APWA – Washington Report – February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

To stay informed about happenings on Capitol Hill please be sure to follow APWA Government Affairs on Twitter @APWAGOVAFFAIRS and check Advocacy News on http://www.apwa.net.
APWA Public Policies for 116th Congress
• On January 30, the APWA Board of Directors approved public policy statements to guide APWA’s U.S. advocacy efforts during the 116th Session of Congress;
• The APWA Government Affairs Committee (GAC) and Government Affairs staff worked diligently over recent months to review the previous public policy documents from the 115th Congress, and examine what updates were needed for the new Congress (January 3, 2019-January 3, 2021);
• It was determined that the same policy areas of transportation, water resiliency, and emergency management & response would remain the Association’s primary public policy priorities, but updates and rewrites were needed to reflect the political landscape in D.C.;
• The following public policy documents were drafted, and approved by APWA’s Board to guide APWA’s U.S. advocacy activities:
116th U.S. Congress Policy Priorities
Transportation Policy Priorities
Water Resiliency Policy Priorities
Emergency Management & Response Policy Priorities
• The above documents may be found under the Government Affairs tab on the APWA website (www.apwa.net);
• These documents outline APWA’s public policy priorities in the U.S. at the federal level, but should also be utilized by APWA chapters to engage at the local and state levels—please share them broadly;
• APWA’s Government Affairs staff will be distributing the new documents on Capitol Hill this month, and will be connecting with all 535 Congressional offices about APWA’s public policy priorities in the coming days and weeks;
• APWA’s GAC will be in Washington, D.C., April 2-4, 2019, for its annual spring meeting during which the GAC and Government Affairs staff meet with Congressional Members, Committees, and representatives from the Executive branch;
• Should you have any questions regarding APWA’s government affairs outreach and activities, please contact APWA’s Director of Government Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net.
FHWA Nominee Testifies
• On January 29, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on the nomination of Ms. Nicole Nason to serve as the next Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA);
• During her testimony, Ms. Nason commented that “all options are on the table” for fixing and funding the Highway Trust Fund;
• Additionally, Ms. Nason made comments addressing road safety and the high number of deaths and in particular the unique challenges of rural road safety;
• During the hearing, there was much discussion from both sides of the aisle about the fact the current 5-year surface transportation law (FAST Act) expires in September 2020, and solutions for funding need to be found now;
• The Committee is expected to vote on Ms. Nason’s confirmation during a business meeting scheduled for February 5;
• Please click here to view an archive of the January 29 hearing.
Concern Over EPA Chemicals Decision
• According to sources from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and reporting by Politico, EPA will not set a drinking water standard for poly- and perflouorinated compounds (PFAS);
• Following the Politico report, EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator David Ross issued a statement saying the Agency had not finalized the PFAS plan;
• Last month, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler approved a management plan for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOA);
• Under the plan, there will be no numerical limit on the amount of PFOS and PFOA that can be present in drinking water;
• Without a specific numeric limit on PFOS and PFOA under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), water providers will face no federal requirements for testing for, and removing, the chemicals from drinking water;
• Several states have independently enacted, or are enacting, numerical limits on the substances for drinking water;
• In 2016, EPA issued a lifetime health advisory (LHA) of 70 parts per trillion (PPT) for PFOS and PFOA, but these LHA’s are not enforceable, and have been criticized as being dangerously high;
• Mr. Wheeler did not commit to setting a numerical standard for the chemicals during his testimony earlier this month before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works;
• A bipartisan group of 20 Senators wrote a letter to Mr. Wheeler, urging the Agency to “develop enforceable federal drinking water standards for PFOS and PFOA.”;
• Additionally, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sent a letter to Wheeler about PFAS, asking specific questions about industry influence on the PFAS management plan;
• Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) issued a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson regarding PFAS contamination in his state, criticizing the Department for “not working in good faith” with the State in working to clean up contamination from a former Air Force base;
• The lack of commitment to a numerical standard has raised questions about Mr. Wheeler’s confirmation vote which is scheduled for February 5.
Infrastructure a Focus for Committees
• House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced that a hearing on the nation’s infrastructure, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure Cannot Wait” is scheduled to take place on February 7 at 9:30 am ET;
• Mr. DeFazio stated that the purpose of the hearing is to show “how unbelievably expensive it is if we don’t make these investments and we take the system to failure”;
• Mr. DeFazio met with Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Chair John Barrasso (R-WY) last week to discuss a broad infrastructure package, where both members expressed optimism about action this Congress;
• Chairman Barrasso finalized the chairs of EPW subcommittees, with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) taking over the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Freshman Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) leading the Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee.
DHS Seeks Comments on National Emergency Communications Plan
• The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is requesting comments on the revised National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP);
• NECP was first issued by DHS in 2008, and was designed to establish standards for enhancing emergency communications capabilities, and to measure progress toward achieving those standards;
• If you would like to submit comments, please send them to Marty Williams on or before March 14;
• If you wish to submit comments directly to CISA, you must do so by March 22;
• To view the plan, and to submit comments to CISA, please click here.
FEMA Continues Future Flood Risk Reimbursement Participation
• The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will continue to purchase additional flood risk reimbursement insurance for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP);
• Reinsurance is a financial risk management tool used by private insurance companies and public entities to protect themselves from large financial losses;
• For additional information on the flood risk reimbursement program, please click here.
Rule Addressing Private Flood Insurance Close to Completion
• Last week, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced that a rule titled “Loans in Areas Having Special Flood Hazards”, directing banks to accept private flood insurance through NFIP from borrowers seeking mortgages, would soon be introduced;
• Expanding coverage opportunities for the private sector has been a subject of discussion at the federal level for several years, and was required by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012;
• The FDIC and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have signed off on the final version of the regulation, but approval is still needed from the Federal Reserve, National Credit Union Administration, and Farm Credit Administration;
• Pending those approvals, the rule will take effect on July 1.
House Plans Vote on Earthquake Preparedness Legislation
• Under suspension of the rules, the House is expected to vote this week on H.R. 876, the Pacific Northwest Earthquake Preparedness Act of 2019, introduced by House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR);
• If enacted, the bill would direct FEMA to develop a plan to purchase and install an earthquake and tsunami early warning system for the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an area that primarily includes the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as Vancouver, British Columbia;
• Early warning systems may include technology such as Global Positioning System receivers and seismometers.
Senate to Take Up Natural Resources
Management Act
• This week, the Senate is expected to act on S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act, introduced by Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK);
• Included in the bill, is language that would expand the use of drones to monitor and respond to wildfires;
• Additionally, the measure would authorize the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to develop a National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System.
APWA to Participate in NHSC Annual Winter Meeting
• On February 7, APWA Emergency Management Technical Committee Chair Mark Ray and Government Affairs Manager Marty Williams are scheduled to participate in the National Homeland Security Consortium (NHSC) Winter Meeting in Alexandria, VA;
• NHSC consists of 21 national organizations, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that represent local, state, and private professionals, and first & secondary responders, who deliver the daily services vital to the safety and security of the United States;
• The one-and-a-half-day session includes an EARTH EX Black Sky Event Simulation Exercise which focuses on educating organizations and agencies on the impact of cascading consequences and the interconnected nature of critical lifeline infrastructures.
On the Horizon
• February 5 at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works has scheduled a business meeting which includes consideration of the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be Administrator of EPA, and Ms. Nicole Nason to be Administrator for FHWA – click here for more information;
• February 5 at 9:00 pm ET, President Trump is scheduled to deliver the State of the Union Address from the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives;
• February 6 at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Commerce has scheduled a hearing titled, “Winning the Race to 5G and the Next Era of Technology Innovation in the United States” – click here for more information;
• February 6 at 10:00 am ET, the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled, “The Power of the Purse: A Review of Agency Spending Restrictions During a Shutdown” – click here for more information;
• February 6 at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs has scheduled a business meeting to set the rules and determine proposed expenditures for the Committee during the 116th Session of Congress – click here for more information;
• February 7 at 9:30 am ET, the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure has scheduled a hearing titled, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure Cannot Wait” – click here for more information.