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National Infrastructure Week and a Call to Action

May 14, 2018
With the approach of the mid-term elections, the departure in April of DJ Gribbin, the President’s infrastructure adviser, and divisions in Congress over how to pay for a complex plan to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and rural broadband, it is likely that the development of a comprehensive infrastructure package will be pushed into early 2019. Lawmakers are still working on a broad plan, but their immediate task is to meet legislative deadlines for existing programs, including authorization for aviation and water resources programs, as well as approving Farm Bill legislation.
 
Call to Action
As Mayor Phil Best indicated in his recent op-ed, now is the time for all city officials in Georgia to discuss your community’s water, transportation, broadband, and other needs. This week is National Infrastructure Week, May 14-18. GMA is asking all city officials to call or email your Congress Member this week to share stories about your city’s infrastructure needs and provide a local example of how the city has worked with the federal government to complete an infrastructure project, or to talk about your city’s future plans and the role of federal-local partnerships in meeting those needs. Please feel free to use the talking points below when talking with your delegation members.
 
If your city has prepared videos, op-eds, photos, or held recent meetings with members of the Georgia delegation to discuss your local infrastructure needs, please post these on social media and tag your Congress Members this week. Be sure to tag @gacities and use the #infrastructure.
 
Please note that following infrastructure week, it will still be important to continue communicating Georgia’s cities’ message to Congress. If GMA can assist you in preparing materials to support this GMA initiative, feel free to contact Becky Taylor of the GMA staff at 678-686-6276 or btaylor@gmanet.com. The cities of Dublin and Peachtree City and officials from several other cities have worked with GMA to create videos highlighting success stories and needs for infrastructure improvements that include federal participation. The National League of Cities (NLC) has also prepared sample guides to assist cities in communicating your stories to members of Congress, including an Op-Ed guide, a Site Visit Guide, and a Social Media Guide.
 
Information about the Farm Bill, WRDA Reauthorization, and the FAA Reauthorization is below. Your stories are important to members Georgia’s delegation as work on these programs continues. Please reach out to them next week and contact GMA if we can help in any way.
 
Farm Bill Reauthorization
The Farm Bill is a five-year measure that authorizes funding for agriculture and nutrition programs. The Farm bill also includes programs that help foster rural economic growth through rural business and community development, housing, conservation, and infrastructure improvement, including water infrastructure and rural broadband. Once a Farm bill is signed into law, Congress is responsible for appropriating revenues to fund Farm Bill programs in annual federal appropriations bills.
 
Farm Bill programs of importance to cities include a wide range of USDA Rural Development and Rural Utilities Services programs including the Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee Program; Community Facilities, Community Economic Development, Rural Business Grants and Loans, and Rural Housing funds.
 
Farm Bill Timeline
  • Expires September 30
  • The House Agriculture Committee passed April 18 with only Republican support.
  • Possible House Floor Vote in May
  • Senate may release a draft in May
GMA Talking Points
The next Farm Bill should provide critical investments to support infrastructure and economic development in Georgia’s most underserved areas. Additionally, it should reauthorize existing programs at full funding or create new programs that focus on the following priorities:
  • Funding to build and maintain all types of infrastructure systems, including transportation, water and wastewater, and broadband;
  • Giving Secretary Perdue the authority to prioritize projects that help rural communities meet the challenges of the opioid crisis;
  • Strengthening local and regional economic development initiatives to promote jobs and economic growth; and
  • Offering resources and technical assistance to local small businesses to help them succeed.
FAA Reauthorization
On April 27th, the House passed a five-year FAA Reauthorization Act (HR 4) that includes the Airport Improvement Program and the Disaster Relief Recovery Act (DRRA), which will require FEMA to increase its focus on pre-disaster mitigation. The House bill also included amendments related to drones and airport noise that would preempt state and local government. The National League of Cities (NLC) and other national organizations representing states, counties, and cities have proposed an amendment that would remove these preemptions.
 
FAA Reauthorization Timeline
  • House voted on April 27 to a five-year FAA reauthorization (H.R.4), extending the program to 2023
  • The House bill provides stable funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which issues grants to public use airports for planning and development purposes;
  • The bill also includes the Disaster Relief Recovery Act (DRRA), which reforms to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), increasing the federal emphasis on pre-disaster planning and mitigation to reduce the potential for future loss of life and help reduce the rising costs of disasters. It is estimated that every $1 spent on pre-disaster mitigation saves communities $4 to $8 on disaster response and recovery.
  • Differences remain between a Senate proposal and the House bill. The Senate is expected to take up their bill soon.
GMA Talking Points
  • Georgia’s 104 general aviation and air carrier airports have a significant economic impact statewide as well as in the communities they serve.
  • The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) estimates that Georgia’s commercial and general aviation airports generate more than $62.6 billion annually in economic impact.
  • GMA supports AIP funding provisions in the House-passed version of the FAA Reauthorization. DRRA reforms are also beneficial to Georgia’s communities to prevent loss of life, mitigate risk, reduce damage from future disasters, and lower flood insurance premiums.
  • GMA urges Congress to pass an FAA Reauthorization bill that includes grant funding for all public use airports and maintains long term sustainability for Georgia’s general aviation and air carrier airports.
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) projects authorized in WRDA drive investment in navigation, flood protection and ecosystem restoration in communities. Local governments own and manage much of this infrastructure, including ports and harbors, inland waterways, levees, and dams that protect public health and safety and our natural resources. WRDA is critical to helping our communities build, maintain, and improve this critical infrastructure, while growing our national and local economies.
 
Beyond the traditional Army Corps programs, the Senate Committee WRDA bill released this week includes other water infrastructure programs of interest to cities, such as include WIFIA, Clean Water and Drinking Water state revolving loan funds, integrated planning, and workforce development for the water utility sector.
 
WRDA Timeline:
  • The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on its WRDA proposal on May 9.
  • The House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee will mark up its bill the week of May 28.
GMA Talking Points
  • Georgia’s cities report over $4 billion in water and sewer capital infrastructure needs over the next five years.
  • GMA urges Congress to continue its support of WRDA authorized programs for local water infrastructure projects that improve our state’s drinking water, wastewater infrastructure, and stormwater management.
  • GMA also supports Congress’ continued commitment to water and wastewater financing through the state revolving fund programs and reauthorization of the Army Corps Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
GMA supports language included in the Senate EPW Committee proposal that provides workforce training and development in the water sector to ensure that our communities have a skilled workforce to meet their needs. Additionally, provisions strengthening the intergovernmental collaboration process between the Army Corps and its state and local government partners will improve transparency and efficiency.