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NLC report assesses mandate strategies.

A new NLC report assesses the effectiveness of tactics aimed at stopping or funding state madates on cities and towns. "State Mandates" describes experiences in each stte with fiscal notes and reimbursement requirements.

The report is based on a cooperative effort among state municipal leagues, the National League of Cities and the author, Janet Kelly. "State Mandates," the first comprehensive treatment of anti-mandates strategies from a multi-state perspective, offers useful approaches to dealing with the problem of unfunded and underfunded state mandates to local governments.

State municipal leagues have been trying to stop state mandates or at least reduce their negative effects on local governments. Because state governments have responded inconsistently, the leagues decided to examine their own experiences with mandates. This examination has provided an opportunity for the leagues to learn from the patterns of their activities coupled with an analysis of state government behavior.

After an explanatory segment on mandates, the book enters into an extensive examination of fiscal not requirements and reimbursement legislation. The focus is on understanding the potentials and pitfalls of fiscal notes and reimbursement bills, as these are the two most widely used strategies for coping with the problems of mandates.

"Mandate," a broadly defined and frequently misunderstood term is explained in the book as state action that either limits or place additional expenditure requirements on local governments. The issue of "who pays" is regarded closely in this study as different states report on their experiences, behaviors and techniques in delaing with mandates. Consolidation and analysis of this data is used to gain insight into the fiscal problems of mandates.

The fiscal note requirement is the most prevalent anti-mandate strategy used by states. Twenty-eight states have fiscal note requirements, 14 of which also rely on reimbursement legislation. A fiscal note bill addresses the estimated cost of a proposed mandate to all local governments affected. The numeric cost estimate must be considered by the state before legislating a mandate. However, interviews with local and state officials about fiscal notes suggest that the process does not work well for most states.

A frequent problem with fiscla notes is inaccurate or unreliable cost estimates. However, a more substantial problem is that varied legislative attention is paid to the notes regardless of their content.

The same holds true for reimbursement requirements. The 14 states using reimbursement legislation reported some positive results, but the problem persists that state legislatures too often bypass reimbursement requirements, paying little or not attention to them.

Copies of the report are available for $15.00 to NLC members and $25.00 for nonmembers. To order, please write to Publications Sales, National League of Cities, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004, or call (202) 626-3000.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:National League of Cities
Author:Dager, Beth
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Apr 20, 1992
Words:453
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