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League Bulletin

July 16, 2021

WHAT HAPPENED: Lawmakers eased back to business following last week's vacation, making for another relatively quiet calendar at the General Assembly. 

WHAT IT MEANS: Not much on the bill front that impacts cities and towns. We have one item we've broken out for you below, a Senate bill on criminal justice reform. 

ON TAP: Next week is likely to round out the last of the lawmaking sessions until August; legislators in the last week of this month are set to attend the American Legislative Exchange Council's conference in Utah. (ALEC is nationwide membership group for legislators focused on free market principles and limited government.) Also anticipated before long (possibly when lawmakers return from ALEC) is the release of the House's state budget draft. 

THE SKINNY: Like last week, a brief Bulletin to absorb, but no less important. Look also for an update on the American Rescue Plan and, if you haven't already, check out our online information hub on how ARP is set to benefit our communities. 

As the legislative session continues, action on troubling land-use proposals remains a possibility. Of particular concern are measures being considered by the House Committee on Local Government – Land Use, Planning and Development, which League staff continues to monitor. We have put together this new two-page handout that emphasizes the role of cities and towns as protectors of community character. We hope that you find it useful as you make the case to legislators for local input and authority in land-use decision-making.

​On July 14, U.S. Treasury published newly updated FAQs regarding the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CSLRF) program of the American Rescue Plan. 

This FAQ update includes clarification on a number of points that have been raised by stakeholders, according to a Treasury spokesperson. These include:

-Identifying constituent entities of government for the purpose of calculating revenue loss

-Treatment of utility revenue for the purpose of calculating revenue loss

-Use of funds to support energy or electrification infrastructure that would be used to power new water treatment plans and wastewater systems

-Use of funds for stormwater management projects, such as a culvert replacement

-Use of funds for road repairs directly related to eligible water or sewer projects

-Use of funds to build or upgrade broadband connections to schools and libraries

-Applicability of the Davis-Bacon Act to eligible infrastructure projects

-Pooling of funds for regional projects

-Funding projects with both ARP funds and other sources of funding

-Use of funds to make loans or other extensions of credit

-Use of funds for outreach to increase uptake of federal assistance like the Child Tax Credit or federal programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, or SNAP

-[Update to FAQ 10.3] Interest earned on CSFRF/CLFRF funds

The updated document can be viewed in full on our FAQ page.

The General Assembly's legislative response to last year's public demonstrations and calls for police reform took another step this week. SB 300 Criminal Justice Reform passed the House Judiciary 2 Committee with a few significant changes. The House version removed a riot-penalties provision and added a study on the recodification of the state's criminal code, including local ordinances that are criminally enforced. A provision dealing with disclosure of body cam videos got removed from the bill during committee debate as legislators and advocates opposed the House changes.

The version of the bill that passed the Senate unanimously would have required a local law enforcement agency to release body cam videos within five business days, except where the agency wants to redact information, in which case it would need a court order. The House version required a court order to release the video and removed decisionmaking authority from the law enforcement agency. After opponents spoke against the new version the provision was removed, and the bill received a favorable vote.

The bill also includes provisions that decriminalize certain local ordinances and require towns and cities to specify the ones they want to criminally enforce.

The bill now goes to the House Rules committee before it can receive a floor vote. Many of the provisions in the bill mirror recommendations from the governor's task force on racial equity in criminal justice that produced a report last year.