NLC Visits Capitol Hill to Promote Role of Local Government in Infrastructure Projects

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More than 100 congressional staff, local officials, and media members gathered in the U.S. Capitol to hear NLC leaders explain the role of local government in infrastructure projects including clean water, transit, and broadband internet.

Gilmartin presented data showing ongoing disinvestment from localities from state and federal sources, meaning cities are having to “go it alone” in areas where there was once robust intergovernmental cooperation.
Dan Gilmartin, Executive Director & CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, presents data showing that state sources are disinvesting from localities in Michigan – proof that cities are having to “go it alone” in areas where there was once robust intergovernmental cooperation. (photo: Jason Dixson)

On the final day of NLC’s 2016 Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C., more than 100 congressional staff, local officials, and media members gathered in the U.S. Capitol to hear NLC leaders explain the role of local government – and benefits of local control – in infrastructure projects including clean water, transit, and broadband internet.

Following opening remarks from D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton, a long-time champion of local control in Congress, NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony started the briefing by announcing NLC’s support for federal assistance to the City of Flint, Michigan, to address the ongoing lead contaminated water crisis. Panelist Dan Gilmartin, Executive Director & CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, also focused his remarks on water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and what it meant for federal-state-local relations nation-wide. Among other things, Gilmartin presented data showing ongoing disinvestment from localities from state and federal sources, meaning cities are having to “go it alone” in areas where there was once robust intergovernmental cooperation.

Councilmembers Greg Evans of Eugene, Oregon, and Andy Huckaba of Lenexa, Kansas, were also featured in the briefing. Councilmember Evans, who also serves as Vice Chair of NLC’s Transportation and Infrastructure Advocacy Committee, contrasted state and local perspectives on accountability in the transit funding process. Councilmember Huckaba, a longtime leader on NLC’s Information Technology and Communications Advocacy Committee, spoke about competing public and private interests in the broadband market.

NLC 2nd Vice President, Mayor Mark Stodola of Little Rock, Arkansas, provided the concluding presentation by highlighting the local point of view on infrastructure finance, telling the assembled crowd, “Our message is clear: we must protect the tax exemption on municipal bonds.”

In addition to being well-attended, the briefing was live-streamed over the internet and is still available for viewing on Facebook.

About the Author: Michael Wallace is the Program Director for Community and Economic Development at the National League of Cities. Follow him on Twitter @MikeWallaceII.