|Guarded Optimism on Budget Negotiations|(read more)21 hours ago | 0
Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are reportedly close to a deal that would scale back the sequester cuts scheduled for January 2014 and also set new levels for FY2015 spending. The latest report is that negotiators have reached agreement on a $1 trillion overall spending level, which represents a $33 billion increase over spending levels put forth by the Budget Control Act. The increase in funding would be distributed evenly between defense and domestic spending. The chairs have not given details of how they plan to offset the sequester, but speculation is that the solution will involve a mix of user fee increases, changes to federal retirement programs and some targeted spending cuts.
If budget negotiators are able to reach and hold a vote on a deal before recessing later this month, the appropriators will be left with roughly a month to draft an omnibus spending bill for the remainder of FY2014, thereby avoiding another government shutdown when the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires January 15. House Appropriations C...
|Commissioner Brooks Discusses Manufacturing Competitiveness on White House Panel with DOT Secretary Foxx|(read more)21 hours ago | 0
Paula Brooks, Franklin County commissioner and Chair of NACo’s International Economic Development Task Force, participated in a manufacturing summit hosted by the White House on December 5. By hosting the summit, the White House aimed to learn how local elected officials leverage their relationships across business, education and government to ensure a competitive environment to attract new manufacturers to their communities.
During a panel led by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Commissioner Brooks discussed the importance of the manufacturing sector to the Columbus/Franklin County region and the state of Ohio’s economy. She also highlighted her region’s work to foster growth in manufacturing, including the benefits attained through public-private partnerships.
Other summit participants included Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who announced the launch of the second phase of the Administration’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP). The IMCP was created to help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs across the country. During its first phase, IMCP grants were awarded to 44 communities to support the creation of economic development strategies to expand an area’s commercial appeal to investors. The next phase of IMCP w...
|Farm Bill Inches Toward the Finish Line|21 hours ago | 0
Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday recess, the difficulties surrounding
negotiations on a new long-term farm bill began to emerge. After a series of
conference calls among conferees, contention surrounding the nutrition and
commodity titles appeared to dominate the discussions, seemingly bringing the
negotiations to a halt. However, on December 4, the four primary negotiators – Senate
Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran
(R-Miss.) and House Agriculture Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member
Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) – emerged from a closed-door meeting with renewed
optimism for the farm bill. Details of the conversations were not provided but
both Chairwoman Stabenow and Chairman Lucas indicated that substantial progress
had been made. While passing a bill before Congress adjourns for winter recess
seems unlikely, conferees are confident the recess can be used to draft a final
bill based on the progress made so far.
Contact: Arthur Scott at email@example.com or 202.942.4230
|EPA’s Fire Hydrant Lead Rule Blocked in House|(read more)21 hours ago | 0
On December 2, the House unanimously passed the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 (H.R. 3588). H.R. 3588 was introduced on November 21 by Representative Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) in response to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to render fire hydrants, made with lead components, illegal after January 4, 2014.
In January 2011, Congress enacted the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act which amended the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to reduce the amount of lead in drinking water pipes and other plumbing fixtures. Long-term exposure to lead can adversely impact development in both infants and children.
Last month, EPA released a FAQ on the Act which stated, for the first time, that fire hydrants would be covered under the Act since they “can be, and are, used in emergency situations to provide drinking water.” Hydrants are made from cast iron, however, interior components contain lead.
The proposal is unclear about when the hydrant would have to be replaced – immediately or through a retrofit plan. The proposal will have a long-reaching impact on local governments who own/operate water utilities (and thus have the responsibili...
|Lawmakers Seek to Update 1996 Communications Act |21 hours ago | 0
On December 3, House Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and
Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced
a multi-year effort to update the Communications Act, which was last amended in
1996. Chairmen Upton and
Walden announced this effort though a Google hangout (an electronic
conference similar to Skype) and were joined by former Federal Communications
Commissioner Robert McDowell, who added that current rules were “increasingly
irrelevant.” Chairman Upton further stated that the Communications Act needed
to reflect the current Internet age: “The
United States has been the global leader in innovation and growth of the
Internet, but unfortunately, our communications laws have failed to keep pace.”
An update of the Communications
Act of 1996 is important for counties because the Act governs rights of way
fees, public, education and government (PEG) channels, franchise fees,
universal service and more. News on update efforts will be posted via twitter
under the hashtag #CommActUpdate.
NACo will continue
to monitor the progress of the Communications Act update.
Contact: Yejin Jang
at firstname.lastname@example.org or
|Speaker Appoints New Immigration Aide|21 hours ago | 0
On December 3, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that he has
appointed Rebecca Tallent to be his chief aide on immigration. Her
appointment is seen as a positive sign for the prospects of comprehensive
immigration reform next year. Ms. Tallent was most recently the policy director
for immigration at the Bipartisan Policy Institute, which in October published
a very positive report on the economic impact of immigration
reform. Additionally, she has worked for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who
was among the “Gang of Eight” senators who authored the Senate’s comprehensive
immigration bill. During her tenure with Sen. McCain, Ms. Tallent was the chief
advisor on several immigration reform efforts that NACo supported.
Sanz at email@example.com or 202.942.4260
|FEMA Releases Building Codes for National Flood Insurance Program |21 hours ago | 0
The Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) released a recent publication entitled Including
Building Codes in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This report was issued in
response to Section 100235 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of
2012, which required FEMA to evaluate the impact of adding building codes to
the NFIP for floodplain management. The report looks at the number of
states that have building code laws on the books and assesses the impact a
mandatory building code may have on both urban and rural areas. The report
notes that there would be an impact on both state and local functions,
especially in rural communities that lack resources to provide for enforcement
on new construction.
Contact: Julie Ufner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.942.4269
|2014 EDA Programs Grant Funding Available|21 hours ago | 0
On November 25, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)
published its FY2014
Economic Development Assistance Programs Federal Funding Opportunity. EDA is soliciting applications from
applicants in rural and urban areas to provide investments that support
construction, non-construction, technical assistance and revolving loan fund
projects under EDA’s Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. Grants
and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage
existing regional assets to advance economic prosperity in distressed
communities. Counties are eligible applicants for these grants.
The first funding cycle of FY2014 was covered under EDA’s
FY2013 Economic Development Assistance programs. The next four funding cycle
- December 13, 2013 for funding cycle 2 of FY2014
- March 14, 2014 for funding cycle 3 of FY2014
- June 13, 2014 for funding cycle 4 of FY2014
- October 17, 2014 for funding cycle 1 of FY2015
Contact: Daria Daniel at email@example.com
|Public Safety Buffer Zone at Issue in Supreme Court Case|21 hours ago | 0
The Supreme Court will decide
in McCullen v. Coakley whether a Massachusetts “buffer zone” statute
prohibiting speech within 35-feet of a reproductive health care facility
violates the First Amendment. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case
which NACo joined. A buffer zones is an area, usually near entrances, in which no
one may protest or approach potential patients; they are very common in
reproductive health facilities. The SLLC’s brief points out that the court’s ruling in this case
could affect state and local governments’ ability to regulate speech to protect
public safety in many contexts. For example, lower courts have upheld
buffer zones to prevent congestion at special events and places that regularly
draw crowds, and near
funerals to protect vulnerable mourners. These buffer zones and many others may
be in jeopardy if the court rules
against Massachusetts. More details on the case are here on the SLLC’s website.
Soronen, SLLC Executive
Director firstname.lastname@example.org or Mike Belarmino at email@example.com or 202.942.4254
|GAO Releases Report on Local Area Challenges for Skilled Workforce|21 hours ago | 0
On December 2, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a
report documenting how local areas had difficulty helping employers fill
certain jobs, including the low skills of some workforce participants. According
to the report, 80 percent of local areas reported that employers had difficulty
filling certain “middle skilled” jobs such as welders and machinists because
they require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college
degree. GAO found that local areas had difficulty supplying such workers
because participants lacked relevant qualifications or basic skills needed to
participate in training programs. As a result of these findings, GAO recommended
that the Department of Labor collect and disseminate information on how local
areas have used career pathways approaches to prepare workers for jobs that
employers have difficulty filling. To view the full report click here.
Contact: Daria Daniel
at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.942.4212
|HUD Reports Continued Decline in U.S. Homelessness|... (read more)21 hours ago | 0
On November 21, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, which noted reductions in every major category of homelessness since 2010 – the year the federal government established a strategic plan to end homelessness known as “Opening Doors.”
The annual report’s 'point-in-time' estimates measure the scope of homelessness on a single night in January of each year. Based on data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties, last January's estimate reveals a 24 percent drop in homelessness among Veterans and a 16 percent reduction among individuals experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness since 2010. The report attributes the decline in Veteran homelessness to the close collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on a joint program called HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). Since 2008, a total of 58,250 rental vouchers have been awarded and 43,371 formerly homeless Veterans are currently in homes of their own because of HUD-VASH.
A copy of the full report can be found here.
Contact: Daria Daniel at email@example.com or 202.942.4212
|FCC Announces Deadlines for Wireless Infrastructure Rulemaking |21 hours ago | 0
On December 3, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau Associate Chief Jane Jackson announced through a NACo
webinar that the Federal Register would publish the Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on wireless infrastructure siting policies on
December 5, 2013. The rulemaking at issue deals with the placement of wireless
technologies such as distributed antenna systems (DAS), small cells,
macrocells, etc. These technologies are commonly placed in county rights of way
and are used to deliver service to and from cellular and smart phones. Wireless
infrastructure siting is an important issue for counties as county governments
commonly make or have jurisdiction over land use and zoning decisions. Comments
on the proposed rulemaking are due by February 3, 2013 (60 days after
publication in the Federal Register) and the reply deadline is March 5, 2013
(90 days after publication in the Federal Register).
Contact: Yejin Jang at firstname.lastname@example.org
|HUD Announces Availability of $1.7 Billion in Grants for Homeless Assistance Programs|21 hours ago | 0
On November 22, the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that HUD
will award $1.7 billion to support homeless assistance programs with the
Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance Program Notice of Funding
Availability (NOFA). The available amount represents a five percent decrease to
existing programs, which is largely due to sequestration and record high
The grants will provide permanent and transitional
housing to homeless persons, as well as services including job training, health
care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care. CoC
funding is awarded competitively to local programs to meet the needs of their
homeless clients. These grants fund a wide variety of programs from street
outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for
homeless persons and families.
Project applications are available at www.hud.gov/esnaps. Applications are due no later
than February 3, 2014. For entities
needing assistance with grant applications, online training is available at www.hudhre.info/esnaps/.
Contact: Daria Daniel at email@example.com or 202.942.4212
|HUD Announces Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants|21 hours ago | 0
On November 22, the U.S. Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that nine communities
across the U.S. will receive $4.37 million in Choice Neighborhoods Planning
Grants. These awards provide communities
with resources to craft comprehensive, community-driven plans to revitalize and
transform HUD-assisted housing and distressed neighborhoods. Grantees include
the Parish of East Baton Rouge/City of Baton Rouge, La.; the Housing Authority
of the City and County of Denver Colorado; and the St. Louis County, Missouri
Department of Planning. To read more about the local planning efforts
Contact: Daria Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Budget Deal Still Uncertain; NACo Holds Hill Briefing on County Priorities at Stake in Negotiations|(read more)2 weeks ago | 0
While private talks between House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) continue, no agreement on FY2014 funding levels have been announced by the 29 budget conferees tasked with reaching an agreement by December 13. The current Continuing Resolution (CR) (H.R. 2775) funding the federal government expires on January 15, at which point there could be another government shutdown, as well as another round of sequester cuts that would greatly impact defense spending.
House and Senate appropriators are growing concerned at the slow pace of negotiations. On November 18, House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and all 12 appropriations subcommittee chairs sent a letter to budget conferees, asking them to decide on FY2014 spending levels as soon as possible. The letter warns that if an agreement on the budget is not reached in the first few days of December, appropriators may not have sufficient time to conduct the appropriations process before the January 15 deadline, when the cu...