Federal Advocacy Update

In this issue:

Co-Sponsors Needed to Level the Playing Field!

Priya Ghosh Ahola, 202.626.3015

Several weeks ago, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA, HR 2775). If enacted, the RTPA will give states and local governments the flexibility to require remote online retailers to collect the sales taxes that are already owed on remote purchases. Closing this online sales tax loophole would not only level the playing field between online sellers and Main Street brick and mortar ones who are required to collect the tax, it would also mean resources for local governments to fund much needed local services like infrastructure and public safety. It is estimated that this loophole costs states and local governments $23 billion annually, which is why its passage is a top priority for NLC.

So far, a bipartisan group of 25 House members are co-sponsoring the bill. More are needed to move the legislation this year. Election year politics in 2016 will make it only more difficult to pass the bill if Congress delays.

If you haven't already, please contact your House members and thank them for their support if they are already a co-sponsor, or urge them to cosponsor the bill if they have not. You can also view a current list of organizations who have endorsed the bill online.

The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee where it faces opposition from the Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The Chairman is supporting a competing proposal that relies on origin sourcing which NLC believes is flawed and unworkable.

Our current state tax structure is based on destination sourcing - meaning that a consumer pays the sales tax rate at either the point of sale or, in the case of remote sales, at the place where they consume it, which would be the address of where the item is delivered. Origin sourcing has been explored as a possible solution to the remote sales tax problem - it would instead only require the seller to charge the sales tax at the point where the business is located. While the origin sourcing approach would make collection simple for some sellers, it would actually raise the tax owed by the consumer if the seller was located in a higher taxing jurisdiction than that consumer. This is a primary reason that RTPA employs destination sourcing, which NLC supports.

While NLC has for years called upon Congress to resolve this issue once and for all, House leadership has also recently signaled that they want this issue settled too. "I am telling [Chairman Goodlatte and Congressman Chaffetz] to work it out in committee. . . . Committees are where the expertise is. And they should have a bill come out of the committee," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

NLC could not agree more, and needs your help to ensure that it's RTPA that gets to the floor.

Watch Online: NLC President Becker Talks Climate Resilience July 9

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

Cities, states, and tribes are already confronting the rising costs of climate change. From 2011 to 2014, the most destructive weather events cost the U.S. economy $227 billion. Without immediate action to reduce heat-trapping pollution and build resilience to a changing climate, communities will face even greater economic, public health and safety risks in the future. At the same time, mayors, governors, and tribal communities are facing a host of other challenges from growing income inequities, crumbling infrastructure, affordable housing shortages, and diminishing budgets-challenges exacerbated by extreme heat, storms, flooding, drought, and other impacts driven by a changing climate.

On Thursday, July 9, watch live online as NLC President Ralph Becker, mayor, Salt Lake City discusses the progress made on recommendations from the President's Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, as well as new resilience initiatives, funding, and action around the country. Mayor Becker will be joined by White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, Chairwoman Karen Driver of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Harriet Tregoning of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Community Planning and Development Resilience.

Building Climate Resilience for Equitable Communities: City, Federal, and Tribal Perspectives
July 9, 2015, 10:00am ET - 11:00am ET
Watch Live Online

July 13: Startup in a Day Funding Opportunity Deadline

Emily Robbins, 202.626.3131

Together with the Small Business Administration and the White House, NLC has launched a new "Startup in a Day" initiative to help cities make it easier for local entrepreneurs to start businesses. The Startup in a Day initiative aims to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business by reducing the amount of time it takes to discover and apply for permits and licenses on the local level. As part of the initiative, SBA announced two prize competitions to support city efforts to fulfill the pledge.

An entrepreneur's time is best spent developing innovative products and services, creating jobs, and growing local economies-not navigating red tape. It should not take more than a day for an entrepreneur to identify and apply, ideally through a single online tool, for all the licenses and permits he or she needs in order to responsibly launch a business. Cities who sign the Startup in a Day pledge resolve to: 1) Create a "Startup in a Day" online tool within 12 months 2) Develop a streamlined, business-friendly, online permitting system and 3) Share best practices by joining a Community of Practice administered by NLC. To find out more information about the Community of Practice and SBA's related funding opportunities, please visit our Startup in a Day web page.

Supreme Court Closes Term with Landmark Cases, City Impacts

Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.3023

The Supreme Court ended its term with several decisions that may impact cities. In addition to its advocacy before Congress, NLC also protects the interests of cities in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and filed amicus briefs in several of the cases decided by the Court in June. The Court issued opinions on these cases in addition to high-profile rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court ruled 5-4 that the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state; and King v. Burwell, in which the Court ruled 6-3 that health insurance tax credits are available on the 34 federal exchanges.

Below is a brief summary of additional cases of interest in which NLC filed amicus briefs in support of the local government interest:

Supreme Court Rules Against Jails in Excessive Force Case

In Kingsley v. Hendrickson, the Supreme Court held 5-4 that to prove an excessive force claim a pretrial detainee must show that the officer's force was objectively unreasonable, rejecting the subjectively unreasonable standard that is more deferential to law enforcement. Pretrial detainee Michael Kingsley and the officers in this case agree that Kingsley refused to remove a piece of paper covering a light fixture and was forcibly removed from his jail cell so that officers could remove it. While Kingsley claims, and the officers disagree, that Kingsley resisted their efforts to remove his handcuffs and in the process the officers slammed his head against the concrete bunk, the parties agree that Kingsley was tasered. The Court held that the objective standard should apply to excessive force claims brought by pretrial detainees, relying partially on precedent. Read the brief filed on behalf of NLC in this case.

Unconstitutional: Hotel Registry Ordinances and Statutes

In City of Los Angeles v. Patel the Supreme Court held 5-4 that a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotel and motel operators to make their guest registries available to police without at least a subpoena violates the Fourth Amendment. Read the brief filed on behalf of NLC in this case.

Supreme Court's Sign Case May Require Altering Sign Codes Nationwide

In Reed v. Town of Gilbert the Supreme Court held unanimously that Gilbert's Sign Code, which treats various categories of signs differently based on the information they convey, violates the First Amendment. On behalf of NLC, the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case arguing that the Town of Gilbert's sign code was constitutional and that an adverse ruling would render sign codes unconstitutional nationwide.

Many, if not most communities, like Gilbert, regulate some categories of signs in a way the Supreme Court has defined as content-based in this opinion, which means they will need to revise their ordinances. To help local officials better understand the new landscape, NLC and the State and Local Legal Center will host a webinar in August focusing on the implications of this case on local sign ordinances.

Reminder: Supreme Court Employment Cases Webinar July 15

Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.2023

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) will host a webinar on Wednesday, July 15 at 1:00PM EDT on recent employment cases decided by the Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court decided no public employment cases this term, all four of the employment cases decided affect all employers-including state and local governments. Shay Dvoretzky, Jones Day, who argued EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch (religious accommodation), will discuss how that case and Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk (FLSA), Young v. UPS (PDA), and Mach Mining v. EEOC (EEOC conciliation) impacts state and local government employers. The potential impact on state and local governments of M&G Polymers v. Tackett (retiree health benefits) and Tibble v. Edison (fiduciary duty retirement benefits) also will be covered.

SLLC Employment Cases Webinar
Wednesday, July 15th, 1:00PM - 2:30PM EDT
Register Now

Proposed NLC Policy Resolutions and Amendments Due August 14

Carolyn Coleman, 202.626.3023

As part of its annual policy development process, NLC invites all member cities to submit National Municipal Policy (NMP) amendments and resolutions for consideration. The deadline for submissions is Friday, August 14.

Each proposed policy amendment or resolution should also include a document that provides background on the issue, as well as a discussion of its applicability to local governments nationwide.

The NMP is a permanent statement of NLC's position on federal policy matters that directly affect local governments. Resolutions address timely issues or specific pieces of federal legislation and are annual statements of position. Unless action is taken to renew a resolution or incorporate it into the NMP, each resolution expires at the Congress of Cities Conference following its adoption.

All proposals submitted by the deadline will be forwarded to the appropriate policy and advocacy steering committee for review. Upon further action, voting delegates will consider the committees' work at the Annual Business Meeting during NLC's Congress of Cities Conference in Nashville, Tenn., in November.

Proposed policy amendments and resolutions should be submitted in writing to Avery Peters via email at peters@nlc.org or mailed to him at the National League of Cities, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 550, Washington, DC 20004.