Federal Relations Update

September 21, 2012

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September 21, 2012
The Federal Relations Update will take a brief hiatus until after the November 6 elections. The next edition will be published on Friday, November 16. In the meantime, please visit the Influence Federal Policy site for updates from the NLC Center for Federal Relations team.
 


Continuing Resolution Extends Funding for Key Local Government Programs for Six Months
Stacey Levitt, levitt@nlc.org, 202.626.3196

Last week, after returning to Washington for a short work period following the August recess and the political conventions, the House voted to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to extend federal government funding at current levels through March 2013. The Senate is expected to pass the CR in the next 24 hours. With the passage of the CR under its belt, Congress will then hit the campaign trail.

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Cities’ Message to Congress: Sequestration is Bad Policy
Carolyn Coleman, coleman@nlc.org, 202.626.3023

Now that the CR will avoid a government shutdown and Congress will adjourn until after the election, the nation’s cities are bracing for sequestration, a set of across-the-board spending cuts to the federal budget set to take effect on January 2, 2013. NLC opposes these draconian cuts and instead is calling on Congress to take action to prevent the cuts from taking effect.

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NLC Responds to PACE Proposed Rulemaking
Carolyn Berndt, berndt@nlc.org, 202.626.3101

In a joint comment letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), NLC, together with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties, objected to the unsupported premise of the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning Enterprise Underwriting Standards for Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs (PACE) that PACE programs increase financial risks for lenders.

The letter, also signed by individual cities and counties, trade associations, energy companies, and nongovernmental organizations representing millions of Americans, called on FHFA to reject the proposed rule, which would block local government PACE programs, and instead adopt a modified version of FHFA's proposed "alternative 3."

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IRS Issues Employer Guidance on Definitions of Employees
Neil Bomberg, bomberg@nlc.org, 202.626.3042

On September 10, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued updated guidance that describes the safe harbor methods small and large employers, including local governments, may use to determine which of their employees are permanent, seasonal and variable, or part-time (not likely to work more than 20 hours per week) when determining qualification for employer-sponsored health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The guidance also describes various methods and parameters that the IRS may use to determine under which circumstances employers, including local governments, will be assessed penalties should they fail to provide health care coverage. Visit NLC’s ACA page to learn more about the new guidance and other news related to the health care law.

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Commerce Announces Public Safety Network Board, Framework for Grants
Mitch Herckis, herckis@nlc.org, 202.626.3124

Last month, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank announced appointments to the Board of Directors for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). FirstNet is congressionally mandated to establish a nationwide wireless broadband network that will enable public safety officials to better communicate with one another during emergencies and to improve response time in communities. The Board includes former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and New York City Police Department Deputy Chief Charles Dowd.

Shortly following the announcement, the Department of Commerce published requirements for the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIG), which is designed to assist state, local, and tribal governments with planning for a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network. According to the notice, the $135 million in grants will be provided as a “formula-based, matching grant program” to states and territories, in coordination with localities, in two phases. The first phase will focus on initial planning and consultation activities, while the second will focus on data collection.

In response to comments NLC submitted earlier this year as part of the grant process, states will likely be asked “to describe how they plan to collect input from local and tribal jurisdictions to ensure that their public safety needs are adequately represented during the consultation process with FirstNet.”



Applications for Committee Leadership due TODAY
Emma Lieberth, lieberth@nlc.org, 202.626.3075

Policy and Advocacy Committees play a key role in all NLC advocacy efforts: they work to develop National Municipal Policy positions, which form the basis of the organization's outreach on matters of interest to municipal governments before Congress, the courts, and federal agencies. Local officials from across the country are encouraged to apply for committee leadership roles and membership positions. For the first time, applications are being accepted online.

For those interested in serving as a committee chair or vice chair, please submit applications by close of business today. Applications for member positions are due November 16.



Deadline Extended for DOT Categorical Exclusion User Survey
Leslie Wollack, wollack@nlc.org, 202.626.3029

Due to the overwhelming response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Categorical Exclusion User Survey, the agency has decided to extend the deadline to October 1.

DOT has already received more than 350 responses from state and local agencies, data that will inform whether the agency should develop any new categorical exclusions from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for transportation projects, and whether to issue any further guidance on NEPA.

Any questions regarding the survey may be sent to categorical.exclusion@dot.gov.
In This Issue


CR Extends Funding for Key Local Government Programs for Six Months

Cities’ Message to Congress: Sequestration is Bad Policy

NLC Responds to PACE Proposed Rulemaking

IRS Issues Employer Guidance on Definitions of Employees

Commerce Announces Public Safety Network Board, Framework for Grants

Applications for Committee Leadership due TODAY

Deadline Extended for DOT Categorical Exclusion User Survey



Events/Webinars


9/26/12: FAIR Steering Committee Fall Meeting (Conference Call)

10/17/12: Webinar—State and Local Legal Center Supreme Court Preview



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