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Weekly Update: June 27 – News and Resources for State Leaders

This week’s newsletter includes recent developments that every state leader needs to know about motor fuel taxes, talent pipeline development and grants for bridge projects.

To view the CSG fiscal policy website, visit: web.csg.org/recovery.

CSG Resources: 

CSG conducted a scan of actions states are implementing or considering in order to provide relief from high gas prices. Learn more about the options for states in our article, “State Approaches to Motor Fuel Taxes.”

News, Updates and Resources

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND JOBS ACT

General

Administration announces initiative to fill high-quality jobs

The Talent Pipeline Challenge is a call to action for employers, education and training providers, state, local, Tribal and territorial governments and philanthropic organizations to make tangible commitments to support equitable workforce development in three critical infrastructure sectors. These sectors are broadband, construction and “electrification” (e.g., electric vehicle charging infrastructure and battery manufacturing). The Talent Pipeline Challenge also encourages recipients to use current funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and State Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for workforce development efforts in these sectors.

Environment

Environmental Protection Agency announces $375 million investment in recycling

The agency issued a Request for Information for three new recycling, reuse and waste prevention programs:

Guidance and funding for Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency is providing $60 million for nutrient reduction activities for 12 states in the Gulf of Mexico region and the Mississippi River/Atchafalaya River Basin to improve water quality. Additional information can be found here.

Environmental Protection Agency invites states and territories to apply for $1 billion in funding to address contaminants in drinking water

The Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Grant will be awarded non-competitively to states, territories and tribes focused on assisting small or disadvantaged communities to confront pollution. The agency will contact states directly to inform them of the program and application process. Respondents must submit a letter of intent to WIINDrinkingWaterGrants@epa.gov by Aug. 15.

Interior

$9 million dedicated to sagebrush ecosystem projects in 2022

The Fish and Wildlife Service will invest $50 million to conserve the sagebrush ecosystem over five fiscal years, with $9 million dedicated in 2022. Funding for 40 projects in Idaho and seven other Western[JS1]  states will combat invasive grasses and wildfire, reduce encroaching conifers, safeguard water resources and promote sustainability.

Federal-state critical minerals mapping partnership

The infrastructure act provides $64 million to support research in critical minerals, energy and supply chain issues. The U.S. Geological Survey will partner with the Association of American State Geologists and state geological surveys in 30 states for geoscience data collection, mapping, data preservation and scientific interpretation of areas with potential for critical minerals for the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative.

Department of the Interior allocates $103 million for wildfire mitigation and resilience

The department announced an interagency program to support wildland firefighter health and well-being and reduce wildfire risk. The funding will support fuels management ($80.9 million), burned area rehabilitation ($19.4 million) and climate-related research ($3.1 million)

Bureau of Reclamation announces $25.5 million for water efficiency projects in eight Western states

The WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants will fund 14 water efficiency and drought resilience projects in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Transportation

Federal Highway Administration proposes regulations for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program

The proposed standards and regulations would apply to the installation, operation and maintenance of electric vehicles. Program information can be found here.

Federal Highway Administration invites applications for Bridge Investment Program

The Bridge Investment Program is open for three competitive funding opportunities. In fiscal year 2022, $2.36 billion is available for bridge projects, including $20 million for planning. A webinar, questions and answers document and fact sheet are available. Each project application has separate requirements and due dates:

  • Planning projects: July 25
  • Bridge projects over $100 million: Aug. 9
  • Bridge projects less than $100 million: Sept. 8

Federal Railroad Administration requests information regarding blocked crossing portal

The infrastructure act requires the Federal Railroad Administration to maintain a portal to receive information on blocked highway-rail grade crossings. Comment on the Request for Information to improve the effectiveness of the portal are due by Aug. 16.

Department of Transportation announces $8.4 million to connect people to critical services

The Innovative Coordinated Access & Mobility program awarded funds for projects in 16 states to improve public transportation for underserved groups, with a focus on health and wellness.

Federal Highway Administration revises Fiscal Year 2022 supplementary tables for federal aid for highways

The Revised Supplemental Tables for 10 transportation programs cancel the previous notice dated Feb. 23, 2022 and provide updates on fiscal year 2022 allocations showing funding breakdowns, set-asides and limiting amounts by program.

Federal Highway Administration publishes updated questions and answers document to provide clarity on local hiring preferences for construction jobs

Federal Railroad Administration publishes infrastructure act amendments to rail programs

The document details amendments to Subtitle V of Title 49 U.S.C.

Federal Railroad Administration publishes fact sheets on grant programs

The Interstate Rail Compacts Grant Program provides financial assistance for implementing interstate rail compacts to support multi-state and regional intercity passenger rail services. The Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program funds highway-rail or pathway-rail grade crossing projects to improve the safety and mobility of people and goods.

Independent Agencies

Government Accountability Office recommends strategy for Federal Communications Commission

The report released in May recommends a National Broadband Strategy. The strategy is designed to give universal access in the U.S.

Federal Communications Commission to establish transparency for broadband program

The infrastructure act mandates prices and subscription rates for all participants in the broadband program. The commission is establishing rules for households enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program. Comments about this proposal are due 30 days after being published by the Federal Register.

Federal Communications Commission requests comment on proposal to provide broadband service to rural areas

The proposal seeks to achieve widespread deployment of 100/20 megabit per second broadband service throughout rural areas served by carriers receiving Alternative Connect America Model support. Comments are due on or before July 18 and reply comments are due on or before Aug. 1.

CORONAVIRUS

Legislative Update

The Keep Kids Fed Act reaches bipartisan agreement to extend Food and Nutrition Service Waiver authority through September[JS2] 

House Resolution 8150 is designed to extend flexibility for the Food and Nutrition Service provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The resolution requires a state to submit a plan for normal operating procedures when the waiver ends. More information can be found here.

Agricultural

Pilot program established to improve the health and safety of H-2A Visa workers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to dedicate $65 million to provide support to workers and implement robust healthy and safe environments for all employees.

Women, Infants, and Children recipients may receive maximum monthly allowance in certain states

Recipients of Food Packages I and II may be eligible for maximum monthly allowances from the Food and Nutrition Service.

Food and Nutrition Service updates list for Women, Infants, and Children formula discretion waiver

The service updated the flexibility for recipients to apply for the imported formula enforcement discretion waiver.

Education

Department of Education publishes Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund maintenance of equity materials

These materials include a slide presentation, transcript and recording regarding local educational agency-level reporting requirements.

Department of Education publishes fact sheet on sustaining investments in teachers beyond American Rescue Plan Act funding

The fact sheet recommends providing teachers with a livable wage, investing in a talented teacher pipeline, supporting teachers in earning certifications, helping teachers afford getting into the profession, providing teachers with the resources they need to succeed and creating opportunities for advancement.

Department of Education provides updates on programs

Health

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency assumed to end in July 2023

The Congressional Budget Office baseline projections expect the health emergency to be lifted in July of 2023. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services controls the actions that could potentially lift the emergency earlier or cause a delay. The Congressional Budget Office relies on the department for these projections.

Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides application and eligibility requirements for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Mainstream Voucher

New funding opportunities for mainstream vouchers are available to public housing agencies. These agencies can apply for vouchers for administrative fees.

Human Services

Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program updates dashboard

The Administration for Children and Families updated the program dashboard to reflect Tribal and territory data.

Outline made for Emergency and Disaster Flexibilities for low-income household water assistance programs

The Administration for Children and Families has outlined the funds for emergency and disaster situations for low-income households.

Labor

Unemployment Insurance programs issue $18 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds

Maine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin received $18 million from the Department of Labor. The grant contributes to outreach, resources and training to assist in Unemployment Insurance Navigator Program grants.

Department of Labor awards $11.4 million to help make sure that workers have equal access to state unemployment insurance systems

This funding will go to Maryland, Nebraska and South Dakota. The grants will allow states to fund projects that are designed to ensure race, age, ethnicity and other systemic barriers do not prevent those in need from accessing unemployment benefits.

Treasury

The U.S. Department of the Treasury updates State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds guidance

Updates to the compliance and reporting guidance include:

The Treasury publishes State Small Business Credit Initiative application

This document covers user instructions, application documents, definitions and technical assistance recipient information.

The Treasury publishes periodic report on Municipal Liquidity Facility, including a transaction specific spreadsheet

The Treasury publishes webinar on Homeowner Assistance Fund quarterly report

The fund was created to prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, forecloses, loss of utilities or home energy services and displacement. Those who receive awards must submit quarterly reports.

Treasury publishes Best Practices Guide for Capital Projects Fund

The guide also provides an overview of the grant and program plan. This document does not pertain to Tribal governments.

Independent Agencies

New Emergency Connectivity funding announced for schools and libraries

The Federal Communications Commission will issue awards for a third round of school and library broadband funding. The funding is designed to support access to broadband for students all over the U.S. The Emergency Connectivity Fund is intended to close the homework gap for students.

National Endowment for the Arts seeks comment on proposed information collection

The National Endowment for the Arts requests comments regarding its plan to survey state arts agencies on the impact of American Rescue Plan Act funding on grantees. Comments are due by Aug. 16.