December 9, 2022 | Cole Arreola-Karr
The National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC) has formally adopted the first biennial revision of its Federal Advocacy Platform, which will guide NSDC’s federal efforts and grassroots engagement through the 118th Congress.
NSDC based the document’s amendments on its inaugural platform approved in June 2021, preserving flagship priorities including ongoing efforts to better define “special district” in federal law for greater access to local government programs and resources. Revisions to the policy document were made in collaboration with NSDC Members and with expert feedback gleaned from the establishment of special districts policy advisory groups comprised of park/recreation and health/healthcare district representatives. Further primary platform additions reflect legislative recommendations outlined in NSDC’s July 2022 report covering community gaps in adequate water infrastructure for firefighting.
Major additions to the Federal Advocacy Platform include specific details and needs for the nation’s special districts providing park and recreation services as well as healthcare and/or hospital services. These types of special districts disproportionally experience hardships concerning access to funding opportunities due to their classification as a special purpose unit of local government. Park and healthcare districts conveyed their primary needs and concerns focused on workforce recruitment and retention, access to capital and infrastructure programs, and more. NSDC will continue engagement with the parks and healthcare policy groups into 2023.
Also adopted in the platform are legislative recommendations to ensure adequate community fire suppression infrastructure, including pursuit of a dedicated funding program to upgrade and construct water infrastructure in communities to meet demands for mitigation and fire suppression. These recommendations range from piloting a federal funding program to begin resolving the policy issue, increasing program funding and flexibility for major fire service support grants, reviewing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) guidelines for developing multijurisdictional hazard mitigation plans, and generally expanding technical assistance and support for grant activities. NSDC will collaborate with stakeholders in the fire service, water utilities, other local governments, Congress, and executive agencies to close this gap in communities’ public health and safety.
“Special districts have successfully elevated awareness of their needs and priorities among members of Congress and the Executive Branch over the past two years,” said Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Director. “NSDC’s Federal Advocacy Platform and its excellent revisions will guide advocacy priorities to further strengthen special districts’ standing as a force of local government and boost their abilities to effectively deliver essential services to millions of Americans. We are excited to continue expanding the Coalition’s reach, persist in our work with congressional stakeholders on policy priorities, and advance special districts’ priorities as the nation’s only organization federally advocating for all types of independent special purpose local governments.”
For more information on NSDC’s federal advocacy efforts for approximately 35,000 special districts across the country, visit www.nationalspecialdistricts.org. Special districts and their associations interested in learning more about NSDC and how to get involved can reach out to NSDC directly at our contact page and can visit our Membership page for more information on how to become a member of the Coalition.