In early March, what now seems like an eternity ago, two of the primary national organizations for local governments – the National Association of Counties and National League of Cities — held their annual legislative conferences in Washington, DC. Before COVID-19 took over the world and dominated our conversations, there were some key takeaways that are still worth sharing. For example, it was confirmed at that time during a panel discussion that most experts believe the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will not get reauthorized this year. Primary reason given is because the Higher Education Act (HEA) also needs to be reauthorized. The HEA was last reauthorized in 2008 and is supposed to be renewed every five years. It has been continued through a series of temporary extensions instead. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander, a former U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush, considers the HEA a bigger priority and part of his legacy. North Carolina’s U.S. Senator Richard Burr is also very highly ranked on the HELP Committee. Finally, it was clear that federal assistance for affordable housing, infrastructure and the opioid epidemic are still top priorities for local governments.
Congress is currently in recess until April 20th but has already begun discussions behind the scenes on a Phase 4 package. Centralina has weighed in with its congressional delegation, as well as House and Senate leadership, on additional funding and flexibility needed to support the Centralina Area Agency on Aging. Additional communications from Centralina to Congress will also occur regarding areas where local governments have not received the level of support needed to weather the pandemic.
Our federal consultant and lobbyist will continue to keep a close eye on all the moving parts related to the federal response to the coronavirus crises. To date, she has written two detailed memos for our members, including an overview of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and will provide additional memos as new legislation is passed. Leslie and other members of the Centralina team are also available to answer questions. Please call 704-372-2416 if there ways we can help.