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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Federal Advocacy Priorities of Associations Representing State and Local Government Officials in Washington, DC

April 10, 2018


This article demonstrates the federal policy priorities of the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, and U.S. Conference of Mayors. The most common priority is investment in infrastructure, followed by policy related to the economy, including workforce development and addressing poverty, as well as public safety. Below are lists that include the federal policy priorities for the groups listed above.

National Governors Association – NGA Policy Positions

The National Governor’s Association does not have a condensed lobbying agenda anywhere on their website. They have numerous policy positions which are not ranked in any order of importance. There are policy positions under each of the following categories:

  • Commerce
  • Transportation and infrastructure
  • Public finance
  • K-12 education reform
  • Child nutrition
  • Job training and higher education
  • Early childhood education
  • Career and technical education
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
  • Health
  • Homeland security, emergency management, and public safety
  • Cybersecurity
  • Armed forces
  • Veterans affairs
  • Immigration
  • Environmental protection
  • Domestic energy
  • Natural resources

NGA has designated legislative directors for Homeland Security & Public Safety; Education & Workforce; Natural Resources; Economic Development & Commerce Committee; and Health & Human Services.

National Conference of State Legislatures

NCSL opposes unfunded federal mandates and unwarranted federal pre-emption of state authority, and seeks to provide state legislatures the flexibility they need to innovate and be responsive to the unique needs of the residents of each state. They adopt policy directives and resolutions at their Capitol Forums and Legislative Summits that guide lobbying efforts.

Most recently adopted Policy Directives and Resolutions from December 2017:

  • Increased state representation on the federal communications commission broadband deployment advisory committee
  • Child welfare and family services: includes several more specific directives
  • Nutrition programs and assistance: includes several specific directives, most related to SNAP
  • Public health: numerous and varied directives

A more extensive list of Policy Directives and Resolutions adopted at the 2016 legislative summit can be found here.

National League of Cities – Federal Action Agenda

Public Safety

  • Expand technical assistance programs within the Department of Justice that could assist hundreds of cities and towns in developing evidenced-based community policing programs that build trust, improve community relations, and reduce racial tensions and crime rates;
  • Provide sufficient funding to support coordination and cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies; and
  • Take action to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our nation.


  • Act as a champion for tax-exempt municipal bonds, the primary financing mechanism for state and local infrastructure projects. Any policy to alter the tax-exempt status of these bonds will cost local governments billions of dollars and prevent many projects from going forward;
  • Support adequate and reliable long-term funding for infrastructure reflecting local needs and priorities;
  • Support a vibrant web of connected transportation options — from transit and air to railways, roads, and waterways — as a means to reduce congestion, protect the environment, and stimulate economic development; and
  • Encourage and promote deployment of broadband networks in a competitive and technologically neutral manner, while preserving local authority to take action to ensure that residents have access to high-speed Internet and other communications services.

The Economy

  • Increase federal funding for workforce development and training programs that provide basic skills training and opportunities to upgrade skills to adjust to changing job market demands;
  • Leverage federal resources to support universal pre-K, afterschool programs and other initiatives that ensure that all children and youth have an opportunity to graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary education or employment; and
  • Support federal economic development tools such as New Markets Tax Credits and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which allow cities to drive investment in struggling neighborhoods, attract and retain businesses, and grow jobs.

National Association of Counties – 2018 Legislative Priorities

  • Promote county infrastructure priorities
  • Support the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) programs
  • Support policies to promote mental health, substance abuse treatment and justice reform
  • Protect the federal-state-local partnership for Medicaid
  • Work towards a more effective definition of Waters of the U.S.
  • Support county authority to collect existing sales tax
  • Support programs that assist counties to prevent and reduce poverty
  • Support a comprehensive long-term farm bill reauthorization

U.S. Conference of Mayors

The US Conference of Mayors has a Mayors’ Agenda for the Future which identifies priorities associated with four major pillars. Within each of the pillars are more specific priorities.

Ensure the safety and security of our neighborhoods

  • Invest in community policing and resources to build trust, reduce violent crime, prevent domestic terrorism, and make every neighborhood safe.
  • Reform the criminal justice system.
  • Pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Fix Our Crumbling Infrastructure

  • Pass a major infrastructure bill that invests in public infrastructure projects and prioritizes projects that make our communities more resilient.
  • Support resilient and sustainable growth through investment and policies that recognize the impact our climate has on our collective health, safety, and economic future.
  • Generate new jobs and career pathways while improving construction standards, worker training and safety, and efficiency.

Expand Our Workforce to Create Economic Growth

  • Address the impact of technology disruptions in our communities.
  • Invest in training and access to jobs that exist in today’s economy.
  • Guarantee equal access to financing and capital.

Build Equitable Communities to Increase Opportunity for All

  • Invest in inclusive neighborhoods, affordable housing, and community development.
  • Improve our public education from pre-k through college.
  • Provide affordable and quality health care in every community and promote an environment of health and well-being.
  • Increase equity and ensure civil and human rights.