Congress Passes $1.1 Trillion Budget Extension – Doesn’t Include Marketplace Fairness

Congress passed a $1.1 Trillion budget bill, which is a combination of an omnibus budget and continuing resolution, funding most of the federal government through Sept 30, 2015. However, the Department of Homeland Security only received funding through February 27th, 2015. Overall, the bill increases federal spending for the year by $1.1 Billion; 1.8% for non-defense spending, which is still negative growth when adjusted for inflation. The budget held a mixed bag of results for local leaders. First, the biggest disappointment was that Marketplace Fairness did not get included in the mix. Marketplace Fairness would have leveled the playing field for brick and mortar businesses with online retailers, which don’t have to remit sales taxes.

Specifically, in the budget, TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants were reduced by 16%, but transit programs saw an increase in $141 million. Federal highway programs maintained their level of funding. CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding was reduced by $30 million and a provision was included which bans locals from selling CDBG grants to other communities. There was also a reduction in HOME (Home Investment Partnerships Program) funds of $100 million, bringing that down to $900 million.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

 

Action Needed on Marketplace fairness Push in Congress

With time winding down in the Congressional session, now is the time to push for action on marketplace fairness. This issue has legs and we’re hoping to get it over the finish line in the final days. Marketplace fairness would close the online sales tax loophole and level the playing field for our local brick and mortar retailers. It would also mean an additional $23 billion nationally to invest in our communities – in infrastructure, police and fire, and more. The holiday season has been highlighting the issue as online shoppers spent more this year on “Black Friday,” the traditional start to holiday shopping, than ever before. However, most shoppers will not pay the sales tax owed on those purchases because of the loophole exempting online sellers from collecting sales tax.

Please contact your member of Congress and tell them to support Marketplace Fairness (this phrase is enough as the actual bill numbers have changed and the language could be substituted in a different bill). To contact your member of Congress click here.

For resources on talking points, and letters to the editor, visit the National League of Cities resource page.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

EPA Proposed Regulation on Dental Amalgam Separation Could Cause Burden on Local Treatment Systems

The Environmental Protection Agency is having an open comment period until December 22nd, to allow individuals and organizations to respond to proposed new regulation of discharge of dental amalgam into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) as part of the Clean Water Act. The regulation would classify dentists as an “industrial user” under part 23, which would require additional pretreatment measures that could be burdensome to locals due to the increased oversight requirements in this category. Michigan already has an amalgam separation law on the books, but this new provision would place dentists into a category (industrial user) that the DEQ does not have authorization over in order to modify the federal requirement to better align with the existing state law. If you would like to read about this issue further and/or submit comments, click here.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Free webinar on New FCC Wireless Siting Rules on Nov. 5th

On November 5th from 1-2pm, BB&K telecommunications attorneys are providing a free webinar to provide an overview of the new FCC wireless siting rules, the timetable for responding to them, and the challenges and opportunities facing public bodies as they attempt to protect local interests, while complying with federal requirements governing zoning of wireless facilities.

The webinar will cover:

The FCC’s new rules, which are expected to affect both the substance and the process associated with wireless siting.

The effect of the new rules on contracts for use of publicly owned property

The legal issues raised by the rules and what local governments need to do if they wish to challenge, or obtain clarification of, the rules

Ways local governments can respond to the rules that provide the maximum protection to the public

To register for the webinar click here.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Congress Passes $1 Trillion Short Term Spending Bill, Goes on Break

After failing to pass the 12 budget bills before the October 1st fiscal year began, Congress enacted a $1 Trillion short term spending measure to avoid a government shutdown. Congress is now on recess for the mid-term campaign season. The short term budget extension sunsets on December 11th, ensuring Congress comes back for a lame duck session.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

EPA Extends Deadline to Submit Comments on Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency has extended the deadline to submit comments on the proposed plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for existing power plants to December 1st, from October 16th.

Click here to access additional information on the proposal and to submit comments.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

National League of Cities Announce Applications Open for Committee and Leadership Positions

Have you been involved in NLC before but want to take it to a new level? Are you considering expanding your professional involvement for the first time? If you are a member city of NLC, now is the time to submit an application!

The incoming NLC President will appoint chairs and vice chairs to NLC’s Policy and Advocacy Committees; the Council on Youth, Education, and Families; the International Council; the Large Cities Council; the Military Communities Council; the First Tier Suburbs Council; the Small Cities Council; and the University Communities Council.

City officials from NLC member cities who are interested in serving as Chairs and Vice Chairs should complete and submit online applications and biographical statements by October 3. Committee chairs and vice chairs will be notified of their selection in late October or early November.

Steering Committee Membership Positions Open

In addition, the incoming President will appoint city officials to be members of the Policy and Advocacy Steering Committees, the University Communities Council Steering Committee; and the Small Cities Council Steering Committee.

City officials from NLC member cities who are interested in serving as members on one of these Committees should complete and submit online applications by November 24. The Steering Committee appointments will be announced in December.

All appointments will be for a one year term.

 

Webinar This Thursday on EPA’s proposed rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under Clean Air Act

This Thursday, September 18th from 1-2 pm the State and Local Legal Center will be hosting a webinar on the legal issues raised by EPA’s proposed rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. This webinar will be particularly helpful to those who are in the process of drafting comments, which are due on Oct. 16. There is no pre-registration for the webinar; simply click here at the appropriate time and sign in as a guest.

EPA has invited comment on a number of issues that may have legal implications for states. Given the compliance obligations this rule will create for states, the National Governors Association has worked with the SLLC to develop a presentation that will provide states with an opportunity to explore topics that will most directly affect them. Some of these topics will be addressed in the webinar and include:

o   State-level considerations for regional compliance and a legal roadmap for how states could join together to develop a regional consortium to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

o   Whether states can legally adopt multiple approaches to reducing carbon emissions, including approaches that are rate based, mass based, market based, or some combination of those three.

o   The authority for states to implement approaches outside of reductions at individual power plants (regardless of the legal interpretation at the federal level), or whether states need internal authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through other measures like regional agreements or the implementation of energy efficiency measures through 111(d).

o   The ability of states to adjust the specific percentage by which they must reduce their carbon emissions by 2030.

Roger Martella,, a former General Counsel for the EPA and current partner with the law firm of Sidley Austin, will lead the discussion and answer questions.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.

Congress Passes Temporary Transportation Spending Bill

Hours before adjourning for their August recess, the US Senate passed the House version of the temporary spending bill to prevent the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and the continued authorization of MAP-21 through May 2015. The Senate had tried to shorten the time frame, hoping to force the discussion on long term solutions sooner rather than later, but had to concede at the end of the day. The bill, which passed on a 81-13 vote, inserts $11 Billion into the fund from a variety of sources, including pension smoothing. The League supports a long term solution to transportation funding, and is hopeful that after years of extensions, a serious discussion on the ongoing funding of our nation’s infrastructure will be had in the coming months.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnicki@mml.org.

 

Senate Passes Their Version of Temporary Federal Transportation Funding

Link

The US Senate voted last night to pass their version of a short term extension of MAP-21 and some federal funds to cover the expenses of the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run out of money within days or weeks. Last week, the House passed a version that would have made the extension through May 2015. However, the Senate yesterday added some pressure by only funding transportation until December 19, 2014. Therefore, creating a greater sense of urgency to come up with a long term plan to fund that nation’s infrastructure. The House now has only two days to accept the changes to continue to try and negotiate before they leave for August recess at the conclusion of session this Thursday, July 31st.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908-0301 or sminnick@mml.org.