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FY 2019 Appropriations Update
For the federal government, fiscal year (FY) 2019 officially begins today, and over the weekend President Trump signed a bill (H.R. 6157) funding the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education;
To date, in addition to the departments included in H.R. 6157, President Trump has signed FY 2019 appropriations to fund Energy and Water, the Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs;
Additionally, H.R. 6157 includes $8.8 billion in Disaster Relief funding to assist in recovery efforts following Hurricane Florence;
The remaining federal government departments, whose FY 2019 appropriations have not been passed by Congress, will be funded at FY 2018 levels through December 7, 2018 by a continuing resolution (CR) included in H.R. 6157;
The CR allows additional time for spending negotiations following the November 6 mid-term election;
The Senate is in session this week, while the House is not scheduled to be in session again until November 13.
FAA Reauthorization Update
Last week, the House passed a five-year reauthorization (H.R. 302) for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA);
The Senate is expected to vote on the measure late today, and should the bill pass, it will fund the FAA for five years, through 2023;
In addition to reauthorizing the FAA, both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Security Administration will be reauthorized as part of the measure;
Funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which issues grants to public use airports of all sizes for planning and development purposes, is also part of the bill;
Clarifying language regarding unmanned aircraft systems (drones), depending on the size of the drone and its intended purpose, is included;
Mitigation language is also part of H.R. 302 and it is intended to reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Stafford Act by ensuring a percentage of assistance, provided in the wake of disasters, is invested in pre-disaster hazard mitigation, while also defining what may be eligible for mitigation funding;
This language was originally passed by the House earlier this year, in the form of H.R. 4460, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA);
The DRRA encourages state, local, tribal and territorial governments to place emphasis on mitigation, and would require FEMA to work with the Federal Highway Administration to develop guidelines for evacuation routes;
The measure also addresses disasters, eligibility for disasters and greater scrutiny of agency adherence to mitigation and pre-disaster grant guidelines;
For additional specific details on the FAA reauthorization, please click here.
Senate Committee Pushes on PFAS
Last week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS);
PFAS are a toxic group of industrial chemicals used in a wide variety of products, including firefighting foam and nonstick products;
At the hearing, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water Director Peter Grevatt said EPA won’t decide on regulating PFAS until the end of 2018;
In 2016, EPA issued a lifetime health advisory (LHA) of 70 parts per trillion (PPT) for the PFAS chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA);
However, these LHA’s are not enforceable, and have been criticized as being dangerously high.
DOT Awards $205 Million in Funding for Airport Infrastructure
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao announced late last week, $205 million has been awarded for airport infrastructure projects:
The awards, under the Airport Improvement Program, will provide funding for projects at 37 (mostly rural) agencies, to make improvements to runway construction and rehabilitation, the maintenance of terminals, aprons and taxiways;
Last week, a collection of groups led by the American Farm Bureau, asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia to expand an injunction into a nationwide freeze of the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule;
Because of an earlier court decision, the 2015 rule is now in effect in 22 states;
However, due to injunctions in district courts in North Dakota and Georgia, the 2015 rule will not be in effect in the remaining states;
A new proposed rule was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget in June 2018 for review;
That review is currently taking place at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs;
The latest regulatory agenda published by the Trump Administration, anticipates the publication of a proposed WOTUS rule in the Federal Register this month, with a final rule by November 2019;
In September 2017, APWA submitted comments to the EPA and the Corps on the need for clarity in the WOTUS rule.
FEMA Releases NIMS NQS Skillsets
Last week, the National Incident Management System released its third edition of the National Qualification System (NQS) which shares details on multiple Emergency Operations Center (EOC) structures and their functions;
The NQS Skillsets are designed to provide EOC leaders with tools to build position qualifications according to their specific organization’s needs and resources, while building a national vocabulary for EOC personnel qualifications;
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking comments on its recently released report titled “Considerations for Managing Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity and Privacy Risks”;
The report is designed to serve as the foundation for a planned series of publications on how to manage cybersecurity and privacy risks associated with IoT devices;
NIST is accepting public comments through October 24;
For additional information on the report, including how to submit comments, please click here.
FEMA and FCC to Hold Nationwide Emergency Alert Test Wednesday
On October 3, FEMA and the Federal Communication Commission will conduct a test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS);
The test was originally scheduled for September 20, but was postponed due to severe weather across much of the east coast;
IPAWS is a national system that provides authenticated emergency alerts and information from emergency officials to the public via television, radio, cell phones and the Internet;
The Wireless Emergency Alert segment of the test will take place at 2:18 pm ET;
The Emergency Alert System segment will be conducted at 2:20 pm ET;
Senate Committee Advances Nomination of FEMA Deputy Administrator
Last week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voted to approve the nomination of Mr. Peter Gaynor, to serve as FEMA Deputy Administrator;
The full Senate has not yet set a date to take up the nomination.
Lead in Drinking Water a Focus of Federal Government
Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report regarding identifying lead service lines;
The GAO recommends that the Assistant Administrator for Water at EPA’s Office of Water should share information with all states about approaches used to identify and publicize information on lead service lines;
Additionally, a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives and Senators introduced legislation to protect families living in public housing from lead exposure;
The legislation would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to inspect for lead service lines, as well as provide grants for testing, notification, and controlling for lead in drinking water;
APWA submitted comments to EPA on revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) earlier this year.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Throughout the month of October, federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will highlight cybersecurity awareness;
DHS Hosting Webinar on Infrastructure Network Protection
On October 2 and October 4, from 1:00 pm-2:30 pm ET, DHS’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team is scheduled to conduct a webinar titled “Protecting Enterprise Network Infrastructure Devices”;
The webinar will include input and discussion from DHS representatives on identified threats to the infrastructure network;
For additional information, including registration details, please click here.
FEMA Hosting Webinar on Hazard Mitigation and Resilience
On October 9 at 1:00 pm ET, FEMA, in conjunction with the American Planning Association and the Association of State Flood Plain Managers, will host a webinar on hazard mitigation and resilience;
The webinar will bring together national experts to discuss the scope of current research into disasters, hazard mitigation and resilience, while also examining potential future ramifications;
For additional information, including registration details, please click here.
ON THE HORIZON
October 3, at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation has scheduled a hearing on the implementation of Positive Train Control – click here for more information;
October 3, at 2:15 pm ET, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management & Regulatory Oversight has scheduled a hearing on the oversight of EPA’s implementation of sound and transparent science in regulation – click here for more information;
October 4, at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation has scheduled a hearing titled, “Broadband: Opportunities and Challenges in Rural America” – click here for more information.
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