Policy Committees Gear Up for 1994 at Congressional Meeting

Article excerpt

The recently completed Congressional City Conference represented the kick-off of NLC's policy calendar, with more than 1,000 municipal elected officials beginning work to set NLC's 1994 policy agenda.

The policy committees cover five issue areas: community and economic development, energy and environment, finance and administration, human development, and transportation and communication. Associated with each area, there is a Policy Committee and a Steering Committee.

"The policy committees represent the front line of NLC membership--the shareholders," noted President Sharpe James. "The committees are reservoirs of expertise which support NLC in getting the word out."

During the Congressional City Conference, each policy committee met to identify the top issues for policy review. The steering committees will now proceed with meetings to study, analyze, and act on these topics before returning to the policy committees with recommendations for action in December.

In addition, the NLC Board of Directors identified several issue areas that are to be covered by all of the committees. The Board directed each steering committee to consider the Transportation and Communication Committee' s white paper on telecommunication. Each steering committee will identify and make recommendations on aspects of the information superhighway under their respective jurisdictions. The Board also charged each committee to consider the impact of any new policy proposals on youth, education, and families. A brief summary follows of each committee' s priorities.

Community and Economic Development(CED)

Birmingham City Council President Eddie Blankenship leads the CED Committee. Broadening access to the American dream of home ownership was foremost in the minds of the members of the Policy Committee, who endorsed an array of housing priorities to be analyzed this year by the CED Steering Committee. Small business incentives for minorities and women and housing also rated high among the CED Priorities.

The CED Policy Committee recommended that the Steering Committee undertake an extensive review of the regulations under the HOME program, respond to fair housing papers issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), review a resolution on affordable housing, support continuum care funding for the homeless, and examine issues for low and moderate income housing.

Interest in economic development for cities and towns was also evident as Policy Committee members requested research in the area of secondary financial markets for women and minority businesses, economic and trade opportunities under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and eligibility under the Administration' s Empowerment Zone program. The committee will also examine economic development opportunities through new communications and information technologies.

Energy Environment and Natural Resources(EENR)

An overeaching policy concern identified by the EENR committee is the need for greater and more meaningful participation of local governments in federal rule making and the need for flexibility in such rules. Mayor Jeff Wennberg of Rutland, Vt. chairs the EENR this year. In a strong consensus which has cross-cutring implications for all five policy committees, EENR members expressed great interest in seeing local governments become more closely involved in the development of federal regulations. This concern was not limited to environmental regulations. Consensus was reached among the policy committee members that local involvement is needed across the board when federal regulations are being considered. …