September 9, 2019        View this email in your browser
October 27-30, 2019
The Saguaro Hotel

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Congress is in session.
Congress Returns to Washington
Congress is back on Capitol Hill today, faced with the challenge of striking a balance between meeting fiscal year deadlines and addressing hot-topic issues. Arguably the biggest hurdle Congress faces in the coming weeks is fiscal year (FY) 2020 federal appropriations. While the House has passed most of their FY 2020 bills on the House floor, the Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to approve one bill. The Senate is planning on marking up four bills this week: Department of Defense; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Energy and Water Development; and State and Foreign Operations. But with only 15 legislative days before October 1, time is running out to pass all 12 appropriations bills through both chambers with time to conference out any bill differences.
There are also several other programs facing a September 30 deadline. Besides the Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization, which we go more into detail in the next section, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) also faces reauthorization uncertainty. The program has already received 12 short-term reauthorizations since 2017, with no foreseeable end in sight unless federal lawmakers can find a way to modernize and enhance the administration of the program. Other issues and programs expiring at the end of this fiscal year include:
The multiple shootings that occurred during summer recess and subsequent public outcry have brought gun legislation to mind for congressional leadership. The House has already passed several related bills (HR 8; HR 1112), with several others are already on the docket for tomorrow afternoon’s House Judiciary Committee meeting. Meanwhile, the Senate is working on a bipartisan bill to help states adopt “red flag” laws. But it all comes down to what President Trump will support, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that will set the stage for what is brought to a vote in the upper chamber.
Between finishing the work on FY 2020 appropriations and the upcoming 2020 election, the likelihood that we’ll see a lot of major legislation passing through Congress isn’t high. But there has been surprising momentum around addressing high prescription drug costs, small fixes to the 2017 GOP tax law, and a retirement savings bill (HR 1994).
Senate Stalled on OAA Reauthorization
With just 15 legislative days until the current Older Americans Act (OAA) expires, Congress appears stalled in its efforts to reauthorize the Act. 
Throughout the spring, the Senate ambitiously and diligently pursued a bipartisan reauthorization of the OAA. Key senators and congressional staff worked with national and local advocates to learn about issues, collect OAA reauthorization proposals, and develop a bipartisan draft reauthorization proposal.  
Despite this, efforts stalled earlier this summer over issues related to the federal funding formula in the Act. Before the working group could begin incorporating stakeholder feedback and formally introduce a reauthorization proposal, controversy over the funding formula stalled ongoing negotiations, specifically changes to the hold harmless provisions. 
It is unclear whether the Senate will be able to resolve differences regarding the hold harmless provisions prior to September 30.  If your region is an Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and if your senator is on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), please reach out and let them know that you want the Senate to continue working on achieving a bipartisan reauthorization bill this fall.  If your senators are not on the HELP Committee, please ask them to reach out to their HELP Committee colleagues and urge them to continue working on a bipartisan agreement.    
House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Issues Request for Information
The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis has requested input regarding the policies that should be adopted to support the committee’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. The committee has presented a wide range of questions that include recommendations for policies to address transportation sector emissions, opinions on the role that carbon pricing should play in a national climate action plan, and suggestions for adjustments to current disaster policies regarding resilience and adaptation. Responses will be accepted until November 22, 2019.
HUD Releases $7 Billion of Funding for Disaster Mitigation
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has distributed $7 billion of funding to nine states and five local jurisdictions that have recently been affected by natural disasters. All recipients had previously received congressional improvement for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. These funds, unlike traditional disaster-relief funds, will require recipients to develop projects that result in increased resilience against future damage. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, this is the largest single appropriation that the federal government has ever provided for climate resilience and disaster mitigation. This funding is part of a larger $16 billion package that includes $9 billion of funding that will provided to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Brookings Opinion: Another Summer of Flooding Should be a Wake-up Call to Redesign our Communities
Climate change is fueling more floods, leading to mounting economic costs and upending the nation’s ability to respond to growing risks. To manage this increasing concern, Brookings suggests that local and regional actors redesign their communities into more environmentally and economically transformative places by addressing gaps in current urban design. One solution presented is investment in more resilient infrastructure—including new green designs and technologies. Rain gardens, vegetated buffers, and other improvements can reduce impervious surface cover, absorb stormwater, minimize floods, and lower the costs of heavy rain events. Many regional leaders are now experimenting with new funding and financing strategies, including new types of stormwater fees and procurement tools which can mobilize action around new projects and designs. 
Report Released on Cybersecurity Demands of 5G
Tom Wheeler, visiting fellow in Governance Studies and past Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), and David Simpson, Professor at Pamplin college of business at Virginia Tech and Former Chief of Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at the FCC, have jointly produced a report at Brookings detailing necessary changes to U.S. cybersecurity before the deployment of 5G. According to the report, the implementation of 5G will require a physical overhaul of all U.S. essential networks and the conversion to a mostly all-software network. Software has many more cyber vulnerabilities that will require policy makers to rethink and refocus on the security of connections, devices, and applications. The report asks policy leaders to conduct a more balanced risk assessment, with a broader focus on vulnerabilities, threat probabilities, and impact drivers of the cyber risk equation. Regional councils are encouraged to remain active partners and collaborators with local and state agencies through the planning and deployment of 5G.
Climate Change is Making the Affordable Housing Crunch Worse
A new report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies indicates that nation has an urgent need for increased funding for repairs to housing damaged by increasingly frequent and severe storms. In 2019, six extreme weather events in the U.S. resulted in community losses of more than $1 billion each. These natural disasters further increased the nationwide shortage of 7 million affordable housing units. A new report by the Center for American Progress shows that affordable housing, particularly in coastal areas, is often being built in areas that are vulnerable to sea level rise, further increasing the vulnerability of low-income homeowners and renters.
MARC Area Agency on Aging Receives Award for In-Home Food App
For nearly two years, the Mid-America Regional Council’s (MARC) Area Agency on Aging has pilot-tested an Amazon Echo smart speaker app that can be used by eligible clients to order food from the comfort of their own home. The food app test project, Connecting Home-Delivered Meals Clients to Food Pantry Resources Using Smart Speaker Technology, was recognized by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) with a 2019 Aging Innovations Award. The award, presented at n4a’s Annual Conference & Tradeshow, recognizes aging programs that develop and implement cutting-edge approaches to support older adults, people with disabilities and their family caregivers. The pilot project concluded that high-risk older people can benefit from this technology and are ready for and capable of using it.
Sep 05, 2019 01:00 pm | Maci Morin

With new backpacks and school supplies in tow, students across the country are heading back to school. They probably are not thinking about the regional planning that went into creating the transportation system that brought them to school. Some regional councils are trying to teach the next generation that even being as young as they are, they can significantly impact their communities.

The post Back to School: Preparing the Next Generation of Regional Leaders appeared first on Regions Lead.

View full list of jobs!

Real Estate Research Intern
Posted 9/9/2019
Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston, MA

Planning and Development Department Director
Posted 9/6/2019
Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Pittsburgh, PA

Executive Director
Posted 9/5/2019
Alameda County Transportation Commission, Oakland, CA

Transportation Planners and Regional Transportation Construction Coordinator
Posted 9/5/2019
North Central Texas Council of Governments, Arlington, TX

Deputy Executive Director for Operations and Programs
Posted 9/5/2019
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington, DC

View full list of grants!

Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program
Applications Accepted Year Round
This program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial, or business undertakings. Funds can be used to purchase, construct, and / or improve essential community facilities, purchase equipment and pay related project expenses.
FY 2019 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Program
Applications Due: November 4
Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants support the implementation of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans that are expected to achieve the following three core goals:
  1. Housing: Replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood
  2. People: Improve outcomes of households living in the target housing related to employment and income, health, and children’s education
  3. Neighborhood: Create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity, that are important to families’ choices about their community.
View full list of events!

Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband
September 18, 2:00-3:00 PM ET
The digital economy accounted for 6.9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, or $1.35 trillion, according to a recent survey by the Department of Commerce. Understanding how to measure and communicate the benefits of broadband is critical to building support for efforts to expand connectivity and use. Join BroadbandUSA and leading U.S. researchers to discuss their research into the economic impact of broadband deployment and adoption in the United States.
Test-Drive County Explorer: A Demo of NACo’s Interactive Mapping Tool
September 18, 2:00-3:00 PM ET
The National Association of Counties’ (NACo) County Explorer tool provides easy access to the latest available data, with hundreds of indicators across categories ranging from county administration to policy issues, including transportation, infrastructure, health and public safety, each telling a unique county story. Join NACo for this detailed webinar that will showcase the user interface and new functionality—while exploring the application of the tool.
Reducing Natural Disaster Costs: Building Better and Stronger
September 26, 10:00-11:30 AM ET
The costs and devastation associated with natural disasters will continue to increase as storms increase in intensity. Notably, as natural disasters become more severe, the federal government’s share of recovery funding has grown from just 26 percent of costs in 2004 to 70 percent today. Given the magnitude of recent natural disasters and their recurrent nature, controlling the costs of future disasters is a necessary policy objective. Join the Bipartisan Policy Center for a discussion of how the federal government can promote safer and more sustainable communities, while also more responsibly investing limited fiscal resources.
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