NARC Legislative Update And Analysis: U.S. House Passes Reconciliation Package

On November 19, the U.S. House passed its version of President Biden’s  Build Back Better Act (BBBA), a $1.75 trillion (H.R. 5376) reconciliation package  that includes paid family leave, universal preschool, tax incentives, climate initiatives, and a Medicare drug price negotiation program.  The legislation passed on a 220-213 party-line vote, utilizing the reconciliation process that give the House majority nearly complete control over all elements of the bill and substantially limits the minorities ability to amend the bill.  The bill now goes to the Seante where a similar drafting process will be used.  Most importantly, however, the reconciliation process enables the Senate majority to pass a bill with a simple majority.  Once drafted, the majority leader can bring the bill straight to the floor. and any amendments are required to comply with reconciliation rules, with a vote on passage to follow. If the Senate’s version differs from the House’s version the House and Senate will have to conference both bills and come to an agreement on a single bill that must then pass the House and Senate.  The House also has the option of skipping conference and vote on the Senate bill.  If it passes it will go to the president for his signature.   

The BBBA invests heavily in social programs such as childcare, preschool education, paid parental leave, resources to address climate change, education and housing stabilization and much more. Below are more details about some of these important programs.  

WHAT’S IN THE BUILD BACK BETTER ACT:  

Investments in Affordable Housing:

BBBA would provide a total of $150 billion for affordable housing programs that either improve or build over 1 million housing units.  

  • $3.05 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, including $500 million for a new Manufactured Housing Community Improvement Program.  
  • $25 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers and supportive services.  
  • $35 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program, including $15 billion to preserve and create affordable rental homes.  

Investments in Workforce Development:  

The bill would provide $4.5 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I programs within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).  

  • $2 billion for the Dislocated Workers Work Employment and Training Activities  
  • $1 billion for Adult Worker Employment and Training Activities  
  • $1.5 billion Youth Workforce Investment Activities 

Investments in the Economic Development Administration: 

The bill would provide $5 billion to the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Of this total, counties would be eligible to receive funding under the following programs 

  • $3.36 billion for EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance Program to develop regional economic growth clusters, including grants for technical assistance, planning and predevelopment activities 
  • $480 million for EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance Program to provide grants for technical assistance, planning and predevelopment activities to energy and industrial transition communities 
  • $1.2 billion for a new Recompete Grants for Persistently Distressed Communities program, which would award grants to alleviate economic distress and support long-term comprehensive economic development and job creation 

Raises the Cap on The State and Local Tax Deduction: 

The bill would raise the cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction from $10,000 to $80,000 and extend this cap through 2030. The $80,000 SALT cap amount would also apply to the 2021 tax year. For 2031, the SALT deduction cap would be set at $10,000. 

Investments in Climate Action:  

The BBBA would provide $555 billion for climate and clean energy investments. The bill provides tax credits up to $12,500 to those buying new electric vehicles, as well as incentives to encourage solar panel installation as well as the following:  

  • $17.8 billion to mitigate air pollution;  
  • $95 million would address hazardous materials through competitive EPA grants to reduce waste in communities to construct, expand, or modernize recycling infrastructure;  
  • $9 billion would help reduce lead in clean drinking water;  
  • and, $8.27 billion promoting environmental equity.  

Investments in Rural Development: 

The bill would provide $873 million to establish a new Rural Partnership Program through USDA, which aims to enhance rural communities’ access to federal community and economic development funding by providing flexible grants and technical assistance to a range of entities. Some additional investments in rural communities include:  

  • $9.7 billion for clean energy repowering for rural utilities; 
  • $3.5 billion to provide grants to support rural development;  
  • and, $2.7 billion for grants for construction, alteration, acquisition, modernization, renovation, or remodeling of agricultural resource facilities.  

Investments in Telecommunications: 

BBBA would allocate grants for NG911 (next generation 911) services including $9 million to establish an NG911 Cybersecurity Center within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) in addition to $1 million to establish a 16-member Public Safety NG911 Advisory Board.  Beyond the NG911 funding, the Act also allocates $295 million to NTIA for grants to public-private partnerships aimed at increasing access to broadband in urban communities. Some of the funding programs include:  

  • $300 million for the extension of the Emergency Connectivity Fund;  
  • and, $500 million in increased investments in next generation 911.  

Investments in Transportation: 

This legislation would make transportation more accessible and affordable, and help tackle the climate crisis by reducing carbon pollution from transportation and building more resilient infrastructure. Some of the transportation related programs in the bill include:  

  • $50 million facilitates national environmental policy act (nepa) reviews  
  • $294 million alternative fuel and low-emission aviation technology program  
  • $10 billion passenger rail improvement, modernizations, and emissions (prime) reduction grants  
  • $4 billion in neighborhood access and equity grants  
  • $900 million in reimbursements for use of low-carbon materials in transportation projects. 

The above is not an exhaustive list of every program and funding source in the entirety of BBBA. Additional resources and analysis from the National Association of Counties (NACo) can be found here. NARC will continue to monitor the legislation as it progresses through the Senate and provide you with additional information.  

The Impacts of Too Much Water: NARC’s Water Webinar Series

Weather patterns appear to be changing every day. Wet places are now wetter; dry places are now drier; hurricanes and tornadoes are becoming more frequent and violent; and floods and other catastrophes seem more prevalent. We need only look at Hurricane Ida which neared a category 5 storm, the recent flooding in Tennessee, and tornadoes in regions of the country that have never experienced tornadoes to know that things are different. Record rainfalls, for example, are happening across the eastern half of the country. Massachusetts experienced its wettest July on record. And perhaps most importantly, the trendlines suggest that this will continue for the foreseeable future.

We can argue about the reasons for this. Is it global warming, climate change, or just the normal changes in weather patterns that occur over time? In the short-term, does that really matter? What does matter is that these changes in weather patterns have had significant impacts on the health and safety of people across the country, whether in rural, suburban, or urban communities, and regardless of location, be they in the Northeast, Southeast or Midwest. This reality has placed regions across the nation at the forefront of efforts to respond to and mitigate the impacts of severe weather.

Recently, NARC hosted three webinars on the impacts of sea level rise, river flooding, and flash flooding, and how regions are responding to those specific issues.

The Bi-State Regional Commission[1]

The Quad Cities, originally made up of four cities–Davenport and Bettendorf in southeastern Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in northwestern Illinois – have faced increasing rainfall and increased flooding by the Mississippi River (which separates Illinois from Iowa). These floods are destroying valuable farmland, contaminating water supplies, damaging homes and businesses, and causing damage to roads, bridges, stadia, and other public infrastructure. In response to the problems faced by Mississippi River flooding, Bi-State Regional Commission developed a “Resilience and Durability to Extreme Weather Pilot Program.”

The project framework called for creation of an advisory committee, data gathering, analysis that would help determine access vulnerability and adaptation options, determine adaptation priorities, and integrate the assessment into its long-term transportation plan. Bi-State worked with a range of stakeholders including weather forecasters, federal, state, and local transportation agencies, and representatives of airports, railroads, transit, and trails, among others.  Together they analyzed data trends and found that weather and climate changes were responsible for the increased variability of floods, tornadoes, and storms, the frequency and volume of precipitation, and disruptions to transportation networks within the region. They also concluded that the future climate of the Quad Cities will be more like Louisiana and Texas than Illinois and Iowa.

Among the conclusions were that they must learn to live with the Mississippi River. This does not mean acceding to it, but it does mean understanding what is happening and working to mitigate the impacts as best as possible. To move the process along, Bi-State reviewed evacuation sites, public works facilities, transit hubs, rural transit operations, airports, port facilities and railyards; conducted stakeholder surveys and interviews, and held stakeholder workshops to help determine what is critical to the region’s transportation system; and prioritize those for adaptation options.

The final step was to incorporate these findings and conclusions into their various transportation planning processes to achieve resilience informed planning.

To view the PowerPoint Presentation click here

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council[2]

Like the Bi-State Regional Commission, the Tampa Bay region faces major challenges to its infrastructure due to water. However, in the case of Tampa Bay, the threats are due to sea level rise and storm surge. Either or both can have devastating impacts on the region, its people, and its economy. Located on the west coast of Florida, Tampa Bay is an area that often experiences severe weather, and sea level rise combined with storm surge is particularly problematic.

To help prepare for and mitigate the impact of sea level rise and storm surge, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) to study the problem and come up with solutions that can reduce the impacts of sea level rise and storm surges on the region’s transportation system.

One goal of the study was to conduct a regional vulnerability assessment of the roadways. The findings were incorporated into the Long-Term Regional Transportation Plan in response to the requirements of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. But it was also to provide data so that other resiliency efforts including hazard mitigation and community vulnerability studies could be completed.

The importance of this effort cannot be underestimated. The Tampa Bay region has 2.8 million residents, making it the second largest region in Florida and the 17th largest metropolitan economy in the nation. It has more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, and an astounding 58 percent of the population live in flood zones, as compared with five percent nationally.

Using nine different scenarios (including category 1 and category 5 hurricanes, and 33 inches of rain), the TBRPC projected that anywhere from more than 1,000 lane miles of roadway to almost 6,000 lane miles could be impacted by these different scenarios. To address these impacts TRPC made several recommendations. Among the adaptation recommendations were to raise the road profile, enhance drainage, protect road medians, attenuate wave action, improve seawalls and revetments, and create living shorelines that can help reduce the overall impact of sea level rise and storm surge. The cost of these adaptations, however, is significant. While Hillsborough County would experience a modest increase from $650 million to $700 million, Pinellas County costs would skyrocket from $102 million to $880 million. By no means a modest investment. But the cost of doing nothing ultimately would cost far more.

You may view the original webinar by clicking here

To view the PowerPoint Presentation click here

Deep East Texas Council of Governments[3]

The area of Texas served by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) is one of the largest rural regions in the nation. At more than 10,000 square miles, it is larger than six states. The region also has always been economically distressed, and the populations of nine of the 12 counties have declined. Moreover, it is an area prone to disasters.

Over the past several years, DETCOG has faced significant flash flooding. Several years ago, Hurricane Harvey dropped 28-30 inches of rain on Sabine County alone. Roads flooded at 125 of 275 creek crossings making the roads impassable. As a result of Harvey, however, the region received $11.2 million from the Community Development Block Grant – Mitigation Program. The grant will go to 10 cities and five counties and will enable the region to replace 19 bridges or culverts, elevate road grades and make drainage improvements to help reduce the possibility of flash floods. However, this effort will still leave 496 miles of county and US Forest Service roads in some level of disrepair. And the problems caused by flash floods have not ended. Last year, Hurricane Laura brought heavy rains over long periods of time resulting in flash flooding throughout the region. Fortunately, Hurricane Ida did not impact the region.

The search for solutions to reduce the incidence of flash floods goes on. While the expansion of broadband throughout the region and the expansion of emergency interoperable communications will not eliminate flash flooding, it will go a long way to ensure that residents of the region are fully aware of weather conditions and specific areas of flash flooding while enhancing the ability of police, fire, and other emergency workers the ability to communicate more effectively during emergencies.

You may view the original webinar by clicking here

To view the PowerPoint Presentation click here

Final Remarks

Of course, these three regions are and are not unique. While their specific water-related problems may differ, the fact remains the same in each region: they are experiencing an abundance of water that is unwelcomed. And even though the specifics of the water-related problems may differ, the solutions–assessment, mitigation and prevention remain constant across all three regions.

Finally, one important note: each of these regions is experiencing fluctuations in weather patterns. That is the norm almost everywhere. Each, however, is also the victim of climate change–long term changes in weather. In the Quad Cities, it is documented increases in rainfall which have added significantly to the amount of water in the Mississippi River, thereby creating enormous floods that have been and will continue to be disruptive of the local economy. In the Tampa Bay region, rising sea levels caused by melting glaciers and storm surge caused by ever more violent storms, ensure that the problem is not going to go away very soon. And in Lufkin, Texas, changes in the way storms develop and move have resulted in increased rainfalls, which has, in part, caused the dangerous and unpredictable flash flooding the region is experiencing.

[1] Presentation by Gena McCullough, Assistant Executive Director and Planning Director, Bi-State Regional Commission, Rock Island, Illinois

[2] Presentation by Sean Sullivan, executive director, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Tampa, Florida

[3] Presentation by Lonnie Hunt, Executive Director, Deep East Texas Council of Governments and Economic Development District, Lufkin, Texas

NARC is Hiring! Join Us as a Communications & Membership Associate

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. NARC serves as the national voice for regions, fostering regional solutions by advocating on behalf of and providing services to its membership. 

NARC announces an opening for a Communications and Membership Associate in its Washington, DC office. The successful candidate will provide a combination of professional and administrative assistance to bring value to NARC’s members through outreach and communications. The role includes interacting with members to understand the needs of each region; distributing two weekly newsletters; developing additional member communications; connecting members to NARC staff, services, and resources; assisting with planning and executing three conferences each year; and supporting programs and grant funded projects as required.   

The successful candidate will: 

  • Hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree and have experience in communications, planning, political science, public administration, or a related field. 
  • Manage multiple projects simultaneously and work well under pressure.  
  • Set and manage priorities and deadlines for themselves and other staff members. 
  • Excel in oral and written communications and represent NARC in a professional manner. 
  • Exhibit strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and a proactive approach. 
  • Have a basic understanding of HTML and WordPress and experience with creative design tools. 

Primary duties and responsibilities: 

Communications 

  • Manage NARC’s online and social media presence; utilize the website, social media, and electronic communities to market NARC programs and content to member and non-member organizations. 
  • Develop additional electronic communications, press releases, resources, research, and publications as needed. 
  • Coordinate production and distribution of two weekly newsletters.  
  • Facilitate peer-to-peer networking among the communications staff of member organizations.  

Conference Support 

  • Develop conference marketing materials in coordination with staff and host member. 
  • Coordinate conference preparation logistics including materials development and speaker needs.  
  • Manage annual awards process including marketing, project reviews, and related materials. 
  • Support conference sponsorship efforts, including developing sponsorship packets, securing sponsors, and working with sponsoring entities throughout the process. 

Membership 

  • Provide support to members through a variety of approaches, including orientations, surveys, member-only events, and leadership opportunities through board and committee participation. 
  • Assist in developing new tools for communication with and between members. 
  • Develop membership recruitment materials, in coordination with other staff. 
  • Coordinate annual leadership elections process including communicating to members, coordinating delegate documents, and tracking results. 
  • Identify opportunities to provide support to members, including orientations, surveys, member-only events, and leadership opportunities through board and committee participation. Assist in developing new tools for communication with and between members. 
  • Develop membership recruitment materials, in coordination with other staff. 

This role will also provide general office support as required. 

Current Organizational Software Tools 

  • Microsoft Office Suite 
  • MailChimp 
  • WordPress 
  • Adobe Creative Suite 
  • Google Forms 
  • Naylor Association Solutions 
  • Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Analytics 

How to Apply:

Qualified applicants should send a cover letter with salary requirements, resume, and brief (1-2 page) writing sample to jobs@narc.org. Applications will be accepted until position is filled. For more information, please see www.narc.org. No calls please.

______________

Competitive salary and full benefits package are available. Position reports to Executive Director 

NARC is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. 

NARC Presents the 2021 Regional Leadership and Achievement Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eli Spang
eli.spang@narc.org | 202.618.6363

The National Association of Regional Councils Presents the 2021 Regional Leadership and Achievement Awards

 Virtually (June 16, 2021) – The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) presented its 2021 General Achievement and Leadership Awards today during a virtual awards ceremony held at the NARC 55th Annual Conference & Exhibition.

“I am so pleased and so proud as President of NARC to be able to celebrate these achievements in regional cooperation, excellence, and leadership,” said NARC President Bob Cannon, Supervisor of Clinton Township, Michigan and former chair of Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. “What greater honor is there than to be able to recognize the valuable contributions of my colleagues.”

Seven projects received 2021 Achievement Awards and six regional leaders received 2021 Leadership Awards. More information about this year’s recipients can be found below.

ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission & Atlanta Regional Commission

Racial Equity Conversation Series

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) began a conversation with other regional agencies after recognizing the need to have what many may view as uncomfortable conversations about race. What started as a conversation turned into a six-week conversation series that worked to facilitate racial learning, healing, and equity building. Through their outreach efforts, MORPC and ARC joined more than 30 regional councils together from across the country to hear concerns, share best practices, and create steps to eliminate racism. They developed a resource guide for other regional agencies to serve as a starting point in having these important conversations with board members and staff to eliminate racial barriers.

Houston-Galveston Area Council

The Regional Conservation Framework

Between the months of June and September 2020, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) conducted virtual listening sessions throughout their 13-county region to discuss local conservation opportunities, needs, and challenges. In March 2021, the H-GAC Board of Directors approved the Regional Conservation Framework. Three recommended strategies for local and regional conservation projects are highlighted in the Framework: Leverage, Support, and Fund. The Framework provides guidance for H-GAC efforts to preserve and enhance their region’s diverse natural heritage and realize the benefits of conservation.

Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments

Ohio River Recreational Trail Digital Guide

 The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) developed the Ohio River Digital Guide, an interactive digital map that is designed to aid boaters, paddlers, anglers, cyclists, and motorists to safely explore the Ohio river communities. The guide provides real-time updates of where commercial vessels are and where the barge “sail line” is in the river. In addition to this, the guide includes links to river community websites so travelers can learn about the wonderful amenities that can be found within the river communities.

Southern California Association of Governments

Go Human Program

To respond and plan for safer communities, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) developed Go Human, a multi‐pronged community engagement program. Go Human was created to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities involving people walking and biking and increase rates of active transportation. One of the many pivotal Go Human strategies includes engaging priority and historically disinvested communities through the development of its “Kit of Parts,” an engagement tool for jurisdictions to temporarily demonstrate potential and planned street design treatments and safety infrastructure. Since its release in 2019, the Go Human Kit of parts has been deployed over 45 times for a variety of projects and experienced by tens of thousands of residents at events across Southern California.

San Joaquin Council of Governments

EZHub, Fare Payments-as-a-Service for the Vamos Mobility App

 The San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) sought to integrate fares and make using transit easier by developing a program that would provide both trip planning and fare payments to citizens all in one place. In November 2020, EZHub was launched onto the Vamos Mobility Platform. EZHub provides users with both trip planning and fare payments on the same page. The program also provides a contactless payment option and allows opportunities such as fare capping, ticket promotions, and carsharing reservations. The project has made a positive impact within the region and increased opportunities for residents.

Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission

E-Commerce in Northwest Indiana

E-Commerce has taken a significant role in the changing world of retail, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In consideration of this growing sector, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) decided to conduct a study to investigate the impacts of e-commerce on Northwest Indiana. The study provides recommendations to Northwest Indiana municipalities on best practices to anticipate e-commerce impacts, mitigate effects on land use and transportation, and provide guidance on how to harness the opportunities that e-commerce presents. NIRPC’s E-Commerce study is the first initiative in Indiana to address the implications that e-commerce has on transportation, land use, and retail.

Central Florida Regional Planning Council

Heartland 2060: Building a Resilient Program – Revisited

 The Central Florida Regional Planning Council’s (CFRPC) Heartland 2060 brought together seven inland counties in Florida to discuss the region’s future and the need to build a more resilient region. The Heartland 2060 plan supports the following priorities: the need to support existing communities, encourage revitalization, enhance economic competitiveness, provide more efficient transportation choices, and ensure the sustainability of communities. The plan also provides extensive data and economic, transportation, housing, and environmental modeling. Heartland 2060 produced technical assets that can be used to aid the region and its local governments in the future to ensure sustainability within the region.

LEADERSHIP AWARDS

2021 WALTER SCHEIBER LEADERSHIP AWARD – TWO WINNERS!

 Brian O. Martin

Executive Director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission

 Brian O. Martin serves as the 6th Executive Director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC). Brian represents the agency in various capacities at the regional, state, and national levels and is responsible for overseeing all management aspects of the organization. Brian is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Regional Council’s Executive Directors Council and serves on multiple local boards. Brian has been widely applauded for his work in social justice, equality, and diversity in the Miami Valley Region and he has continued to emphasize the need for disparities to be addressed through a regional approach.

Becky Bradley

Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission

 Becky Bradley has over 20 years of experience in city, regional, economic development, historic preservation, and transportation planning. Becky has served as Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) since August 2013. Through her vision, she has helped the region manage its economic success while continuing to preserve farmland and natural resources within the region. She manages a $2.5 billion Long-Range Transportation Program and she is responsible for the region’s first-ever plan to prepare for unprecedented freight movement growth. Becky has had a major impact on the region, and she has given the Lehigh Valley a greater voice at the state and national level.

 2021 TOM BRADLEY LEADERSHIP AWARD

 The Honorable Oliver G. Gilbert III

Chairman, Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) Governing Board, Miami-Dade County, Florida, Member, South Florida Regional Planning Council, Florida

Oliver G. Gilbert III, Chairman of the Miami-Dade TPO Governing Board for Miami-Dade County, Florida, also serves as the Vice Chairman for the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners (BCC), Chairman for the Southeast Florida Transportation Council (SEFTC) and as a member of the South Florida Regional Planning Council. Chairman Gilbert has led the Miami-Dade TPO Governing Board by providing guidance and overseeing the passage of fifty TPO Governing Board transportation planning related resolutions during 2020. As the Miami-Dade TPO Chairman, he has led major milestone resolutions that are advancing critical transportation initiatives in the Miami Urbanized region. Through his leadership, Chairman Gilbert continues to forge partnerships throughout the Miami region to advance multimodal transportation for residents and visitors.

 2021 PRESIDENT’S AWARD – THREE WINNERS!

 David Warm

Executive Director of the Mid-America Regional Council

 David Warm has served as Executive Director of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) since 1991. David has provided excellent leadership to MARC and is known to be a deeply insightful advocate and national leader on regional issues. David serves as the Region XI Regional Representative for the NARC Executive Directors Council and has played an active role in many projects to increase support for regional councils at the national level. In recognition of his work with MARC and his efforts at the national level, David was previously awarded NARC’s Walter Scheiber Leadership Award.

 Douglas R. Hooker

Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission

 Doug Hooker has served as Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) since 2011. Through his career he has worked on important regional and local projects including transportation planning, aging services, workforce development, water conservation, and homeland security. Doug is an active member of NARC’s leadership and currently serves as the Chair of the NARC Executive Directors Council. Doug is a well-known and respected leader in his region and the impacts of his work extend through many groundbreaking projects in the Atlanta Region. Doug recently announced that this will be his last year at the head of ARC, as he plans to retire in March of 2022.

The Honorable Garret Nancolas

Mayor of the City of Caldwell, Idaho

 Mayor Garret Nancolas has served on the Board of Directors of the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) since its inception in 2000 and has represented COMPASS and Region XII on NARC’s Board of Directors since 2016. Mayor Nancolas was elected mayor of Caldwell, Idaho in 1997 and is the longest serving mayor in the city’s history and the only of the city’s mayors to have served more than one term. Mayor Nancolas holds multiple regional leadership positions, and he is known throughout the region as a man of integrity. After more than 30 years of public service, Mayor Nancolas has chosen not to seek reelection as mayor and plans to retire at the end of 2021.

More information about NARC awards, conferences, and leadership can be found at www.NARC.org.

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About the National Association of Regional Councils

NARC serves as a national voice for regions by advocating for regional cooperation as the most effective way to address a variety of community planning and development opportunities and issues. NARC’s member organizations are composed of multiple local governments that work together to serve American communities – large and small, urban and rural.

NARC is Hiring! Join Us as a Transportation & Economic Development Intern

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) seeks a summer intern to support its transportation and economic development programs.

Position Overview:

The successful candidate will work on legislative and policy issues related to NARC’s transportation and economic development programs. Responsibilities may include issue-based research, policy formulation, legislative analysis, Congressional and Administrative correspondence, website content development, Congressional relations support, developing content for NARC’s weekly newsletters, and other duties as assigned.

Details:

NARC seeks an intern for 30 hours per week through the summer, with the possibility to extend depending on availability. A stipend is provided. All work is currently conducted on a virtual basis, but we expect interns will be in the office when in-person resumes.

Qualifications:

The successful candidate will have excellent research and writing skills and attention to accuracy and detail. Strong interpersonal skills are a must to ensure the smooth operation of our small staff. A background in policy or related experience is a huge plus. Students or recent graduates preferred.

To Apply:

To apply, send a resume, cover letter, and a short writing sample to jobs@narc.org with the subject “Intern.” Please, no phone calls.

Bob Cannon Takes the Lead as Next President of the National Association of Regional Councils

For Immediate Release. Contact: 202.618.6363 / eli.spang@narc.org

Clinton Township, MI, Supervisor Bob Cannon Takes the Lead as Next President of the National Association of Regional Councils

Washington, DC (February 8, 2021): Clinton Township, MI, Supervisor Bob Cannon was elected this evening to serve as the next president of the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC). Cannon’s election by the NARC Board of Directors took place during NARC’s National Conference of Regions, which is being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cannon was first elected Clinton Township Supervisor in 2000 and during his time as Supervisor, he has held several leadership positions with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), chairing multiple SEMCOG committees and serving as chairman of SEMCOG from 2010-2011.

“I’ve always been proud to be a member of SEMCOG and to have led that group, and I am honored to be selected as the next president of NARC,” said Cannon. “Communicating and collaborating within regions and on a national level is the most effective way to plan and grow communities. I look forward to beginning work with NARC,” he said.

At NARC, Cannon has also held a variety of leadership positions, including serving as President-elect, Senior Vice President, and District IX Board Representative. In 2017, Cannon was awarded NARC’s Tom Bradley Leadership Award which recognizes the leadership and excellence of an elected or appointed official in advocating for regional approaches.

“For decades, Bob Cannon has been a consummate champion for regional collaboration,” said Amy O’Leary, Executive Director of SEMCOG. “His immense value to Southeast Michigan shines through in every situation. Whether serving as SEMCOG’s Chairperson or as a member of one of our committees, we have always counted on Bob to provide a strong and unifying voice to help move us forward. I have no doubt he will provide the same type of value as President of NARC,” she said.

NARC congratulates President Cannon on his election and thanks Immediate Past President Marge Vogt, Councilmember for the City of Olathe, Kansas for her service to the association.

                                                                                 ###

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) serves as the national voice for regions by advocating for regional cooperation as the most effective way to address a variety of community planning and development opportunities and issues. NARC’s member organizations are composed of multiple local governments that work together to serve American communities – large and small, urban and rural. For additional information, please visit www.NARC.org.

NARC Analysis: CARES Act

This afternoon, the House of Representatives passed The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748) following an earlier vote this week by the Senate. The bill is intended to provide the country with $2.3 trillion of aid to counter the physical and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation is the third COVID-19 bill to be developed by Congress, following the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201).

The CARES Act, the single largest economic stimulus package in American history, faced a brief challenge in the House when Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) attempted to force a recorded roll call vote on the bill. Congressmembers from both sides of aisle traveled quickly to Washington to establish a quorum, denying Massie’s attempt and passing the legislation with a voice vote.

Following the successful House vote, the bill will now be
sent to the President, who is expected to quickly sign it into law.

Below are key items from the CARES Act, including a table
of top-level figures, and summaries of the legislation’s primary areas of
support, including support for state and local government, transportation,
individuals, and businesses.

Top Level Funding Figures (~$2.3 Trillion Total)

SUPPORT
FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

State & Local Government Support (New
Coronavirus Relief Fund) ($150 Billion)

The legislation provides $150 billion specifically for
states, tribes, territories, and some local areas. And provides $8 billion for
Tribes and $3 billion for territories (including, oddly, the District of
Columbia, which is normally treated as a state for such purposes). Of the
remaining $139 billion, funds are distributed to each state based on the
state’s population relative to the population of the nation as a whole.

Of the amount each state receives, up to 45% of funds are
available to “units of local governments,” which is defined as a county,
municipality, town, township, village, parish, borough, or other unit of
general government below the State level with a population of 500,000 or
greater. A local area would qualify to receive a portion of funding that is
equivalent to the proportion the local government’s population bears to the
population of the state as a whole.

SNAP, Family Services and Housing ($42 Billion)

$25 billion in additional funding will be provided for
the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and for other child
nutrition programs to support states and localities in meeting growing need for
food assistance as a result of coronavirus.

$4 billion in Homelessness Assistance Grants would be
provided to state and local governments to address coronavirus among the
homeless population. 

CDBG ($5 Billion)

The bill provides $5 billion through the Community Development Block Grant
Program (CDBG) for services for senior citizens, the
homeless, and public health services. This includes $2 billion distributed
using the normal CDBG formula; $1 billion to states based on a formula
developed by HUD for COVID-19; and $2 billion to states and localities based on
a formula to be developed by HUD within 30 days.

FEMA Disaster Relief Funding ($45 Billion)

$45 billion is being provided in funding for FEMA with
$25 billion going to areas with major disaster declarations, like Washington
State and New York State. The remaining $15 billion will be used for all
purposes allowed under the Stafford Act.

EDA Funding ($1.5 Billion)

The bill allocates $1.5 billion to the Economic
Development Administration through September 30, 2022. This will help regions mitigate
the local economic crisis and rebuild impacted industries such as tourism or
manufacturing supply chains.

USDA-Rural Development Programs ($145.5
million)

The stimulus package provides an additional $20.5 million
for the Rural Business Program under the Rural Business Cooperative Service to
support loans for rural business development programs. It allocates $25 million
for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program which helps provide
broadband services to rural communities to support vital distance learning and
telemedicine. The bill also provides $100 million in grants to the ReConnect
pilot program to provide broadband services to rural areas to meet the Federal
Communications Commission speed standards of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps
upstream.

Dislocated Workers National Reserve ($345
million)

The bill provides $345 million for dislocated workers
(through September 30, 2022) to prepare for and respond to layoffs resulting
from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homeless Assistance Grants ($4 billion)

The stimulus package provides $4 billion to enable state
and local governments to provide effective, targeted assistance to contain the
spread of COVID-19 among homeless individuals. It will also provide
homelessness prevention funding for individuals and families who would
otherwise become homeless because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Project-Based and Tenant-Based Rental
Assistance ($2.25 billion)

The package provides $1 billion for project-based rental
assistance to make up for reduced tenant payments as a result of coronavirus.
$1.25 billion for tenant-based rental assistance will be provided to preserve
Section 8 vouchers for seniors, the disabled, and low-income working families.

Section 202 Housing for the Elderly ($50
million)

This $50 million in funds will help maintain housing
stability and services for low-income seniors.

Section 811 Housing for Persons with
Disabilities ($15 million)

The bill provides $15 million to make up for reduced
tenant payments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

SUPPORT
FOR TRANSPORTATION

In total, the bill provides $114 billion for transportation-related
purposes, $88 billion of which for aviation-related grants (as well as industry
loans and loan guarantees). Of the remaining $26 billion, most of that goes to
transit ($25 billion) and Amtrak ($1+ billion).

Transit ($25 Billion)

The bill provides $25 billion for “Transit Infrastructure
Grants” to allow transit agencies to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to
coronavirus.” These funds are treated as if they are provided under 49 U.S.C.
5307 (Urbanized Area Formula Grants) and 49 U.S.C. 5311 (Formula Grants for
Rural Areas), but are distributed in the same proportion as the funds in fiscal
year 2020 appropriations under 5307, 5311, 5337 (State of Good Repair Grants)
and 5340 (Apportionments based on growing States and high density States
formula factors). Funds under 5337 are added to 5307 funds and administered
under 5307.

The funds will be distributed in seven days based on
FY2020 apportionment formulas. The limitation on the use of funds for operating
expenses in urban areas is waved. All of the funds, regardless of which program
the funds come through, is for “reimbursement for operating costs to maintain
service and lost revenue due to the coronavirus public health emergency,
including the purchase of personal protective equipment, and paying the
administrative leave of operations personnel due to reductions in service.”
These additional operating funds DO NOT need to appear in a TIP, STIP, or LRTP
to quality.

Finally, the funds for this section are from General
Treasury Funds, not the Highway Trust Fund, and they are not subject to any
limitation on obligations. Eligible projects can be funded with 100% federal
funds.

Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund

The bill contain a provision that impacts new receipts
into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, treating these funds as mandatory
spending not subject to spending caps (and therefore making the funds easier to
spend; previously, these funds would require a spending offset). This provision
does not affect the spending down of the current HMTF balance (which is $9
billion or so), but does prevent the balance from continuing to grow. This
provision will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021 or upon passage of the next Water
Resource Development Act (WRDA).

Amtrak ($1 Billion)

Just over $1 billion is provided for Amtrak, including
$492 for Northeast Corridor grants and $526 million for National Network
grants. Reduces required payment from states for “State-Supported Routes” and
sets aside $239 million from National Network grants in lieu of an increase in a
state’s payment.

Aviation ($42 Billion [Excluding Loans &
Loan Guarantees])

Much of the transportation-related funding in the bill is
provided for aviation purposes, including $32 billion in direct grants, $46
billion for loans and loan guarantees (out of the $500 billion loan and loan
guarantees program), $10 billion for airport grants, and suspension of
collection of Airport and Airway Trust Fund excise taxes for the remainder of
the calendar year. In addition, an additional $56 million is provided for Essential
Air Service.

General Highway Provision

The bill temporarily allows truck weight limits on the
Interstate system to be exceeded for trucks carrying emergency supplies, to be
in place through September 30, 2020 so long as the disaster declaration remains
in effect.

SUPPORT
FOR INDIVIDUALS

Unemployment Benefits ($260 Billion)

The bill changes unemployment insurance benefits in several dramatic ways. The bill provides unemployed workers with their basic state unemployment benefits (about $300 per week) plus a federal supplement of $600 per week for up to four months. The bill also extends state benefits for 13 weeks.  This results in up to 39 weeks of benefits for many workers. In addition, the bill provides incentives for states to waive their waiting periods, and makes unemployment compensation available to part-time, self-employed, and gig workers as well.

Notably, this bill does not contain an amendment which
was requested by many local government partners to remove a provision that
requires states, local governments and their political subdivisions and
instrumentalities to provide paid sick leave, while prohibiting these
governmental entities from receiving the tax credits available to private
employers.

Stimulus Checks ($290 Billion)

Checks will be sent to Americans in amounts of $1,200 per
adult and $500 per child. Check eligibility will be phased out above $75,000 of
income for individuals and $150,000 of income for couples.

Tax Reductions for Individuals ($20 Billion)

The bill would provide several tax reduction avenues for
individuals including allowing HSA purchases of menstrual Products and
temporarily waiving retirement minimum distribution rules.

SUPPORT
FOR EDUCATION SYSTEMS

Education Spending ($32 billion)

An education stabilization fund for states, school
districts, & higher education institutions will be provided $31 billion.
Other Department of Education programs will receive approximately another $1
billion in funding.

SUPPORT
FOR HEALTH SYSTEMS

Hospitals and Health Care ($180 Billion)

$100 billion of funding in the bill is being put toward
hospitals responding to COVID-19. Other funding will go to drug access; CDC,
FDA, NIH, IHS, & other health-related agencies; care for veterans; and the
replenishing of the nation’s stockpile of medical supplies.

SUPPORT
FOR BUSINESSES

Small Business Support ($377 Billion)

Small business funding will be provided in three ways:

$10 billion of funding is being provided for Economic
Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for grants up to $10,000 to cover immediate
operating costs for businesses.

$350 billion is allocated for the Small Business
Administration (SBA) to provide loans of up to $10 million per business. Use of
that money is flexible as long as businesses keep their workers employed
through the end of June.

Lastly, $17 billion will be for the SBA to cover 6 months
of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.

Large Business Support ($510 Billion)

A large portion of the bill will be used to provide loans
and loan guarantees for large companies, particularly for those industries
hardest hit by COVID-19 such as airlines.

Tax Reductions for Businesses ($280 Billion)

The bill would loosen caps imposed by the Tax Cuts
& Jobs Act
on interest deductibility & operating losses, provide
payroll tax credits for businesses who retain workers at a loss, and delay
employer payroll tax payments from 2020 to 2021 & 2022       $12. The bill would also introduce a very
COVID-19-specific provision allowing liquor distillers to make hand sanitizer
tax-free.        

FURTHER
READING

For more information on the CARES Act check out these
other resources:

NARC Presents 2019 Regional Leadership and Excellence Awards

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) presented its 2019 Achievement and Leadership Awards at its 53rd Annual Conference and Exhibition in Omaha, this Tuesday evening.

“It is such a great honor to be able to recognize the valuable contributions of my colleagues …We know that this work can be slow, frustrating and challenging at times, but we also know how valuable it is to our communities and how rewarding it can be.” said NARC President ­Geof Benson during his remarks at the dinner.

ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

MAJOR METRO ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Triangle J Council of Governments Nation Council of Governments

Innovation Sandbox Challenge

Triangle J Council of Government’s (TJCOG) Innovation Sandbox Challenge began in 2018 as a response to the need for more innovative, flexible, and responsive projects on behalf of their member governments on issues that arose suddenly or became too challenging for localities to tackle on their own. It focuses on public sector challenges and provides a safe space outside of any single local government for experimentation. Every other year, TJCOG staff will lead research, facilitate conversations, and manage workstreams to identify and implement unique approaches and solutions on a regional scale for challenges selected by stakeholders of the COG. The success and regional interest of the Sandbox Challenge continues to grow as partner organizations and member governments actively look to future “calls for challenges” as an avenue for advancing solutions to issues they are facing in their local communities.

Alamo Area Council of Governments

TXServes – San Antonio

In 2017, Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) opened the first AmericaServes Coordination Center in Texas, TXServes-San Antonio, to provide unequaled access to the very best and most comprehensive network of services, resources, and care designed exclusively for military service members, veterans, and their families within the region. In 18 months of operation, AACOG has received over 4,000 requests for services and have 91 service provider partners in their network. Compared to other networks across the country, TXServes-San Antonio is operating at a larger scale while maintaining their timeliness in serving clients. It was recently recognized as the Regional Practice Champion by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and in a recent report from the Governor’s Committee to Support the Military.

Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency

Signal Timing Optimization Program (STOP)

Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) has studied various roadways to find that outdated and inefficient signal timing has caused unnecessary delays and congestion in several major corridors situated in our busiest workforce areas. Their Signal Timing Optimization Program (STOP) is a regional collaboration pilot program between NOACA, local government and the state department of transportation to improve corridors by optimizing traffic signals. The program has become a recognized solution in the NOACA metropolitan area that has shown reduction in emissions, fuel and delay savings along with benefit cost ratios. NOACA has met much success, as STOP was implemented in four distinct regional districts under the pilot program.

MEDIUM METRO ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Eastgate Regional Council of Governments

Youngstown SMART Squared Network

Eastgate Regional Council of Governments’ Youngstown SMART Squared Network will connect Strategic & Sustainable, Medical & Manufacturing, Academic & Arts, Residential & Recreational, and Technology & Training centers in the heart of Eastern Ohio Appalachia’s largest metropolitan area – the City of Youngstown. The network will enhance mobility, improve safety, and integrate technology into a modern and efficient multimodal transportation system in Downtown Youngstown that is responsive and adaptive to the needs of current and future users. Eastgate is the proud recipient of a recent $10.8 million BUILD grant to fill the funding gap to complete this comprehensive effort. The SMART Squared Network project is a clear demonstration of the collaboration and trust amongst the community anchor institutions, city residents, and local and state governments.

Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council,

South Florida Regional Planning Council, and

South Florida Regional Transportation Authority

Transit Oriented Development Education and Outreach Program

Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s Transit Oriented Development Education and Outreach Program provided a collaborative, multi-agency effort to improve mobility, access, ridership, and land development potential for the Tri-Rail Commuter Rail Corridor in Southeast Florida. An extensive outreach program engaging local governments and stakeholder agencies expanded the understanding of Transit Oriented Development in the region. A regional Idea Exchange Network emerged through regional workshop discussions to help facilitate adoption of Transit Oriented Development policies and codes and approval of projects. The program established a more collaborative relationship between local government, MPOs, FDOT, RPCs, and the SFRTA as a resource and development partner for station-area land development and infrastructure investments.

Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council

The Transit Oriented Development Education and Outreach Program created by Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, South Florida Regional Planning Council, and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority provided a collaborative, multi-agency effort to improve mobility, access, ridership, and land development potential for the Tri-Rail Commuter Rail Corridor in Southeast Florida. An extensive outreach program engaging local governments and stakeholder agencies expanded the understanding of Transit Oriented Development in the region. A regional Idea Exchange Network emerged through regional workshop discussions to help facilitate adoption of Transit Oriented Development policies and codes and approval of projects. The program established a more collaborative relationship between local government, MPOs, FDOT, RPCs, and the SFRTA as a resource and development partner for station-area land development and infrastructure investments.

RURAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Green River Area Development District

Reducing Food Waste and Helping Homebound Seniors

A regional hospital approached the Green River Area Development District (GRADD) with a problem: they discard 300-500 meals a week, and want to find a way to assist the older adults in the region while reducing their food waste. Meanwhile, the Senior Community Center of Owensboro Daviess County makes food deliveries to homebound seniors Monday through Friday, but not during the evenings or on weekends. GRADD connected these organizations, providing technical assistance and encouragement to help them work together to provide frozen meals for homebound seniors. To date, the program has helped provide 8,542 frozen meals to homebound clients to provide evening and weekend meals. There are about 60-90 seniors receiving two frozen meals every weekend. The program has been so successful, the Kentucky Department of Aging and Independent Living are currently working with GRADD to find a way to replicate the program statewide.

LEADERSHIP AWARD

2019 WALTER SCHEIBER LEADERSHIP AWARD

Tim Brennan

Executive Director, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Tim Brennan has led the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) for nearly 4 decades, serving 43 cities and towns in western Massachusetts. He began his career with PVPC as an intern, working his way up to eventually take on the role as executive director in 1981. One of his first accomplishments was helping to modernize and grow the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. More recently, PVPC played a critical role in the launch of high-speed passenger rail service in 2014. Under his leadership, PVPC has helped launch an electric bike-sharing program called the ValleyBike, craft community development plans for numerous communities, assist organizations that deal with domestic violence, and work hand-in-hand with membership communities to clean up the Connecticut River.

“I am extraordinarily proud of my staff and my board who have supported me for 40 plus years …and I am grateful for all of you and to have served with all of you. Keep up the good work” said Tim Brennan, in his remarks following acceptance of the award.

Information about NARC awards, conferences, and leadership can be found at www.NARC.org.