Policy Committees Meet & Choose Priorities at CCC
Konde, Pamela, Nation's Cities Weekly
NLC's seven policy committees met on March 10 to set their priorities during the Congressional City Conference. In two-hour meetings on Saturday afternoon, each committee brought forward and discussed federal issues they expect or already see affecting their cities. Then each policy committee voted on policy priorities that its steering committee will evaluate and develop further this year. The policy committees chose the following priorities for 2001:
Community & Economic Development (CEO)
* International Trade -- International Trade Agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and decisions by entities like the World Trade Organization (WTO) can have an impact on local economic development programs, including procurement and subsidies. The committee will be seeking policy that strikes a balance between encouraging free trade and protecting local authority.
* Affordable Housing -- The committee will assess its current policy and evaluate tools that could be employed to address affordable housing needs and production.
* Transit-Oriented Development -- The committee will look at regional planning, mixed-use issues, and other aspects of "livable community" issues as they relate to coordinating development near transit lines and transit stations. To ensure that federal transit funding facilitates transit-oriented development, a CED Member will act as liaison to the TIS Committee's 'TEA-21 Task Force."
* Comprehensive Land Use Planning & Zoning -- In light of recent federal action on such local issues as takings and zoning, the committee will review existing NLC policy and these key city issues.
Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources (EENR)
* Water Infrastructure Financing -- With a documented funding gap of close to $1 trillion for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of both wastewater and drinking water system infrastructure, and steadily declining aid for such services coming from the federal government, the committee overwhelmingly voted to develop policy on this issue.
* Energy Policy -- The committee's concerns about skyrocketing natural gas prices, electricity shortages in California, the United States' increasing dependence on foreign oil, and the need to address the nation's current energy resources, consumption, and strategies were reflected in the selection of this issue.
* The Clean Air Act -- With a view to reauthorization of the Clean Air Act, the committee expects to review current NLC Policy with specific emphasis on mobile source pollution, global warming, the use of oxygenates (specifically MTBE) in gasoline, and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Finance, Administration, and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR)
* Future of Municipal Finance -- The committee will focus on the ways that federal policy could alter the future of municipal finance. This includes the topic of e-commerce.
* Municipal Bonds -- The committee will examine how the federal government regulates these financial instruments.
* Financing Local Programs -- With a ten-year tax cut imminent, the committee will look at how such a cut may impact the capacity of the federal government to finance municipal programs.
Human Development (HD)
* Welfare Reform -- In light of the upcoming reauthorization of the "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families" (TANF) law, the committee will take a comprehensive look at the effects of 1996 welfare reform on poor populations and the changes needed to make TANF more effective in reducing poverty.
* Education -- The committee will assess how various educational reform proposals, such as "school choice," may affect the relationship between cities and their respective school boards. Alternatively, how can cities work to strengthen their communities and their families so students are better prepared to excel in any school, either public or private? …