Federal Advocacy Update: Week Ending February 24, 2017

Capitol Building
Capitol Building

In this issue:

NLC Lobbyists Take 135 Hill Meetings to Lay Groundwork for CCC

Michael Wallace, 202.626.3025
Thousands of local officials will arrive in Washington next month for NLC’s Congressional City Conference. Among the Members of Congress scheduled to meet with NLC conference attendees are 7 new Senators, 55 new Representatives, and 91 former local elected officials. To lay the groundwork for successful meetings, NLC lobbyists have met in advance with these offices, alongside top leadership, over the last two months.
From January 3rd, when the new Congress was gaveled into being, to now, NLC lobbyists have taken 135 Congressional meetings with 120 Members of Congress and their staff; and 11 meetings with Congressional committee staff from 9 House and Senate Committees. Among outcomes related to specific policy issues, these meetings served to educate Congressional offices on cities bipartisan priorities; and to reinforce NLC as the voice of America’s cities on Capitol Hill.
You can get to know more about NLC’s advocacy team of lobbyists and grassroots professionals by reading through the “Meet Your City Advocate” blog series and by attending one of NLC’s seven Federal Advocacy Committee Meetings on Sunday, March 12th at the Congressional City Conference. Federal Advocacy Committee meetings are not just for committee members – they are open to every local official registered to attend the conference.

Over 250 Meetings Set Up for Local Officials During Congressional City Conference Capitol Hill Advocacy Day

Ashley Smith, 202.626.3094
With a new President and Congress, now is the time to raise the voice of cities and make our priorities heard during the 2017 Congressional City Conference. While in Washington, D.C., you’ll learn from political and issue experts on how federal action may impact your city in the months and years ahead, and have the opportunity to speak up for cities during meetings with your Congressional delegation.
Start your conference experience by attending NLC’s Federal Advocacy Committee meetings on March 12 to learn more about our policy development process and how the Committees are leading NLC’s advocacy efforts. And during workshops on March 13 and 14, you'll hear about the most pressing topics facing cities and learn about federal plans and proposals. Topics include:
  • Infrastructure plans and funding
  • Possible changes to the Affordable Care Act and impacts to cities
  • New technologies and strategies for your police force
  • Considerations when pursuing public private partnerships
  • How to effectively advocate for your city in Washington
During the general sessions, you’ll hear from political analyst, bestselling author, and former White House Director of Communications Nicolle Wallace and bestselling author J.D. Vance. Finally, on March 15, join city leaders from across the country as we advocate for city priorities during NLC’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day. Register today to join us and learn more about the conference here.
We look forward to seeing you and city leaders from around the country in our nation's capital!

NLC Urges Congress to Reinvest in Municipal Infrastructure

Matthew Colvin, 202.626.3173
This week, the National League of Cities urged Congress to reinvest in municipal infrastructure by detailing NLC's priorities for comprehensive legislation that supports transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure found in our latest policy report: Drive America's Economy Forward by Reinvesting in Municipal Infrastructure.
The report supports President Trump's call for major investments in America's infrastructure and calls on Congress to make significant investments in the transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure that together drive the economy of our cities based on the following guiding principles:
  1. America’s cities are paying their fair share: over two-thirds of all public infrastructure projects in the United States are locally financed by municipal bonds.
  2. While the demands on America’s infrastructure grow each year, federal funding has fallen to historically low levels, placing the economic and physical well-being of our cities in jeopardy.
  3. City leaders are best positioned to identify where infrastructure needs are greatest, and should be given a stronger voice in how limited federal dollars are spent.
To read the report and view the accompanying issue brief visit www.nlc.org/infrastructure.

Representatives Draw Line in the Sand to Protect Muni Bonds

Brett Bolton, 202.626.3183
70 Members of Congress have added their names on a letter to House Ways and Means Committee leadership supporting the tax exemption for municipal bonds. There is still time to act and help NLC push the number of signers over 100.
 The letter, penned by the Congressional Municipal-Finance Caucus Co-Chairs Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IN) and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), focuses on the important role this financing tool plays in building and maintaining our nation’s infrastructure.  As the new Administration and Congress look for ways to reduce the federal deficit and enact a tax reform package, the tax-exempt status is under threat. 
For over 200 years municipal bonds have been used to finance the building blocks of our communities. From the construction of schools and hospitals, to water treatment facilities and roads, municipal bonds provide the means in over 42,000 state or local governments to finance these projects.  
With bipartisan agreement on the need for infrastructure investment, it's important we remember this vital financing role. The combination of local control and local responsibility makes municipal bonds an incredibly effective and efficient tool.
If your Member of Congress is not a signee, we urge you to contact them to sign-on before the February 28th deadline.

NLC Calls on FCC to Make Cities a Vital Part of Broadband Expansion

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196
In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week, NLC called on the FCC to give cities a key role in its newly-formed Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). The BDAC, which is tasked with developing recommendations to expedite wired and wireless broadband deployment in communities by reducing regulatory barriers, will consist of members of the public appointed by the FCC.
NLC endorsed  the nominations of a large number of local officials, and urged the FCC to make local government a key voice on the BDAC. "We firmly believe that the participation of local officials in the BDAC will be critical to successful achievement of its objectives," said Clarence Anthony, NLC CEO and Executive Director, in the letter. "Local officials offer the technical and policy expertise needed to ensure that the BDAC’s deliberation and output are workable within a municipal government framework."
The membership of the BDAC has not yet been announced. Meetings, once they have been set, will be open to the public and streamed online.

Cabinet Confirmations Continue with Vote on EPA Administrator

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101
Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of Scott Pruitt as the 14th administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 52 to 46 vote. Ten of President Donald Trump's 15 nominees to lead executive departments have now been confirmed by the Senate. The National League of Cities (NLC) congratulated Administrator Pruitt on his confirmation and looks forward to continuing its partnership with EPA in efforts to protect public health and the environment. NLC issued the following statement in response
“We look forward to continuing our work with the Trump Administration and welcome Administrator Pruitt. The nation’s local elected officials recognize that climate change and improving our water infrastructure are leading challenges for our cities and we are eager to continue working with EPA to address both concerns in a consistent manner across all regions of the country.
“Local governments own the majority of the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure and need the financial resources to maintain and improve it to meet the needs of the 21st century. We call on Administrator Pruitt to be a strong champion of programs like the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds and WIFIA, which help cities make needed investments in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure; and integrated planning, which allows local governments to address their most pressing water infrastructure needs first. We also urge Administrator Pruitt to reduce unfunded mandates and maintain policies that incentivize the use of green infrastructure, which is often more cost-effective and beneficial to our communities.
“Cities are also on the front lines of responding to the devastating effects of climate change and cannot afford climate inaction at any level of government. Cities have already taken the lead in the fight against climate change, but strong federal partners who understand the risks of climate change inaction will further enable local leaders to protect and prepare their communities.
“Cities — both small and large — support provisions for clean water, clean air and clean land, as well as water infrastructure improvements that rebuild aging infrastructure and assure its resilience in the face of changing demands and extreme weather events. We call for solutions to local challenges that do not place the financial burden squarely on local governments, and welcome measures that match infrastructure funding with mandated actions. We are eager to continue being a partner and resource to EPA.”

DHS Memo Lacks Guidance on Sanctuary Jurisdictions

Yucel Ors, 202.626.3124
On Monday, February, 20, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the memorandum implementing the Executive Order entitled "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," issued by the President on January 25, 2017. The Executive Order ambiguously defined sanctuary jurisdictions and empowered the secretary of DHS to choose which jurisdictions would fall into that category. 
While the memorandum provides some guidance regarding the enforcement of the actions identified in the Executive Order, it does not provide clarification as to how DHS will determine sanctuary jurisdictions.  NLC continues to urge President Trump to open a dialogue with city leaders, and work with local governments to enact real, comprehensive immigration reform that respects the principles of local control.
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