On June 22, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) convened the new bipartisan Task Force on Intergovernmental Affairs, which will focus on balancing the interests between federal, state, local and tribal governments. The task force is chaired by Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and is comprised of a half-dozen members of each party. Most members on the task force previously served in state or local government, including two former county officials: Representatives Raùl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
Speaker Ryan opened the inaugural hearing by noting, “In recent years, the principle of federalism has slowly eroded.” He added, “Government works best when it works from the bottom up.” Chairman Bishop said the creation of this task force is long overdue and urged task force members to “talk about procedures so that future decisions are made locally and at the state level.”
NACo President Bryan Desloge, commissioner from Leon County, Florida, testified on behalf of NACo at the hearing. He expressed counties’ optimism “about the opportunities this task force presents for collaboration,” and reminding Congress that local elected officials “remain the best equipped to understand the impact of legislation or regulations on county economies and budgets, and one size fits all approaches rarely work for local governments.” Additional representatives from the National Governors Association, the National League of Cities and the National Conference of State Legislatures also testified before the task force.
The hearing featured brief opening statements from each member of Congress, followed by two minutes of questions for each member. Discussion focused on the most effective ways Congress can involve state and local governments in their decision-making process. Chairman Bishop encouraged members to seek areas of collaboration and agreement, worrying that if the committee gets “bogged down in money matters and policy issues, we’re never going to achieve anything.”
Chairman Bishop said he hopes to build on the first meeting of the task force and work towards bipartisan legislation the group can introduce to improve the intergovernmental collaboration process. Future task force meetings and topics have not yet been announced.
To read Commissioner Desloge’s full testimony, please click here.
To view the entire task force session, please click here.
To view the Speaker’s press release on the new task force, please click here.
Task force members include:
|Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)|
|Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.)|
|Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind)|
|Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.)|
|Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas)|
|Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.)|
|Rep. Jenniffer Gonzáles-Colón (R-P.R.)|
|Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.)|
|Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.)|
|Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.)|
|Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.)|
|Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.)|
|Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.)|
|National Association of Counties (NACo)|
|National Governors Association (NGA)|
|Council of State Governments (CSG)|
|National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)|
|National League of Cities (NLC)|
|U.S. Conference of Mayors|
|International City/County Management Association (ICMA)|