Federal Advocacy Update: Week Ending September 26, 2014

The Federal Advocacy Update will be on hiatus as Congress leaves Washington for the midterm elections. The next issue of the Federal Advocacy Update will be published on Friday, November 7.

In this issue:

  • GET IN GEAR: Join a NLC Policy and Advocacy Steering Committee
  • Webinar November 7: Prepare for the Last Days of the 113th Congress
  • Congress Passes Short-Term Funding Measure; Adjourns for Midterm Elections
  • NLC Weighs in on E-Rate
  • EPA Extends Comment Deadline for Greenhouse Gas Proposed Rule
  • Local Leaders Debate Energy and Environment Policy, Public Safety
  • Army Corps Accepting Water Resources Project Proposals
  • Congressional Cosponsors for CDBG 40th Anniversary Resolution Grow to 80
  • Last Chance: Register Now for the Congress of Cities Early Bird Rate

GET IN GEAR: Join a NLC Policy and Advocacy Steering Committee

Avery Peters, 202.626.3020

Care about the impact of federal environmental regulations on your city? Transportation and water infrastructure? Affordable housing? Tax reform and municipal bonds? Broadband and net neutrality? Emergency management and cybersecurity? Immigration and education reform? Want to make a difference at the national level for your community? If your answer is yes, then NLC's Policy and Advocacy Steering Committees (Steering Committees) need you! Please click here to learn more about the Steering Committees and the application process. Applications are due no later than Monday, November 24, 2014.

NLC's Steering Committees play an important role not only in advocating on federal policy issues important to cities and towns across America but also in taking the lead in shaping NLC's federal policy positions, which serves as the foundation for NLC's advocacy.

For a complete list of NLC Committees and Councils and to learn how you can apply to be leader or member of one of them, please visit the Committees and Councils page on our website. For more information, please contact Avery Peters.

Webinar November 7: Prepare for the Last Days of the 113th Congress

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

After the dust has settled from the 2014 midterm elections, hear from NLC's staff on what cities can expect from the upcoming lame duck session of Congress in a webinar on Friday, November 7 at 1:00PM (EST). NLC's Federal Advocacy team will share their insights on the impact the election results may have on Congress in 2015 and their view of the prospects for action during the lame duck session on NLC's legislative priorities, including federal funding for local priorities and Marketplace Fairness. After the webinar, you will be equipped with the latest information to advocate for your city and press your congressional delegation to take action on the issues that matter to cities in the final days of this session.

Congress will move quickly when it returns to Washington in November. Be prepared - register now to reserve your place in the webinar.

Congress Passes Short-Term Funding Measure; Adjourns for Midterm Elections

Priya Ghosh, 202.626.3015 and Julia Pulidindi, 202.626.3176

Last week, Congress passed a short-term bill to fund the federal government through December 11, allowing lawmakers to adjourn for the campaign season and to address longer-term spending measures when they return after the November 4 midterm elections. The bill also included an extension until December 11 of a moratorium on internet access taxes, which was set to expire November 1.

While the Senate did not consider the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act (S.2609), a top legislative priority for NLC, we will continue to push to see e-fairness become law in the lame duck session of Congress.

You can help us by contacting your Senators and urging them to co-sponsor S. 2609. If they are already a co-sponsor, call and thank them for their support. Contact your House members and tell them how important it is for your community that they vote in favor of helping your Main Street retailer by passing e-fairness legislation this year.

NLC Weighs in on E-Rate

Julia Pulidindi, 202.626.3176

NLC applauded recent efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to modernize and streamline the federal E-Rate program. In comments to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, NLC emphasized the value of the E-Rate program and the benefit it is bringing to communities through schools and libraries. Earlier this year, NLC called on the agency to take these steps.

Since its inception in 1997, the E-Rate program has been successful in providing increased access to modern communications networks to our nation's schools and libraries. The availability and adoption of quality broadband service can vary dramatically from one neighborhood to another, even in heavily populated urban areas. Community schools and libraries can fill this gap by providing local residents with access to broadband and computing hardware that may be cost prohibitive for individuals. However, because the program is so oversubscribed, many communities' residents are unable to rely on their schools and libraries to get online. The FCC's E-Rate order aims to modernize the program and streamline the applications process so that funding can be used more effectively and efficiently.

EPA Extends Comment Deadline for Greenhouse Gas Proposed Rule

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a 45 day extension to the comment period on the Clean Power Plan proposed rule, which sets carbon pollution emissions guidelines for existing power plants. Comments will now be due Dec. 1, 2014. NLC will submit comments on the proposal, and encourages communities to do the same.

EPA's proposed rule would result in an overall national reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This overall reduction would be achieved through state-specific goals for emissions reductions, which vary by state, but are based on a standard formula that takes into account current sources of power generation, energy efficiency measures, and expected fossil fuel plant retirements in each state. The proposal does not set emissions goals for Vermont or Washington, DC, as neither have a fossil fuel-fired power plant.

Under the proposed rule, states will have broad flexibilities to develop the strategies and solutions for meeting the state goals, including making fossil fuel power plants more efficient, increasing renewable energy generation, increasing low carbon power sources, and reducing demand for energy by improving energy efficiency.

Among the implementation options for states is the ability to develop multi-state implementation plans and to establish market-based trading programs, such as those already underway in California and New England/Mid-Atlantic.

EPA plans to finalize the rule by June 2015, with State Implementation Plans due by June 2016.

How to comment
Submitting comments on the proposed rule, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602, can be done online by web submission or email. For web submissions, visit the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal and follow the instructions for submitting comments. For email submissions, email A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov and include Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the subject line of the message.

If your city decides to submit comments, please contact Carolyn Berndt at berndt@nlc.org.

Local Leaders Debate Energy and Environment Policy, Public Safety

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101 and Yucel Ors, 202.626.3124

Two of NLC's policy committees, the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Steering Committee and the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Steering Committee, met this month to discuss current issues facing cities and craft policy positions for the membership's consideration during NLC's Congress of Cities in Austin in November.

Powerhouse Energy
EENR Steering Committee members tour the Powerhouse Energy Institute at Colorado State University


The Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (EENR) Steering Committee, chaired by Council Member Bill Peloza of Auburn, WA, met in Fort Collins, CO. Policy topics discussed included climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. The committee also approved additions to NLC's existing resolution on resilience and preparing communities for extreme weather events, amended policy language pertaining to climate change mitigation, and approved a new resolution on climate mitigation. Local leaders from the Fort Collins area briefed committee members on local efforts to prepare for and respond to the risks of climate change.

Arizona Fusion Center
PSCP Steering Committee members vist the Arizona Fusion Center


The Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee, chaired by Council Member Scott Somers of Mesa, AZ, met in Tempe, AZ. The committee approved new policy resolutions supporting the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act and the Second Chance Act, and calling for inclusion of the local government perspective in any review of the Department of Defense's Excess Property Program. Among other activities, they also toured the Arizona Fusion Center, also known as the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC), to learn more about joint public safety efforts between local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies.

Army Corps Accepting Water Resources Project Proposals

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101

Under the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which became law in June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) is accepting proposals from local governments for feasibility studies and modifications to authorized water resources development projects. The request is open until December 3, 2014.

WRRDA authorized flood protection, navigation and ecosystem restoration projects to help upgrade the nation's aging infrastructure. A key WRRDA provision allows local project sponsors to submit proposals to Army Corps, which in turn will submit a list to Congress for authorization.

Under that provision, Section 7001, Army Corps is soliciting proposals from local and regional stakeholders for water resources studies or project modifications to be conducted in partnership with the Agency. Section 7001 provides an excellent opportunity for local governments to shape the future of Army Corps by identifying beneficial and necessary water resources projects to be developed through federal/non-federal cost sharing.

Through the Section 7001 solicitation, local governments can help Army Corps and Congress identify where scarce federal resources can be invested to address our nation's water resources priorities. 
Once proposals are collected, Army Corps will publish an Annual Report to Congress listing the proposed projects. The Annual Report is intended to be the sole list of water resources projects to be considered for authorization in future legislation.

Congressional Cosponsors for CDBG 40th Anniversary Resolution Grow to 80

Michael Wallace, 202.626.3025

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG), which President Ford signed into law on August 22, 1974, the co-chairs of the Congressional Urban Caucus, Representatives Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Michael Turner (R-OH) and a bipartisan group of supporters, including Representatives McGovern (D-MA), Barletta (R-PA), Brady (D-PA), and Gibson (R-NY), introduced H.Res. 668, Supporting the goals and ideals of the Community Development Block Grant program.

NLC is partnering with these long serving congressional champions of the CDBG program to help secure additional cosponsors for the resolution. In the August 1st Federal Advocacy Update, NLC asked local officials to contact their Members of Congress in support of this effort. As a result, the number of cosponsors rose from 42 to 83 during the month of September. If you do not see your Member of Congress listed among the cosponsors at the preceding link, there is still time to ask them for their support by clicking here. The House is expected to vote on the measure during the lame duck session in November.

Last Chance: Register Now for the Congress of Cities Early Bird Rate

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

The early bird deadline for Congress of Cities registration ends in 5 days. Here's why you need to be in Austin this November:

  • You'll learn what's in store for cities: Get the perspective of our keynote speakers--futurist Mike Walsh and journalist David Gregory--on what the near future holds for cities all over the U.S. Then, get prepared with tools and strategies at over 30 workshops.
  • You'll take notes from Austin: Go where the action is on a mobile workshop. See how Austin deals with challenges that will sound familiar to you. (Hurry and register--these are filling quickly!)
  • You'll get to know the city: We'll be staying in the heart of Texas' creative capital, and our closing event will celebrate all that's wonderful (think: BBQ and live music) about our extraordinary host city.
  • You'll step up your leadershipNLCU seminars will help you become a more confident leader and add a skill or two to your resume.
  • You'll meet the nation's city leaders: Your peers from every state will be at Congress of Cities. Will you?

Register today for a big discount. The early bird rates expire on Tuesday--don't delay!

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