This week, I am heading to Austin, Texas for the National League of Cities’ annual Congress of Cities meeting. I was invited by their Executive Director, Clarence Anthony, to participate in the meeting and attend the Board Dinner. In addition, several NARC staff will manage booth 827 in the NLC exhibit hall to showcase our solar energy work with the U.S. Department of Energy. Please let us know if you are also attending as we would enjoy the opportunity to connect our members who are there!
NARC and Coalition Partners Send Comments on Waters of the United States Proposal to EPA: NARC, along with six other associations representing local governments and agencies, jointly submitted comments to the Federal Register on November 14 requesting clarity on the federal proposal to redefine “Waters of the United States.” The groups called for several adjustments and an additional review period to be certain that concerns are adequately addressed.
“The health, well-being and safety of our citizens and communities are top priorities for us,” the groups wrote. “As partners in protecting America’s water resources, it is essential that state and local governments have a clear understanding of the vast impact that a change to the definition of ‘Waters of the U.S.’ will have on all aspects of the Clean Water Act.”
The joint letter emphasized the need for greater collaboration with local governments. The joint comments were submitted by the following associations: American Public Works Association, National Association of Counties, National Association of County Engineers, National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies, National Association of Regional Councils, National League of Cities, and U.S. Conference of Mayors. Click HERE to read the letter.
Secretary Pritzker Announces Next Phase of IMCP Designations: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the opening of the competition for the next round of designations under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative, building on the momentum from the first-ever IMCP Summit in Washington, DC. IMCP is designed to accelerate the renewal of manufacturing in communities nationwide. In order to earn the designation, communities need to demonstrate the significance of manufacturing already present in their region and develop strategies to make investments in six areas: 1) workforce and training, 2) advanced research, 3) infrastructure and site development, 4) supply chain support, 5) trade and international investment, 6) operational improvement and capital access. The Federal Register Notice detailing the application process will be announced in coming weeks. Click HERE for more information.
Both the Senate and House will reconvene today at 2 PM.
NARC Hosts Webinar on Midterm Elections: Last week, NARC hosted a webinar designed to help participants navigate the new Congressional landscape. We reviewed the results of the 2014 elections and what it means for regional and local governments, potential Committee leadership, and top legislative issues for the lame duck session and the early days of the 114th Congress. Thank you for those who participated! Click HERE for the slides from the webinar presentation.
Senate to Consider Keystone; House to Address Environmental Regulatory Issues: Both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate reconvene today beginning at 2:00 PM. Senators will vote on reauthorizing Child Care and Development Block Grants, followed by a series of cloture votes on judicial nominations. Tomorrow, the Senate will consider H.R. 5682, a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The legislation was passed by the House last week. Passage will require a 60-vote majority in the Senate.
This week, the House will consider a series of environmental regulation bills, including the Secret Science Reform Act, which would prohibit EPA from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a rule unless all scientific and technical information is made public and can be independently analyzed and reproduced. The House will also consider the Promoting New Manufacturing Act, which would require EPA to modify its Clean Air Act preconstruction permit program.
The House and Senate are both expected to adjourn on Friday and will reconvene after Thanksgiving.
House Democrats Push for Transit Tax Break: Many House Democrats plan to push for an increase in a tax break for commuters who take public transportation to work. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) urged Congress to increase the transit tax benefit to make it level with parking benefits. A Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) report indicated that setting the benefit at $235 a month in 2015, with indexing for inflation thereafter, “is the proposal that is closest to being revenue neutral.” Click HERE for more information.
Transportation Appropriations and the Omnibus Spending Bill: With Congress in the midst of a lame duck session, an omnibus spending bill is at the top of the priority list. The current continuing resolution expires December 11. Appropriators are likely to seek middle ground between the House and Senate versions of the Transportation-HUD spending bills, if leadership can gain support in the lame duck. The House measure, which passed the chamber in June, would provide $70.2 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) but would slash the popular TIGER grant program from $600 million this year to $100 million. The Senate bill would fund U.S. DOT at $71.7 billion and would appropriate $550 million for TIGER.
NCTCOG Receives Award for Solar Work: NARC would like to congratulate the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) for winning the Local Collaboration of the Year award from the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA) on behalf of their Solar Ready II project through the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge II. To read more about NCTCOG’s work and the award, please click HERE.
MAPC Shows Leadership in Climate Change: While two thirds of the world’s energy use and 70% of global carbon emissions come from large cities, smaller cities and even entire regions make a huge impact as well. Smaller cities and regions need to address many of the same climate issues, but the process of addressing these issues can vary greatly from that of a large city. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), located in Boston, Massachusetts, is coordinating and accelerating climate action in smaller cities that makeup the Greater Boston region. Click HERE to find out the impact MAPC’s program has had on their region.
CRCOG Executive Director Dr. Lyle Wray Elected to NAPA: Dr. Lyle Wray, Executive Director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) in Hartford, CT, will be welcomed as a member of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) in Washington, D.C. NAPA is chartered by Congress and is made up of 800 elected fellows. Dr. Wray’s work on metropolitan regional issues, outcomes and performance measurement, and public service reform were several of the areas in his nomination. His most recent publication was co-authored with CT Representative Jason Rojas on metropolitan Hartford issues, and is part of the book Confronting Urban Legacy: The Transformation and Renewal of Hartford.
Please send all responses to Anna Rosenbaum, email@example.com.
Communications Strategies: Does your COG have a written communications strategy that you can share? The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) in Detroit is interested in expanding their communications program (as is NARC) and would like to see how other COGs have identified their communications goals, and their strategies to implement those goals.
Use of HUD’s Location Affordability Portal: Does your COG or MPO regularly use the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Location Affordability Portal for scenario or other planning purposes? If so, please let us know how and when you use the tool. HUD is interested in this information.
Click HERE to view the list of grants still open!
Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants
Applications Due: February 9, 2015
The Choice Neighborhoods program supports locally driven strategies to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Choice Neighborhoods is focused on three core goals:
- Housing: Replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood;
- People: improve educational outcomes and intergenerational mobility for youth with services and supports delivered directly to youth and their families; and
- Neighborhood: Create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity, that are important to families’ choices about their community.
Click HERE for more information.
Click HERE to view the list of events still open!
WEBINAR: Measuring Up: How to Track and Evaluate Local Sustainability Projects
November 18, 2:00-3:30 PM ET
EPA’s Local Climate and Energy program is hosting a webinar on measuring and evaluating the results of local climate energy, and sustainability projects. Tracking and analyzing these results can help communities assess program performance and success, identify specific areas for improvement or expansion, and make informed decisions about future actions. Public reporting can help generate interest in a project, promote accountability, demonstrate success, and attract political and financial support. Click HERE to register.
WEBINAR: Creating a Green Infrastructure Plan to Transform Your Community
November 18, 3:00-4:00 PM ET
Green infrastructure approaches, such as incorporating trees and rain gardens into street designs, can help communities better manage stormwater while achieving other environmental, public health, social and economic benefits, allowing communities to achieve more for their money. This webinar, hosted by EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities, will discuss how a regional association of governments, a local government, and a nonprofit organization have developed and implemented plans for using green infrastructure to achieve multiple goals. Click HERE to attend the webinar.
WEBINAR SERIES: Infrastructure 101 for Economic Developers
November 24, 2:00 PM
Dr. Elaine Buckberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Department of Treasury, will discuss the President’s Build America Investment Initiative and U.S. infrastructure finance. In this webinar, Dr. Buckberg will explain the purpose of the Build America Investment Initiative, demystify public-private partnerships (PPPs), and explain how PPPs serve as another pathway for financing infrastructure projects in your regions, states, and communities. Email Abigail.Bowman@trade.gov to register.
WEBCAST: Harnessing Data for America’s Communities
December 4, 1:00-4:30 PM PM
How can we improve conditions in some of the country’s most distressed places? What Counts: Harnessing Data for America’s Communities, a new volume of essays published jointly by the Urban Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, addresses this question. Its contributors argue that the answers must be data-driven and require better collection, use, and sharing of information across sectors. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the volume brings together authors from community development, public health, education, and related fields. Click HERE to register.
NARC CONFERENCE: NARC’s 2015 National Conference of Regions
February 8-10, 2015 – Washington, DC
The National Conference of Regions is NARC’s forum to determine key policy issues and a legislative agenda for the year ahead, targeting topics central to our members’ missions and their local elected officials’ focus. Additional information will be available soon.