Federal Advocacy Update

In this issue:

In the Presidential Candidate Debates, a Missed Opportunity for Infrastructure

Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.3023

With the first in the nation primary caucus set for February 1 in Iowa, the presidential candidates took one last opportunity this week to go head to head on the issues in a debate and town hall in Des Moines, Iowa. Despite the call from city leaders, the candidates missed another opportunity to address how their administration would fill the infrastructure gap in this country. To read NLC's blog on this week's debates, click here.

Join NLC's Cities Lead 2016 effort to make sure that city issues are a top priority for 2016 presidential candidates. View a copy of our platform online and sign your name in support of cities everywhere!

Upcoming Broadband Opportunities Available for Small Cities

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

Several opportunities for broadband loans, grants, and technical assistance for small cities have recently been announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Utilities Service:

Cool & Connected Technical Assistance Program

Small communities interested in using broadband service to revitalize their main streets and promote economic development may apply for the Cool & Connected pilot program. This program, jointly sponsored by USDA's Rural Utilities Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Sustainable Communities, offers technical assistance to communities to develop strategies and an action plan for using planned or existing broadband service to promote smart, sustainable community development.

Letters of interest are due February 24. For more information about eligibility and how to apply, visit the program website.

Broadband Loan and Grant Programs

USDA also offers a variety of loan and grant programs available to small and underserved communities in rural areas. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use telecommunications to connect patients and students in remote areas with healthcare providers and educators in other locations, increasing educational and healthcare opportunities for residents in smaller communities. The Rural Broadband Access Loan Program and the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program both provide financing options to construct, acquire, or improve broadband infrastructure in eligible rural areas.

These programs have varying requirements and deadlines. USDA will host webinars focused on the eligibility and application process for its grant program on February 2 and 18, and on its loan programs on February 10 and 23.

IRS Issues Proposed Retirement Age Rules for Governmental Plans

Priya Ghosh, 202.626.3015

This week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued proposed regulations defining the new "normal retirement age" (NRA) as it applies to governmental plans. As background, in 2007 the IRS issued regulations defining normal retirement age for all retirement plans; however, in response to lobbying by NLC and other governmental pension stakeholder groups, the IRS held off on applying the new rules to governmental plans because of the difficulty local governments would have faced in implementing the rules, especially in those states where such a change would have required action by the state legislature or through a constitutional amendment.

The proposed rules would clarify the application of the 2007 NRA regulations to governmental plans and appear to address NLC's concerns with the earlier rules in two important ways. First, a governmental plan would not be required to define NRA if it did not provide for the payment of in-service distributions before age 62. Second, a governmental plan would be able to use a normal retirement age as low as 50 if the covered group consisted of qualified public safety employees e.g., police protection, firefighting services, or emergency medical services.

NLC is planning to submit comments, which are due by April 26, 2016.

Federal, State, Local Leaders Expand Efforts to Address Opioid Overdoses

Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.3023

Earlier this month, state and local leaders announced an expansion of efforts to facilitate public agencies' access to potentially life safety opioid withdrawal medication. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data showing a continued sharp increase in deaths involving opium-based prescription pain-killers and heroin, state and local leaders have announced an expansion of efforts to facilitate public agencies' access to potentially lifesaving opioid withdrawal medication. Every day in the United States, 44 people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose.

The National Association of Counties, National Governors Association, National League of Cities and United States Conference of Mayors, with the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance and Premier, Inc., have reached an agreement with Adapt Pharma to offer Narcan® Nasal Spray at a 40-percent discount, or $37.50 per dose ($75 for a 2 pack carton). Narcan Nasal Spray, is the only FDA-approved, ready-to-use nasal spray version of naloxone hydrochloride, a life-saving medication that can stop or reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

"American cities are facing an epidemic of opioid addiction. Providing affordable access to drugs like Narcan Nasal Spray is critical to saving lives in the event of an opioid overdose," said Clarence Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities. "This public-private partnership is a vital step in stemming the opioid addiction epidemic in our communities."
For more information including Narcan Nasal Spray prescribing information, safety information, photos and videos click here.

In addition to the state and local leaders announcement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a revised version of the Opioid Overdose Toolkit. This toolkit is designed to educate first responders, physicians, patients, family members, and community members on ways to prevent opioid overdose. The updated toolkit is available for free download on the SAMHSA Store.

Ana Navarro to Speak at Congressional City Conference

Ana NavarroAs America prepares to elect a new leader, now is the time to discuss city issues in our nation's capital. The Congressional City Conference will proactively provide you with the timeliest policy information that directly affects cities, and the opportunity to be an advocate for your community.

We will kick off the conference with opening keynote Ana Navarro, Republican strategist and political contributor of The View, who will give you an insider's perspective of the upcoming election and where the country is headed.

Our conference workshops will dig into NLC's biggest priorities this year. Choose from workshops on topics like criminal justice reform, funding your next infrastructure project, community policing, the city's role in climate change, and transportation funding. You'll also have the opportunity to make a connection in Washington by joining the Federal Agency Round Robin, where you'll get to meet Administration officials who will be able to answer your questions about federal resources and grants.

Register now for the Congressional City Conference, March 5-9 in Washington, D.C. Don't delay - early bird registration closes this weekend on January 31. We look forward to seeing you and city leaders from around the country in our nation's capital!