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NLC members revise mission and voice for new year.

City and town leaders from every section of the nation voted to adopt new, national municipal policy positions on federal mandates, comprehensive health care reform, telecommunications, local economies, the environment and international Wade issues at NLC's 70th annual business meeting last Sunday afternoon in Orlando.

The more than 1100 delegates also voted to adopt 24 resolutions on issues ranging from opposition to new mandates on municipal issuance of tax-exempt securities to supporting an alternative to the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund proposed by the Clinton administration and supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mandates

City and town leaders unanimously adopted proposals to add to NLC's general policy of opposition to federal mandates by proposing that Congress and the White House:

* conduct a cost-benefit and risk assessment analysis of current federal mandates,

* help local governments to prioritize resources to achieve the greatest health and safety benefits with available rinds,

* create corporate greater flexibility into the regulatory process to accommodate local conditions, and

* afford cities and towns greater participation in the legislative and regulatory process.

The membership also voted to oppose any constitutional balanced budget amendment unless it prohibits unfunded federal mandates, and to urge an impact analysis as a precondition of any legislative effort in the Congress to preempt state or municipal authority. The Senate is expected to take up consideration of a balanced budget amendment to the Coustitution when the Second Session returns in late January. So far no member of the Senate has expressed a willingness to offer an anti-mandates amendment.

Health Care

Reforming health care and the welfare system were key accomplishments at the meeting. Delegates adopted a resolution commending 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." The resolution put NLC on record in support of the overall intent and direction of the administration's health care proposal, but lists nine areas in which NLC calls for 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.

Delegates also amended NLC's National Municipal Policy to support health care reforms that move toward achievement of NLC's existing principles and criteria for health care reform, after agreeing to an amendment on the floor. The amendment, offered by Maryland Municipal League Director John Burrell, clarified that NLC does not support new, unfunded health care mandates on cities, but, if there are employer mandates, would support such changes to the extent cities and towns are treated the same as any other employer.

Delegates also adopted an amendment that would more forcefully advocate a continued role for inter-local health pools, such as those provided by a number of state municipal leagues, in a reformed health care system. The current Clinton administration proposal permits private employer pools, but would bar any municipal employer pool.

Delegates agreed to a series of welfare reform policy amendments, adopting a nine-point program recommended by a special NLC Task Force on Federal Policy and Family Poverty to form a framework of change to enable poor families to get out of poverty. President Clinton and the Congress expect to make welfare reform a high priority in 1994.

Telecommunications

Delegates adopted an extensive revision of NLC' s communications policy, including cable television, and exploring the use of new technologies for transportation planning and economic development. The recommendations not only recognize the post-cable era, but also call for cities and towns to exercise the key role in the rapidly changing telecommunications world, especially with regard to municipal planning and oversight-given cities' responsibliities as trustees of all constituents and all public property.

The new policy members adopted declares that basic telecommunications services should be available to all localities, should be financed only after consultation with local franchising authorities, and should ensure fair and.equal access.

The new telecommunications policy also urges that any national information or superinformation highway include cities as integral hubs and ensure the provision of services to local governments, schools, hospitals, and other public institutions. Environment

In the environmental area, delegates adopted policy changes with respect to solid and hazardous waste, and both clean water and drinking water issues. They agreed to 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.

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 reduce the current costs and burdens for cities--especially small cities and towns--to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Local Economies

City leaders approved a series of policy recommendations designed to spur economic development in cities and towns. The policy changes included recommendations in the insurance redlining, needs assessment and performance criteria under the Community Reinvestment Act, community development bank criteria, and economic adjustment areas.

Delegates approved 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

Other Proposals

Upon completion of the changes to NLC's National Municipal Policy, delegates voted to adopt 24 resolutions, setting forward specific positions on key issues for 1994. One resolution, proposed by the Board of Directors, as well as the National Black City Local Elected Officials (NBCLEO) and the Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO), urges the Clinton administration and Congress to reject proposals by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to interfere with and impose new unfunded mandates and restrictions on the ability and authority of cities to issue tax-exempt municipal bonds.

The resolution expresses special concern about the adverse impact of the proposed new rules on the ability of city leaders to create public-private partnerships to raise funds to sponsor conventions, meetings, educational and training activities; and it urges that any rules restricting or barring campaign contributions apply equally to federal officials.

Other resolutions adopted include: support for 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. Delegates supported resolutions opposing a federal Police Officers Bill of Rights, and proposed federal legislation on OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) reform. They urged study of the impact of provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act which are particularly relevant to municipalities.
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 13, 1993
Words:1137
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