The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to consider states making a predetermined financial commitment (deductible) prior to receiving disaster financial assistance under the Public Assistance Program. Currently, the Stafford Act requires the federal share of assistance to be not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost of damaged facilities, and that is after a state has exceeded its calculated cost threshold. FEMA’s concept is to have states make a predetermined financial commitment, which could be offset with credits based on investment in resilience and disaster mitigation, prior to receiving any financial assistance. FEMA anticipates that the concept would incentivize mitigation strategies and investments in resilience, reducing the costs of future disaster events for both states and the federal government.
However, the concept has not been well developed and it is unclear how it would relate to the existing threshold and cost share under the Stafford Act. RCRC is concerned that the staff and time investment in policy development and a verification process of eligible deductible contributions and credits would surpass the cost share program and potentially delay the distribution of disaster relief. RCRC joined the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and the Urban County Caucus (UCC) in submitting comments. The joint letter can be accessed here.
If FEMA chooses to pursue this concept, they will develop a model based on the comments received and seek public comment through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
Earlier this week, the House adopted a short-term extension to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) programs through July 15, 2016. The two and a half month extension will presumably provide additional time for the House and Senate to reach an agreement for a long-term reauthorization of the FAA. Despite the additional time, House and Senate FAA authorization proposals have stark differences in their approach, with the House measure containing a controversial proposal that would privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. Included in both the Chamber’s proposals are extensions to three critical rural county programs, including the Airport Improvement Program, the Small Community Air Service Development Program, and the Essential Air Service program.
On Wednesday, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) provided local transportation agencies the opportunity to present their proposals to address the significant decline in State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funding. The STIP is the State’s Five-Year plan for State and regional highway, intercity rail, and transit improvements. As a result of dwindling gas tax receipts, the CTC recently reported the need to cut approximately $754 million in transportation projects, with further reductions a possibility later this year. The Transportation Conference Committee remains in session, although efforts to reach an agreement over new transportation revenues and reforms have stalled. Governor Jerry Brown, Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) have all introduced proposals that would raise significant new monies for the state and local transportation system. RCRC continues to support a solution to the transportation funding crisis and efforts through the California Fix Our Roads Coalition.
Tuesday's White House water summit had a California theme, with several state water districts and officials represented among the few hundred people who gathered in Washington to talk about how the United States should use water.
California was represented by State Water Resources Control Board chair, Felicia Marcus. In addition, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) spoke about water infrastructure and innovation, and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) spoke about agriculture and forestry's role in water conservation. However, there was little discussion from the perspective of farmers or rural counties.
During the summit, the Administration announced the following:
Nearly $4 billion in private capital investment in a broad range of water-infrastructure projects nationwide. This includes $1.5 billion from Ultra Capital to finance decentralized and scalable water-management solutions, and $500 million from Sustainable Water to develop water reclamation and reuse systems.
More than $1 billion from the private sector over the next decade to conduct research and development into new technologies. This includes $500 million from GE to fuel innovation, expertise, and global capabilities in advanced water, wastewater, and reuse technologies.
A Presidential Memorandum and supporting Action Plan on building national capabilities for long-term drought resilience in the United States, including by setting drought resilience policy goals, directing specific drought resilience activities to be completed by the end of the year, and permanently establishing the National Drought Resilience Partnership as an interagency task force responsible for coordinating drought-resilience, response, and recovery efforts.
Nearly $35 million this year in Federal grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support cutting-edge water science.
The release of a new National Water Model that will dramatically enhance the Nation’s river-forecasting capabilities by delivering forecasts for approximately 2.7 million locations, up from 4,000 locations today (a 700-fold increase in forecast density).
RCRC members are encouraged to submit comments on regulatory matters to state and federal regulatory bodies, and to provide a copy to RCRC’s Government Affairs staff. Click “Read More” to access information related to the current status of regulations impacting California’s rural counties.
Proposed Changes to the CDBG Regulations: The proposed changes to current Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Regulations will include additional language to allow special allocations of funding for use in mitigating disasters and disaster recovery. Agency: The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Status: The proposed language was released January 22, 2016, with public comment open until March 8, 2016. A 15 day Notice of Modifications to the Proposed Regulations was released on March 23, 2016, with public comment open until April 7, 2016. RCRC comments: RCRC’s comment letter can be accessed here. A copy of the proposal and additional information can be accessed here. RCRC Advocate: Mary Pitto firstname.lastname@example.org
Drought Mortality Amendments, 2015: Extends until December 2018 various exemptions to the forest practice rules allowing for the removal of dead, dying, and diseased trees due to the drought. Agency: California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection Status: Draft released for public review, comments due by 5 p.m. on March 28, 2016. Hearing set for April 6, 2016. Proposed regulatory language and related documents can be accessed here. RCRC Comments: RCRC’s comment letter can be accessed here. RCRC Advocate: Staci Heaton email@example.com