Category Archives: Local Government

City governments are raising standards for working people—and state legislators are lowering them back down

Source: Marni von Wilpert, Economic Policy Institute, August 26, 2017

From the press release:
Progressive cities are raising their labor standards, but conservative state legislatures are preempting them

A new report by EPI Associate Labor Counsel Marni von Wilpert analyzes the recent wave of preemption laws that have swept across the country in the last decade. State governments use preemption laws to supersede city or county laws, or prevent local governments from legislating in certain areas at all—including blocking local governments’ efforts to raise labor standards. The paper explores the rise of preemption in five key areas of labor and employment: minimum wage, paid leave, fair work schedules, prevailing wages, and project labor agreements.
Related:
Summary

Making Informed Changes to Public Sector Pension Plans

Source: National League of Cities, March 2017

From the abstract:
Pensions play a critical role in the ability of local governments to attract and retain the workforce needed to meet citizen demands. The costs associated with this employee benefit, however, can be substantial. A recent National League of Cities (NLC) survey revealed that over the past year the cost of pensions increased in more than 70 percent of cities. One in three cities identified these expenses as the factor most negatively affecting their budgets.

State and Local Government Workforce: 2017 Trends

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence, June 2017

From the summary:
Recruiting and retaining qualified personnel was the top priority for 91 percent of respondents to the 2017 workforce trends survey released today by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE). Respondents also rated staff and leadership development (77 and 76 percent) and succession planning (74 percent) as important workforce issues.

Key findings:
– Key findings from the annual survey, conducted by SLGE, the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and National Association of State Personnel Executives were:
– 74 percent reported hiring staff
– 47 percent hired contract or temporary employees
– 38 percent shifted more health care costs to employees
– 24 percent established wellness programs.
– Every year since 2010, a majority of respondents to the annual survey has reported making changes to health insurance benefits. On the other hand, the pace of changes to retirement plans has slowed in recent years. In 2012, 24 percent reported increasing current employee contributions to retirement plans compared with 9 percent increasing current employee contributions in 2016. Positions hardest to fill in 2016 were:
– Police officers (21 percent)
– Information technology (17 percent)
– Engineers (14 percent) and
– Health care (13 percent)
– Skills in greatest demand were in interpersonal relations (65 percent), written communications (53 percent), and technology (51 percent).

The Impact of Administrative Structure on the Ability of City Governments to Overcome Functional Collective Action Dilemmas: A Climate and Energy Perspective

Source: Richard C. Feiock, Rachel M. Krause, Christopher V. Hawkins, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Advance Articles, Published: 27 June 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Fragmented authority and service responsibilities within governments can impact the design and implementation of policy. Administrative structures can play an important role in mitigating the challenges associated with coordinating activities across independent units within city government. In this study, we use the broad policy arena of sustainability as a testbed to explore “Functional Collective Action” problems and the consequences of cities’ administrative design on the portfolio of policy actions related to energy and climate protection. Empirical analyses of survey data from a national sample of local governments indicate that political institutions, government capacity, and community support influence, to varying degrees, administrative structures related to sustainability initiatives. Our analyses also suggest that these are not inconsequential decisions, since they influence the extent to which cities achieve greater policy integration.

Environment, Equity, and Economic Development Goals: Understanding Differences in Local Economic Development Strategies

Source: Xue Zhang, Mildred E. Warner, George C. Homsy, Economic Development Quarterly, OnlineFirst, Published June 6, 2017

From the abstract:
What role do local governments play in promoting sustainable economic development? This study uses a 2014 national survey to analyze the relationship between local environment and social equity motivations and the kinds of economic development strategies local governments pursue (business incentives or community economic development policies). Municipalities that pay more attention to environmental sustainability and social equity use higher levels of community economic development tools and lower levels of business incentives. These places are also more likely to have written economic development plans and involve more participants in the economic development process. In contrast, communities that use higher levels of business incentives have lower income and are more dependent on manufacturing employment. Other capacity measures do not differentiate types of economic development strategies used. This suggests that sustainable economic development strategies can be pursued by a broad array of communities, especially if the motivations driving their economic development policy include environment and equity goals.

Local Government Employee Health Insurance Programs, 2016: Summary Report of Survey Results

Source: International City/County Management Association (ICMA), May 2017

From the summary:
The International City/County Management Association (ICMA), in collaboration with Cigna, an ICMA Strategic Partner, launched a national survey in the summer of 2016 to learn about the current state of local government employee health insurance programs. ICMA and Cigna conducted this research in follow-up to a similar survey conducted in 2011. The 2016 survey was sent via postal mail to a sample of 3,110 local governments. An online submission option was also made available. The survey was addressed to the Human Resources Director of each selected local government. The response rate was 23.0%, with 714 local governments responding. With this response, the margin of error is +/- 3.5% at the 95% confidence level.

Fiscal Contracts and Local Public Services: Bridging Tax Justice and Inclusive Cities for the New Urban Agenda

Source: Jerik Cruz, Public Services International (Local and Regional Government Sector), March 2017

From the summary:
PSI has just published a research briefing note that reviews options for local and regional governments (LRGs) to sustainably and progressively fund quality public services for local communities and tackle the challenges posed by rapid urbanization and increasing demands placed upon LRGs in a context of shrinking resources, corporate tax avoidance and rising city and territory-based tax competition. The brief summarizes the related discussion paper, which is open for comments and contributions till the end of May 2017.

Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask

Source: Risë Haneberg, Dr. Tony Fabelo, Dr. Fred Osher, and Michael Thompson, Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails, sponsored by the National Association of Counties, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, January 2017

From the summary:
Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask serves as a blueprint for counties to assess their existing efforts to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in jail by considering specific questions and progress-tracking measures. The report also informs the initiative’s approach to technical assistance.

Here are the six questions county leaders need to ask:

Is your leadership committed?
Do you have timely screening and assessment?
Do you have baseline data?
Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
Do you track progress?

Preemption conflicts between state and local governments

Source: Ballotpedia, Last updated on January 2, 2017

Out of 15 resolved preemption cases tracked by Ballotpedia, states were able to preempt local ordinances or initiatives in 14 cases.

A tug-of-war between cities and state governments has developed behind the scenes of the 21st century’s biggest policy debates. Interest groups advancing policy reforms ranging from bans on fracking to higher minimum wages have led local and state officials to tussle over appropriate responses. Mayors, city councils, and community activists are passing ordinances and initiatives on wages, gun control, and LGBT issues in order to fill gaps perceived in existing law. Governors and state legislators have pushed back against these local responses, citing their interests in creating uniform policies across all local governments in their states.

This struggle continues the decades-long evolution of preemption, a legal concept that allows a state law to supersede a conflicting local law due to the state’s power to create cities as granted by state constitutions….