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How does the League determine legislative goals? 

 
Members of the Tax and Finance Legislative Advocacy Committee speak with Senator Bob Rucho about privelege license fees at a committee meeting in Raleigh. Photo credit: Jessica Wells
Going into the legislative short session this summer, the League’s governmental affairs department is guided by a set of municipal advocacy goals which were adopted at the 2013 Advocacy Goals Conference.

At the conference, members came from across the state to vote on what topics should have priority during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions. Before they could vote, those goals had to be developed.

The League’s policy development process begins with four committees – a Regulatory Action Committee and three Legislative Action Committees focused on tax and finance, planning and environment, and general government. Roughly 40 members are on each committee and serve as subject-matter experts to propose new goals and policies.

“The Legislative Action Committees are crucial to the legislative advocacy goals process because they are the first place goal proposals from members go,” said League Director of Research and Policy Analysis Chris Nida said.

According to Nida, who oversees goal solicitation for the League, the committees consider, debate, amend, approve or reject the goals and make recommendations to the Board of Directors who narrows it down even further before putting the goals up for debate at the Advocacy Goals Conference, which will take place in Raleigh in December.

Washington Council Member and League Board of Directors Member William Pitt has served on a Legislative Action Committee since 2010 and was recently appointed to chair the Tax and Finance Committee.

“Serving on the committee has made me a more effective council person because when you’re local, you believe that you’re the only ship in the sea. This has given me a good perspective that we’re not the only ship in the sea, and we’re not the only ship in distress,” Pitt said.

Since serving on the Tax and Finance Committee, Pitt has gained a new appreciation for dealing with budgets. He said the committee’s biggest goal is to help cities maintain their current flow of money from the state and make sure that cities of all sizes have the revenues available to provide the services their citizens want.

“The budget is not one of my favorite things that I do, but now I’m beginning to like budgeting more,” Pitt said. “I’ve been more thoughtful about spending dollars and finding ways to attract more dollars.”

Pitt and Nida said they would encourage anyone who’s interested in legislative advocacy and municipal issues to inquire about joining a committee. The committees are assembled in the fall, but attending Town Hall Day, the League’s biggest lobbying day, on June 4 in Raleigh could give prospective members a heads up on issues facing cities in 2015 and 2016.

“This is the opportunity to weigh in on what the League staff should be working on,” Nida said. “This is the most important opportunity for members to get involved in legislative efforts.”

Committee members meet six times a year in Raleigh for about four hours and serve a two-year term. Pitt said even if people are intimidated by the commitment, they should reach out to committee members and consider applying anyway.

“It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but whatever you want to do, you can find time if you really want to do it. It’s really exciting to be able to see when the night becomes day, you’ve had a part in it,’ Pitt said. “Things are kind of dark for municipalities now because of the changing government, and it’s our job as elected officials to change that.”

For more information on the policy development process or Town Hall Day, contact League Governmental Affairs Assistant Cara Bridges at 919-715-0950.