top of page

NLC 2019 Congressional City Conference Travel Report

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

This week I attended my first NLC Congressional City Conference in our nation's Capitol, Washington, D.C. The Congressional City Conference’s central theme this year was Rebuild With Us, which urges Congress to develop and pass comprehensive legislation that rebuilds and reimagines America’s infrastructure in partnership with local governments that will serve local communities for the next 100 years. Along with the general sessions, there were panels, workshops, meetings, and networking events to attend, with the final day being Advocacy Day on the Hill. In order to cover more, and return to Sierra Vista with the most we could from the conference, Mayor Pro Tem Gray, Council Member Calhoune, and I divided up the workshops over the first 2 days. So as a side note, my experience and takeaways I share with you in this post might largely differ from those of my colleagues.

Some highlights from Monday and Tuesday:

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court

I've learned a lot about water this week. (I know I've said this many times over the past year. It never ends does it?) One of the areas I want to highlight is what I learned about the Maui Water-Pollution case. This case was first mentioned to me last year but I think it was over shadowed by what I was learning about the Tribute Case and Gila Adjudication at the time. During the conference I was given a much better understanding of what it's all about and how it will have a great impact on us here in Sierra Vista. Is groundwater covered by the Clean Water Act? And if it is, then a federal permit will likely be required... and getting those can be really difficult and really expensive. In short, this is why the case matters to us. Last year the 9th Circuit Court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) finding that pollution discharged from Maui County municipal wastewater wells into groundwater, which eventually goes in to the Pacific Ocean, violated the federal law. And last month the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case.

MG Ayala going over BRAC prep for military communities.

I attended the Military Communities Council Meeting and along with learning about different organizations like Reveille Foundation and POLCO, we were given a helpful presentation by Major General Juan G. Ayala, part of which he discussed "BRAC-proofing". BRAC stands for Base Realignment and Closure. This is an issue that our council has had to deal with in the past and will likely have to address in the future. MG Ayala shared three things to look at when we talk about BRAC-proofing; 1) Operational Readiness, 2) Tangible Community Support and 3) Family Support. When I asked specifically what they were looking for in terms of Family Support he said the Commission would be looking at four main items, 1) Schools, 2) Public Safety, 3) Off Base Housing, and 4) Spouse Employment Opportunities. I shared this information with Senator McSally and Representative Ann Kirpatrick, and will be sure to make our state legislatures as well as our local school board aware.