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National League of Cities

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The National League of Cities is an organization that advocates for stronger local government. It is a government sector lobbying association. It works with 49 state municipal leagues, representing more than 19,000 cities, villages and towns. More than 1,600 municipalities of all sizes pay dues to NLC and participate as voting members in the organization. It was founded in December 1924.[1]


The National League of Cities has five key objectives:[2]

  • To develop and advocate policies that strengthen and support cities
  • To strengthen the ability of city officials to serve their communities
  • To retain and expand membership by delivering innovative, effective and quality services
  • To promote the image and enhance the stature and influence of NLC and the municipalities it represents
  • To provide an organizational structure that is flexible, efficient and responsive to the diverse needs of municipalities and state municipal leagues

Budget and funding

Virtually all cities and towns pay dues to the organization, which support its operations. In 2008, the dues ranged from $253 per year (for a town of fewer than 1,000) to as much as $89,449 per year (for a town with a population of 4,000,001 or more).[3]

Income and expenses

National League of Cities
Year Total expenses Total income Membership dues
(included in Total Income)
2006[4] $15,363,205 $16,245,804 $6,675,838
2005[5] $15,590,594 $15,325,187 $6,372,387
2004[6] $14,898,733 $16,023,357 $6,085,609

Note: Tax years begin October 1 in the current year and end September 30 the following year.

Lobbying priorities

See also: National government sector lobbying

The lobbying priorities of the National League of Cities are outlined in the organization’s An Agenda for the Nation.[7]


The NLC has advocated for federal funds to provide for locally managed housing vouchers and low-income housing tax credits, transitional housing and other services for the homeless and broader access to credit.[8]


The National League of Cities has advocated for more federal funds for localities, and for the reauthorization of the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The NLC is also calling for a national convention of interested parties to "promote ubiquitous broadband deployment" nationally.[9]

Healthcare reform

The NLC has advocated for preventative medicine to be the focus of health care and wants national performance standards for medical practitioners. It has also sought funding for an information and outreach campaign geared towards all uninsured individuals who are eligible for government health care programs like Medicaid and the SCHIP.[10]


The NLC has called for the establishment of a national greenhouse gas registry and a cap on total emissions, support for mass transit, passenger rail, non-motorized transportation and the development of alternative fuels and low-emission vehicles.[11]

Poverty reduction and economic opportunity

The policy recommendations of the National League of Cities for reducing poverty consisted of three strategies:[12]

  • Reduce poverty: The NLC has sought more money for welfare programs, support for housing and community redevelopment projects and a redevelopment of federal poverty measures.
  • Improve education: The NLC has sought funds to provide for at-risk and drop-out programs, enhancement of after-school programs and a federal-state-local partnership for improving schools.
  • Build a skilled workforce: The NLC has sought a higher minimum wage and funding for workforce development and training programs, focused on attracting disadvantaged youth "and other hard-to-employ populations."

Public safety and homeland security

The NLC has advocated for more investment into disaster prevention and resilience, "all-hazard" approaches to public safety, federal government provided examples for cities as to how they can meet their safety goals and publicly funded education of citizenry for preparedness.[13]


NLS has supported an immigration policy that will provide illegal immigrants a path to citizenship by allowing them to pay fees and back taxes. This policy would also focus on integration to prevent reliance on welfare programs. NLC also sought a national ID and programs such as E-verify to make illegal avenues to jobs less attractive.

Governments working together

The policy section under “Governments Working Together” states that the NLC aims for “dialogue that engages local, state, regional and federal leaders in 'national' rather than federal policymaking.” The National League of Cities specifically asks for[14]:

  • A summit comprising local, regional, state and federal leaders.
  • The establishment of an Office of Intergovernmental Affairs within the White House policy apparatus to act as a liaison between the president and local leaders.
  • A permanent entity to facilitate the flow of information between different levels of government and for facilitating consensus building.

Economic recovery

The National League of Cities' proposals for federal distribution of economic stimulus funds could be found on their website.[15] The "Economic Recovery" NLC policy proposed three targets for improvement:

1 Infrastructure investment: This section of the NLC's proposal called for funding of federal highway and public transit systems and other such public works programs.
2 Support to individuals: The NLC wanted funding for Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment and job-training programs.
3 Access to financial markets: Under the Economic and Recovery Plan, the NLC asked for an extension of Treasury and Federal Reserve authority for giving state and local governments access to the capital markets. The NLC also believec in raising the bank-qualified debt limit from $10 million to $30 million for small issuers to place their issuance directly with banks.


NLC policy is developed by seven committees of municipal officials. The committees have a specific set of issues under their jurisdictions and policy development in each committee is limited to these issues. Each committee consists of a steering committee, which researches the agenda topics chosen and drafts policy, and a larger policy and advocacy committee, which chooses the policy agenda for the year and reviews the policy proposals by the steering committee.

Kathleen Novak, Mayor of Northglenn, Colorado, was the 2008 president of the organization.

State chapters

See National League of Cities members list

External links