APWA – Washington Report January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020                                     Share:     Please be sure to follow APWA Government Affairs on Twitter @APWAGovAffairs and check Advocacy News on www.apwa.net.

LATEST NEWS Trump Administration Releases New WOTUS Rule On January 23, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule;” Replacing regulations in place since the 1980’s, the final rule would be the new “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS); Overall, the final rule is like the one the Trump administration proposed in September of last year, with several key changes: Eliminates Clean Water Act (CWA) protections for the majority of the nation’s wetlands; Removes protections for the nearly 18% of streams that only flow in response to rainfall or snowmelt; The key changes from the draft rule provide loopholes for some of those bodies of water; One tweak allows for wetlands to be protected if they have a surface water connection to a larger waterway in a “typical year,” but don’t physically abut that waterway; Wetlands near rivers may be protected in the final rule if the river is prone to flooding and connects with the wetlands; Eliminates protections for ephemeral streams but keeps them for those with intermittent or constant flows; The draft rule would have eliminated protections for any perennial or intermittent waterways that flowed into ephemeral streams; APWA submitted comments to EPA on the proposed rule earlier this year, showing appreciation for the clarity the revised definition provides in terms of ditches and municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4’s); However, APWA expressed serious concerns regarding the revised definition and assumptions made in the proposed rule, which are still valid with the new final rule; In three key areas, the new proposed rule could do serious harm to public works professionals and programs: Continued permitting uncertainty; Assumptions regarding cooperative federalism; and Additional costs for water providers and water customers. For more information on the new WOTUS rule, please contact APWA Government Affairs Manager Sean Garcia.

APWA Participates in NGA Infrastructure Summit Last week in San Francisco, CA, the National Governors Association (NGA) hosted its third stakeholder Infrastructure Summit as a part of Governor Larry Hogan’s (R-MD) Chairman’s Initiative; APWA has attended three summits to date, and last week APWA President-Elect Mary Joyce Ivers, APWA Board Member Shahn Ahmad, and APWA Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales attended the summit: Enhancing Efficiency: Eliminate Red Tape and Integrate Smart Technology; The prior two summits were: Getting to Work: Relieve Congestion to Boost Economic Competitiveness, held August 26-27, 2019 in Boston, MA, attended by APWA President-Elect Mary Joyce Ivers; and Strengthening Security and Resiliency: Protect America’s Critical Infrastructure, held October 17-18, 2019 in Detroit, MI, and attended by APWA President Bill Spearman and Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales; Please click here for more information about the NGA Infrastructure Initiative; For questions about APWA’s policies on infrastructure investment, you may contact APWA Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net.

APWA Participates in NHSC Annual Winter Meeting On January 22, APWA Emergency Management Technical Committee Chair and Public Works Director for the City of Crystal, MN, Mark Ray, and Government Affairs Manager, Marty Williams participated in the winter National Homeland Security Consortium (NHSC) meeting in Little Rock, AR; Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), along with state officials and national organizations, offered the NHSC updates on emergency management issues; Topics covered during the meeting included how to better prepare for cyber intrusions at all levels of government, FEMA resilience priorities for 2020, a tour of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, and what may be included in a future NHSC white paper on national security priorities that will be provided to the presidential candidates this fall; The NHSC consists of 21 national organizations, including APWA, representing local, state and private professionals responsible for the safety and security of the United States.

FEMA HMA Grant Applications Due this Week The deadline to apply to FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant Program (HMAGP) is Friday, January 31, 2020; These grants are designed to help state, local, tribal and territorial communities implement hazard mitigation measures following a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration; Please click here for more information.

U.S. DOT Announces INFRA Grant Funding Availability Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Infrastructure for the Rebuilding America (INFRA) Program; The INFRA Program is intended to provide funding assistance to nationally and regionally significant highway and freight projects; The application deadline is February 25, 2020, and for additional details on how to submit an application you may go to the Federal Register; In reviewing applications, DOT will focus on four key objectives: Supporting economic vitality at the national and regional level; Leveraging federal funding to attract non-federal sources of infrastructure investment; Deploying innovative technology, encouraging innovative approaches to project delivery, and incentivizing the use of innovative financing; Holding grant recipients accountable for their performance; For more information, you may contact the Office of the Secretary by email at: INFRAgrants@dot.gov, or call Paul Baumer at (202)-366-1092.

FEMA Requests Comments on Building Code and Floodplain Management Draft Policy Last week, FEMA announced they are looking for comments on their draft policy on Building Code and Floodplain Management Administration and Enforcement; The draft policy defines the framework and requirements for consistent and appropriate implementation of Section 1206 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) through the Public Assistance program; Furthermore, the policy’s intent is to provide communities with the resources needed to better administer and enforce state and locally adopted building codes and floodplain management ordinances for a period of no longer than 180 days after the date of the major disaster declaration; Please click here for more information. FEMA Hosts NSGP Webinar This Week On Thursday, January 30 at 2:30 pm ET, FEMA has scheduled a webinar on the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP); The NSGP offers funding support for physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations and promotes emergency preparedness coordination and collaboration between public and private community representatives as well as state and local government agencies; Please click here for more information.

FAA Seeks Comments on Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requesting feedback on a proposed rule on remote identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones; The rule would apply to all drones required to register with the FAA, as well as to people operating foreign civil drones in the U.S, however, recreational drones weighing under 0.55 pounds are not required to register; Comments are due by March 2, 2020 – please click here for more information and to submit comments.

On the Horizon January 28 at 10:00 am ET, the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Conservation & Forestry has scheduled a hearing titled, “To Review Implementation of Farm Bill Conservation Programs” – please click here for more information; January 28 at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation’s Subcommittee on Transportation & Safety has scheduled a hearing titled, “Building Infrastructure in America: Overview of the Build America Bureau and the U.S. Department of Transportation Rural Transportation Initiatives” – please click here for more information; January 29 at 10:00 am ET, the House Ways & Means Committee has scheduled a hearing titled, “Paving the Way for Funding and Financing Infrastructure Investments” – please click here for more information; January 29 at 10:00am ET, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee has scheduled a hearing titled, “Stakeholder perspectives on the importance of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board” – please click here for more information.

Published by Peter Cavalli, MPA

Local government, public works and training professional - Tampa Bay Training, LLC