September 21, 2020

 
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LATEST NEWS


Continuing Resolution Expected this Week

  • The end of the federal fiscal year (FY) on September 30 is quickly approaching, and expectations are that this week the House will pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government fully funded through December 11, 2020;
  • To date, no FY 2021 appropriations measures have been signed into law;
  • The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) also included in the CR would, without action, revert NFIP’s spending limit to $1 billion instead of the current level of $30 billion;
  • APWA has been pushing for a one-year extension of the current surface transportation law, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, to be included in the CR;
  • Both Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure and Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works have expressed their support for a one-year extension as the committees they lead have primary authorizing jurisdiction over transportation programs;
  • Negotiations on a future COVID-19 response package have been stalled throughout the summer, and those discussions remain separate from the CR;
  • With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday, the Senate’s schedule in particular has become less certain as the November 3 election approaches;
  • APWA Government Affairs continues to engage with Congress on the Association’s policy priorities, so please be sure to follow @APWAGOVAFFAIRS on Twitter and check out Advocacy News for developments.

APWA and U.S. House Public Works & Infrastructure Caucus to Host Virtual Hill Brief

  • September 22 at 10:30 a.m. ET, APWA and the U.S. House Public Works & Infrastructure Caucus have scheduled a virtual hill brief titled, “Drones and Public Works - Assisting in Emergency Management;”
  • This is the second virtual hill brief APWA has hosted since May of this year;
  • The brief will be moderated by APWA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Scott D. Grayson, CAE and include APWA President Mary Joyce Ivers of Ventura, California, APWA Member Ray Funnye of Georgetown County, South Carolina and a representative from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) division as panelists.

APWA Calls for Action on WIFIA Amendment

  • APWA is calling on members to contact their Representatives and support an amendment to H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act;
  • The amendment offered by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) would allow applicants to the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) program to access 55-year loan terms for projects that have longer useful lifecycles;
  • This programmatic change will give applicants additional flexibility in repaying the low-interest loans offered by the WIFIA program;
  • By clicking on the link below, you can contact your House member and urge them to support the amendment;
  • If you have questions regarding the WIFIA program or the amendment, please contact APWA Government Affairs Manager Sean Garcia at sgarcia@apwa.net;
  • Take Action!

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Clean Water Act Regulation

  • September 16, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing on the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule developed by the Trump Administration to replace the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule;
  • The new rule, applied under the Clean Water Act (CWA), went into effect in June 2020, and eliminates protections for streams which flow only after rainfall or snowmelt, and will also remove protections for wetlands without surface water connections to larger waterways;
  • Other significant changes to CWA jurisdictions include:
    • Eliminating CWA protections for the majority of the nation’s wetlands;
    • Removing protections for the nearly 18% of streams that only flow in response to rainfall or snowmelt;
    • Allowing for wetlands to be protected if they have a surface water connection to a larger waterway in a “typical year,” but don’t physically abut that waterway;
    • Eliminating protections for ephemeral streams but keeping them for those with intermittent or constant flows.
  • While entities like hardrock mines, wastewater facilities, and other industrial sites may no longer require permits under CWA, they may fall under other regulations.
  • If you have any questions about the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, please contact APWA Government Affairs Manager Sean Garcia at sgarcia@apwa.net.

U.S. DOT Awards BUILD Grant Dollars

  • Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced $1 billion in Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants;
  • In total, 70 projects in 44 states are receiving funds from the competitive grant program seeking to fund projects of regional or local significance;
  • The funding supports projects that include roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports and intermodal transportation.

U.S. DOE Announces Grants to Career and Technical Education

U.S. DOL Launches Campaign to Promote Apprenticeships

  • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced its new “Discover Apprenticeship” campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of registered apprenticeships;
  • The effort seeks to increase participation in apprenticeships by employers and job seekers;
  • As part of the campaign, DOL will also encourage utilization of its online Apprenticeship Job Finder, a resource for connecting employers and potential apprentices.

EPA Proposes Updated Pollution Control Payment Guidance

  • Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed an update to the Financial Capability Assessment;
  • This tool determines the pace at which communities, including low-income areas, must pay for required upgrades to prevent water pollution;
  • The agency stated that new metrics in the assessment will more accurately reflect how low-income communities can afford to pay for water infrastructure projects;
  • Water sector stakeholders said the new guidance will help providers and communities develop and implement plans to comply with drinking water and clean water mandates;
  • These stakeholders, including APWA, have called for changes to the assessment tool to help balance the need for pollution controls and costs, as many systems cannot currently comply with standards as they cannot afford to implement upgrades;
  • EPA is requesting comments on the proposed guidance for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

FEMA Releases IPAWS Program Planning Kit

  • Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released an Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) program planning kit;
  • IPAWS is FEMA’s national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and life-saving information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA);
  • Notices are also sent to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System (EAS), and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Radio;
  • The planning toolkit was created toassist public safety agencies in minimizing alert delays, planning for future alerts, facilitating interoperability across different technologies, and improving information sharing among emergency management and public safety officials.

 

FEMA Requests Comments on Draft Inundated and Submerged Roads Guidance

  • Last week, FEMA announced it is seeking comments on a joint Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance for federal assistance toward the restoration of inundated and submerged roads damaged or destroyed by a declared major disaster;
  • This proposed guidance emanates from section 1228 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) of 2018;
  • FEMA is accepting comments through October 14, 2020, and any comments received during the public comment period will be considered for the final version of the guidance policy.

ON THE HORIZON