Federal Advocacy Update: Week Ending February 14, 2014

Leaders from Cabinet and Capitol Hill to Address Congressional City Conference

Angelina Panettieri, panettieri@nlc.org, 202.626.3196

Attendees of this year's Congressional City Conference, held March 8-12 in Washington, D.C., will hear from a number of leading Washington voices on the policy issues that matter most to cities. Secretary Anthony Foxx of the Department of Transportation and Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security will address the conference in addition to the previously-announced Secretary Shaun Donovan of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Arne Duncan of the Department of Education. Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas will also speak during the meeting.

Secretary Foxx brings his experience as mayor of Charlotte, NC to his work with the Department of Transportation. He also spent two terms prior to his term as mayor as an At-Large Representative on the Charlotte City Council. Secretary Johnson, who was sworn in to his current position in December 2013, has served as General Counsel for the Department of Defense and the Department of the Air Force, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Rep. Womack has also previously served in local government, as mayor of Rogers, AR, and on a number of boards and commissions in Arkansas, including the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, the Rogers United Way, the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce, and the Rogers Parks Commission.

In addition to informative workshops and featured speaker sessions, attendees at the Congressional City Conference will have time to meet with their congressional delegations on Capitol Hill.

For more information on how to request a meeting with your legislators, visit NLC's's online Advocacy Central »

2014 Federal Action Agenda Calls for Increased Partnership

Angelina Panettieri, panettieri@nlc.org, 202.626.3196

Earlier this week, NLC President Chris Coleman, mayor, Saint Paul, MN, announced NLC's 2014 federal agenda that calls on Congress and the Administration to prioritize investments in cities and their residents that encourage and take advantage of the innovation happening on the local level to drive economic growth. NLC's federal action agenda reflects the need for a new federal-local partnership to facilitate investment in our infrastructure and workforce.

Cities have shown true leadership by continuing to fund projects and keep priorities moving despite the political turmoil in Washington. We work with our civic partners - notably businesses, nonprofits and schools - to drive local growth agendas that create jobs and lift up all sectors and people of our cities, said Coleman in his announcement.

The agenda emphasizes the connected nature of federal action and local economic efforts and helps cities drive forward an agenda that will empower people and businesses to make investments and see innovation explode in cities.

The agenda calls on Congress and the Administration to:

  • Support marketplace fairness;
  • Invest in local transportation priorities;
  • Protect municipal bonds;
  • Fix the nation's broken immigration system;
  • Strengthen the nation's education pipeline; and
  • Support community resilience

Learn more about NLC's 2014 federal agenda »

NLC and Florida City Leaders Urge Congress to Delay Flood Insurance Premium Increase

Angelina Panettieri, panettieri@nlc.org, 202.626.3196

FAST Flyin
Florida city leaders visit NLC for an advocacy strategy session before their Hill meetings.

Florida League of Cities representatives and city officials descended on Washington this week to urge leaders on Capitol Hill to delay the implementation of rate increases to the National Flood Insurance Program that are called for by the Biggert-Waters Act.

While the Senate voted overwhelmingly last week to delay the rate increases for up to four years, the House has yet to take action on several proposals currently pending in that chamber.

"Federal legislation and decision-making can affect Florida's municipalities just as much, and in some cases even more, than state legislation," said Florida League of Cities President P.C. Wu, councilmember, Pensacola, Fla. "For example, issues regarding the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act and municipal financing have an impact in our cities. Working together with league staff and the National League of Cities gives Florida's cities a more effective and powerful voice in this new era of Federalism."

The recently passed omnibus bill did include a one year delay for properties previously grandfathered under the National Flood Insurance Program, but advocates, including NLC, are asking that the rate increases be delayed pending the completion by FEMA of an affordability study.

Read NLC's full statement on the recent flood insurance reform advocacy »

NLC Calls for Transparency, Local Input on Stormwater Regulations

Carolyn Berndt, berndt@nlc.org, 202.626.3101

In the latest step of a lengthy rulemaking process to reduce stormwater pollution, NLC has called on three regional offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow for public input and transparency on potential regulation that might impose high implementation and enforcement costs on local governments.

Regions 1, 3, and 9 of EPA are currently considering petitions by American Rivers, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council that ask the agency to require private industrial, commercial, and institutional sites in EPA Regions 1, 3, and 9 to meet certain stormwater discharge permit requirements, including limiting impervious surfaces and reducing stormwater runoff. These requirements, if implemented, would apply to all new and existing covered sites, including public facilities such as schools, court houses, hospitals, museums, and airports.

EPA initiated the rulemaking process for stormwater discharges in 2010, but its timeline for finalizing a regulation has been pushed back several times, and no timeline for completion has been publicly announced.

Find more NLC resources on EPA's Proposed National Rulemaking to Strengthen the Stormwater Program, including information on the RDA petitions »

NLC Warns FCC Not to Adopt a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Wireless Facilities Sitings

Carolyn Coleman, coleman@nlc.org, 202.626.3020

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the Federal Communications Commission requested comments on opportunities to promote the deployment of infrastructure that is necessary to provide the public with advanced wireless broadband services, consistent with governing law and the public interest.

In comments filed in response to the FCC's request, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, the National Association of Counties, and The United States Conference of Mayors urged the FCC not to hinder broadband deployment by adopting formal rules that would impose a one size fits all interpretation of Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Spectrum Act). The vast majority of wireless broadband infrastructure projects are processed and deployed in a timely manner, the groups wrote in the filing, respecting not only the needs of providers, but also the desires of the communities they serve.

As an alternative, the groups warned the FCC to proceed with caution in adopting rules that may run afoul of well-established principles of Federalism and the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and to act in "narrowest possible fashion."

Reply comments are due on March 5, 2014.

NLC to President Obama: Preserve Water Infrastructure Financing Program

Carolyn Berndt, berndt@nlc.org, 202.626.3101

As President Obama prepares to release his FY 15 budget proposal, NLC and other local government and water utility stakeholders urged President Obama to maintain FY14 funding levels for these programs. The White House is currently finalizing FY15 budget recommendations, and NLC understands that funding levels for other environmental programs have already been determined.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) programs are tools integral to local governments' efforts to comply with federal water requirements and upgrade and improve clean water and drinking water infrastructure, through projects such as pipe replacement, stormwater mitigation, and source water protection. The letter to the President underscores the benefits to local communities from federal and local investment in water infrastructure, including local job creation, healthier communities, and reduced water pollution from nutrient runoff.

President Obama is expected to announce his FY15 budget recommendations next month.

Read the letter to the White House »

Sustainable Cities Institute Launches New Online Resource

Angelina Panettieri, panettieri@nlc.org, 202.626.3196

NLC's Sustainable Cities Institute has launched a new website to provide information, tools and resources to local governments and sustainability professionals who want to pursue sustainability in their cities and communities. The website provides a complete sustainability toolkit that features city profiles and best practices, case studies, model policies and communication tools that cities can use to build strong and healthy communities that thrive on creativity, transparency and trusted relationships.

The site features a collection of tools, information and resources for those just getting started in sustainability as well as local officials and professionals with advanced experience working with sustainability issues. Profiles on a number of cities, from Saint Paul, Minn. to Austin, Texas, provide information about their commitments to sustainability, internal operations and accomplishments that serve as case studies and best practices that can apply to communities across America.

In addition, cities can find detailed resources on a variety of subjects, including:

  • Land Use & Planning
  • Water & Green Infrastructure
  • Buildings & Energy Efficiency
  • Equity & Engagement
  • Transportation
  • Climate Adaptation & Resilience
  • Materials Management
  • Food Systems

Visit the new Sustainable Cities Institute website now »

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