Free Federal Transportation Funding Webinar Wednesday, March 26th

The National League of Cities is hosting a free webinar tomorrow, March 26th.

Funding the Transportation System of Your Community’s Future
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
1:00 to 2:00 pm ET

Anticipated population growth in metropolitan centers are driving communities to think about how to fund transportation systems needed to meet current demands and future needs at the same time. But challenges can arise with budgetary shortfalls, competing local priorities, and the need to plan for both economically and environmentally sustainable places to live and work.

The National League of Cities and Transportation for America will share how Indianapolis, IN has been addressing their transportation obstacles and building a multimodal network that is able to create and provide access to jobs. Webinar participants will learn how to engage a wide variety of stakeholders and how to come together to think forwardly and creatively about their transportation needs and the impact federal dollars are having on their local projects. The webinar will also go over some of the opportunities and challenges in the current transportation bill, MAP-21 and what the outlook is for local governments with the next bill.

Participants Include:
Julia Pulidindi, National League of Cities
Sarah Kline, Research Director, Transportation for America
David Rosenberg, Director of Enterprise Development, Mayor Gregory A. Ballard’s Office, City of Indianapolis, IN
Mike Terry, President and CEO, IndyGo
Sean Northup, Assistant Executive Director, Indy MPO

This is a free webinar. Please feel free to share with others who may be interested. 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.

White House Announces $600 Million in TIGER Grants Available Starting April 3rd

The White House has announced that $600 Million will be available for the next round of TIGER grants. The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) can be found on the DOT website at www.dot.gov/TIGER<http://www.dot.gov/TIGER along with information on upcoming informational webinars. Initially created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the previous five rounds of the program have funded 270 projects across all fifty states. Some of the details this year include:

*       No pre-applications are required for this round of TIGER.

*       Up to $35 million may be awarded for Planning Grants.

*       Date for Grants.gov to Begin Receiving Applications: April 3, 2014.

*       Deadline for Final Applications: April 28, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT

For further information click here: http://www.dot.gov/tiger/nofa

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

 

 

 

Federal Tax Reform Proposal Has Consequences for Local Communities

Ways and Means Chairman David Camp (R-MI) has released his long awaited tax reform proposal. And, unfortunately within the 1,000 page bill, there is an impact of the tax exempt nature of municipal bonds. It’s not a complete elimination, however it is significant in that, a greater proportion of investors are in the tax bracket facing the new tax. Specifically, the proposal would:

  • Partially tax otherwise tax-exempt municipal bond interest for taxpayers in the new 35-percent tax bracket, which would apply to individuals with income of at least $400,000 and married couples with incomes of at least $450,000. For these taxpayers, the proposal would effectively impose a 10-percent tax on otherwise tax-exempt interest income. The tax would apply to interest earned on both new issues and outstanding bonds.
  • Prohibit the future issuance of tax-exempt private-activity bonds, including bonds issued by private, non-profit entities. In addition, the proposal would prohibit the use of mortgage credit certificates in lieu of tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds.
  • Eliminate the ability to issue advance refunding bonds.
  • Market discount on municipal and other bonds would be required to be accreted and recognized as income annually over the life of an investment rather than at one time when a bond is sold or redeemed.
  • Eliminate the income tax deduction for state and local taxes paid by residents.

The League’s position is that since the inception of our nation, there has been a legal arrangement that one government entity would not tax another governmental entity’s funding of essential services. We believe that covenant needs to remain intact and urge Congress to remove these components from the package when it begins work on it. We will be taking this message to Congress when leaders of the League visit Washington DC.

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

Federal Budget Provides Some Relief for Local Government Programs

The programs impacting local units of government in the federal budget were all preserved, or saw small increases in the budget Congress recently approved. The budget overall increases discretionary spending to state and local governments by 4.5%, $24 billion, to a total of $492 billion. Some key local programs that saw flat funding or slight increases include TIGER grants and public transit “new starts” program, CDBG, Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund programs, and the COPS program.The budget funds the federal government through September 30, 2014. The President is expected to present his FY 2014-15 budget to Congress some time in March.

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

Expand Your Influence: Apply for a National League of Cities Policy and Advocacy Committee

Have you ever wanted to engage more in federal policy? Now is your chance! The National League of Cities is accepting applications for their full Policy and Advocacy Committees. There are several committees to choose form, including Community and Economic Development; Energy, Environment and Natural Resources; Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations; Human Development; Information Technology and Communications; Public Safety and Crime Prevention; Transportation Infrastructure and Services. You do not need to be a  member city of NLC to participate in the full committees (you do need to be a member to serve on each Steering Committee). The full committees meet at NLC’s two major events each year – the Congressional Cities Conference and the Congress of Cities and Exposition. If you are interested, the deadline to submit your application is Friday, January 24th. To apply, click here.

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

Federal Government Making Changes to How Communities Deal with Volunteer Firefighters Under the ACA

Recently, several articles have appeared that reference a “glitch” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in which communities with more than 50 employees will be forced to provide coverage for volunteer firefighters. Since this came about, Treasury and the IRS have reviewed the information and just released a statement, saying they will be providing rules soon that addresses this unintended consequence. The release from Treasury can be found by clicking here.

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

Congress Set to Finish Appropriation Bills This Week

Congress is back to work after their winter break. Just before the holidays, they passed a two-year budget agreement that lifted the sequester on discretionary programs that were set to go into effect if no action was taken. Now, they have until January 15th to pass all the appropriation bills necessary to outline how those set funding levels will be divided up. There is no agreement yet but negotiations seem to be moving along and are being held closely to the vest by House and Senate leaders. One issue that was not resolved favorably in the budget negotiation was the Build America Bonds (BABs) subsidy payments. So the reduction in those payments will continue. We will update you this week on how the budget breakdowns unfold.

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

House Passes Federal Budget Agreement, Senate Should Vote Today

The US House of Representatives passed a budget agreement on their last day of session last week, entitled the Bipartisan Budget Act, on a 334-94 vote. This budget agreement set the spending levels for FYs 2014 and 2015, and is the beginning of the end of shutdown deadlines. However, Congress still has to pass actual appropriation bills by January 15th to avoid the next shutdown as that is when the current Continuing Resolution expires. The spending levels, as passed, are $63 Billion over the levels set by sequenstration for both years. The Senate is expected to support the legislation today. With this action, Congress has begun to get back to the typical budget process, rather than legislate through a series of contuing resolutions.

Summer Minnick is the Director of Policy Initiatives and Federal Affairs. She can be reached at 517-908.0301 or sminnick@mml.org

Congress Inching Closer to Self-Imposed Budget Deadline

Some optimism is coming out of Washington DC that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) are making progress on talks to negotiate federal budget changes before their self-imposed December 13th deadline. If nothing changes, a new set of sequestration cuts to the tune of $91 billion will go into effect in early January 2014. As of right now there are no indications that eliminating the exemption on municipal bonds will be part of this budget/tax reform package being discussed. However, nothing is certain, so we will continue to monitor that issue closely.

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

Fenton Mayor Pro Tem, Patricia Lockwood, Elected to National League of Cities Board of Directors

Patricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood, Mayor Pro Tem of Fenton, was elected to the National League of Cities Board of Directors over the weekend at their Congress of Cities and Exposition in Seattle, Washington.

Mayor Pro Tem Lockwood was selected from a large candidate pool and will serve two years as Board member.

She is also a past president of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees (1994-95) and an honorary life member.

Congratulations to Pat!

Read more here about the NLC conference in a blog by League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin.

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