Federal Advocacy Update

In this issue:

Senators Combine Marketplace Fairness and Internet Tax Bills

Julia Pulidindi, 202.626.3176

Earlier this week and over NLC's objections, the House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA, H.R. 3086), a bill that would strip local governments of the authority to tax or impose fees on Internet access. To help foster the growth of the Internet, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) was first passed in 1998 and placed a temporary ban on taxing Internet access; the current ban expires on November 1, 2014. In addition to making the temporary ban permanent, PITFA also strips the those states who were "grandfathered" under ITFA at a cost of over $500 million a year in lost revenues (according to the Congressional Budget Office). Those states are Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. For additional information on the costs of a permanent ban, click here.

With the House's vote, NLC will now focus its advocacy on the Senate where Senators Enzi (WY), Durbin (IL), Alexander (TN), Heitkamp (ND), Collins (ME) and Pryor (AR) recently introduced the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act, S. 2609, which NLC supports. This bill combines the Marketplace Fairness Act (with several technical changes), a top legislative priority for NLC and cities, and a 10-year extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

Cities Applaud Passage of Workforce Bill

Neil Bomberg, 202.626.3042

Following a Senate vote of 95-3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) last week by an overwhelming vote of 416-6. NLC advocated for the bill's passage, and has urged the President to sign it quickly.

The bipartisan bill will streamline and modernize the nation's workforce system while meeting the local needs of both employers and employees. It will maintain a strong role for local elected officials and local business leaders, help Americans who are out of work receive the training and support they need to obtain employment, and contribute substantially to the development of a national workforce development strategy that is aligned with economic development activities.

NLC Calls on Congress to Find Long-Term Transportation Solution

Leslie Wollack, 202.626.3029

Before the U.S. Department of Transportation begins reducing state reimbursements for transportation, the Senate is rushing to adopt a short-term extension of federal surface transportation under a "unanimous consent" agreement that would bring the bill to the Senate floor next week with a limited number of amendments permitted for debate. Earlier this week, the House passed H.R. 5021, an $11 billion short term extension of federal transportation trust fund revenues and an extension of MAP-21 through May 2015. The program expires on September 30 and funding could run out in just a few weeks.

Despite objections to extending the program through May 2015, the House rejected an attempt to pass a shorter bill, which would have forced Congress to find a long term fix to funding for transportation programs.

In a statement earlier this week, NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony called on Congress to address the long-term challenges facing the federal transportation program and highway funding. "A long-term bill would provide much needed stability by providing longer time frames that allow for certainty in the planning process necessary for good projects that contribute to local economies. We understand the necessity for a short-term fix, but it is past time for the nation to have a real and robust, long-term plan for the nation's transportation systems."

House and Senate members will soon leave Washington for the August recess. You can support the effort for a long-term transportation solution by contacting your congressional delegation during the August recess. Access NLC's transportation advocacy toolkit for talking points, sample letters, city resolutions, and more.

EPA Proposes Rule to Reduce Emissions from New Municipal Landfills

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed updates to its air standards for new municipal solid waste landfills, which would require certain landfills to capture additional "landfill gas," which occurs from the decomposition of wastes, and which consists primarily of methane and carbon dioxide. (proposal fact sheet)

Specifically, the proposed rule would require municipal solid waste landfills to capture two-thirds of their methane and air toxics emissions by 2023 - 13 percent more than they must capture under current regulations. The updates would apply to municipal solid waste landfills with a design capacity of 2.5 million metric tons and 2.5 cubic meters of waste that begin construction, modification or reconstruction on or after July 17, 2014. They would not apply to landfills subject to the current New Source Performance Standards, which was issued in 1996.

In a separate action, EPA announced that it is seeking input on whether and how to update current emissions guidelines for existing landfills to further reduce their emissions, including methane.

Nearly 1,000 municipal solid waste landfills in the U.S. currently are subject to either the 1996 emission guidelines for existing landfills or the 1996 New Source Performance Standards for new landfills. Additionally, EPA estimates that over the next five years, 20 new landfills will be constructed. There are nearly 100 city-owned or operated public landfills in 35 states that are currently subject to regulation or could become so, and many more county-owned or operated public landfills that are or could be impacted.

Last fall, NLC cautioned EPA about the economic impact of compliance costs and the potential for unintended consequences, such as exacerbating illegal dumping, should EPA move forward with the proposed standards.

EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule and the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for existing landfills until Sept. 15. NLC is reviewing the potential impacts on local governments and may submit comments. 

NLC Calls on FCC, Congress to Protect and Promote Internet Access in Cities

Julia Pulidindi, 202.626.3176

As Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considered a number of policies that could impact the availability of Internet access in cities, NLC advocated in support of cities' municipal broadband efforts and remove barriers to implementation:

  • NLC supported FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's efforts to eliminate state barriers to municipal broadband networks and to ensure that communities have options to address their broadband needs.
  • Over NLC's objections, the House passed an amendment to a federal funding bill that would eliminate the FCC's ability to even consider the issue of state barriers to public and public/private broadband projects. NLC will work to defeat the amendment in the Senate.
  • In a rulemaking process, NLC called on the FCC to preserve an open Internet that supports local economic development through unrestricted access to lawful content, applications, and services.
  • In support of NLC's position, the FCC voted to update the e-Rate program, which provides funding for wireless internet access in schools and libraries. The program invests $2 billion in federal funding in local schools and libraries to provide free internet access to residents.

Senate Passes Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension

Yucel Ors, 202.626.3124

More than 12 years after the tragic events of 9/11, the potential risk of large scale terrorist action in our cities continues to challenge the capacity and risk models of the private insurance market. That is why the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act remains a vital public-private risk sharing mechanism with a federal backstop that guarantees terrorism risk insurance coverage remains affordable and available to local governments.

In action that NLC supported, on Thursday, the Senate voted 93-4 to approve the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2244), which extends the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA; P.L. 107-297) for seven years. Our focus now shifts to the House, which is expected to consider in the upcoming weeks, the TRIA Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4871) that calls for a five year extension.

Register Now for the 2014 NLC University Leadership Summit

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

Registration deadlines are approaching for the 2014 NLC University Leadership Summit in Santa Clara, CA, August 13-16. This year's theme is "Leading through Innovation," with a focus on innovative ways city leaders are fostering economic development and incubating small businesses

The summit facilitators will approach this theme first from the perspective of developing personal leadership skills to think creatively about solutions to long-standing problems. The second session will delve deeply into the question of how we create the structures and culture within city government to support and sustain innovation. Finally, participants will look at how to foster innovation in the local economy.

The hotel room block closes on July 22, so register now! For questions, contact Laura Lanford, Senior Associate for NLC University.

Webinar July 29: Expanding Health Access for Children and Families

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

Cities are increasingly recognizing the important role they can play in ensuring that eligible children are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Join NLC President and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services Cindy Mann as they share insights about how city leaders can develop outreach strategies to connect children and families to health insurance. The webinar will also include a review of new research by Matt Buettgens from the Urban Institute on how American cities benefit when more residents have health insurance. Finally, the webinar will share highlights from NLC's Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families initiative, which recently selected eight cities to receive grants and technical assistance to implement city-led outreach and enrollment campaigns.

Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families Webinar
Tuesday, July 29, 2:00-3:15 PM EST
Register Now