposed policy amendment or resolution should also include a document that provides background on the issue, as well as a discussion of its applicability to local governments nationwide.

The NMP is a permanent statement of NLC's position on federal policy matters that directly affect local governments. Resolutions address timely issues or specific pieces of federal legislation and are annual statements of position. Unless action is taken to renew a resolution or incorporate it into the NMP, each resolution expires at the Congress of Cities Conference following its adoption.

All proposals submitted by the deadline will be forwarded to the appropriate policy and advocacy steering committee for review. Upon further action, voting delegates will consider the committees' work at the Annual Business Meeting during NLC's Congress of Cities Conference in Austin, Texas, in November.

Proposed policy amendments and resolutions should be submitted in writing to Avery Peters via email at peters@nlc.org or mailed to him at the National League of Cities, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 550, Washington, DC 20004.

Register Now for the 2014 NLC Congress of Cities

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

Registration and schedules are now available for the 2014 Congress of Cities and Exposition, to be held November 18-22 in Austin, TX. The deadline to register for the best pre-conference rate is Friday, July 18. For more information on the meeting, including conference agendas, workshop descriptions, and travel details, visit www.nlccongressofcities.org