Federal Advocacy Update

March 14, 2014

In this issue:

Add Your Name: NLC Sends Immigration Reform Letter to Congress

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

During this week's Congressional City Conference, local elected officials from more than 100 cities, villages and towns signed on to NLC's letter calling on the House to pass legislation this year that would fix the nation's broken immigration system. In the letter, NLC urges the House to pass a bill that balances national security needs with renewed efforts to grow the nation's workforce, stimulate economic prosperity, and remain a competitive nation in the 21st century global marketplace.

To view the letter and add your voice, click here. The deadline to add your name is Friday, March 21, 2014.

For more information on this issue and to read NLC's policy on immigration, visit NLC's immigration advocacy page. If you have questions, please contact Leslie Wollack, Program Director, at immigration@nlc.org.

Add your name to the letter now »

Senate Passes Flood Insurance Affordability Bill

Yucel Ors, 202.626.3124

Yesterday, following passage in the House just over a week ago, the Senate passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3370) with a strong majority of 72-22. The bill, which NLC joined cities and state leagues in supporting, will protect homeowners and businesses from soaring flood insurance premium increases. The bill caps FEMA's authority to raise premiums to 18 percent per year, repeals requirements that premiums immediately increase to full actuarial rates for homes being sold, and restores grandfathering for properties paying premiums at rates set for their initial flood risk rating. Owners will instead be assessed a $25 annual surcharge for policies on primary residences and $250 for secondary residences or business properties. FEMA will also be required to gather input from communities on flood mitigation features when designing risk maps, and to conduct affordability studies. The bill now heads to the President's desk for signature.

"With the president's signature, communities across America will be spared the adverse impacts resulting from costly mandates in the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012," said NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony, in response to the Senate vote. "With so much at stake, we urge the president to sign the bill as soon as possible to ensure that cities and their residents will continue to thrive."

NLC Continues Fight in House for Marketplace Fairness

Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.3023

NLC continued to push for marketplace fairness this week, as the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on "Exploring Alternative Solutions on the Internet Sales Tax Issue" on Wednesday. In his opening statement, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA) reiterated that he is sympathetic to the "plight of traditional retailers," but if Congress acts to address this issue, "it must do so deliberately and precisely to avoid a cacaphony of 9,600 taxing jurisdictions fighting over what is required." NLC's letter to Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers was included in the official Committee hearing record. In the letter, we thank the committee leadership for their efforts to address remote sales tax collection and pledged our assistance in advancing marketplace fairness legislation. While the Chairman's next move is not clear, NLC will continue to advocate for passage this year.

In addition to efforts with the Committee, NLC also honored Rep. Steve Womack with the first NLC President's Award for his leadership on the Marketplace Fairness Act in the House and for his tireless support as a member of Congress for cities and towns.

Rep. Steve Womack receives NLC President's Award

Learn more about NLC's position »

City Leaders Take City Priorities to the White House

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

During this week's Congressional City Conference, besides visiting Capitol Hill, a group of city leaders, led by NLC President Chris Coleman, mayor, Saint Paul, MN, also carried the message about federal priorities for cities to the White House. In the meeting with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, besides other topics, Coleman and the group expressed appreciation for the President's support of the Marketplace Fairness legislation, the need for greater federal infrastructure investment in local communities, and our continued opposition to provisions in the President's budget proposal that would cap the exemption for municipal bonds. President Coleman also briefed the IGA team on the MOU entered into by the U.S. Department of Education and NLC. (See story below.)

NLC leaders at the White House

NLC Calls on FCC to Cooperate with Local Governments on Wireless Facility Siting

Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.3023

Last week, NLC filed reply comments in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed rulemaking on local government practices involving the siting of wireless facilities. Through the rulemaking, the FCC is seeking input on whether it should adopt rules interpreting and implementing Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 ("Spectrum Act"), which prohibits local governments from denying eligible facilities' requests to modify existing wireless towers or stations if the modification does not substantially change the dimensions of the facility. NLC filed initial comments in February.

In the reply comments, NLC urges the FCC not to adopt a one size fits all approach but to use narrowly tailored definitions in any guidance it may issue, so that local governments can make decisions free from fear about later inappropriate expansions of wireless sites due to overly-broad definitions of those facilities. NLC also addressed and reiterated other commenters' concerns about the potentially large cumulative impact of small cell systems, for which FCC had proposed expedited environmental and historical impact reviews.

March 22: Health Insurance Registration Day of Action

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

With only 17 days left for Americans to participate in open enrollment through state and federal health insurance marketplaces for 2014 creditable coverage, cities around the country are hosting a Local Officials Day of Action on Saturday, March 22 to help get their residents covered.

On the first Day of Action on March 8, local officials around the nation helped get crucial information to their residents about the options for quality, affordable health coverage. Officials have filmed Public Service Announcements, held press conferences highlighting places to get enrollment assistance, partnered with community organizations to host health fairs and written editorials about the importance of healthy cities.

There are 17 days left until the end of enrollment on March 31 and Saturday, March 22 kicks off the second Day of Action for Local Officials to get their communities covered. Click here for 17 ways in 17 days that local officials can help their residents enroll in health coverage. NLC has also written a template press release for local officials to use to discuss their efforts. You can share information about your action on social media using the hashtag #GetCovered.

Please email NLC with information about your action to healthycities@nlc.org »

NLC, Department of Education Partner on School Improvement Efforts

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

During the Congressional City Conference, NLC and the U.S. Department of Education announced the joint signing of a "memorandum of understanding" (MOU) detailing a plan to strengthen partnerships among federal and local governments, schools, families and other organizations with the goal to advance learning, enhance student engagement and improve schools.

Under the MOU, NLC will hold community conversations in 15 cities across the country this year to discuss strategies to meet three goals: early childhood education, afterschool, and postsecondary attainment. The conversations will bring together local leaders, educators, families and community leaders to discuss strategies for providing children with the foundational skills needed to enter school ready to learn, access to high-quality afterschool learning experiences and achieving postsecondary attainment. The conversations will also focus on closing achievement gaps (including for young men of color) and increasing student outcomes, including non-academic outcomes, with specific focus on social-emotional skills.

Read more about the agreement »

Department of Labor to Take Up Overtime Rules

Neil Bomberg, 202.626.3042

On Thursday, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to consider issuing revised Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations that could substantially change the way employers must pay overtime to non-exempt employees or those who are subject to all FLSA provisions, including overtime. While it will not be known just what types of changes will be proposed until DOL issues proposed regulations later this year, it is expected that the DOL proposal will substantially raise the weekly earning of those eligible for overtime compensation from $455 to as much as $1,000 per week. NLC will continue to monitor DOL's activities very closely and will report on the proposed regulation as soon as it becomes available.