eRegions Newsletter

NEWS FROM WASHINGTON
The House is on recess. The Senate has cancelled their recess and will be in session this week.
 
House Coronavirus Package Hits Snag
Over the weekend, the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Aid Act (HR 6201). The bill would work to address a variety of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, including providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers. According to multiple Capitol Hill sources, the bill remains hung up in negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House. The Senate is expected to take the legislative package up this week after cancelling its weeklong recess, but much uncertainty remains over timing and logistics. House sources say that “major differences” still remain between the House and the Administration over what was adopted and needed to be changed before it is sent over to the Senate (the House has to vote on the package again because of technical corrections). Meanwhile there have been talks of another economic stimulus package in response to the pandemic.
 
Census Bureau Statement on Modifying 2020 Census Operations because of Coronavirus
Because of the coronavirus situation, the Census Bureau is adjusting some of their operations to make sure they 1) protect the health and safety of their staff and the public and 2) fulfill their statutory requirement to deliver the 2020 census counts to the president on schedule. The planned completion date is July 31, 2020, but they are keeping that date flexible as necessary to ensure a complete and accurate count. The Census Bureau is working with colleges and universities, group quarters administrators, and service providers to make sure all residents are accurately counted. They are also delaying the start of their Mobile Questionnaire Assistance program and Early Nonresponse Followup operation until April.
OTHER NEWS
The Vote Must Go On: States Prep for Primaries as Virus Looms
Following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many public gatherings and events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the next eight weeks. This is challenging news as the four primaries scheduled for this week are going ahead as planned. Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, while encouraging early voting or voting by mail, have not canceled primary contests scheduled for Tuesday, March 17. As state election officials scramble to move polling places out of senior living facilities and ensure there are ways for voters to avoid large crowds, it’s not clear whether states with upcoming elections will get any immediate help from Congress. Congress’ response so far has been focused on a package to address the fast-moving health and economic crisis.
 
‘Everyone’s Losing Money’: Coronavirus Strains Small Businesses in Seattle
As the nation buckles down to control the spread of Covid-19, there are growing concerns about how bad the economic fallout will be for the country. Small businesses in Seattle, one of the first states to experience the virus, are seeing fewer customers and in some cases closing their doors altogether. All around the country this week business owners, especially those with restaurants, are very concerned about covering rent and labor costs with cratering revenues. At the federal level, the coronavirus package Trump signed last week included provisions that could enable the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide an estimated $7 billion in loans to small businesses and other entities. The president is also calling for an increase in funding for SBA loans to aid businesses affected by the virus and he’s pushing for a temporary suspension of Social Security payroll taxes.
 
‘Climate Action Is Crucial.’ Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Orders Sweeping Executive Action to Combat Climate Change
Oregon Governor Kate Brown ordered the state to lower greenhouse gas emissions on Tuesday, directing a state agency to set and enforce caps on pollution from industry and transportation fuels. Governor Brown’s sweeping executive order aims to reduce carbon emissions to at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. Republican lawmakers, a minority in the state legislature, staged a walkout during this year’s short session to sabotage a bill that aimed at many of the same climate goals. The boycott caused the session to end two days early with only three bills passed and more than 100 dying, including the climate measure.
REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT 
From Unclean to Green: Downtown Oakland Project Protects Bay from Polluted Runoff
A section of downtown Oakland, CA is being transformed into a green oasis by a San Francisco Estuary Partnership project aimed at reducing the amount of polluted water draining into the San Francisco Bay. Each of the “Green Stormwater Spine” sites are individually designed to showcase innovative infrastructure techniques and to illustrate the sustainability of Bay-friendly landscapes for the public. The year-long, four-city construction program will treat a total of six acres of impervious surfaces. The $4 million Green Stormwater Spine program is sponsored by the Association of Bay Area Governments’ (ABAG) San Francisco Estuary Partnership. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) provided about half the construction funding with grants from Caltrans and the California Strategic Growth Council providing the balance. The Estuary Partnership is an ABAG program staffed by MTC working to increase the health and resiliency of the San Francisco Estuary.
 
MORPC: Air Quality Alerts Available as Ozone Season Begins
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is partnering with Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security (FCEMHS) as part of a network of agencies that will begin issuing Air Quality Alert notifications through ALERT Franklin County, FCEMHS’s state-of-the-art mass notification and warning system. March 1 marks the start of ozone season, a time when air pollution reaches unhealthy levels for sensitive groups of individuals. MORPC monitors particle pollution – a mixture of solids and liquid droplets in the air – from sources including car and truck exhaust, electrical power plants and industrial facilities. MORPC uses the Air Quality Index to inform the public about daily ozone and particle pollution levels in Central Ohio. The 2020 season will be the first full ozone season when residents can receive these alerts through the ALERT Franklin County system.
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FEATURED JOBS
View full list of jobs!

Planning Director
Posted 3/16/2020
Town of Wendell, Wake County, NC

Executive Director
Posted 3/16/2020
Flint Hills Regional Council, Ogden, KS

Regional Transportation Planner
Posted 3/16/2020
Greater Portland Council of Governments, Portland, ME

Technical Services and Operations Director
Posted 3/16/2020
Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments, Albany, OR

Regional Equity Initiative Manager
Posted 3/9/2020
Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, Dayton, OH

GRANTS
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2020 AARP Community Challenge
Applications Due: April 1
The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund “quick-action” projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Applications are being accepted for projects to improve housing, transportation, public space, technology (“smart cities”), civic engagement, and more.
 
Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) Grants
Applications Due: May 13
RCDI grants are awarded to help non-profit housing and community development organizations, low-income rural communities and federally recognized tribes support housing, community facilities and community and economic development projects in rural areas.
EVENTS
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The Local Government CIO Role in Preparing for Covid-19 and its Potential Impact on your Government’s Service Delivery
Recording Available On-Demand
Given the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus and the possible impact that it will have on government services in communities across the country, this is an appropriate time for technology executives to plan for the possible disruption of government services and how government employees will deliver services during that time. This CompTIA webinar will discuss that and more.
 
National Community Development Week Webinar
April 1, 3:00-4:00 PM ET (Rescheduled from March 18)
Webinar panelists will provide an overview of National Community Development (CD) Week, discuss the importance of participating in National Community Development Week, share examples of National Community Development Week activities, provide social media tips, and answer your questions concerning National Community Development Week. National CD Week, held April 13-17, is an annual opportunity to recognize and celebrate the successful impact of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) programs.

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