by Cyndy Liedtke Hogan
Nearly 2,000 people have gathered in Washington, D.C., this week for NLC's Congressional City Conference.
General session speakers for NLC's annual legislative conference include Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former counselor to President George W. Bush, and Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former chairman of Hillary Clinton for President, as well as Secretary of Transportation Raymond H. "Ray" LaHood and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. Senator Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and David Brooks, op-ed columnist for The New York Times and commentator on "The PBS Newshour," are also keynote speakers.
The conference, including general sessions and workshops, will center around NLC's legislative priorities, which include enacting a new transportation program, preserving funds for hometown investment, protecting local sources of revenue and modernizing the nation's job training and education programs.
The last long-term surface transportation program expired in September 2009; Congress has extended the previous program eight times. The latest extension expires March 31. The time has come for Congress and the Administration to enact a new, lasting transportation plan that acknowledges local decision-making authority, fosters collaboration with state and local governments, supports sustainable multimodal choices, invests in outcome-oriented solutions and maintains a strong federal role. See the story below for more on Congressional action on transportation.
Funding that invests in the nation's hometowns, including programs like the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG), does not stay in city hall; in fact, it goes to local businesses, builders and contractors and service providers, who transform the neighborhoods in which they do business. NLC urges Congress and the Administration to maintain funding for CDBG and other federal programs that support local development.
Protecting local revenues refers to the ability to collect sales taxes already owed, which means more resources for basic services, such as roads and police officers, without increasing the federal deficit. NLC urges support for legislation to simply allow state and local governments the flexibility to collect the taxes owed to them on remote online purchases - not raising existing taxes or imposing new ones - thereby placing brick and mortar corner stores on a level playing field with online retailers and affording consumers more choice through fair competition.
Disinvestment in the nation's education and job training systems is jeopardizing America's economic success and that of its hometowns. Local leaders urge Congress and the Administration to reform and fund both the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) and the Workforce Invest ment Act, so that local regions can more effectively develop and implement systems that will support a competitive workforce necessary for economic growth.
The Congressional City Conference will also have a focus on social media.
While technology is transforming not just the way people communicate with each other, but also how people receive the information needed to make important decisions, it is also reshaping the traditional advocacy process.
The workshop, Influencing Congress in 140 Characters or Less ... And More, will cover some of the latest social media tools and strategies city leaders are using to influence the debates on Capitol Hill, whether they're in Washington or at home.
Conference attendees are encouraged to discuss the conference on social media sites and use social media to advocate to members of Congress. Conference attendees should use #CCCNLC to comment on the conference. Both attendees and those at home can follow NLC on Twitter @leagueofcities
and also check for NLC's updates on Facebook.
The Congressional City Conference will offer tutorials on the various forms of social media. A fellow city official or NLC staff will guide conference attendees through the process and show what NLC is doing on Twitter, Facebook and the NLC blog, citiesspeak.org. The tutorial will also allow attendees to learn about Google+ and LinkedIn. The tutorials will take place in the Conference Connection Lounge.
The Congressional City Conference will continue through Wednesday, March 14, a day dedicated to lobbying for city interests on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies.