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Variety of mandate relief alternatives put forth in House and Senate.

For the first time in more than a decade, Congress appears headed toward action to provide some prospective mandate relief to the nation's cities and towns.

Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho) has gathered 50 Senators, half the U.S. Senate, as cosponsors of his bill, S 993, which would exempt local governments from any new federal law or regulation unless all direct costs to impliment the requirement were covered by the federal government.

Kempthorne last week joined his Senate forces with Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.), the co-chair of the House Caucus on Unfunded Federal Mandates, who introduced a companion version in the House of Representatives.

In the House, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), former Mayor of Alexandria and chair of NLC's Human Development Committee, now boasts 218 co-sponsors - more than half the House - for his mandate relief legislation, HR 1295, which would subject any legislation to a point of order if it did not include an economic impact analysis on its affects on both public and private resources.

The Kempthorne and Moran bins are evidence of the growing pressure for positive action on the mandate front and come as more than 30 bills on mandate relief are pending in the House and Senate. Although time is running out in the first session of this Congress, both Kempthorne and Moran are working on strategies for action before Congress adjourns until next year, and both key mandates leaders have agreed to help coordinate a town meeting during NLC's Congressional Cities Conference next March to coordinate a strategy to assure action by Congress and the President in 1994.

The Kempthorne and Moran bills represent two differewnt approaches to municipal mandate relief Most of the pending bills, like these two, are prospective: they would provide protection against future unfunded mandates. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.) has one of the only bills which, if adopted, would help deal with current federal mandate burdens.

The mandate relief bills fall into a number of main categories. The two main categories are fiscal note and reimbursement kinds.

The fiscal note bills are mostly similar to the Moran bill. They would require economic or cost impact analysis statements prior to Congressional consideration of any bills which could impose new, unfunded costs or liabilities on municipalities. These bills including varying levels of enforcement.

Key authors of fiscal note relief bills include:

Sens. Don Nickles (R-Okla.); Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.); and Reps. Thomas Ewing (R-Ill.); William Clinger (R-Pa.); Chris Shays (R-Conn.); Bill Baker (R-Calif.); and Jim Moran (D-Va.).

A second major category of bills are "no pay; no play:" reimbursement or waivers of mandates absent full federal funding, comparable to the Kempthorne bill. Key authors include:

Sens. Kempthorne and Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.); and Reps. Bob Stump (R-Ariz.); Gary Condit (R-Calif.); Olympia Snowe (R-Maine); Joel Hefley (R-Colo.); and David Drier (R-Calif.).

Rep. Bob Franks and Sen. Hank Brown have each proposed Constitutional amendments to prohibit unfunded federal mandates. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) have each offered bills have offered bills to impose much greater accountability before Congress may preempt, in whole or in part, any state or local law.

Sen. Orrin Hatch has proposed a second bill, S13, which would impose a three year cap on the overall costs of federal regulations. Sen. Paul Coverdell has proposed three bills, which cover both fiscal note changes and "no pay; no play."

Finally, Sasser's bill would impose a freeze on new mandates, new fiscal note requirements, and would authorize federal funding to help cities and towns.
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 8, 1993
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