📬 The Network Download | Fighting abusive state interference, piloting guaranteed income programs, digging into climate policy and more | March 2023

Localities Fight for Local Control as State Interference Surges

With legislative sessions well underway, localities are seeing yet another wave in state interference and attacks on local control. In Tennessee, state legislators have introduced several proposals to take away Nashville’s ability to effectively govern. This comes along the heels of racially motivated state interference by Mississippi legislators to take power away from Jackson, and by Missouri lawmakers pursuing legislation to strip power from St. Louis’ prosecutor. Meanwhile, the Florida legislature is once again attempting to restrict cities’ abilities to address their communities’ urgent housing needs. Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla put it simply in a recent op-ed: “In fact, they are taking a sledgehammer to local freedom amid the worst housing crisis in our lifetimes.” And in Texas, local leaders are pushing back against sweeping power-grabs attempting to bar cities from everything from regulating oil and gas drilling to passing any ordinance stricter than state law. Five LPTX members, including San Marcos City Councilwoman Alyssa Garza and El Paso County Commissioner David Stout spoke out about how these far-reaching proposals would impact their local communities. Read more →

Localities Continue to Explore and Implement Guaranteed Income Programs

Amid rising rents, high inflation, and the end of many COVID-19 emergency benefits, localities across the country are piloting guaranteed income programs in an effort to alleviate poverty and address underlying inequities – and it seems to be working. In Stockton, participants improved financial security, reduced anxiety and depression, increased full-time labor force participation, and spent more time with family. The Stockton pilot was spearheaded by LP member and former Stockton Mayor Michael D. Tubbs, who founded Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, which has grown to include over 100 mayors since its founding in 2020. At the county level, LP members – including Harris County Commissioner Rodney EllisRamsey County Board Chair Trista MatasCastillo, and Durham County Commissioner Commissioner Nida Allam – have joined forces as founding members of the Counties for Guaranteed Income coalition to launch pilot programs themselves. In Durham, a guaranteed income pilot for formerly incarcerated individuals proved to be quite successful in its first year – decreasing recidivism and re-incarceration, increasing employment, and improving economic security. Read more →

As ‘Social Housing’ Passes in Seattle, Proposals Move in other Localities

On March 1, Seattle officially passed a ballot initiative creating a new affordable housing agency for the city to pilot publicly owned, mixed-income ‘social housing’ – defined by the law as permanently affordable housing, where tenants have a say in how it’s run. The initiative – inspired by existing programs in Vienna, Austria and Montgomery County, MD – could be next in a wave of social housing initiatives across the country. In Washington, D.C.Councilmember Janeese Lewis George has vowed to reintroduce her social housing proposal, the ‘Green New Deal for Housing’ bill, this council period. In New York City, housing advocates – joined by social housing bill sponsors including City Comptroller Brad Lander – are calling for the passage of seven social housing bills and resolutions that would ensure renters are prioritized over profits.  Read more →

Localities Continue to Pave the Way for Real Public Safety

Across the county, local communities are continuing to show us what it looks like to advance real public safety by listening to and investing in communities. This past month, Somerville, MA voted to permanently remove police from city schools, and to develop a set of recommendations for how and when to call police to schools during emergency situations. The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved plans to create an unarmed crisis response program – an effort co-led by Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez. In Harris County, TX, Judge Andy Brown, along with County Commissioners, took the first step to create a mental health diversion center. In Montgomery County, MD, Councilmember At-Large Will Jawando introduced the Safety and Traffic Equity in Policing (STEP) Act to limit traffic stops, which occur at far higher frequency for drivers of color and can result in unfair search and racially-driven violence. Read more →

🌎 Digging Deeper into Climate Policy

We’ve heard from you loud and clear that climate justice is a key priority for you and the communities you represent. To help us best support your leadership, we need to determine priorities, challenges, and opportunities. Please take about ten minutes to complete this survey about yourself, your district, and climate policy. Your responses will help the Local Progress Impact Lab to set our climate priorities and develop a climate justice program that meets the needs of your communities. Take the survey →

🧠 Upcoming Policy & Strategy Primers

Our Policy & Strategy Primers are a series of foundational learning sessions on policy tools and strategy designed to help local electeds and staff figure out where and how to get started on key issues. The series operates on a regular, recurring schedule throughout the year focusing on issues related to housing, community safety, economic justice, and communications strategies. Next up is Police Accountability and Harm Reduction in April and Community Safety in May.

Check out the full schedule →

📅 Save the Date for #LP2023! 

It’s no surprise that one of our favorite events each year is our national convening – bringing together the most inspiring group of unapologetically bold local elected leaders, partners, and allies to be in community and create shared strategies for equity and justice. This year’s convening will be September 6-9 in St. Louis, MO! Make sure to save the date and keep an eye out for additional registration details.

Add it to your calendar here →

📝 New Research Details Four Ingredients for Equitable ARPA Implementation

PolicyLink and the Institute on Race, Power, and Political Economy at The New School released new research highlighting how cities and counties across the nation are using ARPA recovery funds to advance racial equity. This latest research includes: 

  • Four case studies describing how Boston, St. Louis, Savannah, and Los Angeles County are operationalizing equity in their ARPA investment processes and strategies, featuring LP members Boston Mayor Michelle WuSt. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, and St. Louis Board of Aldermen president Megan Green.
  • A research brief that highlights the important role that chief equity officers play in designing and implementing equitable ARPA investments. 

🏫  New Resource for School Board Members

Attention school board members! Check out HEAL Together’s powerful new Equity Policies Toolkit for school boards, featuring current district policies from across the country addressing a range of equity-related topics. Sign up here to receive the toolkit →