By Carolyn Coleman
Last week, National League of Cities President Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor, Avondale, AZ, attended the 81st annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) annual conference in Las Vegas, Nev. In her remarks to the over 200 mayors, who attended the gathering, Mayor Rogers, who was introduced on the stage by her neighbor USCM incoming president Mayor Scott Smith, Mesa, Ariz., thanked President Michael Nutter, mayor, Philadelphia, Penn., for his leadership and vision during his year as president. "I know," she said, "I speak for all of the NLC leadership when I say it has been a great year working with you as you have pushed both USCM and NLC towards a greater partnership."
President Rogers also praised the results of that greater partnership, which has led to joint advocacy efforts by the two organizations on several federal policy priorities for our nation's cities and towns. "We are working together to ensure the continued viability and quite frankly, the existence, of tax-exempt municipal bonds as we know them today," she remarked. She pledged to the group that NLC will continue to partner with USCM in the fight, and to a round of applause, told the group, "Our message to Congress and the President must continue to be ‘Don't touch our bonds.'"
President Rogers also highlighted the groups' joint efforts that lead to passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate. This bill, which would close a $23 billion sales tax loophole and level the playing field between mainstreet retailers and on-line ones, deserves a hearing in the House, she told the group.
In addition to her remarks at the general session, Mayor Rogers joined Mayors Raul Salinas, Laredo, Tex., Annise Parker, Houston, Tex., Greg Stanton, Phoenix, Ariz. in calling on Congress to pass a common sense immigration reform bill now. At the close of the gathering, she joined with newly-elected USCM President Smith and Mayors Nutter, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, Md., Kevin Johnson, Sacramento, Calif., and Elizabeth Kautz, Burnsville, Minn., and called on Congress to preserve the tax exemption for municipal bonds and to protect the Community Development Block Grant program. (see related story)