Federal Advocacy Update

November 8, 2013

NLC to Set 2014 National Municipal Policy During Seattle Congress of Cities

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

During next week's Congress of Cities in Seattle, NLC members will have numerous opportunities to shape NLC's federal advocacy positions, which make up the organization's National Municipal Policy platform (NMP). On Wednesday, November 13, NLC's seven policy committees will meet to vote on proposed resolutions and amendments to the NMP. Next, on Thursday, November 14, NLC's Resolution's Committee will consider the committee-approved changes to the NMP and decide which are to be considered at NLC's Annual Business Meeting on Saturday, November 16. In addition to considering the NMP changes, voting delegates attending the ABM also will elect the organization's Officers and Board for 2014.

Click on a committee's name to view its agenda and proposed resolutions or amendments:

If you are interested in serving on a Policy Committee or any other NLC committee or council during the 2013-2014 leadership year, please complete the online application no later than Friday, November 22.

NLC Second Vice President Appointed to Presidential Climate Preparedness Task Force

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101

Last week, as part of his Climate Action Plan, President Obama appointed NLC Second Vice President Ralph Becker, mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah and 23 other state and local officials to a newly established State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The task force is expected to develop recommendations on how the federal government can better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts.

"I am honored to be selected by President Obama for this task force," said Mayor Becker in a statement. "This is an incredibly important issue that affects communities in all corners of the nation and knows no policy affiliation. These issues of climate change adaptation and building resilient communities will require regional, state and federal efforts. It is great to see President Obama working to coordinate these efforts."

Learn more about the task force and NLC's work on climate change preparedness »

Conference Committee Plans Second Meeting

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

Next Wednesday, November 13, House and Senate budget conferees will meet in the second public meeting in an effort to negotiate a budget agreement for FY 2014. During its first public meeting, the committee expressed interest in reaching a small-scale agreement that would provide some relief from sequestration-driven budget cuts currently scheduled to take effect mid- January 2014.

Under the law that ended last month's 16 day federal government shutdown and averted a default on the nation's debts, Congress has until December 13 to reach an agreement. However, wide philosophical differences remain between the members of the committee, including its leaders, House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

NLC continues to monitor the work of the committee and has urged that any budget agreement preserve tax exemption for municipal bonds, which greatly impacts borrowing costs for cities.

Read more about the federal income tax exemption for municipal bonds »

Flood Insurance Program Delay Bill Introduced

Yucel Ors, 202.626.3124

On October 29, 2013, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers introduced the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013 (S. 1620/H.R. 3370). If enacted into law, the bill will delay the implementation of rate increases mandated by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12) until after FEMA completes an affordability study, proposes solutions to address affordability issues, and certifies that its mapping process is accurate.

The lawmakers introduced the bill in response to rate increases mandated by BW-12, which has resulted in 20 – 25 percent annual insurance premium increases for some property owners over the next four – five years. Enacted to address a $24 billion deficit in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and ensure millions of American homeowners could continue to purchase flood insurance, BW-12 requires FEMA to adjust flood insurance premiums to reflect true flood risk and phase out subsidies for properties built before the community adopted its first Flood Insurance Rate Map. These rate increases are having substantial effect on municipalities nationwide in multiple areas such as real estate markets, banks and mortgage companies, elderly citizens living on fixed income, and policyholders, who built their communities with the best available information.

During a U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing on Sept. 18, FEMA Director Craig Fugate said that the Act unfairly hit middle-class homeowners who had not been flooded repeatedly, but he added that only Congress can fix the law. Fugate also acknowledged that the affordability study, which is required by BW-12, may take about two years to complete.

On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, at NLC's Congress of Cities Conference in Seattle, WA, NLC's Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Committee will consider adopting a resolution in support of an affordable and sustainable National Flood Insurance Program. The resolution urges Congress to pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013 and to undertake any other such amendments to BW-12 that will keep flood insurance rates affordable while balancing the fiscal solvency of the program.

Read NLC's proposed resolution on flood insurance »

Former Mayor Joins White House Intergovernmental Affairs

Last month, former Hampton, Virginia mayor Molly Ward joined the White House staff as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Prior to her service as mayor, Ward also served as Hampton's elected Treasurer and was a practicing attorney. In her role at the White House, Ward will work closely with NLC and other organizations representing state and local governments. Ward met with NLC staff in October and plans to attend the Conference of Cities in Seattle next week.

NLC Comments on Proposed "Waters of the US" Rule

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101

This week, NLC submitted joint comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) proposed rulemaking to change the Clean Water Act definition of "Waters of the U.S." and a draft science report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence. EPA has indicated that the draft science report will serve as the basis for the rulemaking. The proposed rule is a replacement of a 2011 "Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act."

In the comment letter, NLC urged the EPA and the Corps to hold a briefing for state and local governments groups on the differences between the 2011 Draft Guidance and the proposed rule. Additionally, NLC raised concerns with the sequence and timing of the draft science report and how it fits into the proposed "Waters of the U.S." rulemaking process, especially since the document will be used as a basis to claim federal jurisdiction over certain water bodies. NLC's position is that by releasing the draft report for public comment at the same time as the proposed rule was sent to OMB for review, EPA and the Corps have taken away an opportunity for cities, NLC, and others to provide useful feedback on the draft science report that could inform the development of the proposed rule.

Learn more about NLC's previous comments on the "Waters of the U.S" rulemaking »