July | August 2017







CSG Testifies at Speaker’s Task Force
on Intergovernmental Affairs

By Leslie Haymon, policy analyst, CSG Washington, D.C., Office
The Speaker’s Task Force on Intergovernmental Affairs held its inaugural hearing on June 22. This task force, along with creation of a new House Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs, is an exciting development in CSG’s ongoing effort to raise the profile of state, tribal and local governments, and identify opportunities to improve the relationship between states and the federal government. CSG is an advisory council member to the task force.
The 2014 CSG national chair, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, joined representatives from the National Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities for a wide-ranging discussion of the challenges and opportunities in federal, state and local government relations.
“Our nation is facing a number of policy challenges, including changes in health care, reforming [the] tax code, improving infrastructure, modernizing [the] current workforce and a number of others,” Norris told the task force at the hearing. “These federal policies have an enormous impact on our state and local governments and we must work together to ensure that we get it right.”
By reaffirming the role states play in our federal system, he applauded the opportunity this task force presents for encouraging state-based policy innovation and more effective consultation and collaboration between and among the various governments.
“We also need to identify … real and concrete ways to improve the consultation process. All too often, we, meaning states, are treated as incidental, rather than integral, to our republic and the process of governing,” Norris noted.
The coalition of state and local associations has worked to identify recommendations on how to improve the state-federal regulatory process, including updating the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, establishing consistent state-federal advisory committees within federal agencies and ensuring state legislators know who to contact in each federal agency. These recommendations stem from CSG’s “Focus on Federalism” initiative, which produced a set of five principles for preserving the vital role of states in our constitutional system. You can view these principles here.
Chaired by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah and comprised of 12 bipartisan members, the task force is focused on identifying solutions to improve relationships between the federal, state, local and tribal governments. The task force was convened by Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as a forum to discuss revitalizing federalism and what policy changes would support a renewed federal structure.
“Government works best when it works from the bottom up,” Ryan said in his opening remarks during the hearing.
The mission of the task force includes finding ways to further collaboration and communication between the federal government and the state, local and tribal groups it partners with. It will also examine the effects of regulations and rules on state and local governments, while seeking ways to improve the partnership between the federal government and state and local governments. Finally, the task force will analyze the various burdens shared between states, tribes and local governments and whether redistribution of those burdens can improve the quality of life in all communities.
The goal of the task force, per Bishop, is finding “structures and procedures to guarantee that local government, on every level, has a greater voice.”
The testimony and questions touched on a wide variety of issues including how to empower state and local government decision making, how power is delegated among the state and local governments, and how best to ensure collaboration and outreach between the states and federal agencies. 
In the coming months, the task force will meet regularly to explore every aspect of the federal, state, local relationship. You can view the inaugural hearing here and learn more about the task force and upcoming meetings. CSG will also be working with our partner organizations as members of the advisory committee to provide the task force with additional support in developing and promoting innovations in state and local government relations.