Federal Advocacy Update: Week of August 13, 2019

American flags at sunset
American flags at sunset

In this issue:

  1. What Do Local Leaders Need to Know about the FCC Cable Order?
  2. USCIS Announces Final Rule on Public Charge
  3. Take Action on Clean Water Permitting
  4. Stay Active During August Recess
  5. NOAA Increases Chance for Above-Normal Hurricane Season
  6. Next Issue of the Federal Advocacy Update


What Do Local Leaders Need to Know about the FCC Cable Order?

Angelina Panettieri, 202.626.3196

On August 1, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to approve a report and order that will make dramatic changes to cable franchises managed by state and local governments. The order, which will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register, has two major components that will impact local governments. The first addresses “in-kind” components of franchise agreements and their relationship to franchise fees, and the second addresses regulation of “mixed use” networks by state and local franchising authorities.

NLC opposed the order, as did a large number of local governments, PEG operators and 49 members of Congress. Despite these protests, the FCC moved forward with the order. It is likely to reduce franchise revenues at the state and local level and wholly preempt state and local authority over the growing broadband and wireless services being provided by cable companies. The FCC claimed this order was done to expand broadband access but provided no requirement or assurance from cable companies that reduced franchise obligations would reduce costs for consumers or increase broadband deployment in underserved areas.

Read the full CitiesSpeak blog on the Order here.


USCIS Announces Final Rule on Public Charge

Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman, 202.626.3098

This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the publication of a final rule regarding public charge. The rule broadens the public benefit programs to be considered to determine if an individual seeking admission to the United States would be considered to be a public charge. Specifically, the rule:

  • “Defines the term “public charge” to mean an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period”
  • “Defines the term “public benefit” to include any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs”
  • “Makes certain nonimmigrant aliens in the United States who have received designated public benefits above the designated threshold ineligible for change of status and extension of stay if they received the benefits after obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or from which they seek to change”

Last November, NLC filed comments in response to DHS’ request for comments on the then proposed rule. NLC is disappointed that the final rule remains largely unchanged from the initial proposal, which will have a direct negative impact on the economic vitality of our communities, both to local businesses and the workforce, and endanger the health and well-being of our residents. The expansion of the public charge definition preempts cities from offering services to all residents in our communities.

Over the coming weeks, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of DHS will conduct public outreach on the final rule. If your community continues to be concerned about the impact of the final rule, we strongly encourage you to engage in these sessions to understand the full impact of the final rule.


Take Action on Clean Water Permitting

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101

As Members of Congress are at home in the districts for August Recess, now is the perfect time to ask them to co-sponsor key pieces of legislation that will support our nation’s infrastructure. Part of NLC’s Rebuild With Us infrastructure campaign, H.R. 1764, would extend the maximum term for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued under the Clean Water Act from 5 to 10 years. Current federal law only provides for 5-year NPDES permit terms. This bipartisan bill would help communities better align planning and construction schedules for local water and wastewater treatment projects.

Send tweets to your members of Congress here.

Specific co-sponsor targets include: Allred (D-TX-32), Brownley (D-CA-26), Carbajal (D-CA-24), Carson (D-IN-7), Craig (D-MN-2), Davids (D-KS-3), Delgado (D-NY-19), DeSaulnier (D-CA-11), Espaillat (D-NY-13), Fineknauer (D-IA-1), Fletcher (D-TX-7), Hank Johnson (D-GA-4), Lipinski (D-IL-3), Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Pappas (D-NH-1), Payne (D-NJ-10), Plaskett (D-USV-I), Sires (D-NJ-8), Stanton (D-AZ-9), Titus (D-NV-1), Wilson (D-FL-24).

Letters of support from NLC, League of California Cities and the Ohio Mayors Alliance.

To see the full list of infrastructure legislation that need your action, click here.


Stay Active During August Recess

Rohan Narayanan, 202.626.3029

The House and Senate have entered their second week of recess and do not return to session until September 9. With Members of Congress back in-district for a sustained period of time, now is the perfect time to tell the story of why cities, towns and villages need a strong federal-local partnership to advance local priorities and involve community voices in federal policymaking.

One of the most effective ways to grab your Representative’s attention is to place an opinion-editorial (op-ed) in your local newspaper. Members of Congress and their staff keep a close eye on local and regional media outlets because it helps them stay up-to-date with what’s happening in their district. A well-crafted op-ed can grab their attention and further their understand of an issue.

Now more than ever, it’s imperative for us to continue to keep up our drumbeat that local leaders need a federal partner to invest in infrastructure and advance other local priorities. By writing op-eds, amplifying our message on social media and meeting with your Members of Congress in-district, we can make a difference for our residents.

Visit NLC’s Take Action page, choose an issue you are passionate about and help NLC make a difference for cities, towns and villages. As a local leader, you know the impact federal decisions have on our communities. By raising our collective voice, we can ensure that Congress and the Administration make local issues a priority.


NOAA Increases Chance for Above-Normal Hurricane Season

Yucel Ors, 202.626.3124

NOAA forecasters monitoring oceanic and atmospheric patterns say conditions are now more favorable for above-normal hurricane activity since El Nino has now ended. Two named storms have formed so far this year and the peak months of the hurricane season, August through October, are now underway.

“NOAA will continue to deliver the information that the public depends on before, during and after any storms throughout the hurricane season,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “Armed with our next-generation satellites, sophisticated weather models, hurricane hunter aircraft, and the expertise of our forecasters, we are prepared to keep communities informed to help save lives and livelihoods.”

Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45% (up from 30% from the outlook issued in May). The likelihood of near-normal activity is now at 35%, and the chance of below-normal activity has dropped to 20%.

NOAA encourages residents in communities that can be impacted by landfalling hurricanes to ensure their preparedness measures are in place now to become a more Weather-Ready Nation. Stay tuned to the National Hurricane Center for the latest about tropical storm and hurricane activity in the Atlantic.


Next Issue of the Federal Advocacy Update

Rohan Narayanan, 202.626.3029

With the House and the Senate having adjourned until September 9, the next issue of the Federal Advocacy Update will be published on Tuesday, September 10. It promises to be a busy fall with issues important to cities and towns front and center, so please stay tuned for changes in the format of the Federal Advocacy Update Newsletter.

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