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Local officials ready to prepare National Municipal Policy.

City and town leaders from every section of the nation will be addressing the immediate and long term concerns of municipal officials through the national officials through the adoption of the National Municipal Policy in Orlando.

The National Municipal Policy is the statement of the goals, policies, and program objectives representing the consensus of city leaders in the nearly 16,000 direct and indirect member cities and towns. It serves as the basis for NLC's advocacy efforts and is developed through the work of NLC's five standing policy committees, the Board of Directors, and the full membership.

The Congress of Cities is the culmination of NLC's annual policy process--it is the time when the organization speaks with one voice to the country. This year NLC leaders will bring recommendations on issues as diverse and controversial as health care reform, telecommunications infrastructure, international trade, and mandates to the annual business meeting.

Following is a brief summary of the tissues of each of NLC's steering committees, built upon from the guidance from NLC's Policy Committees beginning last March:

Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations

Mayor Greg Lashutka of Columbus, Ohio and Chair of NLC's Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) Committee will chair a busy meeting of the FAIR Policy Committee in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, December 2nd.

Amendments to clarify and expand NLC positions on federal mandates and the Census are the leading proposals coming out of the Steering Committee. Additionally, the Steering Committee is proposing policy language dealing with an issue raised by the League of California Cities dealing with retroactive assertion of sales tax immunity by federal contractors.

Mandates and Census Proposals

The policy language proposed to be added would supplement NLC's general policy of opposition to federal mandates by proposing that Congress and administrative agencies follow a number of procedural steps to ensure increased consideration of the impact of federal mandates prior to their implementation. The census language proposals are crafted to make more explicit the municipal interest in census improvement and the desired direction of improvements to deal both with the differential undercount and also assure a more accurate and timely census.

Committee Proposed Amendments

Additionally, the FAIR Steering Committee is proposing six amendments which, upon adoption, would convert existing resolutions (which expire at the end of this year) to standing NLC policy. These proposals, which have been passed at least once and sometimes twice by the NLC membership, deal with topics as diverse as federal budget deficits, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and administrative costs taken off the top of federal mineral and timber payments to local jurisdictions.

Other Proposals Cover Wide Range

Even other resolutions were submitted for the Policy Committee's consideration including an omnibus proposal on federal mandates which combines the recommendations of seven different sponsors. Other subjects proposed include: support for a revised method for amending the federal constitution, the role of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, opposition to exclusive and perpetual franchises for rural electric cooperatives covering territory within municipal boundaries, and a series of amendments dealing with taxation of federal property and federal in-lieu of tax payments. Additional resolutions propose opposition to a federal Police Officers Bill of Rights, opposition to proposed federal legislation on OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) reform and commending study of the impact of provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act which are particularly relevant to municipalities.

Constitutional Amendment Procedure

The Virginia Municipal League is proposing that the U. S. Constitution be amended to allow three quarters of the state legislatures to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution and then allowing Congress a two year period in which to veto such proposals by a two-third vote in both houses.

Energy, Environment and Natural Resources

The Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Councilmember Robert J. Hirsch of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will consider policy changes with respect to solid and hazardous waste, and both clean water and drinking water issues.

The Steering Committee is proposing policy changes in NLC's Superfund (the nation's hazardous waste site clean-up law) and federal facility clean-up policies and the addition of new policy on control of the flow of municipal solid waste.

Proposed policy changes on water issues involve a major rewrite of existing national municipal policy on combined sewer overflows (CSOS) to reflect recent guidance issued by EPA following a negotiated rule-making in which NLC participated and amendments to the drinking water policy in support of a coalition proposal to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In addition, the EENR Steering Committee is proposing a resolution on the proposed Great Lakes Initiative.

Human Development

Reforming health care and the welfare system are central policy issues that will confront the Human Development Policy Committee when it meets.

Committee Chair, Mayor Dorothy Inman-Crews, Tallahassee, Florida will lead the committee as they move through discussions on comprehensive health care reform that are expected to concentrate on one proposed resolution and an amendment to National Municipal Policy.

The proposed resolution (HD #1) #1)commends health care reform as "a national imperative to improve the competitive position of American business and to exercise stewardship over America's economic and human resources," lists a number of benefits expected to flow from health reform, particularly the major steps proposed toward comprehensive universal coverage, and states NLC support for the overall intent and direction of the administration's health care proposal.

The resolution lists nine areas in which NLC should urge improvements to the plan including: equal treatment of public and private employers with regard to premium caps, enhancements in mental health and substance abuse components, concern about costs not incorporated to serve all U.S. residents and concerns about interstate coordination.

The policy amendment proposes that NLC make an exception to its anti-mandates policy, (thus allowing NLC to support a non- discriminatory mandate on municipal employers) in order to support health care reforms that move toward achievement of NLC's existing principles, and criteria for health care reform.

A group of state municipal leagues involved in the provision of health care through state municipal league pools are expected to propose an amendment that would more forcefully advocate a continued role for inter-local health pools in a reformed health care system than now exist in the committee proposal.

The Committee will offer a series of policy amendments on the subject of welfare reform. Specifically, the Human Development Steering Committee is proposing that a nine point program recommended by a special NLC Task Force on Federal Policy and Family Poverty be approved as part of NLC's policy. In addition a working group of the committee is proposing a series of amendments to conform policy to and advance the goals of the Task Force report.

The Steering Committee is proposing that sexual orientation be added to the National Municipal Policy as a classification to be protected against discrimination under federal law. This would add to the existing classifications of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, social barriers and physical disadvantage in which NLC already supports federal action. The committee will also be considering the renewal of a resolution passed last year on the subject of homelessness and a proposal by the City of Sunnyvale, Calif. on federal employment and training services. It is anticipated that resolutions and policy initiatives on other subjects will be presented during the course of the meeting.

Community and Economic Development

A series of recommendations designed to spur economic development in cities and towns is the product of the Community and Economic Development (CED) Steering Committee's work this year. Insurance redlining, needs assessment and performance criteria under the Community Reinvestment Act, community development bank criteria, and economic adjustment are just some of the policy recommendations to be presented by the CED committee during the 1993 Congress of Cities.

Following the Congressional-City Conference in March 1993, the CED Steering Committee chaired by Tony Scallon, Councilmember, Minneapolis, Minnesota, met twice to review and debate issues that the full committee had selected as priorities for the year.

The Steering Committee made economic development issues a high priority for discussion and study. At their Spring meeting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the committee reviewed options for a network of community development banks and corporations, including the Clinton Administration's plan. Reforming lenders' compliance review under the Community Reinvestment Act, and insurance redlining were also the focus of study. Members also embarked on a new examination of the economic adjustment issues surrounding defense conversion. The meeting was hosted by Mayor Elizabeth Rhea.

The Steering Committee's Fall meeting was held in Laredo, Texas. Surrounded by a vast amount of commercial activity that, in this U.S.-Mexico border town, is a daily fact of life, the group set about the task of debating the pros and cons of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The committee also finalized its policy recommendations regarding community investment, CRA, insurance redlining and defense economic adjustment. The Laredo meeting was hosted by Councilwoman Arlene Rash-Aldridge.

The Committee will be recommending policy amendments on:

* Determination of, and reporting systems for Insurance Redlining

* Needs assessment and performance criteria under the Community Reinvestment Act

* Community Development Banks

* Business Development and Trade Agreements

* Middle Income Housing

Transportation and Communications

NLC's Transportation and Communication Committee is recommending an extensive revision of NLC's communications policy, including cable television, and exploring the use of new technologies for transportation planning and economic development at their policy meeting in Orlando. The recommendations are the culmination of many discussions and much fact-gathering regarding these issues at the steering committee meetings in Spring and Fall.

Transportation issues, such as airline competition, intelligent vehicle highway systems (IVHS), and intermodalism under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) topped the agenda of the steering committee's Spring meeting in Gillette, Wyoming. The meeting was hosted in Gillette by Mayor Edd Collins.

The Steering Committee's Fall meeting took place in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and was hosted by Councilmember Karen Anderson. The Steering Committee focused on a variety of telecommunications issues, including the formidable task of amending NLC's cable policy in light of recent changes under the 1992 Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992. The group also set about revamping the transportation planning section of the T&C policy to reflect changes and advances in new technologies, and acknowledging the link between transportation and economic development.

The committee's review of the Clinton Administration's plans for a National Information Infrastructure (NII) (also referred to as an "information superhighway"), opened up a whole range of new communications policy issues under T&C.
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Title Annotation:1993 Congress of Cities
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 6, 1993
Words:1748
Previous Article:The metropolitan perplex: the new intercommunity governance.
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