eRegions Newsletter

53rd ANNUACONFERENCE & EXHIBITION

Gain knowledge, tools, and resources to build your community at NARC’s  53rd Annual Conference & Exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska from June 9-12, cohosted by the Omaha – Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency.

Events begin Sunday afternoon with two optional mobile workshops exploring Omaha. Sessions and exhibits will highlight economic development tools for regions, the impact of changing demographics, innovations in transportation, regional data solutions, and approaches to disaster response and resiliency. 

View the DRAFT AGENDA and conference page for more details. 

Now Accepting Awards Nominations!
The NARC Achievement & Leadership Awards recognize outstanding regional programs and individuals. Gain recognition for all the outstanding work you do at the NARC Awards Dinner during the 53rd Annual Conference and Exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska on June 11th!

Guidelines and application are available here.    APPLICATIONS DUE: May 1

NEWS FROM WASHINGTON
Congress is in Session

Congress Returns with Daunting Agenda
After a two-week recess, Congress has returned facing a daunting agenda that includes writing and approving 12 appropriations bills by October 1 and raising the debt limit. 

President Trump has prioritized raising the debt limit over passing appropriations bills, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said raising the debt limit can wait while Congress moves forward passing appropriations bills. In the meantime, the Treasury Department is now using “extraordinary” measures to enable the federal government to continue borrowing money. The Congressional Budget Office has indicated that Congress does not have to act to raise the debt ceiling until September or October of this year.

House Democrats have stated that they want to pass all 12 appropriations bills by June 30, and House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) stated that she expects all the House appropriations bills to be ready for floor consideration sometime in May.

Still out of reach is a Senate and House budget agreement. Without an agreement, House and Senate appropriators will be working from two different sets of caps that may make appropriations agreements more difficult later in the year. 

House Democrats are currently drafting legislation assuming they have $661 billion for defense and $631 billion for nondefense. Senate Republicans have said that any budget agreement between the House and Senate should include $750 billion for defense, a substantial increase over current spending. House Democrats have set the overall cap for defense at $733 billion, including contingency funds that are not subject to the caps.

Other legislation that may move forward between now and the month-long August recess includes the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement that would replace NAFTA and legislation to overhaul Internal Revenue Service operations, improve work access to retirement savings accounts, reduce the cost of retail prescription drugs, and reform the immigration process (though that remains a long shot.)

Next week: an overview of some of the bills pending before Congress.

Committee Highlights:

Trump, Pelosi to Meet on Infrastructure Proposals Tomorrow
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Senate Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), and other Democratic leaders are meeting with President Donald Trump tomorrow to discuss an infrastructure deal. Speaker Pelosi told reporters that she is pursuing an infrastructure package of at least $1 trillion, although she would prefer it be closer to $2 trillion. The president has proposed spending $200 billion in federal funds over the next 10 years while leveraging $800 billion. Speaker Pelosi sent the White House a letter this morning in preparations for their discussions tomorrow, highlighting infrastructure bill priorities.

Lisa Soronen: Expect to See a Citizenship Question in the 2020 Census
While it is usually ill advised to predict the outcome of a Supreme Court case based on oral arguments alone, the oral arguments for the 2020 census citizenship question currently in front of the Court strongly indicate that the census will contain the citizenship question. The Justices spent the majority of the time allotted for oral argument asking whether the question violates the Administrative Procedures Act, which prevents federal agencies from acting arbitrarily or not in accordance with the law. While the more liberal justices argued that this question could produce less accurate information than other methods, the more conservative justices spent their time refuting their colleagues’ points, suggesting the Court may ultimately be decided by the conservative majority. The Supreme Court will likely issue their opinion in June, right before the census form is due to be printed.

EPA Seeking Comment on New Draft Interim Recommendations for Addressing Groundwater Contaminated with PFOA and PFOS
The EPA is seeking comment on new guidance for regulating water contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This interim guidance will support actions to protect the health of communities impacted by groundwater that contains PFOA and PFOS above the 70 parts per trillion level, and is a potential source of drinking water. This is a critical tool for our state, tribal, and local partners to use to address these chemicals.” Comments will be accepted through June 10, 2019 (please submit here).

EPA Releases New Planning for Natural Disaster Debris Guide
The EPA issued a new version of their Planning for Natural Disaster Debris guide last week. The guide outlines how communities can reduce the impact of natural disasters by creating plans to minimize the amount of dangerous debris generated during events. The document, which focuses on the development of comprehensive pre-incident plans, dedicates a subsection to methods for incorporating climate change adaptation into pre-incident planning.

OTHER NEWS 
American Lung Association Releases Nationwide Air-Quality Report
The annually-released air quality report shows that 141 million Americans, or 43% of the population, live in counties that experienced unhealthy ozone and particulate pollution. The report shows that California faces the largest air quality challenge, with the state being home to seven of the 10 smoggiest cities in the country, including Los Angeles, which tops the list. While recent years have indicated progress in efforts to reduce air pollution, this past year saw a slight backward trend, with the wildfires out West the likely cause.

Community Engagement’s Vital Role in Building Resilience
Commentary: Communities that meaningfully engage with their residents will be able to better address long-term challenges, such as infrastructure investment, disaster resilience, and workforce development. The most successful leaders put people and service first, open lines of communication, and engage the broader community before making any big decisions. When it comes to disaster resilience, this strategy is key for both immediate recovery efforts and longer-term change strategies. As extreme weather-related disasters also become more prevalent, it is becoming increasingly important for local, state, and federal leaders to engage communities in a meaningful way in order to address necessary infrastructure plans.

Are Local Politics as Polarized as National? Depends on the Issue.
As the national political scene is becoming more and more polarized, a surprising new study finds evidence that most Democratic and Republican residents hold similar views on local issues. Democrats and Republicans agree on quite a few local development issues including tax incentives, vocational and technical training, business investments, government consolidation, and community college funding. However, partisan differences emerge over labor issues and educational policies regarding school vouchers and charter schools.

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT    
Eastgate Staff to Join Local Delegation to Germany for Digitalization of Work Study Program
Genna Petrolla, the Eastegate Regional Council of Governments Economic Development Program Manager, will join local leaders as a participant in the Transatlantic Cities of Tomorrow study program of the American Council on Germany. The program facilitates an exchange of leaders in small- to mid-sized cities in the United States and Germany to develop solutions to common challenges resulting from digitization. They also work together to identify innovative approaches to turn these challenges into opportunities for their local workforce and economies. The German delegation is expected in the US this week, with the US representatives heading to Germany in mid-June.

FEATURED JOBS

View full list of jobs!

Executive Director
Posted: 4/29/2019
Transportation Authority of Marin, San Rafael, CA

Senior Director, Planning
Posted: 4/29/2019
North Jersey Transportation Planning Agency, Newark, NJ

Senior Planner-Multimodal Planning
Posted: 4/29/2019
Houston-Galveston Area Council, Houston, TX

Manager – Travel Demand Management Program
Posted: 4/29/2019
Houston-Galveston Area Council, Houston, TX

Manager – Quality Assurance
Posted: 4/29/2019
Houston-Galveston Area Council, Houston, TX

GRANTS

View full list of grants!

Rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program Applications
Application Deadlines:

  • Grants: May 31, 2019
  • Loan/Grant Combinations: June 21, 2019
  • Low-Interest Loans: July 12, 2019

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making available up to $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations, and
$200 million in low-interest loans to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. Funds will be awarded to projects that have financially sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches, and community facilities such as first responders, health care sites and schools. USDA will be holding two webinars this week to provide overviews of various aspects of the ReConnect application:

Community Policing Development (CPD) Program
Applications Due: May 28
The CPD program is used to develop the capacity of law enforcement to implement community policing strategies by providing guidance on promising practices through the development and testing of innovative strategies; building knowledge about effective practices and outcomes; and supporting new, creative approaches to preventing crime and promoting safe communities. The program will fund projects that develop knowledge, increase awareness of effective community policing strategies, increase the skills and abilities of law enforcement and community partners, increase the number of law enforcement agencies and relevant stakeholders using proven community policing practices, and institutionalize community policing practice in routine business.

EVENTS

View full list of events!

Navigating Public-Private Partnerships and Environmental Review Processes
May 1, 1:00-2:00 PM ET
Recent statutory and regulatory changes to accelerate the environmental review process for transportation projects create opportunities to deliver major infrastructure projects faster. However, as public-private partnership (P3) projects become more prevalent, particularly for large, complex infrastructure projects, how these streamlining measures effect the unique characteristics of P3 projects becomes increasingly important to understand. Considering the increasing number of examples and existing research and guidance, this BATIC Institute AASHTO’s Center for Environmental Excellence webinar touches on considering future trends and research needs in this area.

The State of Infrastructure
May 9, 2:00-3:00 PM ET
Infrastructure revitalization has been a top campaign goal for politicians and special interest groups for years now. However, the American Society of Civil Engineers still gives the United States a D+ rating for its infrastructure. Where’s the policy to get America’s roads, railways, bridges, and tunnels up to 2019 standards? Join this CQ webinar to discuss the state of infrastructure with a panel of industry experts.

Dialysis Transportation: The Intersection of Transportation and Healthcare
May 13, 2:00-3:30 PM ET
The Transportation Research Board will conduct a webinar that features research from the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP)’s Research Report 203: Dialysis Transportation: Intersection of Transportation and Healthcare. This webinar will address challenges that public transportation agencies encounter regarding the rising demand of dialysis-related transportation and its associated costs. The presenters will provide an overview of the report findings, which came from surveys of transit agencies, dialysis facilities, and dialysis patients. They will also describe practices and strategies for transit agencies and the healthcare industry that may address the challenges in dialysis-related transportation.

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