NLC’s Public Safety & Crime Prevention Committee Meets in Savannah

The Public Safety and Crime Prevention (PSCP) Committee, led by its chair, San Jose, Calif. Councilmember Pete Constant, met in Savannah, Georgia recently to review current policy and learn from experts about the status of the Department of Homeland Security activities and implementation of FirstNet, the nation’s first high-speed broadband network dedicated to public safety.  

NLC staff updated the committee on the status of federal appropriations and the likelihood of a federal government shutdown (which became a reality shortly after the meeting). The committee also discussed NLC’s legislative priorities and the status of appropriations to fund Departments of Justice and Homeland Security  programs that matter to cities and towns, as well as efforts to update the nation’s flood insurance program.

The committee recognized the significant successes around NLC’s three legislative priorities this year:  

  • Maintaining the tax exempt status of municipal bonds: To date, no serious effort has been mounted by the Administration or Congress to tax municipal bonds.
  • Adopting legislation that would permit states and localities to collect sales taxes on internet purchases: Within the last month House leaders announced plans to begin discussing legislation that would allow states and localities to collect sales taxes on internet purchases.  
  • Adopting immigration reform legislation: Though no action has taken place in the House, earlier this year the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill.    

 “While we are a long way from fulfilling our goals on each of these issues, it should be noted that with one more year left in the congressional session it is still very possible that the internet sales tax legislation known as “Marketplace Fairness,” and comprehensive immigration reform legislation could make their way through the Congress and onto the President’s desk,” said Neil Bomberg, NLC Program Director.

Ed Parkinson, the government relations director for FirstNet, provided the committee with a progress report on FirstNet’s efforts to build out the nationwide public safety broadband network, and added that now is the time for every municipality to reach out to their state FirstNet coordinator to begin a discussion about the program’s implementation in their state to ensure that their local needs and interests are taken into account when the state develops its plan.   

Brad Johnson, director of local affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, talked about DHS’s current efforts to expand the “See Something, Say Something” anti-terror campaign,the Stop.Think.Connect cyber-security campaign, and the Blue program that has placed the spotlight on human trafficking and how to address the problem through law enforcement.

The committee also reviewed the current Public Safety and Crime Prevention National Municipal Policy, as well as new and existing resolutions.  After significant deliberation, the committee decided to clarify its policy on “driving under the influence” to include “distracted driving,” and to incorporate its existing resolution on human trafficking into permanent policy.  

The committee also agreed to work with the Transportation, Infrastructure and Services Committee on train safety, and to refer a resolution on emergency medical services billings by cities and towns to the Human Development Committee.

Members of the PSCP Steering Committee will join with the Advocacy and Policy Committee on November 13, in Seattle, Wash., during NLC’s Congress of Cities to ratify the work of the steering committee before their recommendations are forwarded to the Resolutions Committee and membership for adoption.