Local Government Advocacy

  • Holland & Knight's Local Government Advocacy Team has an extensive history of representing cities, counties, transportation agencies, education districts, housing authorities, public utilities and other municipal entities across the United States. We assist clients in a broad range of areas, including transportation, water, energy and environment, public safety and homeland security to housing, community/economic development, education, workforce development, human services, public health, tax and pension matters – touching every local government issue. Our depth of knowledge, paired with our experience in advancing project and policy priorities, enable us to function as a seamless, integral part of your team.
  • Our bipartisan team maintains strong working relationships to Congress, the White House, virtually every federal department and agency, national stakeholders, think tanks and thought leaders. These established relationships enable us to effectively pursue client priorities – no matter which party is in power.
  • In addition to our policy focus, we are equally matched in our deep knowledge and experience in the federal funding process and the ways to successfully maneuver funding outcomes in the current earmark-free environment.

The strength and power of local governments is at the core of Holland & Knight's Public Policy & Regulation practice.

Strong Working Relationships Enable Effective Advocacy

Our Local Government Advocacy Team is comprised of many accomplished professionals who know how to effectively advocate for clients. The team includes former members of Congress, local government officials, chiefs of staff and committee staff directors from Capitol Hill, as well as former White House, department and agency officials, among other former Hill and agency staff. Our team has a deep understanding of local government pressures and needs, how to position clients and what it takes to be successful on their behalf.

Federal Funding Guidance

With the federal shift from earmarks to competitive grants, Holland & Knight has long-standing  working relationships with federal departments and agencies to effectively position municipal clients for grant opportunities. Our guidance includes counseling our clients on all  the nuances of grants to make their applications as competitive as possible.

Our strategy has proven highly effective. From 2010 to the present, Holland & Knight has helped to secure nearly $2.25 billion in grants and programmatic funding for clients. This money covers the full spectrum of local government needs. In terms of transportation specifically, we have secured over $200 million across all five rounds of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program. 

Strategy Development

As an extension of your team, we work closely with you to develop a strategic plan of action to advance each project and policy priority. Having complete access to a wide array of savvy professionals in the firm, we are able to help you develop proactive, holistic strategies that work through the political thicket to achieve measureable results. In this dynamic political environment, our team understands that in order to win, it is essential to utilize a comprehensive approach that includes message development, coalition building, branding, social media and communications to complement our advocacy efforts.

An Understanding of the Issues

Through our work in representing cities, counties and other municipal entities, we have developed a strong foundation in all issues that matter to local governments. Our policy experience is bolstered by our strong working relationships with federal departments and agencies, the White House, and every House and Senate Committee and Subcommittee important to local governments. Our experience in key issue areas for local government entities includes:

  • Transportation. We are committed to being a leader in the transportation field. Lawyers in our Transportation Industry Practice have been recognized by Chamber USA (2014 Guide) as "very knowledgeable about the industry," having an "outstanding reputation for handling matters in front of the Surface Transportation Board," "proficient" in maritime matters, and as having "an enviable range of experience involving airlines around the world." For more than 30 years, this Holland & Knight team has focused on serving public and private sector clients operating in the many dimensions of the transportation industry. We have extensive experience in advocacy work covering public transportation, aviation, ports, highways, transit, freight, and commuter and high-speed rail. We bring an array of program and policy relationships in the Department of Transportation, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Maritime Administration (MARAD). Our team has played a proactive role for our local government clients in: all of the major transportation reauthorization bills, including SAFETEA-LU, MAP-21 and the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act; competing successfully for competitive grants such as TIGER; and securing Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA) and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovations Act (TIFIA) loans.
  • Water, Energy and Environment. Our water and environment practices have helped draft and advocate for clients on water, energy and environmental legislation. The team brings a strong track record in securing funding for major water, environmental, sustainability and energy projects. Members of the team are experienced senior advocates in environmental, water and energy laws and regulations, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Superfund and Brownfields. We also have extensive experience with the Army Corps of Engineers. Through each Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) reauthorization bill, Holland & Knight has steered our clients through this important process with great success. In addition, we have successfully included projects in the president’s annual budget requests and Army Corps work plans on behalf of our clients. Our extensive working relationships cover the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Housing, Community and Economic Development. Our team has a history of significant involvement in advancing housing, community and economic development legislative, funding and regulatory policy concerns and projects. Our Local Government Advocacy Team has also been involved with all housing and community development formula and competitive programs – from the Community Development Block Grant program, HOME Investment Partnership Fund, foreclosure assistance, homeless assistance programs and supportive services to public housing programs, Section 8 program, Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and Rental Assistance Demonstration program, as well as helping local governments in successfully pursuing and addressing federal housing financing opportunities and issues, including the Section 108 program and low income housing tax credit. In addition, we have a successful track record for organizing strategies to secure funding for small- and large-scale economic development projects. We have strong program and policy relationships at the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Commerce (DOC), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Treasury, as well as the Economic Development Administration (EDA). We are also proactive in working closely with national local government groups to preserve funding for core programs.
  • Public Safety and Homeland Security. Our Public Safety Advocacy Team brings substantial experience in working with Congress and the administration to shape local law enforcement, and first responder and homeland security policies and programs. We have worked alongside national local government organizations to oppose proposed cuts to or elimination of public safety programs, as well as to ensure that first responder programs retain local level funding. The team has a solid record of assisting local governments in pursuing funding to support their critical core services in public safety, emergency management and response. We maintain close working relationships with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), successfully working with local governments on the Urban Area Security Initiative program, and urban search and rescue and firefighters programs. Our program relationships in the Department of Justice are equally strong, working with Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office for Victims of Crime, and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
  • Workforce Development. Our team has been at the forefront on workforce development funding and policy issues, working closely with Congress, the White House, federal departments and agencies, and other national local government organizations, covering reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), as well as increasing funding for workforce training, unemployment benefits and minimum wage. We have strong program and policy relationships at the Department of Labor (DOL), including the Employment and Training Administration (ETA). Our team has assisted clients in competing for grant opportunities such as YouthBuild and the Workforce Innovation Fund.
  • Public Health and Human Services. Our Health and Human Services Team has a breadth of experience providing advocacy to assist local public hospitals, public health and human services departments, and community health facilities in securing federal funding. This funding is for health and human services initiatives, covering implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid/Medicare, child nutrition, State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), foster youth, public health prevention, disease prevention and treatment, and HIV/AIDS to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), foods stamps, farm bill reauthorization, Older Americans Act, as well as the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). We work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Administration on Aging (AoA), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Department of Agriculture.
  • Education. Holland & Knight brings highly experienced advocates who work closely with Congress, the White House, and the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, as well as the Administration of Children and Families on public education program initiatives, funding and policies dealing with elementary, secondary and postsecondary education, including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), special education, Head Start, career education, teacher training, student financial assistance, community colleges and reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
  • Local Revenue. Our Local Government Team fully understands the vital importance of protecting local revenue streams. We work aggressively to ensure local authorities and financing mechanisms are not preempted or eroded, including such issues as the Marketplace Fairness Act, preservation of local taxes on digital goods and services, and preservation of the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. Additionally, we also have an extensive record of advocating for tax provisions important to local governments, covering the new markets tax credit, empowerment zones tax credit, low-income housing tax credit and earned income tax credit. Additionally, we have worked with local clients on pension reform and related matters.

Coalition-Building

In addition to representing local governments in the federal sphere, Holland & Knight is committed to being at the forefront of connecting local government and public sector entities with national public interest groups, think tanks, business and private sector associations, labor organizations, minority leadership groups, and thought leaders to build coalitions and broaden support for policies and projects of importance to our clients. We work with groups from the AFL-CIO, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties and National League of Cities to the Brookings Institute, Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others.

One example of our coalition success is building the America Fast Forward (AFF) transportation initiative into a national brand embraced by labor groups, mayors and the business community. The strength of this bipartisan coalition resulted in the enactment of the AFF TIFIA program expansion as part of the surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The MAP-21 act dramatically expands TIFIA's lending powers to $20 billion for local agencies to access and build transportation infrastructure projects.

Public-Private Collaboration

A core part of our work with local governments and nonprofit and private sector clients is building partnerships to introduce and advance new ideas, technologies or services that are mutually beneficial and advance the public good.

Committed to Delivering the Highest Caliber Service and Measureable Results

Our team develops practical strategies designed to get results by working as partners with local government clients. Members of our Local Government Advocacy Team are committed to achieving the short- and long-term goals of our clients.