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July 21, 2014

RE:  UPDATE ON FEDERAL POLICIES:

I.    SENATORS COMBINE MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS AND INTERNET TAX BILLS
II.   MUNICIPALITIES WELCOME PASSAGE OF WORKFORCE BILL
III.  NLC AND NJLM CALL ON CONGRESS TO FIND LONG-TERM TRANSPORTATION SOLUTION
IV. EPA PROPOSES RULE TO REDUCE EMISSION FROM NEW MUNICIPAL LANDFILLS
V.  SENATE PASSES TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE EXTENSION
VI.  NLC WEBINAR ON JULY 29: EXPANDING HEALTH ACCESS FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Dear Mayor:

Our thanks to the Federal Advocacy staff at the National League of Cities (NLC) for their efforts on behalf of our nation’s municipalities. Based on information they have provided, here’s an update on some key policy initiatives.

I.   SENATORS COMBINE MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS AND INTERNET TAX BILLS

Early last week, the House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA, H.R. 3086), a bill that would strip local governments of the authority to tax or impose fees on Internet access. To help foster the growth of the Internet, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) was first passed in 1998 and placed a temporary ban on taxing Internet access. The current ban expires on November 1, 2014. In addition to making the temporary ban permanent, PITFA also strips the authorization from those states who were “grandfathered” under ITFA at a cost of over $500 million a year in lost revenues (according to the Congressional Budget Office). Those ITFA grandfathered states are Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

With the House vote, we turn our focus to the Senate, where Senators Enzi (WY), Durbin (IL), Alexander (TN), Heitkamp (ND), Collins (ME) and Pryor (AR) recently introduced the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act, S. 2609, which NLC and the New Jersey League of Municipalities support. This bill combines the Marketplace Fairness Act (with several technical changes) and a 10-year extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

II.   MUNICIPALITIES WELCOME PASSAGE OF WORKFORCE BILL

Following a Senate vote of 95-3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) by an overwhelming vote of 416-6.

The bipartisan bill will streamline and modernize the nation's workforce system, while meeting the local needs of both employers and employees. It will maintain a strong role for local elected officials and local business leaders, help Americans who are out of work receive the training and support they need to obtain employment, and contribute substantially to the creation of a national workforce development strategy that is aligned with economic development activities.

III.   NLC AND NJLM CALL ON CONGRESS TO FIND LONG-TERM TRANSPORTATION SOLUTION

Before the U.S. Department of Transportation begins reducing state reimbursements for transportation, the U.S. Senate is rushing to adopt a short-term extension of federal surface transportation under a "unanimous consent" agreement that would bring the bill to the Senate floor this week with a limited number of amendments permitted for debate. Early last week, as we reported in our July 16 letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2014-0716-Transportation-Funding.html), the House passed H.R. 5021, an $11 billion short term extension of federal transportation trust fund revenues and an extension of MAP-21 through May 2015. The program is scheduled to expire on September 30 and funding could run out in just a few weeks.

Despite objections to extending the program through May 2015, the House rejected an attempt to pass a shorter bill, which would have forced Congress to find a long term fix to funding for transportation programs.

Your League Officers – President, Mayor Suzanne Walters of Stone Harbor; First Vice President, Mayor Gerry Tarantolo of Eatontown; Second Vice President, Mayor Joe Tempesta of West Caldwell; and Third Vice President, Mayor Brian Wahler of Piscataway – had already contacted our delegation in Washington, asking for a long-term transportation bill to provide reliable tools to rebuild and modernize our infrastructure. While thanking our Congressmen for action on H.R. 5021, they repeated that call in letters to the delegation last week.

House and Senate members will soon leave Washington for the August recess. For information on how you can help on this, see our July 9 letter at http://www.njslom.org/letters/2014-0709-transportation.html .

IV.  EPA PROPOSES RULE TO REDUCE EMISSIONS FROM NEW MUNICIPAL LANDFILLS

Last Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed updates to its air standards for new municipal solid waste landfills. Those rules would require certain landfills to capture additional "landfill gas," which occurs from the decomposition of wastes, and which consists primarily of methane and carbon dioxide. (proposal fact sheet)

Specifically, the proposed rule would require municipal solid waste landfills to capture two-thirds of their methane and air toxics emissions by 2023 - 13 percent more than they must capture under current regulations. The updates would apply to municipal solid waste landfills with a design capacity of 2.5 million metric tons and 2.5 cubic meters of waste that begin construction, modification or reconstruction on or after July 17, 2014. They would not apply to landfills subject to the current New Source Performance Standards, which was issued in 1996.

In a separate action, EPA announced that it is seeking input on whether and how to update current emissions guidelines for existing landfills to further reduce their emissions, including methane.

Nearly 1,000 municipal solid waste landfills in the U.S. currently are subject to either the 1996 emission guidelines for existing landfills or the 1996 New Source Performance Standards for new landfills. Additionally, EPA estimates that over the next five years, 20 new landfills will be constructed. There are nearly 100 city-owned or operated public landfills in 35 states that are currently subject to regulation or could become so, and many more county-owned or operated public landfills that are or could be impacted.

EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule and the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for existing landfills until Sept. 15. NLC is reviewing the potential impacts on local governments and may submit comments.

V.  SENATE PASSES TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE EXTENSION

More than 12 years after the tragic events of 9/11, the potential risk of large scale terrorist action in our communities continues to challenge the capacity and risk models of the private insurance market. That is why the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act remains a vital public-private risk sharing mechanism with a federal backstop that guarantees terrorism risk insurance coverage remains affordable and available to local governments.

In action that NLC supported, last Thursday, the Senate voted 93-4 to approve the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2244), which extends the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA; P.L. 107-297) for seven years. Our focus now shifts to the House, which is expected to consider in the upcoming weeks, the TRIA Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4871) that calls for a five year extension.

VI.  NLC WEBINAR ON JULY 29: EXPANDING HEALTH ACCESS FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Municipalities are increasingly recognizing the important role they can play in ensuring that eligible children are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. You are invited to join NLC President and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services Cindy Mann as they share insights about how local leaders can develop outreach strategies to connect children and families to health insurance. The webinar will also include a review of new research by Matt Buettgens from the Urban Institute on how American municipalities benefit when more residents have health insurance. Finally, the webinar will share highlights from NLC's Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families initiative, which recently selected eight cities to receive grants and technical assistance to implement city-led outreach and enrollment campaigns.

Cities Expanding Health Access for Children and Families Webinar
Tuesday, July 29, 2:00-3:15 PM EST
Register Now

If you have any questions on any of these items, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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