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APWA Washington Report – September 17, 2018

September 17, 2018

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LATEST NEWS

Congress Moves Forward on FY 2019 Appropriations

  • The House is not in session this week, but the Senate is, and will continue moving forward on fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations;
  • Last week, agreement was reached on the first (H.R. 5895) of three expected FY 2019 “minibus” appropriations packages;
  • President Trump has indicated his approval of H.R. 5895, which includes funding for Energy-Water, the Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs;
  • The next minibus expected to be passed before September 30 (the end of FY 2018), is H.R. 6157 which includes funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education;
  • Also included in H.R. 6157, is language to extend funding for the federal government through December 7, 2018, to allow additional time following the November 6 midterm elections to work out remaining FY 2019 funding needs;
  • Within the Energy-Water bill, language that would have repealed the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule was stripped out;
  • However, there has been uncertainty surrounding the “minibus” that combines Interior-EPA, Agriculture, Transportation-Housing, and Financial Services;
  • There are disagreements over roughly 20 House-backed environmental provisions that are being negotiated;
  • If agreement cannot be reached on those bills by September 30, they will be level-funded under the stopgap agreement;
  • The bills that will automatically be included under the stopgap measure are Commerce-Justice-Science, State-Foreign Operations, and Homeland Security.

House Passes Water Infrastructure Legislation

  • Last week, the House voted unanimously to pass S. 3021, “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018”;
  • S. 3021 includes bipartisan elements of bills passed by various Congressional committees;
  • Included in the legislation are the Secure Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act, the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, and other elements related to water infrastructure;
  • In addition to these two elements, which APWA has advocated for during the 115th Congress, the following items are included in the legislation:
    • Clean, safe, reliable water infrastructure (Sec. 2002);
    • Study on intractable water systems (Sec. 2003);
    • Drinking water infrastructure resilience and sustainability (Sec. 2005);
    • Asset management (Sec. 2012);
    • Community water system risk and resilience (Sec. 2013);
    • Authorization for grants for state programs (Sec. 2014);
    • State revolving loan funds (Sec. 2015);
    • Report on Federal cross-cutting requirements (Sec. 2019);
    • Stormwater infrastructure funding task force (Sec. 4101);
    • Sewer overflow control grants (Sec. 4106);
    • Reauthorization of the WIFIA program (Sec. 4201); and
    • Water infrastructure and workforce investment (Sec. 4304);
  • The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved by unanimous consent prior to the November midterm elections;
  • To read APWA’s letter of support for the legislation, please visit our website.

Senate Committee Hearing Examines Emerging Technologies in Transportation

  • On September 13, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing focused on emerging technologies in transportation;
  • Four witnesses, representing both the public and private sectors, spoke about developing and future technologies’ impact on transportation;
  • Increased safety, decreased congestion, public and private sector partnering, and the need for government support for collaboration were touted by all the panelists during the hearing;
  • Additionally, much like the hearing held the previous week by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and highlighted in the September 10 APWA Washington Report, technology is pushing forward even if public sentiment and government regulation is not keeping pace;
  • To view the archived Senate Commerce hearing, please click here.

IPAWS Emergency Alert System Test Postponed

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) were scheduled to conduct a test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) this week, however due to ongoing severe weather across much of the east coast, the test has been postponed to October 3;
  • 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;
  • This will be the fourth national Emergency Alert System (EAS) test, and the first national Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) test;
  • The EAS is a national warning system which provides the President with the ability to send communications directly to the nation during a national emergency;
  • The test message will appear as “THIS IS A TEST”;
  • The WEA test will take place at 2:18 pm ET, while the EAS portion will be conducted at 2:20 pm ET;
  • For additional information, please click here.

House Passes Measure to Formally Establish New DHS Division

  • Last week, the House passed H.R. 6198, the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018, which was introduced by Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY);
  • H.R. 6198 would codify the establishment of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS);
  • DHS announced the creation of the CWMD in December 2017, which would replace DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and Office of Health Affairs (OHA);
  • CWMD would be led by an Assistant Secretary to be appointed by the President;
  • Among the responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary would be to establish the Securing the Cities (STC) program;
  • The STC would enhance the ability of the United States to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, and other high consequence events utilizing nuclear or other radiological materials that pose a high risk to homeland security in high-risk urban areas;
  • The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration;
  • To view text of the bill, please click here.

APWA Executive Director Meets with USGS

  • Last week, APWA Executive Director Scott Grayson met with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Associate Director for Natural Hazards Dr. David Applegate;
  • Discussions centered around how APWA and USGS can expand our working relationship, particularly as it pertains to sharing early-warning tools such as mapping and notification systems.


ON THE HORIZON

  • September 20, at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources is scheduled to hold a hearing to examine the process of returning energy to the power grid after a system-wide blackout – click here for more information;

September 20, at 2:30 pm ET the Senate Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity is scheduled to hold a closed hearing titled “Interagency Coordination in the Protection of Critical Infrastructure” – click here for more information.