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Sign Petition Against Broadband Preemption

Officials are strongly encouraged to sign by Nov. 1 a petition urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to more thoroughly consider the perspective of local governments in rulemaking over broadband. The final meeting of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), a body formed under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is scheduled for Nov. 9. The BDAC, which disproportionately favors broadband providers over public entities in its membership, is expected to issue recommendations on removing state and local government barriers to broadband deployment, and model state and local codes for broadband deployment. The BDAC’s work also directly relates to ongoing rulemaking at the FCC focused on preempting local authority over broadband infrastructure, wireless sites, and negotiations with broadband providers, which the National League of Cities and many cities, as well as state municipal leagues, have actively lobbied against this year.

The leadership of NLC, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Association of Counties wrote a letter to the FCC urging the agency to more fully consider the perspectives of local governments in its BDAC recommendations and ongoing rulemaking around local land use and rights-of-way governance. To add your name to this letter and fight federal overreach into local broadband decisionmaking, complete this form by Nov 1.


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Podcast: A Rural-Urban Convergence

 

For as often as we hear the phrase "urban versus rural" -- like it's an irreconcilable competition between two oppositely distinct regions -- there are loads of examples of urban and rural communities working together to learn from one another, obliterate stereotypes on each end and team up on common goals. It's also fallacious to think "urban" and "rural" describe the whole of a truly complex spectrum of local economies. On this episode of Municipal Equation, the League's idea-exploring podcast, we head to Kentucky to check out a successful barrier-breaker called the Rural Urban Exchange before a meetup with the National League of Cities to map out how varied our cities and towns really are -- and how they depend on one another. Municipal Equation comes out biweekly on the League's website and at soundcloud.com/municipalequation. Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play. Send your ideas to host/producer Ben Brown.


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Congressional Budget Resolution Draws Concern

City officials across the country are voicing concern following U.S. House approval of the $4 trillion Senate Budget Resolution on Thursday. The resolution is non-binding, but includes language that threatens the state and local tax (SALT) deduction on the path to tax reform. National League of Cities President Matt Zone weighed in, calling the SALT deduction a vital, bipartisan-supported resource for municipalities.

"This budget resolution sends a message to cities that they are expected to continue doing more with less. Any budget plan that truly claims to grow the American economy must invest in cities, so we will continue to send a strong message back to Congress and the Administration: SALT and the tax exemption on municipal bonds are nonnegotiable.” More information is available at nlc.org/SALT.


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Legislative Maps Face More Scrutiny

A federal court is scrutinizing nine legislative districts -- two in the Senate and seven in the House -- while finding that the districts may still "either fail to remedy the identified constitutional violations or are otherwise legally unacceptable." The three-judge federal panel overseeing a redistricting lawsuit has announced that an independent expert will examine the districts and possibly redraw those and surrounding districts.

The court action follows an earlier ruling that 2011 legislative maps included "racially gerrymandered" districts and the General Assembly's approval of new maps in August to address that ruling. This latest directive from the court, questioning some of the new districts, creates the prospect that the map-drawing process could be taken away from legislators, something that also occurred in 2002 when another lawsuit over the districts led to court-imposed maps for a single legislative election. Read the latest media coverage about the redistricting fight here and here.    


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President Announces Drone Integration Program

President Donald Trump on Wednesday directed Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to establish an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS, or drone) Integration Pilot Program. An outline from the White House explains that the program is meant to encourage aeronautical innovation while maintaining airspace safety. The program will allow state and local governments to submit proposals for UAS "innovation zones" in their jurisdictions. "Interested governments should propose well-defined frameworks for Federal and non-Federal roles in the management of UAS flights in their jurisdiction, and should describe innovative UAS flights to be safely conducted by either industry or the local government," the outline said.

The National League of Cities (NLC) responded with optimism. "We welcome today’s announcement to establish a UAS program in partnership with local, state and tribal governments," NLC said in a joint statement with the National Association of Counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "We play a key role in public safety, transportation infrastructure, economic development and other public services that intersect with UAS policies. Through this pilot program, we hope to explore the best ways to integrate new technology into the airspace above our communities in partnership with the federal government and the private sector – with the flexibility necessary for communities to meet our residents’ needs." UAS discussion has ramped up in recent years. The League has followed it closely, with a local-officials forum and a podcast episode among educational efforts on the topic.


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Track Disaster Recovery Aid By County

A new website allows anyone to track real-time data on the Hurricane Matthew recovery. The N.C. Department of Information Technology announced rebuild.nc.gov on Tuesday in a news release describing it as "easy access to detailed funding information for disaster recovery including information by county." It includes aggregated data on the number of requests for assistance the state has received and how much aid has gone out, with breakdowns by funding source, agency and county.

"Having that level of detail easily available will provide immediate information and additional transparency on the use of disaster recovery resources," the release explains. "The state can also use the data to establish targets for relief efforts and track progress toward reaching those goals." The website will be used to track any other natural disaster in the future as well, the state says.


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Inform Small Businesses of New Recovery Aid

Small businesses impacted by Hurricane Matthew should apply now for $15 million in newly announced financing. The governor's office on Wednesday said that the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Small Business Recovery Assistance Program is made possible by the N.C. Department of Commerce and nonprofit lenders, and is detailed on a new website. "When Hurricane Matthew hit, small business owners lost store fronts, equipment, furniture and revenue, and many aren’t yet able to reopen," said Gov. Roy Cooper. "Small business owners can use these funds to fix damage, replace equipment, and get their business up and running again." A news release provides program contact information.

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Attend LUCA Training for 2020 Census

Programs are underway to prepare for the 2020 Census. "The Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program is a once a decade opportunity for local governments to verify the Census address list for their area, and an accurate address list is important to getting Census questionnaires to every household," says an announcement from the State Data Center. Census staff kicked off LUCA training sessions around the state this week. Additional sessions are being scheduled as well.

These sessions are free and aimed at local government staffers who may be involved in address verification. Sessions begin at 9 a.m. and last a few hours each. If you plan to attend a LUCA training session, please complete the "LUCA Training Notification" document.