Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Policy Debate to Cover Wide Range of City Concerns during Congress of Cities

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Policy Debate to Cover Wide Range of City Concerns during Congress of Cities

Article excerpt

From electric deregulation to the state of Indian trustland in cities to disaster preparedness, NLC members will discuss and debate dozens of municipal priority issues at the Congress of Cities in San Antonio. The debate will begin on Saturday, December 7, when the six Policy Committees convene to vote on amendments to the National Municipal Policy. Check the conference program for the time of each meeting.

Following is a summary of the issues each of the Policy Committees will consider for adoption and forwarding to the Resolutions Committee and the Annual Business Meeting

Finance, Administraton and Intergovernmental Relations Committee (FAIR)

Chair: George Blackwood, Mayor Pro Tem - Kansas Cityy, Mo. Vice Chairs: Maxine Childress Brown, Councilmember - Rochester, NY; Sue Donaldson, Councilmember - Seattle, Wash. Board Rep: Marcia Weaver, Councilmember - Jackson, Miss. AC Rep: Walt Kelly, Council President - Fishers, Ind.

In response to the priorities set by the Policy Committee, the FAIR Steering Committee concentrated on crafting a position on the issue of Indian tribal trust lands. The Committee is proposing policy language which recommends corporate status rather than a trust arrangement for newly acquired Indian lands. This approach would address municipal concerns regarding the control of local taxation and regulation. This proposal would apply to new designations; current lands with trust status would not be affected. The Committee's concern is that under current federal practice, a tribe will acquire property in a city anywhere in the United States, and, by having the Interior Department give it trust status, be exempt from all municipal relations and taxation.

The Committee also decided to emphasize to the NLC Board of Directors its continuing and extremely high interest in two items: 1) federal deficit reduction and 2) the potential significant ramifications of federal tax reform on cities and towns. The Steering Committee is notifying the Board of its unwavering interest in these subJects and their importance to NLC member cities and towns.

In the area of deficit reduction, the Committee is proposing policy revisions to urge greater federal government activity to educate the public and deal with long range financial challenges and not a one-dimensional focus on single-year or even five-year budgeting approach.

Energy, Environment, & Natural Resources (EENR)

Chair: Ingrid Lindemann, Councilmember - Aurora, Colo. Vice Chairs: Carolyn Allen, Mayor - Greensboro, NC Jack Lynch, Chief Executive - Butte, Mont. Board Rep: Lucille Brogden, Council Vice President - Hyattsville, Md. AC Rep: Abbe Land, Councilmember - West Hollywood, Calif.

The EENR Steering Committee undertook a major rewrite and update of the Energy Policy section of the chapter. Based on the discussions held during their spring meeting and information received from state municipal leagues and other organizations, the Committee prepared a resolution on how to approach proposals to restructure the electric utility industry. The Committee identified ten primary issues which need to be addressed in any proposal to restructure electricity service. The ten principles include consultation of state and local elected officials; reliable service to all consumers; local revenue authority; equitable benefits to all ratepayers (large and small); and maintenance of public policy objectives to provide sound social and environmental results.

In the area of water quality, a major concern to the EENR Committee is that the contribution of non-municipal contributors to pollution problems must be recognized, and those contributions must be incorporated into the process of finding solutions. Municipalities and the local ratepayers should not be responsible for pollution generated outside their jurisdiction such as from agricultural sources. Therefore, the Committee is recommending policy language which underscores these concerns and calls for cities to have the option to initiate environmental law enforcement actions against polluters. …

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