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NLC to feds: rethink, redirect, reinvest.

Delegates to the Congress of Cities called on the federal government to rethink its priorities, redirect its spending, and reinvest in the nation's cities. The policy statements and resolutions adopted at NLC's annual business meeting also reasserted local government's authority over local concerns and its role in the future of cities.

The federal budget was an overriding concern throughout the policy process, as well as the number one priority of the Board of Directors (see accompanying story).

A number of policy statements and resolutions point out that the decrease of tension between the United States and Russia and cuts in defense spending create an opportunity for the federal government to rearrange priorities in ways that could benefit cities and towns.

A resolution from the Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) committee calls for the federal government to redefine national security to include the social problems of American cities, and to reduce defense spending by 30 percent, with 60 percent of the savings to reduce the national debt and 40 percent to reinvest in cities.

Not all the attention given to federal budget priorities focused on federal spending. Mandates, traditional NLC issue, were the target of a strong new statement in the premable to the National Municipal Policy. The new language stresses NLC's opposition to unfunded mandates and mandates that intrude upon local autonomy.

NLC's opposition, in the FAIR policy, to unfunded mandates was also strengthened.

A resolution proposed by the FAIR committee endorsed the concept of "preemption notes" before passage of federal legislation that would preempt state and local authority contained in legislation drafted by the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and recommends that Congress pass and the president sign legislation based on that idea.

Policy Changes by Chapter

The delegates to the Congress of Cities adopted many other policy statements and resolutions besides the ones described above. A chapter-by-chapter summary follows.

Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental

Relations

FAIR policy calls for modification of the Fair Labor Standards Act to maintain the exempt status of municipal employees and for federal legislation affecting cities and other local governments to apply fully to the Senate, House of Representatives, the administration and all federal agencies.

Delegates adopted resolutions calling for NLC to:

[section] Support permanent extension of targeted jobs tax credit, low income housing credit, mortgage revenue bonds and mortgage credit certificates, qualified small issue manufacturing bonds;

[section] Support formation of regional partnerships that could include tax sharing around specific issues (solid waste, air pollution, transportation);

[section] Urge Congress to extend FDIC pass-through insurance to 457 deferred compensation plans;

[section] Renew efforts to gain congressional approval and legislation to allow local governments to collect local sales taxes on mail-order sales;

[section] urge Congress and the administration to appoint Congressional Commission on the Year 2000 Census made up of representatives from all levels of government

[section] Oppose federal government reduction of transfers to state and local governments by charging uncontrollable administrative costs against intergovernmental transfers;

[section] Call for legislation modifying federal land and office space procurement policies to require the federal government to make investments needed to support the operating costs related to public safety and other municipal services to federal workers, support development including infrastructure related to development and costs of environmental impacts, maintain property to standards of other similar public and private facilities, strengthen and extend federal law to require federal compliance with local zoning and land use practices; and

[section] Urge Congress to pass legislation repealing federal gambling taxes on non-profit groups and urge IRS to stop enforcement of such rules until Congress has acted.

Energy, Environment and Natural Resources

EENR policy calls for the federal government to redirect nondomestic spending priorities to assure adequate resources to meet environmental mandates.

Energy policy continues to oppose the reinstatement of the crude oil windfall profits tax and calls for the federal government to raise corporate average fuel economy standards to the maximum feasible and hold foreign auto makers to at least the same standards as domestic auto makers.

Hazardous waste policy calls for the federal government to require permits for the use of liquid hazardous waste as fuel for boilers and to require training and certification for operators.

Superfund policy says that Municipal liability under Superfund must be clarified and asks Congress to enact legislation that would eliminate local government Superfund liability for disposal of ordinary municipal solid waste, expedite settlements, allocate costs by toxicity rather than volume, allow local governments to recover costs for damage to natural resources, and reauthorize Superfund at an adequate funding level.

Water quality and supply policy says that federal funding is critical to achieving national water quality goals and must be substantial and a reliable long-term source of capital.

Drinking water policy calls for the repeal of current requirements mandating the regulation of 25 new contaminants every year, even if they are ever found in finished drinking water.

Wetlands policy calls for the classification of wetlands on the basis of their ecological function and value.

EENR Resolutions

The one EENR resolution urges Congress to adopt a comprehensive and balanced national energy strategy that reduces dependence on foreign oil through energy conservation and efficiency improvements, renewable and alternative sources, and the increased production and use of domestic energy resources.

Community and Economic Development

CED housing policy on special housing needs supports the concept of creating homeownership opportunities for everyone and states that homeownership programs for low and moderate income people should be carried out within the framework provided by the HOME program to account for the diverse needs of local communities.

Housing and neighborhood conservation policy opposes federal preemption of local zoning and land use authority and calls for federal policy to ensure the benefits of residential surroundings for disabled persons without threatening further neighborhood deterioration or compaction of such service within a limited geographic area

CED Resolutions

Delegates adopted resolutions dealing with:

[section] Expanding free trade: NLC supports expansion of American trade to other nations as a means of increasing prosperity of U.S. cities.

[section] NIMBY report: NLC supports efforts toward addressing affordable housing

[section] Mixed populations: NLC supports legislation to authorize local public housing authorities to limit occupancy in public housing to meet special needs of elderly and nonelderly residents

[section] Recreation: NLC is to review and recommend the elevation of recreation as a significant issue through policy process and legislative activity.

[section] Environmental mitigation at closing military facilities: NLC urges Defense Department to assume all responsibility for environmental mitigation at closing and closed military facilities

[section] Developing small cities: NLC is to work with state leagues to coordinate state efforts to address needs of small

Human Development

HD health policy sets health care goals that call for assuring access to adequate health care to all persons, defining adequate services in terms of the continuum of health care, minimizing administrative expenses and procedures, standards of care and cost containment mechanisms that would ensure access to quality health care.

HD Resolutions

Delegates adopted resolutions that:

[section] Urge Congress to pass the Racial Justice Act to help ensure that the death penalty is not applied in a discriminatory fashion;

[section] Call on Congress to enact a competitive cities act that focuses on the development of youth and children;

[section] Strongly urge Congress to pass legislation to give state and local governments the flexibility to provide services under the Emergency Assistance to Families program beyond thirty days;

[section] Urge rewriting of the laws governing AFDC to support family outcomes that give children their best chance of becoming successful adults

[section] Support temporary suspension of all efforts to repatriate Haitian immigrants until President Aristide is returned to power;

[section] Oppose apartheid in South Africa and supports that country's black population and calls on all cities to continue all policies that enable them to refuse to invest in or do business with companies that do business with South Africa until interim government in place and democratic constitution is agreed to; and

[section] Encourage all local officials to support the Medford Declaration on Ending Domestic Hunger.

Transportation and Communications

Transportation policy calls for continued investment in our system of bridges, roads, streets, highways, public transit facilities, bikeways, pedestrian safety facilities, and airports. Federal transportation policy should treat all modes equally, the policy says, and should mandate that states work with locla officials to work together on most efficient and environmentally friendly approach to solving transportation problems.

In the area of radio communications policy, NLC calls for fair compensation (for new equipment, additional personnel, training) if federal reallocation of radio spectrum forces a municipality to change frequencies and or channels to preserve public safety and emergency communications.

TC Resolutions

Delegates approved resolutions that:

[section] Urge Congress to act on a regulatory framework for cable, which should be in place before approving regulatory procedures to telephone companies or other unaffiliated information service providers;

[section] Urge federal efforts to enhance economic competitiveness of cities including the adoption of an open skies pact between the United States and Canada;

[section] Support the phase-out of stage 2 aircraft by December 31, 1999, and oppose efforts to impose federal review of local airport noise regulations;

[section] Urge Congress to authorize immediate increase in entitlement from the Aviation Trust Fund to insulate homes and schools against airport noise.

Other Resolutions

Three resolutions offered at the business meeting by NBC-LEO were also adopted. One calls on the federal government to take immediate action to implement policy calling for use of military in drug interdiction. Another calls for reinstatement of the public employment program. The third calls for rescinding the five-year budget agreement to allow immediate redirection of military spending to domestic needs.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities' Congress of Cities convention
Author:Page, Clint
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 16, 1991
Words:1602
Previous Article:States, localities often at odds on same dilemma.
Next Article:Board adopts policies, plans for next year.
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