This is the first in a series of three blogs dealing with aspects of the president’s federal reorganization plan. It is based, in part, on a recent NARC Wednesday Legislative Briefing that was held on the president’s reorganization plan on Wednesday, August 7. On June 21, the president released his plan to reorganize certain parts of the executive branch. If adopted by Congress and implemented by the president, it would touch virtually every agency in the federal government and the way Americans receive government services. The following are proposals that would have the most significant impact on regions: The Department of Education and the Workforce The president’s proposal would merge the Departments of Education and Labor into a single department. The new Department of Education and the Workforce would include four separate agencies focusing on four different issue areas: K-12 education, enforcement of worker protections, workforce and higher education, and… Read More What’s in the President’s Proposal to Reorganize the Federal Government?
At every Annual Conference and Exhibition, NARC celebrates membership achievements of regional excellence and cooperation across the nation. This year’s winners exemplify many qualities that a 21st-century regional council needs to be successful, including innovation, adaptability, collaboration, and hard work. Read more about our 2018 NARC Major Metro, Medium Metro, and Rural Achievement Awards Winners below: Major Metro Winner: Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan Project: Water Resources Plan The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) won the 2018 Major Metro Achievement Award for their Water Resources Plan. The plan focuses on three major pillars of water planning in the region: “Blue Economy,” Natural Resources, and Infrastructure. “Blue Economy” recognizes the importance of the region’s water assets and supports water placemaking efforts to enhance water recreation opportunities and support the economic development of water-dependent industries. The Natural Resources pillar highlights threats to natural resources such as invasive… Read More 2018 NARC Achievement Awards Winners
On June 21, the Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on State Perspectives on Regulating Background Ozone. Among those called to testify was Diane Rath, executive director of the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) in San Antonio, Texas. She provided background on the great progress the San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has made over the years in reducing ozone, and explained some of the complicated factors used to calculate the region’s ozone levels. For AACOG and other regions facing variables outside of their control, federal ozone standards should be flexible enough to account for background ozone in trying to maintain healthy air quality for their citizens. Regional Success in Reducing Ozone Levels “The San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA has experienced significant improvement in its ozone levels in the last several years, with nearly a 20 percent decline in design value from… Read More State Perspectives on Regulating Background Ozone
Former NARC Executive Director William Dodge once said, “Regions are the new communities of the 21st century. They have emerged just as villages, towns, cities, and counties did before them… And now they determine our fates.” This quote could not be timelier. As we take time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to 2018, one question has emerged more than any other: What is the role of a 21st century regional council? Highlighting the innovative initiatives that regional councils are carrying out today and exploring where they can be leaders in their communities drove many of NARC’s activities in 2017. A Summary of Some of NARC’s Successes Over the Last Year (2017) Trees and Stormwater Website Launch: NARC (along with Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, the U.S. Forest Service, Davey Resource Group, and Centerline Strategies, LLC) launched a Trees and Stormwater website to provide local decision-makers with… Read More The National Association of Regional Councils’ 2017 Wrap-Up
Congress is back from Thanksgiving break and confronted with some significant choices, including passage of a tax bill that substantially reduces the corporate tax rate and eliminates some common individual tax deductions, like the property tax and the inheritance tax. From the outset, the goal has been to pass a tax cut bill – good or bad — before Congress breaks for the Christmas holiday. To do this House and Senate Republicans are moving at breakneck speed to get the bill to the president for his signature. This week the Senate will begin considering its version of the tax reform bill, which is wildly unpopular with the general public. The House passed its version two weeks ago, and if Senate Republican leaders have their way, their version will pass in the next week. This leaves just enough time to conference the two bills and create a single version that can… Read More Concerns Grow Over the Impacts of House and Senate Tax Bills
Now is the time to let your senators and representatives know that you oppose elimination of the SALT deduction and that they should vote against any tax proposal that would do this. Over the next weeks and months, Congress will be debating legislation to “reform” the nation’s tax system. That debate will focus on many things, including corporate taxes, inheritance tax, individual tax brackets, and charitable tax deductions, among others. But none of the debates may prove as important to states, counties, cities, and towns as the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which allows individuals and households to deduct what they pay to states and localities in the form of income, property, and sales taxes from their federal returns. Both the House and Senate are prepared to eliminate some or all of the SALT deduction to make up for revenue losses resulting from proposed cuts to the corporate and… Read More Why the SALT Deduction Matters. Why You Should Save It.
Although 2020 is a few years away, preparations are already in full swing for the next Census. The groundwork that the U.S. Census Bureau is laying out today will affect the accuracy of the 2020 Census across the country. The Census Bureau is up against a significant accuracy issue: past Census reports have historically undercounted certain populations in the United States. These groups include young children, minorities, and low-income communities. The Census Bureau is once again concerned about this problem occurring in the next decennial Census count. Why is this significant for NARC members? The George Washington Institute of Policy reports that there are several hundred federal financial assistance programs and sixteen large federal programs that rely on Census data to disperse funds to states and local areas. These programs include funding for housing, health care, transportation, education, and food assistance that your communities rely on. The Census count also… Read More Making the Census Count: How Regions Can Help
Two weeks ago, the Trump Administration issued a statement that directed the executive branch to “use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic.” This declaration couldn’t have come any sooner. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that in the third quarter of 2016, overdose deaths reached a record-breaking 19.9 people per 100,000. If this trend continues, our localities will need all the help the federal government can offer to battle this growing epidemic. How bad is the opioid epidemic? While education on the opioid crisis is getting better in the U.S., the crisis itself is still quite severe and doesn’t show significant signs of slowing. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data shows a sharp increase in overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2016. In 2015, the last full year of data available, the Centers for Disease… Read More The Opioid Crisis Was Declared a National Emergency: Here’s How Local Governments Can Help
According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, the United States needs over $600 billion for water infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years. The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the United States a “D” grade on their Drinking Water Infrastructure Report Card, citing the older age of many of the country’s pipelines, the large number of water main breaks, and the likelihood of contamination, especially in smaller water systems. On Monday The Washington Post highlighted that the idea of water privatization has left small and mid-size communities, many of which are already struggling with budget deficits, with a tough choice. Should these local governments continue to manage and maintain their own public water systems? Or is selling their water system to a private corporation a more reasonable option? Federal Funding or Lack Thereof It is unclear how much help towns will receive from the federal government for water… Read More To Sell or Not to Sell? Small Local Governments Look at Privatizing their Public Water Systems
Reporters from Route Fifty attended NARC’s National Conference of Regions this week and interviewed NARC’s Director of Transportation Programs, Erich Zimmermann, on infrastructure funding and the MPO Coordination Rule. They also attended and covered two different sessions at the conference on NARC’s Fleets for the Future grant program and infrastructure funding.
President Donald Trump ordered government agencies to propose repealing two regulations for each new one they issue. Agencies will propose regulations to repeal when they write new ones, and the White House will approve them. Administration officials say that the military and regulations related to national security will be exempt from the executive action.