APWA Washington Report – September 25, 2017

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LATEST NEWS

Congress Likely to Consider Additional Hurricane Relief Funding

  • Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), and House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX), stated that Congress will likely consider supplemental disaster relief funds in October;
  • To date, no specific bill, nor course of action for the supplemental funding has been decided upon;
  • Earlier this month, President Trump signed Public Law 115-56 providing $15.25 billion in emergency supplemental funding for damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and extending the National Flood Insurance Program through December 8, 2017.

House to Act on Disaster Tax Relief

  • Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX), has introduced a bill (not yet numbered) to provide private flood insurance with the intention of making the process easier, and meeting mandatory insurance coverage standards;
  • The House is expected to vote on the bill this week and, if enacted, the measure would also allow a property owner with a private policy to meet continuous coverage requirements for the purpose of re-enrolling in a subsidized federal plan;
  • The bill would also provide victims of the recent hurricanes with the ability to withdraw funds from their retirement accounts without a penalty, and suspend the limit on deductions for donations to hurricane relief.

EPA Calls for Environmental Assessment for Water Financing Program

  • Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice in the Federal Register that the agency will be conducting a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) program;
  • The assessment will analyze the potential environmental impacts related to providing individual long-term, low-cost supplemental loans, or loan guarantees for regionally and nationally significant eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects;
  • EPA will use the information in the PEA to determine whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS);
  • Public comments are welcome, and must be submitted by October 20, 2017 via the Federal Register website.

House to Consider FAA Extension Legislation

  • The House will take up legislation this week to extend the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for six months;
  • In addition to the extension through March of 2018, the legislation includes $5 billion for FAA salaries, and $1.67 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP);
  • A long-term extension for FAA has been stalled in the House, and faces skepticism in the Senate.

FirstNet Targets Early 2018 for Full Implementation

  • The First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce, and authorized by Congress in 2012, is scheduled to be fully implemented by March 2018;
  • FirstNet’s mission is to develop, build, and operate a nationwide, dedicated broadband network for use by first responders enabling them to communicate through voice, video, and data across different agencies and jurisdictions;
  • Currently, 23 states have opted-in to FirstNet, and no states and territories have opted-out—for additional information on FirstNet, click here.

Mandatory Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System

  • On September 27, at 2:20 pm ET the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission are scheduled to conduct a mandatory nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS);
  • Should the event be cancelled, the make-up date is scheduled for October 4, at 2:20 pm ET;
  • The EAS test is made available to radio, television, cable, and direct broadcast satellite systems, and is scheduled to last approximately one minute–click here for additional information.

EPA in the Spotlight

  • In an effort to share information about the various federal agencies APWA works with on a regular basis, the Washington Report will periodically “spotlight” a federal agency, and this week, it is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • The EPA mission is protecting human health and the environment;
  • Scott Pruitt, former Attorney General of Oklahoma and current EPA Administrator, was sworn in on February 17, 2017;
  • EPA’s primary role is to develop and enforce regulations related to the environment and public health such as clean water, clean air, brownfields, and superfund clean-up, among others;
  • EPA also issues grants and loans for water infrastructure projects, as well as for environmental remediation and cleanup projects.
  • You may learn more about the Agency at their website.

ON THE HORIZON

  • On September 26, at 10:00 am ET, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources & Environment is scheduled to hold a hearing entitled, “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Water Stakeholders’ Perspectives”—click here to follow the hearing;
  • On September 27, at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on forest management to mitigate wildfires—for more information, click here;
  • Also on September 27, at 10:00 am ET, the Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee on “Threats to the Homeland”—click here to follow the hearing;

At 3:00 pm ET on September 27, the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations is scheduled to hold a hearing entitled, “Exploring Solutions to Reduce Risks of Catastrophic Wildfires & Improve Resiliency of National Forests”—click here to follow the hearing.