53rd Annual
Conference and Exhibition

June 9-12, 2019
Omaha, Nebraska

News and Updates

Regional Spotlight
Neil Bomberg

This Month in Photos: January 2019

Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on facebook Share on email Welcome to the latest edition of Regional Councils: This Month in Photos!   January 2019 – February 2019 (PDF) Each month, NARC publishes Regional Councils: This Month in Photos to highlight events and activities taking place in regions around the nation.  We feature regional council meetings, board retreats, meetings with

Congress
Eli Spang

2019 State of the Union Address: NARC Supports Call for Infrastructure Development

Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on facebook Share on email Among multiple 2019 initiatives mentioned during his Tuesday night State of the Union Address, President Donald Trump spoke of his desire to work with Congress to develop bipartisan legislation to “deliver new and important infrastructure investment.” Emphasizing the critical nature of these improvements,

Community and Economic Development
NARC Staff

Harvard Releases State of the Nation’s Housing Report

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies recently released its 3oth annual housing report, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2018. Managing Director Chris Hebert said, “By many metrics, the U.S. housing market in 2018 is on sound footing. But a number of challenges highlighted in the first State of the Nation’s Housing report 30

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eRegions

February 19, 2019        View this email in your browser

Supreme Court to Decide Whether 2020 Census Will Include Citizenship Question
The Supreme Court has agreed to decide on whether the Trump Administration can add a question which asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” to the 2020 census. The administration is in legal battles with dozens of cities, states, and groups that feel the question could depress participation by noncitizens and lead to an undercount of immigrants and communities of color. The court is set to hear the case in April.

Top FEMA Official Resigns
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long has resigned from his post. In his official statement, he stated he worked on more than 220 declared disasters during his tenure, and that he is resigning to spend more time with family. Peter Gaynor, who is the current FEMA deputy administrator, will lead the agency until a new administrator is confirmed. President Trump has already nominated Jeffrey Byrd, FEMA’s associate administrator for response and recovery, to be the agency’s next top official.

WOTUS Rule Comment Period is Now Open
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army are now accepting public comment on the proposed revised definition of “Waters of the United States.” The redefinition would potentially alter the geographic reach of EPA regulation under the Clean Water Act. The public comment period will close on April 15, 2019.

American Broadband Initiative Milestones Report
The American Broadband Initiative, a federal interagency working group comprised of more than 25 agencies, has released their first milestones report. The report addresses strategies the federal government can implement to increase access to affordable and reliable broadband connectivity as well as methods for growing private-sector investment. It provides recommendations for streamlining and maximizing federal funding in order to lower costs and close America’s digital divide.

Transportation Thursdays

February 21, 2019       View this email in your browser

CONGRESS BRIEF

What Lies Ahead on Infrastructure?

With the appropriations battle finally resolved for the remainder of the fiscal year (that’s 221 days of breathing room, for anyone counting), attention might finally turn to what Congress can accomplish on infrastructure. A few thoughts and observations in this regard:

  1. Timing is key. To have a chance, Congress would need to introduce bills by spring and pass them by the end of 2019, at the very latest. To avoid the crazy season of a presidential election year, the end of September would be a preferable target.
  2. Infrastructure Package vs. Transportation Reauthorization. A broad infrastructure package has allure for members in both chambers, but a broader funding package means more committees and stakeholders are involved. For this reason, recent talk is that the biggest effort may be to pass transportation reauthorization by the end of the year with some infrastructure sweeteners included (broadband is one we could envision) to expand the base of support for such an effort. It seems unlikely that Congress will do an infrastructure package AND a reauthorization in such close succession. And the probability is extremely low that a reauthorization gets done next year anyway (the current program expires on September 30, 2020), with the election in full bloom by then. Then we would be back to long-term extensions, which is not a popular idea.
  3. Gas Tax Increase? There is some hope Congress will increase the gas tax this year, either as part of an infrastructure package or a reauthorization. The odds don’t favor it happening, but a properly calibrated bill might pass. Sweeteners (mentioned above) and earmarks (mentioned below) could play a role in making a tough vote a little easier.
  4. Earmarks. Congressionally directed spending. Article 1 authorized spending. Call it what you like, restoring Congress’ ability to earmark small portions of spending bills is a hot topic again in Washington, with support from members on both sides of the aisle. There is wide agreement that earmarks would increase the chance of passage of an infrastructure bill (especially if it includes a gas tax increase) by giving Members of Congress some cover back home for a tough vote.

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During NARC conferences members come together to share best practices and attend informative sessions on legislative and regulatory issues. Speakers include experts from the public and private sector, lawmakers, and individuals from universities and non-profit organizations.