Federal Advocacy Update: Week of September 26, 2017

Capitol Building
Capitol Building

In this issue:

NLC Constituency Groups Lobby Capitol Hill for City Priorities

Ashley Smith, 202.626.3094

On September 19 and 20, city leaders from three of NLC's Constituency Groups traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and advocate for city priorities during their annual Washington Day of Action. Following a briefing from NLC's Federal Advocacy team, the Constituency Group members met with members of Congress and their staffs to advocate for NLC's legislative priorities, including the state and local tax deduction, investments in municipal infrastructure and federal funding for cities.

Constituency Groups Fly-In

In their time on the Hill, leaders of the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials (APAMO); Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Local Officials (LGBTLO); and National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO) met with fifteen congressional offices across six states in one day.

For additional photos and highlights from NLC's Constituency Groups Washington Day of Action, follow NLC on Twitter.

CED Committee Meets in Henderson

Michael Wallace, 202.626.3025

The city of Henderson, Nevada recently hosted the Fall Policy Meeting of NLC’s Community and Economic Development Advocacy Committee (CED).  Henderson is the hometown of CED Committee Chair Councilmember Gerri Schroder, who, with the help of NLC and city staff, created an agenda heavily focused on economic development.  City leaders from the public and private sector across Henderson shared strategies that are making Henderson, a city of almost 300,000, the fastest growing and second largest city in Nevada; and a city Bloomberg Businessweek named “One of the Best Cities to Live in America".

CED Committee Meeting

Among speakers, Dr. Robert Lang, Director of Brookings Mountain West, opened the business portion of the meeting with an overview of demographic and economic trends impacting cities.  Following that, Henderson department directors spoke about their comprehensive planning process and their three pronged economic development framework of Industry Priorities, People-based Strategies, and Place-based Strategies. The committee also heard from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation and the CEO of Transmosis about their partnership to address the skills gap in Nevada.  The final presentation was given by healthcare educators and leaders about how their field is driving economic development and job creation in Henderson. 

The business portion of the meeting concluded with the consideration of six resolutions for the CED policy chapter of NLC’s National Municipal Policy.

How Can Cities Become More Disaster Resilient?

Carolyn Berndt, 202.626.3101

On September 11, NLC and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) co-hosted a Congressional Briefing entitled “How Can Cities Become More Resilient to Extreme Weather?” Arriving on the heels of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma — and with wildfires raging in the American West — the panel featured Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Nicole Woodman, Sustainability Manager for the City of Flagstaff, Arizona, sharing how their cities invest in resilience for their residents.

Click here to read more about this briefing on NLC's blog, CitiesSpeak.

Mayor Peduto

NLC Joins Americans Against Double Taxation

Brett Bolton, 202.626.3183

Last week, NLC joined with the National Association of Counties (NaCo), U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), National Governors Association (NGA) and various national associations representing realtors, educators and law enforcement officers to launch Americans Against Double Taxation, a coalition designed to protect the state and local tax deduction (SALT).

This coalition, which successfully preserved SALT in the 1986 tax reform package signed by President Ronald Reagan has come together again to fight the elimination of a tool that is vital to the success of cities, as well as local control of taxation. SALT strikes at the heart of federalism.  By allowing tax payers to deduct the amount of state and local income, sales and property tax from their federal tax return, cities can raise the revenue needed to provide vital services such as long-term infrastructure projects, law enforcement and schools. 

As tax reform talks continue to heat up, it appears SALT is still on the chopping block.  Congress is looking to produce a revenue neutral package, meaning that all tax cuts must be paid for, and SALT is the most valuable deduction available. 

To learn more about SALT and NLC’s efforts to fight this breach of federalism on Capitol Hill and work to preserve local control, join us for a webinar on October 5 at 3pm EDT. Click here to register.

Autonomous Vehicles Legislation Speeds Up

Brittney Kohler, 202.626.3164

As autonomous vehicles (AV) are being tested in cities across the country, Congress picked up the pace on legislation and guidance that could begin a rollout of thousands of autonomous vehicles on the nation’s roads. While this could clarify the future for how testing and deployment will happen, these bills will also change how cities advance their plans for autonomous vehicles and NLC is engaged to ensure the local perspective is considered throughout the process.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee moved forward their autonomous vehicles bill to the House floor with impressive speed. The Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution Act (SELF DRIVE; H.R. 3388), passed the House on September 6. This bill would standardize parts of the process, like autonomous car design and construction, and it specifically outlines elements that it will not prohibit states and cities from undertaking the deployment of autonomous vehicles including: registration, licensing, driving education, crash investigation, and congestion management. However, it inserts an important caveat that could allow the federal government to preempt city authority if local laws or regulations are seen as an “unreasonable restriction.” While cities are embracing AVs and their promise, the preemption in this bill is concerning.

On September 12, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released updated federal guidance for Automated Driving Systems (ADS):  A Vision for Safety 2.0. This latest guidance builds on the guidance provided last October by the previous Administration with a “streamlined” version moving from 15 criteria to 12 priority safety design elements that should be considered for automated driving systems. One of the key criteria for cities is the last to be addressed: how an AV will follow all federal, state, and local laws.  This guidance is absolutely voluntary and, unless Congress makes a change in law, there is no federally required waiting period or delay for an AV to begin testing or deployment on the public roads. However, this guidance already has an expiration date –DOT and NHTSA are already planning an update.

The Senate is also having an active debate on their AV legislation, and currently taking input from NLC and our member cities. This bill has one very distinct difference being considered –whether it will include piloting or exemptions for autonomous commercial trucks. We will be engaging on this closely as text is introduced as early as this week.

NLC Submits Comments to Department of Labor on Overtime

Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman, 202.626.3098

On September 25, NLC submitted comments to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division in response to their Request for Information (RFI) published in the Federal Register seeking input on the wage and overtime requirements for certain  executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees.  This process will aid DOL as they move forward to develop a new proposal to replace the 2016 Final Rule, which was blocked in the courts.

NLC’s comments to the RFI reflected Resolution #19 of our National Municipal Policy, which calls for DOL to take into account the impact to cities and towns as they consider any increases to the overtime threshold as well as to eliminate any consideration of automatic threshold increases based on passage of time rather than formal process.  NLC looks forward to continuing to engage with DOL on this issue.

Reminder: Apply to Lead at NLC

Avery Peters, 202.626.3020

Federal advocacy committees play an invaluable role at NLC. By applying to lead, you will raise your profile as a municipal leader on Capitol Hill, at the White House and with federal agencies. You will also serve alongside other city leaders from across the nation to develop federal policy positions, which make up our National Municipal Policy

Applications for Committee leadership positions (chair and vice chairs) are due October 13. Click here to apply today.

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