By Ally Freeman
Local elected officials will gather in Washington, D.C. next week to meet with Congressional and Administration officials and discuss the need for comprehensive immigration reform, keeping the tax exemption for municipal bonds and ending the online sales tax ‘break.' NLC's annual Congressional City Conference will bring almost 1500 city leaders to the nation's capital to discuss how federal policy issues impact local communities and engage with and lobby policymakers in DC.
"With the current policy debates underway in Washington, this is a critical time for our membership to come together to be heard on the issues that matter to cities," said NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor, Avondale, AZ. "Now more than ever, city leaders must be engaged and be vocal advocates on our policy priorities. The Congressional City Conference will offer countless opportunities to learn, get involved, and lay the foundation for our continued advocacy efforts throughout 2013."
The conference's three general sessions will feature a packed line-up of elected and appointed officials from all walks of government.
The opening general session on Monday, March 11 will feature remarks by NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor, Avondale, AZ. Joining her will be Mayor Michael Nutter from the City of Philadelphia and Mayor Vincent Gray from the District of Columbia. Dr. Frank Luntz, bipartisan pollster and communications consultant will be the keynote speaker at the opening session. He will offer his renowned understanding on messaging to city leaders and share effective tips on crafting powerful and compelling advocacy rhetoric.
Monday's afternoon general session will feature General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Dempsey will discuss the role city officials can have in initiating and moving forward community-based efforts to help reintegrate the men and women of the armed services as they return home. Also speaking at the afternoon session are U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan.
The closing general session on Tuesday March 12 will include Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Additional panels and workshops will also focus on education reform, ending gun violence, and the federal budget debate. Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers will be the featured speaker at Educating America, moderated by NLC First Vice President Chris Coleman, mayor, St. Paul, MN. The panel will discuss how city elected officials can work with school boards, unions, and superintendents to influence school reform. Additionally, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, current Chairman of the Fix the Debt Coalition will headline a workshop on Protecting Cities in the Federal Budget Debates.