Route Fifty Navigator Awards Nominations

Know an individual or team that deserves recognition for working in or with state, county, or municipal government? Apply for Route Fifty’s third annual Navigator Awards. Awards are given in five categories that recognize those that successfully implement a great idea that improves public sector services and the communities they serve. Nominations will be reviewed by three measurements: innovation, implementation, and outcomes.

Nominations Due: July 11, 11:59 PM ET

House Approves Farm Bill Legislation

In a narrow vote of 213-211, the House passed its version of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2), which is estimated to spend $860 billion over the next 10 years. While Democrats unanimously opposed the bill due to stricter eligibility criteria and work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), eight conservative Freedom Caucus members flipped their positions from last month’s vote to ensure its passage on Thursday. The Senate is expected to vote on its version, which has wide bipartisan support, as early as this week. There are many expected points of contention between the bills, including the extent of SNAP reforms; changes to commodity subsidies; and the differences of approach to conservation programs, especially the elimination of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Stewardship Program proposed by the House.

House Appropriations Committee to Adopt Labor, Health, Education Funding Bill

Tomorrow, June 26, the House Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the FY 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education funding bill. The bill is likely to be adopted along party lines with essentially the same funding that Congress appropriated last year, which is greater than the amount requested by the administration.

The bill, if adopted into law, would appropriate more than $177 billion in discretionary funds, funding most programs at current levels. Small increases in funding were provided for substance abuse and mental health programs, including those that would address opioid and heroin abuse, health research at the National Institutes of Health, early childhood and Head Start programs, special education, and programs for seniors and veterans.

The committee is likely to recommend that programs like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) be level funded, and workforce programs – a constant target of funding cuts – be reduced by a small amount, mostly due to the $200 million decrease in funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act dislocated worker program.

HUD Designates Western Piedmont COG, Regional Housing Authority as 1 of 17 EnVision Centers

Earlier this month, the Western Piedmont Council of Government’s (WPCOG) Regional Housing Authority was announced as one of the first seventeen EnVision Center designations around the nation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). According to HUD, these centers will “offer HUD-assisted families access to support services that can help them achieve self-sufficiency, thereby making scarce federal resources more readily available to a greater number of households currently waiting to receive HUD assistance.” WPCOG is expected to collaborate with federal agencies, state and local governments, non-profits, faith-based organizations, corporations, public housing authorities, and housing finance agencies to help achieve the mission of the regional EnVision Center.

House Passes Walden-Led Package to Combat Opioid Crisis

In a bipartisan vote of 396-14, the House passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) – a piece of legislation that combines dozens of opioid-related bills passed over the last two weeks with base text and provisions that passed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill tackles many aspects of the opioid crisis, helping advance treatment and recovery initiatives, improving prevention, and authorizing state and local grants for the establishment or operation of public health labs to detect fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. See this bill summary for further detail.

State and Local Governments Win Landmark Online Sales Tax Case

On Thursday in the South Dakota v. Wayfair case, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that state and local governments can collect sales tax from vendors that do not have a physical presence in their state. In the 5-4 decision, SCOTUS offered three reasons why it ruled on the side of the localities and states: “First, the physical presence rule is not a necessary interpretation of the requirement that a state tax must be ‘applied to an activity with a substantial nexus with the taxing State.’ Second, Quill [v. North Dakota] creates rather than resolves market distortions. And third, Quill [v. North Dakota] imposes the sort of arbitrary, formalistic distinction that the court’s modern Commerce Clause precedents disavow.” The largest state and local government associations have applauded the decision, stating that “for 26 years Congress has failed to act and through the efforts of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the federal government has finally recognized the changing nature of commerce and state efforts to simplify the collection process.” Read more about it from the National League of Cities.

Seattle, Baltimore Take on the Housing Affordability Crisis

According to Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies Managing Director Chris Herbert, just under half of all renters nationwide in 2018 are “cost burdened,” or pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Robert Pinnegar, president and CEO of National Apartment Association, recommends that mayors “prioritize development of apartment housing, plan for diversity within it, and partner with their local apartment associations.” To tackle this growing issue, the City of Baltimore now offers first-time home buyers tax credits to live in particular areas and is creating a $55 million neighborhood investment fund dedicated to affordable housing. Seattle is making $100 million in investments leveraged into $200 million in starts for affordable housing and is looking at rezoning to build density in neighborhoods and making it easier to build on additions to existing properties. Learn more about it in this Route Fifty article.

NARC Elects 2018-2019 Leadership

Washington, DC (June 8, 2018): The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) recently elected leaders for 2018-2019 and celebrated its 52nd Annual Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida. For over 50 years, NARC has advocated on behalf of regional councils and the benefits regionalism provides for local governments. NARC members work collaboratively in their diverse communities – large and small, urban and rural — to address challenges that are best solved at the regional scale.

Geof Benson, Councilmember of the Town of Beverly Shores, Indiana and Chair of the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC), was elected to serve as President of the Association. Benson is also a member of the Lake Michigan Marina and Shoreline Development Commission, as well as Executive Director for Dunes Learning Center. His leadership roles in many community and non-profit organizations have included: Save the Dunes, Child Care Consortium, Chicago Wilderness, and Calumet Stewardship Initiative. His executive leadership and professional management experiences span several decades and include governmental, business, and non-profit organizations.

President Geof Benson expressed his deepest thanks for the significant support he received from NARC and its members, stating: “I am both honored and excited to serve as NARC president. Our collective dedication to public service and community improvement helps American lives every day… and NARC helps us learn about new tools and techniques to bring home to our own communities, helping us solve the challenges we encounter in our regions.

“I would like to thank my predecessor, Bob Dallari, for his excellent work and I look forward to working with President-elect Marge Vogt, Senior Vice President Robert Cannon, and Vice President Andrew Gruber to build upon the achievements made over the last year. Additionally, our Board is fortunate to have such a hard-working staff and Executive Directors Council to support us.”

NARC congratulates President-elect Marge Vogt, Councilmember in Olathe, Kansas, and Senior Vice President Robert Cannon, Supervisor of Clinton Township in Michigan, for their successful elections to board leadership. NARC also thanks Immediate Past President Bob Dallari, Commissioner of Seminole County, Florida, for his service to the Association and assistance in the success of NARC’s 52nd Annual Conference and Exhibition. Board members representing NARC districts and at-large seats were also elected.

In addition to its governing board of directors, NARC has an advisory Executive Directors Council comprised of executive directors from regional planning organizations across the country. Wasatch Front Regional Council Executive Director Andrew Gruber succeeds Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Executive Director William Murdock as Chairman of the Executive Directors Council and Vice President of NARC. NARC Executive and Policy Committee positions were also elected and confirmed.

NARC welcomes returning and newly elected Board members:

President Geof Benson, Town Councilmember, Beverly Shores, IN; President-elect Marge Vogt, Councilmember, Olathe, KS; Sr. Vice President Robert Cannon, Supervisor, Clinton Township, MI; Vice President Andrew Gruber, Wasatch Front Regional Council; Immediate Past President Bob Dallari, Commissioner, Seminole County, FL; Region I Director Steve Cassano, State Senator, CT; Region II Director Matthew Holt, Freeholder, Hunterdon County, NJ; Region III Director Kenyan McDuffie, Councilmember, District of Columbia; Region IV Director Jennifer Robinson, Council Member, Town of Cary, NC; Region V Director, Bryan Caletka, Councilmember, Davie, FL; Region VI Director Justin Kiel, Council President, Town of La Crosse, IN; Region VII Director Greg Terry, Judge/Executive, Carlisle, KY; Region VIII Director Karen Keith, Commissioner, Tulsa County, OK; Region IX Director Chris Barnett, Vice Chairperson, Supervisor, Orion Township; Region X Director Joy Fuchs, Commissioner, Washington County, TX; Region XI Director Carol Vinton, Supervisor, Mills County, IA; Region XII Director Garret Nancolas, Mayor, Caldwell, ID; Region XIII Director P. Bret Milburn, Commissioner, Davis County, UT; Region XIV Director Fred Strong, Councilmember, Paso Robles, CA; Region XV Director Brad Hill, Councilmember, Yakima City, WA; At-Large Director Lee Constantine, Commissioner, Seminole County, FL; At-Large Director Julie Pierce, Council Member, Clayton, CA; At-Large Director Daniel Troy, Commissioner, Lake County, OH; At-Large Director Bill Zoslocki, Councilmember, Modesto, CA; First Vice Chair Kathleen Lomako, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments; Immediate Past Chair William Murdock, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission; National League of Cities Appointee Pam O’Connor, Councilmember, Santa Monica, CA; National Association of Counties Appointee James D. Healy, Board Member, DuPage County, IL; and Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations Appointee DeLania Hardy, AMPO Executive Director.

NARC welcomes returning and newly elected Executive Directors Council members:

Chair Andrew Gruber, Wasatch Front Regional Council; First Vice Chair Kathleen Lomako, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments; Second Vice Chair Doug Hooker, Atlanta Regional Commission; Immediate Past Chair William Murdock, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission; Executive Committee Officer Brian Martin, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission; Executive Committee Officer Ty Warner, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission; Region I Representative Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission; Region I Representative Lyle Wray, Capitol Region Council of Governments; Region II Representative Jim Hassinger, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission; Region II Representative Barry Seymour, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission; Region III Representative Chuck Bean, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; Region IV Representative Anthony W. Starr, Western Piedmont Council of Governments; Region V Representative Gregory Stuart, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization; Region VI Representative Mark Policinski, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments; Region VI Representative Ty Warner, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission; Region VII Representative Sherry McDavid, FIVCO Area Development District; Region VII Representative Jennifer Beck Walker, Purchase Area Development District; Region VIII Representative Rich Brierre, Indian Nations Council of Governments; Region IX Representative Grace Gallucci, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency; Region IX Representative Jim Kinnick, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments; Region X Representative Jim Reed, Central Texas Council of Governments; Region X Representative Tom Wilkinson, Jr., Brazos Valley Council of Governments; Region XI Representative Todd Ashby, Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization; Region XI Representative David Warm, Mid-America Regional Council; Region XII Representative Matt Stoll, Community Planning Association; Region XII Representative Greg Youell, Metropolitan Area Planning Agency; Region XIII Representative Miriam Gillow-Wiles, Southwest Colorado Council of Governments; Region XIV Representative Rosa De Leon Park, Stanislaus Council of Governments; Region XIV Representative Hasan Ikhrata, Southern California Association of Governments; Region XV Representative Fred Abousleman, Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments; Region XV Representative Bill Fashing, Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments; At-Large Representative David Cleveland, East Texas Council of Governments; At-Large Representative Sallie Fahey, Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission; At-Large Representative; Brian Martin, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission; At-Large Representative Diane Rath, Alamo Area Council of Governments; At-Large Representative Jiten Shah, Green River Area Development District; At-Large Representative James Turnwald, Michiana Area Council of Governments; At-Large Representative Betty Voights, Capital Area Council of Governments; and At-Large Representative Chuck Wemple, Houston-Galveston Area Council.

NARC also congratulates new and returning Policy Committee members:

Transportation Policy Committee Co-Chair Fred Strong, Councilmember, Paso Robles, CA; Transportation Policy Committee Co-Chair (Urban) Gregory Stuart, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization; Transportation Policy Committee Co-Chair (Rural) Miriam Gillow-Wiles, Southwest Colorado Council of Governments; Transportation Policy Committee Co-Chair Alternate Lyle Wray, Capitol Region Council of Governments; Public Safety & Emergency Management Policy Committee Co-Chair Byron Ryder, Judge, Leon County, TX; Public Safety & Emergency Management Policy Committee Co-Chair Diane Rath, Alamo Area Council of Governments; Environment & Energy Policy Committee Co-Chair Pam O’Connor, Councilmember, Santa Monica, CA; Environment & Energy Policy Committee Co-Chair Rosa De León Park, Stanislaus Council of Governments; Economic & Community Development Policy Committee Chair Betty Voights, Capital Area Council of Governments.


NARC Presents 2018 Regional Leadership and Excellence Awards

Washington, D.C. (June 6, 2018) – The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) presented the 2018 General Achievement and Leadership Awards at its 52nd Annual Conference and Exhibition Gala Dinner in Orlando last night.

“We are excited to celebrate the achievements and leadership of our members and nominees this year,” said NARC President ­Bob Dallari, Commissioner of Seminole County, Florida. “Their hard work is on display throughout our communities, as they strive to meet challenges in innovative and effective ways. We thank all of our regions for their dedication to excellence, and our leaders for their personal efforts – and can’t wait to see the progress they will surely make going forward.”



Southeast Michigan Council of Governments
Water Resources Plan for Southeast Michigan

This plan focuses specifically on policy recommendations and actions related to protecting and restoring water resources in Southeast Michigan. The policies developed from the plan will be incorporated into a number of SEMCOG efforts, such as the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan. Three general focus areas are highlighted in the plan: Blue Economy, Infrastructure, and Natural Resources. The next stage in this innovative plan is implementation, which includes initiatives such as water trail visual mapping, integrated climate resiliency analysis, and wetlands mapping. SEMCOG used a strong public and stakeholder engagement process – establishing a Water Resources Task Force, which was comprised of 70 representatives – and holding public input meetings which engaged over 250 people throughout the process.


Indian Nation Council of Governments
Regional Advocacy Program

INCOG is a strong advocate for legislative and policy issues that impact local governments in its five-county service area of northeastern Oklahoma. Their advocacy program consists of four parts: the Coalition of Tulsa Area Governments (CTAG); Federal Policy Agenda; Public Policy Official’s Orientation and Annual Reception; and Tulsa Region’s OneVoice Legislative Agenda. These components work to drive changes in state law to improve the environment, fund major infrastructure projects, increase funding for city and county operations, and much more. CTAG is especially critical in spearheading bills important to the region and opposing those that would harm local governments. INCOG’s Regional Advocacy Program created recognition among local governments that their collective voice is more powerful than many individual voices.

Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission
Greenways + Blueways 2020 Plan

The NIRPC G+B 2020 Plan highlights the benefits and relationships of both environmental and non-motorized transportation planning through three main topics: conservation, recreation, and transportation. The Conservation chapter focuses on opportunities to connect large but fragmented patches of conservation land across Northwestern Indiana. The Recreation chapter discusses trails on both land and in water. Finally, the Transportation chapter outlines policies and practices to continue advancing non-motorized culture in Northwestern Indiana. The G+B 2020 Plan is an ambitious vision for tying together distinct but mutually beneficial focus areas in conservation and non-motorized transportation.


Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization
Highlands Transit Plan

Adopted in October 2017, the Highlands Transit Plan is the first adopted transit development plan for Highlands County, Florida. The strategic vision will guide planning, development, and implementation of potential future public transportation services. The development of the Highlands Transit Plan exemplified regional cooperation as the planning process was coordinated and implemented among multiple local and regional organizations, including Highland County, City of Avon Park, City of Sebring, Town of Lake Placid, the Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization, and the Florida Department of Transportation.



Ron De Carli
Executive Director, San Luis Obispo Council of Governments

Ronald De Carli serves as the Executive Director of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG), and throughout his 40+ year planning career has been an advocate for protecting the environment, enhancing the quality of communities, and furthering more walkable communities. SLOCOG Board President and Mayor of Atascadero Tom O’Malley said: “Ron’s greatest strength has always been getting local agencies to work together to plan, prioritize, fund and construct transportation improvements that benefit the region.” Ron will be retiring this September after 38 years of service, 28 of which serving as SLOCOG’s Executive Director.

Jack Steele
Executive Director, Houston-Galveston Area Council

Jack Steele has led the Houston-Galveston Area Council for nearly 40 years, serving 131 local governments and managing a budget of 355 million dollars. He was at the helm of the council during the difficult recovery period after Hurricanes Harvey, Ike and Rita, providing indispensable guidance.  Jack has been a consistent resource and partner to the Texas Association of Regional Councils – serving as chair for the environmental quality committee and state affairs committee, and vice-chair for the transportation, criminal justice and strategic directions committees. He also is an active member of the community outside of his public service- supporting the arts and serving in the United Methodist Church.


Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell
Mayor, City of Mayfield, Kentucky

City of Mayfield Mayor Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell will reach her 30th year of service with the city this year. She is currently in her second term and eighth year overall as Mayor. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Purchase Area Development District (PADD), which she has expanded into a new type of program – the Regional Mayors’ Purchase Area Leadership Symposium (PALS). This program is an excellent opportunity for mayors in the region to network and share ideas on a monthly basis. Mayor Rochetti-Cantrell has helped drive this innovative work to bring localities together to promote the region’s common assets.

Nelson Wolff
Judge, Bexar County, Texas

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has had a long and varied career in public service, which has taken him to the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, San Antonio City Council, and San Antonio Mayor’s Office. Judge Wolff took on the role of Bexar County Judge in 2001, and his leadership was critical to several growth and development initiatives in San Antonio and Bexar County. These successful initiatives include the San Pedro Creek Culture Park project, helping attract companies such as GM Financial and Toyota Motor Manufacturing to the region, and helping lead efforts to secure UNESCO World Heritage designation for the Mission Reach stretch of the San Antonio River. Judge Wolff has been an outstanding long-serving public presence who has helped steer the region along a path to success.


Dennis Smith
Executive Director, Maricopa Association of Governments

Dennis Smith has provided over 41 years of service to the Greater Phoenix region and is the Executive Director of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). He has been a member of NARC for over a decade, mentoring other members throughout the country and advocating continuously for shared priorities such as transportation funding. His work involves many successful initiatives across multiple areas such as economic development, transportation, and social well-being. These include leadership in developing the MAG Economic Development Committee (EDC), championing the development of an e-platform for businesses located in Canada, Mexico, and Arizona, catalyzing the establishment of a statewide interactive online literacy map, and chairing the Arizona Council of Governments/Metropolitan Planning Organization Directors Association multiple times. His leadership and work has consistently cultivated cooperative relationships, leveraged innovation, and contributed to regionalism.

Information about NARC awards, conferences, and leadership can be found at


AASHTO’s Executive Director Announces Retirement

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Executive Director Frederick G. “Bud” Wright announced last week that he plans to retire at the end of 2018. Wright was appointed Executive Director in November 2012 and previously served as executive director for the Federal Highway Administration from 2001 to 2008. He also led AASHTO through a new strategic plan development process that expanded the organization’s focus to include all modes.