State Municipal Leagues Tell Congress: “Rebuild With Us”

This week, more than 38 executive directors and local leaders from 21 state municipal leagues across the country traveled to Washington, D.C., for NLC’s second annual state league advocacy fly-in.

At meetings on Capitol Hill and at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state municipal league partners and NLC staff advocated for our top legislative priorities — including our infrastructure campaign, Rebuild With Us, and preventing the preemption of municipal governance on broadband infrastructure siting.

Together, we ensured that federal decision-makers heard loud and clear that local leaders need a federal partner to invest in our vision of rebuilding and reimagining America’s infrastructure.

The fly-in began on Tuesday, February 6, with a briefing hosted by NLC’s Federal Advocacy staff. Speakers provided state municipal league executive directors and local leaders with an update on the current political dynamics in Washington, D.C., as well as substantive updates on NLC’s 2018 federal legislative priorities.

NLC First Vice President Karen Freeman-Wilson, mayor, Gary, Indiana, and NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony welcomed attendees to NLC’s offices and spoke about the importance of advocating for cities during this critical time in Washington. NLC President Mark Stodola, mayor, Little Rock, Arkansas, reiterated NLC’s focus on infrastructure in a video message.

In addition, Michael Platt, U.S. Department of Commerce assistant secretary for the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA), Ross Branson, associate director of legislative affairs in the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of the Secretary, Anthony Bedell, U.S. Department of Transportation deputy assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs, and Christopher Mitton, government affairs officer from the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary, addressed the state municipal league executive directors and local leaders during a panel discussion and addressed the administration’s forthcoming infrastructure proposal.

Arkansas Municipal League leaders and NLC First Vice President Karen Freeman-Wilson met with Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR).

State and Local Legal Center Executive Director Lisa Soronen also provided a Supreme Court update on the current status of cases most important to cities.

On Wednesday, the state league leaders descended on Capitol Hill for a day of action to advocate for city priorities. In meetings with Members of Congress and congressional staff, the attendees presented NLC’s guiding principles for rebuilding and reimagining America’s infrastructure and what cities need in an infrastructure plan.

State league executive directors and local leaders shared how city leaders are already focused on solving big infrastructure problems in their communities and why cities are focused on rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure now. In their time on the Hill, they met with more than 56 congressional offices across 20 states.

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State League Advocates Urge FCC to Respect Local Authority

Advocates from the Kansas League of Municipalities, the Pennsylvania Municipal League and the Texas Municipal League also fought federal overreach into broadband infrastructure.

During a meeting with the FCC, local leaders urged the commission not to preempt local authority to make decisions over the siting and nature of broadband infrastructure, including wireless small cells, or to prevent cities from assessing fair market value for rental of public facilities and sites in the public right of way by broadband providers.

Over three dozen State Municipal League executive directors and leaders gathered at NLC’s offices in Washington.

In addition, they urged the FCC to expand municipal representation on its controversial Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, an industry-dominated group that has been tasked with developing federal policy recommendations and model state and municipal broadband deployment codes.

Advocates from NLC and the North Carolina League of Municipalities also met with FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr to lobby for equitable broadband infrastructure investment, through support for intergovernmental partnership, avoidance of preemption and preservation of important programs such as the FCC’s Lifeline broadband subsidy for low-income households.

Top Photo: Senator Deb Fischer meets with the Nebraska Municipal League.

Ashley Smith Headshot.jpgAbout the Author: Ashley Smith is the Senior Associate for Grassroots Advocacy at the National League of Cities.