NARC’s policy positions are comprised of five documents: one for each of NARC’s four policy committees, as well as a general policies and priorities document. Each document is updated annually through a process of member input, committee review, and adoption by our Executive Directors Council and Board of Directors. Once approved, these policy positions are used to direct NARC’s advocacy efforts throughout the year.
NARC advocates for regional cooperation as the most effective way to address a variety of community planning and development issues. To support regional councils working within their communities to tackle challenges extending beyond individual jurisdictions, NARC develops its federal advocacy with support of the following general principles as a foundation:
- Regional Approaches
- Coordination Between Different Levels of Government
- Preemption/Unfunded Mandates
The Role of Regions in Transportation
Regional councils play a critical role in the nation’s transportation system: planning how the system will function in the future, providing for citizen engagement, and setting transportation goals and spending priorities for the local governments they serve. Regional transportation planning includes maintaining and improving the roadway and transit systems and bicycle and pedestrian facilities, fostering freight movement, integrating intelligent transportation systems, and more.
Many NARC members are the federally-designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for their regions. MPOs are governing boards comprised of local elected or appointed municipal or county government officials and other transportation stakeholders – from state governments, transit agencies, non-profit and advocacy organizations, and others – that collectively decide how to spend federal transportation dollars. Each metropolitan area over 50,000 in population is required to have an MPO. This regional approach is vital for the federal transportation program and ensures that local officials are leading the decision-making for federal investments.
- What is an MPO?
- Department of Transportation information on MPOs
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations
- MPOs and Highway Planning
- Examples of Regional Transportation Programs
- NARC’s transportation priorities.
- LOT Coalition FAST Act Reauthorization letter
- Analysis of the Bipartisan Senate Infrastructure Bill-IIJA
- Senate IIJA Bill Analysis Chart
The Transportation Committee is NARC’s transportation technical assistance and policy recommendation body. It meets several times a year to approve the association’s work program, recommend policies, and share information. In addition to standing meetings, the Committee meets via webinars and by conference call, as necessary.
The Transportation Committee is co-chaired by executives from a rural planning organization and a metropolitan planning organization, and an elected official:
Fred Strong, Councilman, City of Paso Robles, California
Greg Stuart, Executive Director, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization
Each Thursday, NARC distributes a weekly digest of the transportation stories most important to regions.
Policy Positions and Priorities
NARC supports a multimodal federal transportation program that increases funding and authority for regional organizations and local governments. To protect the important role regional councils, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and Regional Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPOs) play in planning the nation’s transportation system, NARC urges the federal government to support regional transportation efforts within the following issue areas:
- Surface Transportation
- Funding and Financing
- Good Movement
- Technology and Data
- Implementation and Rulemaking
- Intercity Passenger Rail
- Ports and Waterways
Economic & Community Developement
The Regional Role in Economic & Community Development
The way we live and work is rapidly changing. Through economic and community development, regional councils are making investments, creating long-term strategies, testing innovative ideas, and utilizing their unique ability to convene community stakeholders together to better the livelihood of those they serve.
Regional leaders are partnering with local education and workforce experts to prepare individuals and businesses for new workplace technologies and roles in the economy. A rise in extreme weather events has signaled the necessity for regional communities to make resiliency investments in public infrastructure and facilities. More people are choosing to age in place, causing regional councils hosting Area Agencies on Aging to consider how they can better connect seniors to transportation, healthcare resources, and social activities. Regional councils are continuing to plan for, build, and expand local broadband infrastructure – connecting residents to people, markets, and information faster than ever before. NARC members are also working with their local stakeholders to respond to how the nation’s increasing rent and housing prices are impacting their communities.
Through these actions and more, regional councils are promoting sustainable, workable, and livable communities for the 21st century.
Economic and Community Development Committee
The Economic and Community Development Committee is NARC’s economic and community development technical assistance and policy recommendation body. It meets several times a year to approve the association’s work program, recommend policies, and share information. In addition to standing meetings, the Committee meets via webinars and by conference call, as necessary.
The Economic and Community Development Committee is co-chaired by executives from a rural planning organization and a metropolitan planning organization, and an elected official:
Jennifer Robinson, Council Member, Town of Cary, NC; NARC President-Elect, Triangle J Council of Governments
Betty Voights, Executive Director, Capital Area Council of Governments
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Policies and Priorities
NARC’s Economic and Community Development Policies and Priorities supports the notion that economic and community issues are best solved when communities work together at a regional scale to address them. To promote sustainable, workable, and livable communities for the 21st century, NARC urges the federal government to support regional economic and community development efforts within the following issue areas:
- Regional Economic Development
- Economic Development Administration
- Housing and Community Development
- Older Americans Act
- Education and Workforce Development
- The Census
- Opportunity Zones
- Technology and Telecommunications
Environment & Energy
Regions and the Environment
Water and wastewater; green infrastructure; energy independence and security; and greenhouse gas and air quality – when we focus on improving these aspects of our regional communities, the benefits span beyond protecting the environment. We improve public health by providing cleaner air and water for our residents. We diversify our regional diversity portfolio, insulating our communities from energy disruptions that could be caused by natural disasters. We also support a growing renewable energy economy, providing more job opportunities to our residents while reducing their monthly electric bills.
Regional planning organizations are perfectly situated to have the greatest impact on managing these cross-cutting issues, where local jurisdictions’ boundaries intersect and many federal, state, and local programs are conducted. They bring together local elected officials and planners of multiple jurisdictions to successfully plan for the complex challenges of climate change. They are taking green infrastructure projects head on, conducting strategic planning and implementing projects to accomplish sustainable outcomes. Regional councils are also directing initiatives in their programming that support clean energy, including providing outreach and technical assistance to expand local adoption of solar energy and conducting their own regional procurements for alternative fuel vehicles.
Energy and Environment Committee
The Energy and Environment Committee is NARC’s energy and environment technical assistance and policy recommendation body. It meets several times a year to approve the association’s work program, recommend policies, and share information. In addition to standing meetings, the Committee meets via webinars and by conference call, as necessary.
The Energy and Environment Committee is co-chaired by executives from a rural planning organization and a metropolitan planning organization, and an elected official:
Lee Constantine, Commissioner, Seminole County, FL; NARC Board Member, East Central Florida Regional Planning Commission
Kristina Egan, Executive Director, Greater Portland Council of Governments
Policy Positions and Priorities
NARC’s Energy and Environment Policies and Priorities cover the wide range of environmental issues regional councils are faced with. From protection of the natural environment to the development and management of natural resources, NARC urges the federal government to support regional energy and environmental efforts within the following issue areas:
- Drinking Water
- Air Quality
- Solid Waste Management
- Parks and Natural Gas
- Climate Change
The Regional Role in Public Safety
Public safety and emergency management services have become increasingly important at the regional level as the number and severity of man-made and natural disasters — including mass shootings and extreme weather events — are requiring local government and regions to rethink the ways in which they protect the public, deliver crisis management assistance, and allocate funds for these activities.
To ensure the public safety in all their communities, regional councils are increasing their investments in training and education for first responders and citizens, alike; communications between and among first responders, elected, and appointed officials, and the general public; programs designed to address post-traumatic stress disorder among first responders and citizens; resilient communities that are able to withstand extreme weather events, including fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and sea-level rise; improved planning to protect residents and communities during significant man-made and natural disasters; and smart growth that reduces the overall strain local environments.
NARC believes strongly in the ongoing and continued need for investments at the local level, especially those that help promote safe and sustainable communities for the 21st century. NARC also recognizes the need for a unified national response – one that requires substantial investments and assistance from the federal government.
Public Safety Committee
The Public Safety Committee is NARC’s public safety technical assistance and policy recommendation body. It meets several times a year to approve the association’s work program, recommend policies, and share information. In addition to standing meetings, the Committee meets via webinars and by conference call, as necessary.
The Public Safety Committee is co-chaired by executives from a rural planning organization and a metropolitan planning organization, and an elected official:
Byron Ryder, Judge, Leon County, TX; NARC Past President, Brazos Valley Council of Governments
Diane Rath, Executive Director, Alamo Area Council of Governments
Policies and Priorities
NARC’s Public Safety and Emergency Management Policies and Priorities document encompasses various issues that require the coordinated efforts of numerous jurisdictions to successfully protect the public. To promote safer, healthier and more resilient communities, NARC urges the federal government to support regional efforts to coordinate planning, response, and recovery efforts within the following issue areas:
- Substance Misuse
- Emergency Communications and Interoperability
- Gun Violence
- Disaster Response, Planning, and Coordination
- Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation
- National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)