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NLC RESOLUTION #2007-21 IN SUPPORT OF COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM WHEREAS, historically, the cities and towns of the United States are a melting pot of multiple cultures and nationalities based on our nation’s history of welcoming immigrants; WHEREAS, when admitted through a well-regulated system, immigrants strengthen the United States by creating economic opportunities, increasing America’s scientific and cultural resources, strengthening our ties with other nations, fulfilling humanitarian commitments, and supporting family ties and family values that are necessary to build strong communities; WHEREAS, failure on the part of the federal government to secure the borders, track visa recipients in the interior, or enforce worksite laws allows illegal immigration to thrive; the numbers are the highest they have ever been, with an estimated 11-12 million residents living and working in the United States without legal authorization or proper documentation; WHEREAS, despite increases in border security and upgrades in tracking technology, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that approximately 500,000 people continue to enter the U.S. illegally each year; WHEREAS, according to a report by the Immigration Naturalization Service (INS) in January 2003, more than 33 percent of the undocumented workers in the U.S. entered legally and overstayed their student, tourist, or employment visas; WHEREAS, according to a 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the worksite enforcement program does not deter employers who willingly hire unauthorized workers because they face little likelihood that the federal government will investigate, fine, or criminally prosecute them; and it does not help employers who genuinely want to follow the law because their employee verification efforts are hindered by the extensive use of fraudulent documents; WHEREAS, the lack of infrastructure and capacity at the federal level makes the federal government unable to adequately track the entry and exit of visitors and temporary workers, and it creates unacceptable application backlogs and long delays, which provide strong disincentives for foreign nationals to abide by the legal means to enter or remain in the country; WHEREAS, the current temporary, unskilled work programs (the H2-A and H2-B visas) were used by approximately 108,000 workers in 2005, representing a small percentage of the undocumented 1.2 million seasonal workers in the United States in 2005; WHEREAS, the current immigration system inadequately addresses the growing numbers of individuals wishing entrance to the United States through a temporary work visa program or as legal permanent residents; WHEREAS, according to a June 2005 report, roughly 35 percent of undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States for 10 years or more, 1.6 million are children, and another 3.1 million U.S-citizen children have at least one undocumented parent; and these families are forced to live “underground,” unable to get drivers’ licenses or car insurance in most states, unlikely to obtain health insurance, and afraid to report crimes to local law enforcement; WHEREAS, since immigrants are barred from most federal public assistance, the burden of providing social services, education, and health care falls to the state and local governments, who are increasingly feeling the financial impact of both legal and illegal immigrants living in their communities; NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National League of Cities urges Congress to move quickly to enact comprehensive reform of the current immigration laws with support of the Administration to implement the immigration laws effectively; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the federal government enforce its current immigration laws consistently and vigorously to eliminate illegal entry at the borders, visa overstays, working without proper documentation, and employing undocumented workers; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the federal government must increase enforcement of visa overstays through the full implementation and staffing of the US-VISIT and SEVIS programs; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that local personnel, such as police officers, fire inspectors, educators, health personnel and social service personnel, should not be conscripted into federal service because the federal government has not adequately funded and staffed its immigration enforcement agencies; and the federal government must not transfer the responsibility of enforcing US immigration laws to local personnel by making undocumented status in the US a criminal offense; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the federal government must strengthen its worksite enforcement capacity and dramatically increase enforcement efforts at places of employment, as well as providing employers with a universal, reliable, effective, secure, non-discriminatory, and non-counterfeitable employee verification system, using the most up-to-date technology that will minimize fraud; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the federal government must increase its capacity and infrastructure to enforce the laws and provide efficient means for foreign nationals to obtain legal authorization for temporary visas or legal permanent residency; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the federal government must provide an appropriate, legal means of immigration, as is determined to be necessary and effective for the United States, for foreign nationals that want to work here temporarily, become legal permanent residents, or gain citizenship; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC supports establishment of a process whereby undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States may earn legalized status through payment of appropriate fees and back taxes, background checks, absence of criminal or gang activity, consistent work history, and meeting English and civics requirements; and that the immigrants who have earned such legal status should also be able to apply for citizenship through additional processes, as appropriate and practical, as long as they do not move ahead of applicants with proper documentation waiting to adjust their status or those waiting on lists in their home countries; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the federal government should provide local governments with financial and technical assistance to alleviate the local impact of new immigrants, including the costs of providing social services, health care, education, language services, and civic integration. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-22 RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF FEDERAL EFFORTS TO COMBAT A GLOBAL FLU OUTBREAK WHEREAS, Avian Flu virus, known as the H5N1, has the potential of becoming a “Pandemic Flu” virus, a virulent human flu that causes a global outbreak of serious illness, in which humans have no immunity to nor a vaccine for; WHEREAS, with more than 200 known cases world-wide of the H5N1 Avian Flu since 2003, researchers are trying to better understand and prevent the genetic changes that would allow the Avian Flu virus, the H5N1, to cause a global outbreak and serious problems worldwide; WHEREAS, if the scenario were to occur, the pandemic flu could cause an estimated 1.5 to 5 percent decline in U.S. gross domestic product, an estimated 89,000 to 207,000 deaths, 314,000 to 734,000 hospitalizations, 18 to 42 million outpatient visits, and 20 to 47 million additional illnesses, and a large reduction in workforce; WHEREAS, the pandemic flu could overwhelm the public safety, health and medical infrastructure, educational facilities, public institutions, and private businesses of cities and towns; and WHEREAS, local and regional infrastructure and operations will be very difficult because the “continuity of operations” in all sectors of local government, community and private business will be compromised and under great pressure from workforce shortages from actual illnesses, community school closures, lack of produce in local groceries, emergency surplus needs in the health and safety professions, lack of communications facilities and postal service workers, among other things. NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the United States government, in coordination with the international community, should further develop and coordinate a comprehensive research and containment strategy that involves commitments of funding, supplies, equipment, training, expertise, personnel, countermeasures, and animal and public health measures; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, in the event of a pandemic flu, the federal government must provide clear guidance, criteria, and decision tools to inform state, local, and private sector protective measures, planning, and response actions: NLC supports the federal National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza and the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy as they both have strong communication and coordination throughout the federal government, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Education; NLC urges the federal government to continue to provide information and aid to maintain the continuity of operations in all state and local governments; and NLC asks the federal government to provide detailed information and aid to local public health care so that preparedness information and aid is readily available to the community; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, in the event of a pandemic flu, the federal government must be prepared to supplement and support state and local efforts; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that there must be clear and appropriate division of responsibilities between local, state, and federal governments, with clear channels and protocols for communications between local, state, and federal leaders, including maintaining the appropriate role of U.S. military forces in supporting emergency responses. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-23 FUNDING FOR AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS WHEREAS, study after study has shown that after school programs increase youth learning capacity, and reduce crime, teenage pregnancy and other societal ills because youth are in stable, safe environments; and WHEREAS, the Administration proposed cutting after-school funding. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National League of Cities supports U.S. congressional legislation that requires the federal government to provide full funding for after-school programs and services, especially the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-24 SUPPORTING CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION ON HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY WHEREAS, local governments provide comprehensive medical insurance coverage to their employees, dependents and retirees; WHEREAS, local government budgets have experienced the strain of the continued increased costs of health care; WHEREAS, medical insurance premiums have been rising at double digit rates annually; WHEREAS, medical errors cause 98,000 deaths annually; WHEREAS, Members of Congress are addressing this issue with bipartisan legislation that would promote the use of confidential electronic health records nationwide; WHEREAS, the 21st Century Health Information Act, cosponsored by Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) was introduced in the United States House of Representatives, WHEREAS, legislation that promotes health information technology (otherwise referred to as health IT) is critical to comprehensive health care reform; WHEREAS, the goal of health IT legislation is to set up a pilot program that promotes the use of electronic medical records and e-prescribing by physicians; WHEREAS, health information networks will allow for the seamless transfer of health data while protecting patient privacy and security; and WHEREAS, the process will allow doctors to use technology to streamline patient information by electronically linking medical records, catching conflicting prescriptions and improving public health monitoring. NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National League of Cities (NLC) supports federal legislation that creates pilot health IT networks while protecting patient security and privacy; NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED NLC supports health information technology that ensures systems are developed to use new information capabilities to improve outcomes and decrease health care costs; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED NLC asks Congress to authorize and fund the 21st Century Health Information Act and its counterpart legislation in the Senate, and NLC asks President Bush to sign this legislation into Federal law. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-25 HEALTH CARE COSTS WHEREAS, American local governments employ 11,569,784 individuals with a total payroll of $472.8 billion1; and WHEREAS, almost all local governments provide their employees and dependents with health care insurance, with a substantial majority of the costs paid for by the employer and hence local taxpayers; and WHEREAS, it is estimated that employer-provided health insurance benefits for local government employees and their dependents costs approximately $68 billion a year2; and WHEREAS, nationally, health care insurance costs rose 11.2% in 2004 and a compounded total of 54.7% in just the past four years3 with no end in sight for such double digit increases; and WHEREAS, state and local government employee benefit costs are rising at 6.4% a year, more than triple the rate of inflation and of such employee salaries and wages4; and WHEREAS, according to the National League of Cities “City Fiscal Conditions in 2004” survey results just published “employee health benefits” topped the list of “negative” impacts on the city’s budgetary capacity to meet city needs with 91 percent of responding city officials citing it as a negative factor; and WHEREAS, the Fiscal Conditions survey found that for the fourth year in a row the impact of “health benefits” is still at the top of the “most negative factors” list, with nearly three in five (58%) of responding cities selected “health benefits” as one of the three “most negative” factors affecting their budgets, which is much more pronounced as a negative factor than any of the other factors listed on the survey; and WHEREAS, because employee health insurance costs are so high and rising at such a fast pace, local funding for providing essential public services is becoming more scare and putting those services in jeopardy; and WHEREAS, adding to the drain that paying for health care for employees and their dependents is causing on local government budgets is the cost of paying for retiree health insurance – 1 Local Government Employment and Payroll, March 2003, U.S. Census Bureau 2 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer Cost for Employee Compensation, 3 rd Quarter, 2004. These data show that it costs state and local governments $3.38 per employee hour to pay for health care, or 14.4% of the $23.52 hourly salary and wage figure. The $68 billion figure is 14.4% of the $472.8 billion payroll figure for local governments sited above. 3 Kaiser Family Fund/Health Research and Educational Trust Survey of Employer-sponsored Health Benefits: 2004 4 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer Cost for Employee Compensation, 3 rd Quarter, 2004. benefits negotiated in the days of small pensions and inexpensive health care – that now threaten to surpass the contributions cities and towns must pay to fund pension liabilities; and WHEREAS, local governments face even a greater threat to their financial well-being as larger and larger portions of state budgets and tax revenues are consumed by paying for Medicaid, which grew by 11.2% annually between 1998 and 2000 and is projected to continue to grow through 2011 by 8.7% annually5, meaning less state aid to cities and towns to help support those services their citizens demand; and WHEREAS, the costs local governments are shouldering for health care through responsibly providing employer-paid health insurance are being exacerbated by cost shifts from under payments for health services by Medicare, Medicaid and the growing number of uninsured; and WHEREAS, escalating health care costs can be attributed to advances in medical technology, increased prescription drug costs and usage, high administrative costs, higher hospital spending, the aging of the population; and high medical malpractice insurance premiums for some specialties; and WHEREAS, inadequate prevention, wellness strategies, and disease management are also responsible for increasing health care costs; and WHEREAS, the health care crisis is no longer a crisis for just the uninsured and under-insured, but a crisis threatening the ability of local governments to continue to provide the essential services of public safety, transportation, sanitation and others without crushing local taxes and other charges. NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the federal government must make as one of its highest domestic priorities to obtain comprehensive health care reform by restructuring the health care system, reducing costs, and assuring that every American can obtain adequate health care coverage; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the federal government should study and implement ways to decrease costs without reducing the quality of American health care, including: the creation and use of new technologies, services, and medicines, and the ability of individuals to obtain health care services of their choice if needed; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the federal government’s focus must include a substantial reduction in the costs that local governments and their taxpayers must bear for health care for their employees and dependents. 5 National Conference of State Legislatures, “Managing Medicaid Costs: A Legislator’s Tool Kit,” December, 2001 NLC RESOLUTION #2007-26 RESOLUTION AFFIRMING FEDERALISM AND LOCAL AUTHORITY REGARDING MARRIAGE WHEREAS, Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) and Representative Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) proposed identical, new language for the Federal Marriage Amendment that states: “Marriage in the United States shall consist of the union of a man and woman. Neither the Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”; WHEREAS, President Bush called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as consisting only of the union of a man and a woman; WHEREAS, currently, the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution recognizes the importance of state and local authority indicating, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people;” WHEREAS, defining and administering the status of marriage is not enumerated in the U.S. Constitution as an area under federal Congressional control; WHEREAS, laws relating to marriage, divorce, guardianship of children, trusts and estates, and other issues regarding marital and family life are traditionally regulated as a function to state governments and state courts, and marriage licenses and other marriage documents are controlled by local governments; WHEREAS, states and local governments have the authority to determine and confer state or local domestic partnership benefits within their own jurisdictions; WHEREAS, by its broad vague language, the proposed federal marriage constitutional amendment would prohibit state courts, state legislatures, and municipalities from allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil marriages and have the effect of invalidating local and state laws that extend legal protections to same-sex and committed, unmarried couples, such as hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, pension benefits, and family health insurance coverage among others; WHEREAS, more than 40 states have passed laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman, some states have amended their constitutions to declare marriages between same-sex couples void or invalid, and other states have no explicit provision prohibiting marriages between individuals of the same-sex; WHEREAS, Vermont has a “civil union” law that provides state-level spousal rights to same- sex couples within the state, and Hawaii, New Jersey, and California have statewide laws that provide some spousal rights to married couples; WHEREAS, cities across the nation have voted to extend benefits to domestic partners of their municipal employees; WHEREAS, in more than 200 years of American history, the U.S. Constitution has been amended only 17 times since the Bill of Rights, and in each instance (except for Prohibition, which was repealed), it was to extend rights and liberties to the American people, not restrict them; WHEREAS, the National League of Cities (NLC) policy clearly urges the federal government to enforce civil rights laws and eliminate discrimination with regard to a variety of factors, specifically listing sex and sexual orientation; and WHEREAS, NLC policy also urges Congress to ensure that any federal legislation should uphold state and local laws. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that NLC urges Congress to recognize the traditional state and local authority regarding marriage; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC urges Congress to oppose the passage of any resolution or legislation that would limit the authority of state and local government to define marriage or confer its benefits upon their resident. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-27 SUPPORTING RESOURCES TO FIGHT HIV/AIDS WHEREAS, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is continuing to escalate in the United States, and WHEREAS, in the United States, though there have been recent declines in AIDS-related deaths as a result of the widespread use of HIV medications, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, remains an enormous health emergency – at the end of 2002, 384,906 people were known to be living with AIDS in the U.S. and more than 40,000 Americans become newly infected with HIV each year; and WHEREAS, 83% of people with AIDS in the United States live in our cities and rely on public health care and social service systems for care and treatment, making funding for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and supportive services critical investments in our health care system; and WHEREAS, early intervention, education and awareness levels regarding HIV/AIDS need to be intensified, and WHEREAS, in particular, numbers of new cases of HIV/AIDS in the African American community are increasing on a daily basis, and WHEREAS, AIDS is the leading cause of death in African American women aged 25-34 and the third leading cause of death in African American men in the same age group. WHEREAS, HIV/AIDS is spreading at a rapid rate in the Hispanic community: Hispanics accounted for around 20 % of AIDS cases in 2002, despite making up only 14% of the U.S. population. WHEREAS, since 1985, the proportion of all AIDS cases reported among adult and adolescent women has more than tripled, from 7% in 1985 to 25% in 1999, and the epidemic has increased most dramatically among women of color, and now more than 90% of babies born with HIV belong to minority groups; WHEREAS, racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States, primarily African Americans and Hispanics, constitute 61% of the more than 830,000 cases of AIDS reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1981, when the epidemic began, and December 2003, and racial and ethnic minorities accounted for almost 70 percent of the newly diagnosed cases of HIV and AIDS in 2002; WHEREAS, counseling and testing for minorities have not received the focus or funding that is needed; WHEREAS, the need for affordable housing is increasing for individuals that are infected with HIV/AIDS; WHEREAS, the Ryan White CARE Act, the nation’s largest discretionary investment in the care of people with HIV/AIDS, has dramatically improved the quality of life of people living with HIV-disease and their families, reduced use of costly inpatient care, and increased access to care for low-income, under-served populations, including people of color; and WHEREAS, in order to reduce new infections, ensure quality health care, and prolong the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, it is essential that sufficient resources continue to be allocated to cities through the Ryan White CARE Act (Including Title I) and other key HIV/AIDS programs to address new challenges in the HIV/AIDS epidemic and maintain existing continuum of life-saving care and prevention services. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the federal government must: encourage and fund a full range of prevention and intervention programs, including abstinence counseling, sex education, and education about the reduction of multiple partners; support a focus on dual diagnosis of HIV/AIDS individuals to provide a more comprehensive treatment program; provide funding for affordable housing and education and advocacy for community-based organizations; establish programs to provide increased counseling and testing to high-risk populations (minorities and incarcerated individuals); and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC urges the Administration and Congress to increase the funding for critical domestic HIV/AIDS programs by allocating millions more to the Ryan White CARE Act, including Title I, Title II AIDS Drug Assistance Program, and Title III; Minority AIDS Initiative; the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for domestic prevention programs; and the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS program and almost $3 billion more to the National Institute of Health for research. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-28 HOMELESS VETERANS WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (USDVA) has indicated that, on any given day, as many as 250,000 veterans (male and female) are living on the streets or in shelters; and WHEREAS, the USDVA indicated that roughly 57 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic; and WHEREAS, one recent study, Health Care for Homeless Veterans Programs, indicates that African Americans are over four times more likely that other veterans to be homeless; and WHEREAS, African Americans have been more likely than whites to be over diagnosed with psychosis and under diagnosed with affective, or anxiety disorders; to receive inpatient or emergency care rather than scheduled outpatient care; to be involuntarily committed; to receive excessive medication, especially anti-psychotic medications; to be place in seclusion and restraints; to leave treatment against medical advice; to be referred to the least desirable dispositions; not to receive substance abuse treatment when treatment is needed; and to be incarcerated with substance abuse problems; and WHEREAS, the Veterans Administration has established a new Secretariat-level, 15-member Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans. THERFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that NLC urges the federal government to act to honor our veterans by immediately funding necessary steps to eliminate the root causes of veterans’ homelessness, including funding research, treatment, and support programs. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-29 EQUAL ACCESS TO EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES FOR HISPANIC CHILDREN WHEREAS, Hispanics are the second largest and fastest growing group in America; and WHEREAS, Hispanic children do not have equal access to educational opportunities and resources, particularly those who are poor, have limited English proficiency, or come from families that work in migrant or seasonal jobs; and WHEREAS, the education “achievement gap” between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students continues to persist; and WHEREAS, Hispanics are underrepresented in Head Start; and WHEREAS, the lack of trained bilingual early childhood education teachers serves as a barrier to ensuring Hispanic children arrive at kindergarten well-prepared and ready to learn; and WHEREAS, educational assistance encompasses parental involvement, curriculum development, and program development; and WHEREAS, only 14% of Hispanic 4th graders reach proficient or advanced reading levels for their grade, and more than one-half have not reached the basic reading level; and WHEREAS, more than 80% of farm worker families lack access to the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program due to insufficient funding; and WHEREAS, many schools do not have the funding, curricula, or other educational resources needed to provide adequate services to English language learner (ELL) students; and WHEREAS, Hispanic students drop out of high school at four times the rate of white students; and WHEREAS, the “Dream Act” is federal legislation that can facilitate state efforts to offer in- state tuition to undocumented students and provide certain students with a path to U.S. citizenship; and WHEREAS, the National League of Cities supports standards-based reform, which will result in access to challenging academic course work for Hispanic students. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NLC urges the Federal Government to improve access to and funding for early education programs and services such as Head Start and for ELL students and farm worker children; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NLC urges the President and Congress to fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA), including corrective programs, and the Dream Act. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-30 IN SUPPORT OF IMPROVED HEALTHCARE BENEFITS AND SERVICES FOR HISPANICS WHEREAS, Hispanics are more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanics; and WHEREAS, employment based health insurance coverage is the most common source of insurance for people under the age of 65; and WHEREAS, Hispanics are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs and job sectors that are less likely to have health insurance benefits; and WHEREAS, 87% of uninsured Latinos come from working families; and WHEREAS, the declining job market impacts healthcare options; and WHEREAS, the Latino community is facing a healthcare crisis; and WHEREAS, one in three Latinos lack health insurance, and one in four Latino children have no medical coverage; and WHEREAS, Hispanics often face cultural and language barriers in accessing healthcare services; and WHEREAS, Hispanics are disproportionately affected by diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and asthma. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that NLC supports education and training programs for Hispanics that enhance jobs skills that will lead to jobs that provide health benefits; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC supports more funding for community and migrant health centers, promote the use of translation and interpretation services in healthcare settings, and encourage Latinos to enter the healthcare fields. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-31 KEEPING HEAD START LOCAL WHEREAS, Head Start currently combines the best of local control and high federal performance standards and in 2002 served over 900,000 children through 2,590 local programs; WHEREAS, the Administration and members of Congress have introduced legislative proposals to change Head Start’s structure from money going directly to cities to block grant funding to the states; WHEREAS, the Head Start program has State Collaboration Offices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. These offices ensure that Head Start, child care programs, and other pre-kindergarten programs work together and are coordinated with other state programs, such as health care, welfare, homeless programs, and family literacy; WHEREAS, state control of Head Start programs would: undermine community control by giving states more authority over Head Start, as program administrators currently tailor the curriculum to meet the distinct needs of the community and the participants; weaken program performance standards; and require more money for another layer of administration, reducing funds available for children; WHEREAS, a key to Head Start’s continued success is the full range of comprehensive social and health services provided to at risk children, including socialization skills, nutrition, immunizations, health and dental care, and parental involvement, in addition to early learning in literacy and numeracy; and WHEREAS, at current funding levels only 6 out of ten eligible children across the country receive Head Start services and proposed funding levels provide only a minimal cost of living increase with no increases built in over the next five years, resulting in the Head Start program serving fewer at risk children in our communities. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National League of Cities (NLC) strongly urges Congress not to block-grant the Head Start program to the states; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC supports reauthorization of the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, within the current structure of federal administration of local centers; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC also supports maintaining high performance standards, continuing the requirement for parental involvement, and providing comprehensive social and health services, as the best means of providing early learning components of literacy and numeracy; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC urges Congress to increase Head Start funding to cover to all eligible children. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-32 SUPPORTING THE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT ACT WHEREAS, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) streamlined multiple employment and training programs for adults and youth and created a comprehensive workforce investment system; WHEREAS, the National League of Cities is deeply concerned about the cuts proposed by President Bush and Congress in the Workforce Investment Act programs, including the Dislocated Workers’ Program, Employment and Training Services for Adults, and Youth Programs, because these cuts would have a devastating effect on the workforce nationwide; and WHEREAS, the Bush Administration has proposed changes in WIA that include: Consolidation of three core employment programs: employment and training services for adults, services for dislocated workers, and the Wagner-Payser employment service; and Change in the focus of youth programs; and Removal of the federal requirement for the establishment of local youth councils; and Inclusion of a faith based initiative, which would allow training providers to discriminate on the basis of religion. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the National League of Cities supports reauthorization of WIA and urges Congress to fully fund WIA’s critical employment and training programs; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC urges Congress to: Maintain direct WIA funding to local communities; Maintain local authority, implementation, and oversight of WIA; and Expand eligibility and streamline the application process; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC opposes further consolidation of WIA’s core employment and training programs: Any changes should lead to increased local authority and decisionmaking and ensure that consolidation will not lead to funding cuts; and The federal government should not shift the burden of most administrative costs of providing Unemployment Insurance benefits to the states; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC supports continued flexibility regarding WIA’s youth programs to address youth issues at the local level and provide work experiences for both out-of-school youth and in-school students that may prevent them from dropping out of school; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC supports removing the requirement for local youth councils from WIA and replacing it with federally-funded technical assistance to local communities on methods of establishing a workforce development youth council, if requested; BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC strongly opposes adding a faith-based initiative to WIA; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC support the following additional reforms to WIA: provide local communities with authority to select Workforce Investment Board (WIB) members, including a requirement for local government representation; and performance standards should have “regression” rates (variables in the unemployment rate), because some areas have more unemployment than others. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-33 ENDORSING THE 10-YEAR PLANNING PROCESS TO END CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS WHEREAS, the Bush Administration has called for a 10-year Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness; and WHEREAS, after years of dormancy, the Interagency Council on Homelessness is working to coordinate the activities of the federal government to address homelessness; and WHEREAS, persons experiencing chronic or long-term homelessness are generally homeless for over one year and may be living with a disability, addiction or mental illness; and WHEREAS, research indicates that persons experiencing chronic homelessness use a disproportionate share of the federal resources targeted for homeless assistance; and WHEREAS, the federal government must provide comprehensive assistance to local communities to address the needs of all persons affected by homelessness, including increased funding and technical assistance for the provision of affordable housing, emergency shelters, transitional housing and supportive services to homeless families and individuals. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National League of Cities (NLC) supports the Bush Administration’s goal to end chronic homelessness in the United States in 10 years and will help advance the planning process set forth by the Administration; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC supports the Administration’s efforts through the Interagency Council on Homelessness to coordinate work by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor, and other federal agencies to prevent and end chronic homelessness; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Administration must address the root causes of chronic homelessness, such as disability, addiction, and mental illness; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NLC urges the Administration to seek new funding to support this initiative rather than redirect funds already appropriated for housing and homeless programs, and not to supplant currant federal spending on housing and homelessness programs for this initiative. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-34 SUPPORTING A COORDINATED CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTERS WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Final Draft National CARES plan has proposed the closure of a number of facilities across the country which in many cases will not only adversely affect care of veterans, but also other healthcare providers and numerous local economies; and WHEREAS, closing the VA Medical Centers would be an injustice and a breech of this Country’s sacred obligation to the men and women of this county who serve or have served in uniform; and WHEREAS, eight Veterans hospital facilities including two of the most comprehensive VA mental health hospitals for psychiatric long-term inpatient care in the nation--Waco, Texas and Canandaigua, New York--are both slated for closure despite overwhelming opposition and demonstrated Veteran current and future needs; and WHEREAS, access to physician services in the private medical community is not readily available for veterans, and transportation of patients to alternate sites would be problematic at best for both veterans and area health care providers; and WHEREAS, quality psychiatric and related medical care for veterans engaged in the war in Iraq will be drastically reduced as a result of the closure of these hospitals; and WHEREAS, the initial consideration to close these hospitals did not take into account the volatile and dangerous state of affairs that has recently developed in the world nor the fact that more American soldiers are now in harm’s way as a consequence of the dramatic changes in the nation and the world; and WHEREAS, national organizations such as the National Association of Mentally Ill; Blind and Paralyzed Veterans of America; Veterans of Foreign Wars; American Legions; and Disabled American Veterans have emphatically expressed their disapproval on record at the various CARES Commission Hearings that recommend closure of VA facilities that provide psychiatric long-term inpatient care; and WHEREAS, the closure of VA mental health hospitals for psychiatric long-term inpatient care will severely compromise the current quality of care particularly for disabled veterans who need long-term institutionalized psychiatric care. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National League of Cities strongly and urgently request that the Administration, take all appropriate steps to ardently oppose further consideration of the closure of VA Centers by the Central VA Administration and the Capital Asset and Realignment for the Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission, and further encourages all local communities and the veteran population to actively oppose any recommendation for such closures. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-35 URGING THE ADMINISTRATION TO RESCIND THE IMMIGRATION POLICIES AGAINST HAITIAN IMMIGRANTS AND CALLING FOR THE EQUAL TREATMENT OF ALL IMMIGRANTS WHEREAS, federal policy provides for disparate treatment of Haitian immigrants that is unfair, discriminatory and inhumane; WHEREAS, various U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) policies grant “credible fear” interviews and parole individuals into the community once they touch land, while Haitian immigrants are incarcerated indefinitely and hence denied due process; and WHEREAS, the National League of Cities (NLC) calls upon the Administration to issue the necessary directives providing for equal treatment and due process for all immigrants, including Haitian nationals. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that NLC urges President Bush to issue the necessary directives providing for due process for all immigrants and directs the federal government to eliminate the word “indefinitely” from the Haitian asylum policy. NLC RESOLUTION #2007-36 ADDRESSING DISPARITIES IN HEALTH CARE FOR MINORITIES WHEREAS, the United States has achieved significant increases in the life expectancy of most residents and reductions in the incidence of injury, disability and disease; and WHEREAS, the gap between the health status and death rates for racial and ethnic minority population groups and Caucasians has not decreased and in some cases has widened; and WHEREAS, racial and ethnic minority populations face substantial cultural, social, and economic barriers to obtaining access to adequate and competent healthcare; and WHEREAS, racial and ethnic minority populations are disproportionately represented in low- wage jobs and job sectors that are less likely to have health insurance benefits; and WHEREAS, the 2005 National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR) finds that disparities related to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status still pervade the American health and behavioral health care system in almost all aspects of healthcare; and WHEREAS, in 1999, Congress requested an Institute of Medicine (IOM) study to assess the extent of disparities in the types and quality of health services received by U.S. racial and ethnic minorities and non-minorities; and WHEREAS, Congress charged the IOM with the task of exploring the factors that may contribute to inequities in care and to provide recommendations on policies and practices to eliminate these inequities; and WHEREAS, the report from that study, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, found that a consistent body of research demonstrates significant variation in the rates of medical procedures by race, even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable; and WHEREAS, this research indicates that U.S. racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive even routine medical procedures and experience a lower quality of health services; and WHEREAS, the report states that a large body of research underscores the existence of disparities in treatment such as minorities being less likely to receive appropriate cardiac medications, undergo bypass surgery, or receive kidney dialysis or transplants; and WHEREAS, by contrast, minorities are more likely to receive certain less-desirable procedures, such as lower limb amputations for diabetes and other conditions; and WHEREAS, the future health of the nation will be determined to a large extent by how effectively we work with communities to reduce and eliminate health disparities between non- minority and minority populations experiencing disproportionate burdens of disease, disability, and premature death; and WHEREAS, the President’s New Freedom Commission Report for 2005 underscored the disparity in recovery and resiliency for ethnic/racial minorities and identified several goals to be achieved by 2010 that included the elimination of disparities; and WHEREAS, eliminating health disparities will require new knowledge about the determinants of disease, causes of health disparities and effective interventions for prevention and treatment; and WHEREAS, eliminating health disparities will also require improving access to the benefits of society, including quality preventive and treatment services, as well as innovative ways of working in partnership with health and behavioral health care systems, federal, state and local governments, advocacy groups, academia, and community-based organizations. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National League of Cities encourages the Federal Government to address the disparities in healthcare access and treatment between racial and ethnic minority population groups and Caucasians by following the recommendations of the NHDR, IOM and the President’s New Freedom Commission, which includes the following: Increase the awareness about health disparities among the general public, health care providers, insurance companies, and policy-makers; Recruit more minority health and behavioral health care providers especially since they are more likely to serve in minority and medically underserved communities; and Recruit more interpreters for health clinics and hospitals to overcome language barriers that may affect the quality of care.
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