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Legislation & Policy Committee Meeting Summary May 6, 2021 Conference Call

  1. Call to Order—Kirsten Wallace, UMRBA; Chair called to order at 3:03 p.m. Central
  • Introductions of Participants on the call:  Kirsten Wallace, Chair; Sue Lowry; Kim Lutz; Geoff Bowman; John Anderson; Amy Shallcross; Drew Dehoff; Christopher Estes; Sam Swartz; Brian Atkins; Stacey Mulholland; Matt Unruh; Katherine Zitsch; Jenifer Zygmunt; Julie Cunningham
  • Updates from Van Scoyoc to committee members—Geoff Bowman and John Anderson joined the call to provide an update on current legislation and to give more detail on the status of earmarks. 

Geoff reported that with very little fanfare, $35 B drinking and safe water bill passed the Senate.  Many new grant programs in the bill; passed 89-2 in remarkable Senate bipartisan action.  Shows bipartisanship of infrastructure.  Unclear what House may do in response.  HR 1915—committee want comments by May 12.  Full committee markup in T & I before Memorial Day and may correspond with Highway Bill markup.  Highway bill expiring in Sept. and unknown if reauthorization can occur by then, but that’s driving the infrastructure discussions.  Federal spending limit ceiling may also be hit near the end of the federal fiscal year.  Debt load increases usually big discussion before getting it passed.  12 Appropriations bills—House wants to have hearings on all 12 and pass by end of July.  Senate saying 2-weeks after President’s budget—now hearing about May 24.  Limit earmarks to 10 of the 12 appropriations bills.  House—only request a total of 10 across all 10 approps bills.  On Senate no number limit and no top limit.  If end up with a CR, not sure how earmarks might be affected.  As debt ceiling is a “must do” may be opportunities to get some other items passed at the same time.  $638 M for utility rate payer assistance.  Through Health and Human Services—don’t have experience with municipal water working with EPA to rollout successfully. In many cases the direct $ is going to the states for distribution.   Drinking water bill mainly funding and not big policy changes—they may come later. 

USACE Planning Assistance to States gets plussed up as a way to get more dollars to state needs. $500M to states under Sec. 106.

  • Discussion of legislation topics raised during Congressional panel at Roundtable—Sue reviewed the summary of the Congressional staff presentations at the Roundtable and the specific legislation mentioned by committee. 
  • Report out of other ICWP committee activities—Sue recapped the main activities of the other 3 committees. 
  • Legislation to track: 
    • American Rescue Plan Act—water related opportunities
    • USGS/DOI FY21 Appropriations 
    • FY22 Stakeholder Letter for USGS Streamgaging-Delivered April 9
    • Support for NOAA-NWS Atlas 14 Precipitation Frequency Estimates (Atlas 14) or other Extreme precipitation estimating tools—PRECIP and FLOODS legislation 
    • Sen. Markey’s interest in telecom infrastructure/tie to water infrastructure needs/flood mapping
    • WRDA 2022-start to develop topics for member’s requests
    • WRDA 2020 implementation- Principles and Guidelines from 2013-14
    • Infrastructure
  • Internship project updates from 3 Interns for 2021—Katherine Tucker has completed her funding review of various interstate organizations.  Aislinn McLaughlin has finished the water planning contact list and she will soon have the review of water plans for climate change and drought inclusion by the end of May. Caroline Schwab completed the USGS Streamgaging Fact Sheet. 
  • Other items for the Committee’s consideration– NexGen Stakeholder Participation—Amy will touch base with some other Delaware Basin stakeholders for a balanced discussion. After she discusses with other stakeholders, she and Kirstin will decide what audience within ICWP would be best suited for the discussion. 
  •  Set next call –Set for June 17th at 10 a.m. Central

Legislation and Policy Committee:  Stay abreast of national legislation important to ICWP membership; Educate and advocate for state/interstate positions to Congress and federal agencies

2019 Accomplishments:

  • Submitted a letter on Dept. of Interior Re-organization
  • Sent letter to ASA Rd James regarding PAS funding for full range of authorized purposes
  • Submitted WRDA20 support letter to Senate EPW committee

2020 Accomplishments:

  • Submitted WRDA20 support letters to House T&I committee, Senate EPW and to House and Senate leadership 

Issues for 2021 Workplan

  1. WRDA2022 Preparation Topics
  • USGS Streamgaging support—getting letter to more audiences and reviewing stakeholder list for omissions 
    • Opportunity for a states’ support letter
    • Whether to expand to Water Use and other topics beyond Streamgaging
  • Drought Planning/Preparedness-NIDIS Support (& the DEWS)
    • Baseline funding for USDM
    • Support for a new ag-centric product (better capture flash drought)
  • Reauthorization topics for WUDR
  • National Water Model—promoting water supply forecasting capabilities
  • NOAA/DOI Improved Forecasting Action Plan
  • NWS Atlas 14 –Support for PRECIP legislation
  • Legislation Following:

2021 Action Plan Items

  1. Provide broader leadership on PPA Liability and Indemnification Barriers
    1. Pursue Congressional hearing on this issue
    1. Arrange for meeting with USACE Office of Counsel
  2. Develop Advocacy “How To” webinar series
  3. Facilitate a national conversation on Extreme Precipitation Products and Models
    1. Invite organizations to form coalition to work on issue

Arrange Forum in 2021 to hear current state of Atlas 14 and other non-federal products that provide similar extreme precip estimates