Federal Legislative 2018

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Inland Action 2018 Federal Legislative Issues At-A-Glance

 

Economic Development


Education


Environment


Healthcare


Judicial


Transportation

 

Inland Action Top Four Federal Legislative Issues 2018 

 

  1. Support the appointment of qualified candidates to fill existing judicial vacancies in the Central District of California, especially in the Eastern Division of that Court, serving the Inland Area. 

 

  1. Support creation of a Regional Inland Port for User-Fee Airports in the Inland Empire to efficiently and effectively address the growing demand for international travel. Currently, all Airport Customs and Border Patrol personnel are required to be deployed out of a designated International Port of Entry (LAX).  Through the establishment of a Regional Inland Port, inland airports can be staffed directly within the region they serve, without impacting current staffing at LAX – all of which could be funded through existing user fee agreements.  

 

  1. Support the continuation and full funding of education and workforce programs authorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and other legislation, which serve California’s students most in need.

 

  1. Support H.R. 4115 – PARTNERS Act (Bonamici) and S. 1599 – BUILDS Act (Kaine) to meet the growing demand for career and technical education, investing in learning and apprenticeships.

 

Inland Action 2018 Federal Legislative Issues – Detail

Economic Development Issues

Support H.R. 4115 – PARTNERS Act (Bonamici) and S. 1599 – BUILDS Act (Kaine) to meet the growing demand for career and technical education, investing in learning and apprenticeshipsAccording to an industry-wide survey released by Associated General Contractors in August 2017, 70 percent of construction firms report they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions, which is the bulk of the construction workforce.  Contractors also view the pipeline for recruiting and training new workers as broken.  While many firms are changing the way they operate, recruit and compensate, the chronic labor shortages could have significant economic impacts absent greater investments in career and technical education.

Work based learning, including apprenticeship, provides individuals with paid, on-the-job work training and experience.  For companies in desperate need of new workers, work-based learning immediately puts motivated hires on site.  The approach has been shown to reinforce employee engagement, leading to better morale, higher retention and lower turnover.  And, it can help increase workplace diversity by offering a structured way for community residents to build careers with local firms. Workers, meanwhile, obtain market-driven skills and can “learn while they earn.”

Businesses—especially small- and medium-sized businesses—often lack the infrastructure to establish apprenticeships or work-based learning programs on their own. Industry or sector partnerships can help reduce the burdens on businesses by convening local stakeholders to collaboratively develop training related instruction, support services, and on-the-job training components of a work-based learning program.

H.R. 4115, PARTNERS Act (Bonamici).  This act would promote registered apprenticeships and other work-based learning programs for small and medium-sized businesses within in-demand industry sectors, through the establishment and support of industry or sector partnerships. It is a bipartisan effort seeking to promote registered apprenticeships and other work-based learning programs for small- and medium-sized businesses in demand industry sectors, through the establishment and support of industry or sector partnerships.

Under the PARTNERS Act, industry and sector partnerships would receive grants of up to $500,000 for two years. Recipients would convene necessary partners and coordinate a set of business services to help small- and medium-sized businesses develop and run work-based learning programs.  Partnerships would also coordinate worker support services to improve worker retention and success.

  1. 1599, BUILDS Act (Kaine). The purpose of this Act is to promote industry or sector partnerships that engage in collaborative planning, resource alignment, and training efforts across multiple businesses, for a range of workers employed or potentially employed by infrastructure industries, in order to encourage industry growth and competitiveness and to improve worker training, retention, and advancement. This act would provide dedicated funding to partnerships among infrastructure employers, community colleges and other stakeholders to ensure that any project receiving federal funding also has the resources to upskill workers and keep projects on track.


Education Issues

Support the continuation and full funding of education and workforce programs authorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and other legislation, which serve California’s students most in needPresident Trump’s FY 2019 Budget Request to Congress proposes significant cuts to funding at the Department of Education, Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, and eliminates several independent agencies that support education. Many of these programs have bipartisan congressional support and received long overdue increases in funding in 2018, especially for programs serving the students most in need, like Title I, IDEA, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Career and Technical Education, and Impact Aid.

For the underserved Inland Empire, the President’s budget request for our schools is especially troubling.  The Trump budget proposal hurts students by eliminating vital K-12 education programs; diverting $1 billion to fund private school vouchers; slashing federal grant aid and sending federal dollars to low-quality programs to make college more expensive; and, continuing to woefully underfund special education.

The budget proposal seeks an increase in the amount of Title I-A funding for disadvantaged students held at the state level, which would result in a cut to school district Title I-A grants.  It cuts $69 million from the Impact Aid Program, which supports school districts with federally connected students.  It eliminates 17 K-12 programs, totaling $4.4 billion, including Title II-A which supports teacher professional development, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program that supports afterschool activities, Title IV-A that provides funding for STEM, arts education, student health and safety, and the Promise Neighborhoods program.

The budget proposal makes it more difficult for our neediest students to attend college.  It eliminates the GEAR-UP program, which supports first generation students through outreach to low income and minority middle and high school students.  It makes college more expensive by cutting $203 billion over 10 years in student loan assistance.  It slashes TEACH Grants and Federal Work Study funding that help for low-income students afford college.  It eliminates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which attracts our nation’s best and brightest talent to public service careers.  And it eliminates the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program that targets campus-based financial aid to college students with demonstrated need.

In addition to these cuts, the Trump budget proposal plans to eliminate or cut funding for programs that support preschool, at risk youth, volunteerism, museums and libraries, and the arts.  The budget proposal eliminates the Preschool Development Grants program, which was funded at $250 million in FY18, and which provides funding to states to align and expand high-quality preschool programs. It slashes investment in Job Corps by over $400 million, which would negatively impact the number of at risk youth served by this important career development program.  It slashes funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which provides grants to states and communities to support volunteerism, including the AmeriCorps Program, by $908 million or 88 percent.  It eliminates funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a primary source of federal support for approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.  And, it eliminates funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which promotes equal access to the arts in every community across America.

Support increased funding for Individual with Disability Education Act (IDEA) Formula Grants.   President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget Request to Congress Funds IDEA Formula Grants at the 2017 level, which is $275 million less than FY 2018, and thus fails to adjust for the cost of inflation and results in the lowest federal share of special education per student expenditure in more than a decade.

When IDEA was enacted in 1975, Congress promised to provide 40 percent of the average per-pupil expenditure to pay for this expanded federal mandate. Congress has never fulfilled that promise.  For California, 40 percent of the current average per-pupil expenditure is more than $3 billion per year, with the federal government providing less than half of that amount.

For the underserved Inland Empire, the lack of sufficient funds for IDEA continues to place an enormous burden on California schools.   The funding provided by the federal government equates to approximately 11 percent of the total amount spent in California.  Over the past ten years, the local contributions by California school agencies for special education has increased from $2.97 billion to more than $5 billion, and the cost to provide these services continues to rise due to an increase in the population of students with high-cost disabilities.

It is vital that Congress invest more funding into IDEA, and that legislation is passed to fully fund IDEA (i.e. H.R. 2902, IDEA Full Funding Act).  The bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular increases in IDEA spending to finally meet the federal commitment to America’s children and schools, relieve the burden on states and local school districts, and ensure educational opportunities for all students with disabilities.

Support enhancements to the Pell Grant Program to help more Inland Empire students complete college and earn degrees fasterThe Federal Pell Grant program continues to be one of the best investments in our future, helping millions of low- to moderate-income students in their pursuit of college degrees and upward mobility – including nearly 12,400 students (63%) attending the local CSU San Bernardino campus, more than 11,000 (55%) UC Riverside students and nearly 1,000 (32%) University of Redlands students in the Inland Empire region alone.

Pell is key to raising the economic development of our region and state by increasing the number of educated and taxpaying citizens.  More than half (about 58,000) of CSU bachelor’s degrees awarded each year are earned by Pell Grant recipients.

Today’s maximum Pell Grant award – $6,095 – covers the lowest share of college expenses than at any other time in the program’s history.  The FY18 Omnibus spending bill included important provisions to support students with financial need; however, under this current baseline, the maximum Pell award would remain at the 2017-18 academic year level indefinitely, and inflationary adjustments would end.  Inland Action urges Congress to:

Support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) while seeking a permanent solutionInland Action encourages Congress to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while seeking a permanent solution that offers the young people DACA is meant to safeguard with a path to lawful citizenship.

The CSU system enrolls more than 8,300 Dreamer students, most of whom are DACA recipients.  Of the more than 20,000 students at the local CSU San Bernardino campus, more than 800 students identify as being undocumented.  The availability of legal status through DACA has been life-changing for these students, allowing them to pursue college degrees and contribute openly to their communities and country.

In California alone, DACA allowed 223,000 young people to step out of the shadows.  Across the country, 97 percent of the nearly 800,000 granted DACA status are either employed or enrolled in school, with most of those pursuing bachelor’s degrees.  An analysis by New American Economy, a coalition of U.S. mayors and business leaders, reports that DACA recipients earn nearly $20 billion in income annually, pay more than $3 billion local, state and federal taxes, and contribute nearly $2 billion to Social Security and $470 million to Medicare.

Failure to act on legislation will continue to push thousands of individuals out of our academic institutions and the workforce.


Environmental Issues

Support for H.R. 857 (Cook), California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act of 2017 and S. 32 (Feinstein) California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2017.  The California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act of 2017 is the House Companion to Senator Feinstein’s California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2017.  Together, these bills will protect critical remaining areas of habitat and landscape connectivity in the California Desert, as well as preserve access for outdoor recreation and strike balance among desert communities.

Inland Action supports the passage of both these bills and applauds the bi-partisan approach of these two seasoned lawmakers in working to bring the diverse stakeholders together to form a balanced coalition supporting the sensitive ecological, economic and recreational assets of the Inland Empire’s desert regions. Years of partisan wrangling have prevented development of a comprehensive plan for this region, and these two bills represent a working document for balanced development and preservation.

Inland Action believes the process of developing the desert areas in this manner, in this political climate, sends the right message that the good of the region is best served by legislators committed to a cohesive vision and compromise to come together with a suitable and sustainable plan for the region.

This bill establishes the Mojave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, five OHV Recreation areas, allows certain increases to Death Valley and San Gorgonio Wilderness, as well as other critical environmental areas while allowing certain mining and utility access and rights of way.

The support of environmental groups, off-road enthusiasts, renewable energy, mining and all forms of eco-tourism reflects years of outreach.  H.R. 857 is co-sponsored by Representative Aguilar and is anticipated to be heard on the floor in the next 30 days.  S. 32 is the companion bill on the senate side, co-sponsored by Senator Kamala Harris, and is currently held in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining.

Support of this comprehensive bi-partisan approach to the multiple business, environmental and recreational interests in San Bernardino and Inyo Counties is highly recommended by Inland Action. 

Support the Water Conservation Tax Parity Act (S. 1464 – Feinstein and H.R. 448 – Huffman) which provide a federal tax exemption for water conservation rebatesAlthough many local water agencies offer incentives for participation in water conservation efficiency and water runoff management improvements, these incentives are not excluded from federal gross income and are potentially taxable.  Energy rebates are not subject to tax. The Water Conservation Tax Parity Act would extend the tax exemption that currently exists for energy conservation devices to include water conservation and stormwater management devices as well.  A similar state tax exemption for water conservation incentives already exists in California.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s SoCal Water$mart provides rebates to residential customers to encourage the use of water-efficient products.  Program rebates in fiscal year 2016/17 included high-efficiency clothes washers, high-efficiency toilets, multi‑stream rotary sprinkler nozzles, irrigation controllers, and rain barrels. Metropolitan estimates water savings of about 2,930 acre-feet annually from more than 117,800 residential conservation device rebates funded by Metropolitan in fiscal year 2016/17.

In January 2014, Metropolitan added turf removal to the SoCal Water$mart Regional Program, making it available to customers throughout the service area.  More than 17 million square feet of lawn were removed last year as Metropolitan’s rebate program fulfilled the remaining rebate requests from the waiting list of applicants created after the program closed to new applicants in 2016. Metropolitan estimates water savings of about 2,300 acre-feet annually from turf removed in fiscal year 2016/17.

Metropolitan’s commercial conservation programs provide financial incentives for water-saving devices and projects to businesses and institutions throughout Southern California. Metropolitan estimates savings of about 5,000 acre-feet annually from commercial conservation programs in fiscal year 2016/17.

For fiscal year 2018/19, Metropolitan has revamped their conservation rebate program and made available $50 million toward landscape transformation incentives.  This $50 million for turf removal incentives is planned to be available on an annual basis.

This act is critical to water conservation programs throughout Southern California:

 

Support California WaterFix to upgrade California’s aging water infrastructureThe critical supply of water that moves through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta remains vulnerable to a host of issues.  It is critical that the California WaterFix be implemented to ensure the reliability of this water source to the Inland Empire. Inland Action strongly supports administrative, legislative, and funding actions that ensure more reliable long-term water delivery for the State Water Project, including the implementation of California WaterFix (formerly called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan) and California EcoRestore.

Southern California imports water from Northern California and, during wet years, is able to store water for drought management.  A single wet winter in Northern California can replenish much of the Southland’s storage network.  However, the ability to reliably move water from Northern California to Southern California is at risk due to aging water infrastructure and environmental challenges.  To ensure a consistent, ongoing supply of water for Southern California, modernizing the water system and restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is essential.  Federal and State agencies, water agencies and other interested parties are working collaboratively toward a comprehensive plan to protect public water supplies for California and improve the health of the Delta’s ecosystem.  A proposal advanced in April 2015 by the Brown and Obama administrations marks an evolution in these planning efforts, now called the California WaterFix and California EcoRestore. The proposal seeks to advance water system and ecosystem improvements on separate but coordinated tracks.

Highlights of the California WaterFix are:

Key benefits of the California WaterFix are:


Key Actions and Next Steps for State and Federal Agencies:
 

California WaterFix made significant progress in 2017 as State and federal agencies approved key permits and water agencies from around the State committed to significant financial investment. State and federal agencies have completed a comprehensive environmental review of the project and issued the final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Study for California WaterFix.

In April 2018, Metropolitan made a historic decision to invest $10.8 billion, nearly 65 percent of the project cost, to allow for the construction of the full California WaterFix project to modernize the State’s water system as originally proposed and studied.  In early May 2018, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, another State Water Project contractor, also joined in support of the project with their board voting to invest $65 million.  The estimated total cost for construction of California WaterFix is about $17 billion.

Metropolitan will be the primary investor in the project to modernize the State’s aging water delivery system. This investment is necessary to prevent a far more expensive, disruptive water future that would result if the ability to rely on this Northern California supply is lost due to climate change and other natural risks.  It is expected that Metropolitan would recoup some of its investment by selling or leasing capacity in the tunnels to allow water deliveries or exchanges for other parties, including Central Valley agricultural water users.

According to a cost-benefit analysis of WaterFix commissioned by Department of Water Resources (DWR), urban water agencies could see $2 billion – $4 billion in net benefits from the project and agricultural agencies could see several hundred million dollars in net benefits. It also found that WaterFix costs less for urban agencies than other water supplies such as desalination or recycling.  DWR intends to issue a draft supplemental Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in June 2018 and a final supplemental EIR in October 2018.  Work on WaterFix would begin once the environmental review and permits are complete.

State and federal agencies will continue negotiations with CVP contractors to increase their level of investment in the full 9,000-cfs twin tunnel project.

Moving and storing water from Northern California is only one part of Southern California’s comprehensive water supply strategy.  Southern California is committed to an increasing focus on new local supplies by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in programs such as recycled water, improved groundwater management, storm water capture, and aggressive improvements in conservation.  Investments in local supplies and supporting the California WaterFix to completion are critical to protecting the reliability of our water supply and the economy for years to come.

California Waterfix is critical because:

 

Healthcare Issues 

Support Protection of  the 340B “Drug Discount” Program and oppose H.R. 5598 (Carter), 340B Optimization Act.  With bipartisan support, Congress created the 340B drug discount program in 1992 to enable safety-net hospitals, community-based clinics and other providers that serve low-income, vulnerable patients to purchase outpatient medications at a discount from drug manufacturers.  Hospitals use the savings from this program to fund vital patient care services including mobile health clinics, chemotherapy infusion centers, Hepatitis C treatment and inner-city primary care centers.  Patients benefit when health care providers are able to offer a more comprehensive list of services that can detect and even prevent life-threatening conditions.  For some smaller and rural hospitals, savings from the 340B program can literally mean the difference between staying open and having to close.

No State or federal dollars are involved with this program. Drug manufacturers provide these discounts directly to hospitals and other providers.

Although it has operated successfully for more than 25 years, some in Congress and the drug manufacturers seek to limit the scope of the program and add administratively burdensome requirements to participating providers.  Hospitals and other health care experts disagree, noting that the program has worked well for nearly a quarter century, and additional safeguards can be put in place to maintain program integrity.  In California, there have been no findings of fraud or abuse in this program.

Last year, hospitals that participated in the 340B program were dealt a significant blow in the reimbursement for 340B drugs in the annual Outpatient Prospective Payment System rule.  The final rule reduced reimbursement for 340B drugs by 28.5%.

According to a recent study by Dobson DeVanzo Associates, the 340B drug discount program represents about 2 percent of drug spending in the U.S.  The drug industry spends four times as much in its annual advertising budget.

The 340B drug discount program is a lifeline for vulnerable patients and local communities.  New burdensome reporting requirements could dismantle a bipartisan federal program that has been working well and making people healthy for more than a quarter century.   Limiting this program conflicts with efforts to expand health care services to vulnerable populations.  It is a step backward, when we should be moving forward.

Inland Action seeks Congressional support to protect the 340B program and opposed H.R. 5598, “340B Optimization Act” (Carter).  H.R. 5598 creates additional reporting requirements for 340B DSH hospitals for outpatient charity care and outpatient revenue data.  Hospitals already report on the services they provide for low-income patients. This bill focuses only on charity care and ignores under-reimbursed.

Support Opioid-related legislation which would increase access to substance use disorder treatment.  Deaths due to overdoses of opioids and other drugs continue to ravage American communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every day in 2016, 1,000 Americans were treated for opioid misuse in emergency departments daily, and tragically 115 Americans died from opioid misuse.  In total 42,000 lives were lost in 2016, due to opioid overdoses, which accounted for over 66 percent of all drug-overdose deaths in the country, a death rate that is even higher than deaths attributed to car accidents.

While the impacts to Americans’ health outcomes are staggering, the opioid crisis has also negatively impacted society in numerous ways, such as causing a contraction in the country’s labor force by almost one million workers between 1999 and 2015, which resulted in a loss of $702 billion in economic output.  In 2015 alone, the total economic burden of the opioid epidemic was estimated to be $504 billion.  One recent analysis found that the annual cost to private sector employers for the treatment of opioid addiction and overdoses has increased more than eight-fold since 2004, a figure that is expected to continue to rise as more than one in five persons aged 55 to 64 had at least one opioid prescription in 2016.

Patients served by Medicaid and Medicare are significantly impacted by the opioid crisis, given that the programs together will cover roughly one in three Americans this year.  As the two largest health care payers in America, both programs play key roles in identifying at-risk beneficiaries, providing treatment, and decreasing overdose deaths.

The following statistics for 2016 document the severe impact of opioid addiction in the Inland Empire:

Congress is to be commended for approving the additional $4 billion in new opioid funding as part of the omnibus spending bill, and it is recognized that there are a host of other opioid-related bills running through both chambers that seek to further help address the crisis.

Inland Action respectfully urges your support for measures or inclusionary language that would:

 

Support adequate federal funding through the Housing Choice Voucher program to provide housing assistance to people with the lowest incomes, recognizing that lack of housing is a Social Determinant of HealthInland Action, California health plans, and hospital systems recognize the importance of housing as a social determinant of health.  Housing affordability, availability and increasing number of homeless members in the community spotlight the need for adequate funding support.

Recent Point-In-Time Count results show a 13% increase in the homeless population in San Bernardino County. There are several emerging and promising cross-sector initiatives that will rely on federal housing vouchers as part of the partnerships necessary to achieve better results for the people and communities we serve. Locally, health plans are partnering with public housing agencies/authorities to provide housing and supportive services to homeless people with chronic health care conditions. Through the use of the Housing Choice Voucher program, members are provided permanent housing in the community with the necessary supportive services to help them regain their health, secure sustaining employment and provide a stable housing environment for children working toward educational attainment.  Providing housing with individualized supportive services is anticipated to result in a 10-30% decrease in healthcare costs. 

Inland Action respectfully requests your support for adequate federal funding to leverage innovative partnerships that provide coordinated housing, healthcare and social assistance to our vulnerable community members.

 

Judicial Issue

Support the appointment of qualified candidates to fill existing judicial vacancies in the Central District of California, especially in the Eastern Division of that Court, serving the Inland Area.  The Central District of California is the most-populous district in the county, serving approximately 19.6 million people.  Six (22%) of the Court’s twenty-seven authorized Article III judgeships are currently vacant.  The longest of these vacancies dates to August 2014.  There are no nominations pending for any of these vacancies.

The lack of judicial resources has caused extreme strain not only on the judges serving under greatly increased caseloads, but also on the litigants and attorneys whose cases are delayed because there are not enough judges to hear them.  Filling these vacancies with qualified judges as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance.

The issue is especially acute in the Eastern Division of the Court.  The Eastern Division serves the Inland area of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, home to 4.5 million people covering 27,408 square miles.  The Eastern Division is comparable in population to the State of Kentucky, and in land area to the State of West Virginia.  Kentucky and West Virginia each have two federal districts, with nine and eight authorized judgeships, respectively.

By comparison, there is presently only one District Judge sitting in the Eastern Division; one of the six Central District vacancies is in the Eastern Division.  The number of cases arising in the Eastern Division far exceeds the capacity of a single judge to preside over.  The Court reassigns cases among its three divisions (Eastern in Riverside, Southern in Santa Ana, and Western in Los Angeles) to help get the Eastern Division cases heard and to keep the number of cases per judge roughly equal.  However, that means approximately 75 percent of the cases filed in the Eastern Division each month are currently reassigned to a judge in either Los Angeles or Santa Ana.  This represents a substantial burden on the parties and their attorneys, who must travel to those courthouses for hearings and trials, resulting in significant additional time and expense in resolving their cases.  Moreover, because juries are drawn from the local communities, these parties also face trial by a jury drawn not from their own communities, but the communities of the presiding court to which their case was reassigned.

Recent studies from the Judicial Conference of the United States show the need for additional judgeships in the Central District of California, but the first priority must be to vet, nominate, and confirm qualified candidates for the six existing vacancies, especially the current vacancy in the Eastern Division.  The good news is that there is already a well-qualified candidate who has applied for the Eastern Division position.  Sheri Pym has been a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern Division since 2011.  Prior to being appointed as a Magistrate Judge, she served as the head of the United States Attorney’s branch office for the Eastern Division.  She has strong community support and would be a terrific Article III judge.  Inland Action has officially supported her appointment.

Transportation Issues 

The Inland Empire is located in the heart of Southern California, with easy access to all of the broader region’s destinations.  As with freeway congestion in the region, demand for international travel continues to grow at a rapid pace due to the region’s large and diverse population (4.7 million people and growing) of active travelers, flying at a rate above the national average. This diverse population is serviced by User-Fee Airports throughout the region, all of which have been experiencing increased demand for international traffic and straining scarce Custom and Border Protection (CBP) personnel who must drive long distances, through increasing traffic, in order to service these areas from the LAX port of entry.

In recent years, greater Inland Empire User-Fee Airports have completed substantial investments in the infrastructure and facilities required to support growing international demand in the region. These include development of Federal Inspection Facilities (FIS) and capabilities at John Wayne Airport (SNA), Ontario International Airport (ONT), Palm Springs Airport (PSP), and San Bernardino International Airport (SBD).  Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV) supports cargo and military operations.  Most recently, Ontario International Airport gained local control of its operations from Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).  As part of the transition from LAWA to an independent authority, ONT became a User-Fee Airport to secure CBP officers to support international passenger and cargo operations.  Earlier this year, China Airlines shifted a daily direct flight from LAX-Taiwan to ONT-Taiwan because of overwhelming market demand in the region.  In addition, ONT, PSP, VCV, and SBD have established seasonal and itinerant General Aviation and charter operations.  Whether general aviation, passenger, cargo, or bonded warehousing, each of these airports continues to grow their capabilities to keep up with steadily rising demand centered east of Los Angeles. Many have expressed interest in proceeding with a CBP national hiring, and potential relocation posting, to begin to fill these positions.

Compounding the situation is the unprecedented growth at LAX, our established Port of Entry. With multiple carriers, expansion efforts, and infrastructure programs underway and scheduled to increase over the near term, LAX CBP staff are more constrained than ever before. To address these issues, a Regional Inland Port is being proposed to efficiently and effectively support the user-fee airports located in the Inland Empire. The Inland Empire’s collective international facilities could play a pivotal role in the region, while providing much needed relief for LAX.

In a collaborative effort to accommodate international traffic, CBP could utilize Inland Airports such as ONT and SBD as an Inland Port.  Currently, all airport CBP personnel are required to be deployed out of a designated International Port of Entry (LAX).  Through the establishment of a Regional Inland Port, our inland airports can be staffed directly within the region they serve, without impacting current staffing at LAX – all of which are funded through existing user fee agreements.  This centralized point of deployment would provide CBP much more efficient access to areas far removed from LAX.  With compliant User-Fee facilities, CBP could support the region’s quickly growing demand at ONT, SBD, VCV, PSP, and even LAS (McCarran International Airport), while minimizing drive times of CBP personnel, and travelers from the region.

Inland Airports have been loyal members in CBP’s User-Fee program for years and are willing and able to provide compliant office and headquarters facilities for CBP.  A regional Inland Port, centrally located, would maximize CBP resources for the benefit of travelers entering Southern California and officers working at any one of the region’s airports.  This serves to help alleviate CBP staffing constraints at LAX and other areas over the near and long term due to scalability.

Multiple airports in the region are seeking to expand CBP staffing. As national recruitment programs are underway, Inland Empire Airports request the ability to utilize CBP staffing through the existing User-Fee agreements, while seeking a coordinated national hiring and relocation effort for near- and long-term sustainability across this region serving all present and proposed participants.

Inland Empire Demographics.  According to the US Census Bureau data obtained from Woods & Poole, Inc., the Inland Empire has experienced significant growth in both population and economic categories.  Table 1 depicts the Inland Empire’s population, which has grown more than 43% since 2000, far outpacing that of both California and the United States growth averages. Additional economic indicators from earnings, to retail sales, to gross regional product growth have all far outpaced the growth in both California and the United States. This growth in the Inland Empire demonstrates a continued need and demand for more choice in air service, especially regarding international service.

Table 1: Inland Empire Demographics Comparison
  Inland Empire MSA   California United States
2017 2000 % Change   % Change % Change
Population 4,698,830 3,277,022 43.4% 17.0% 15.0%
Total Earnings (millions) $86,482 $55,817 52.5% 27.1% 27.5%
Personal Income (millions) $153,755 $92,758 64.8% 39.2% 36.4%
Mean Household Income $115,638 $72,684 58.2% 60.1% 54.0%
Retail Sales (millions) $61,943 $37,867 63.6% 32.9% 25.8%
Gross Regional Product (millions) $143,895 $87,971 63.6% 35.9% 35.2%

 

ONT is 56 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), while SBD is a full 77 miles from LAX, which is the same distance from LAX as Stockton (SCK) is to SFO. Without traffic, the market is over a 90-minute drive, but regularly exceeds two and a half hours due to Los Angeles’ infamous, unpredictable traffic and gridlock. LAX is the primary international airport utilized by Inland Empire residents, but as the Inland Empire continues to grow, as well as growth in the greater Los Angeles area, the number of available seats per resident continues to be squeezed. 

Table 2 shows the population and seat comparisons by MSA for each market in the top 20; the Inland Empire has a population of nearly 4.7 million with just 0.6 outbound seats per resident. This is by far the lowest percentage of seats per resident of any top 20 MSA in the United States. The next lowest MSA is Philadelphia at 3.0, providing six (6) times the number of available seats vs. the Inland Empire (see below).

 Table 2
Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area 2017 Population 2017 Outbound Seats 2010 Outbound Seats 2016 Seats/Person
1 New York City – Newark, NJ/NY 20,316,601 82,351,008 67,928,505 4.1
2 Los Angeles – Long Beach – Orange County, CA 13,477,854 59,152,824 44,029,847 4.4
3 Chicago, IL 9,760,037 60,689,661 53,278,031 6.2
4 Dallas/Ft Worth, TX 7,302,351 49,832,098 41,377,050 6.8
5 Houston, TX 6,770,582 34,463,160 31,272,360 5.1
6 Washington, DC 6,277,903 28,238,641 27,721,562 4.5
7 Philadelphia, PA 6,137,047 18,439,566 20,445,144 3.0
8 Miami – Ft Lauderdale – Palm Beach, FL 6,113,966 50,155,894 38,984,134 8.2
9 Atlanta, GA 5,866,725 61,410,945 54,312,644 10.5
10 Boston, MA 4,783,093 23,880,119 18,121,124 5.0
11 Phoenix, AZ 4,718,543 27,142,494 25,500,212 5.8
12 Inland Empire (Ontario, Riverside, San Bernardino, CA) 4,698,830 2,759,944 3,251,912 0.6
13 San Francisco – Oakland, CA 4,632,894 41,622,112 30,262,425 9.0
14 Detroit, MI 4,294,929 21,303,049 20,240,191 5.0
15 Seattle, WA 3,791,362 27,427,278 19,079,181 7.2
16 Minneapolis – St Paul, MN 3,609,803 22,281,803 20,256,871 6.2
17 San Diego, CA 3,344,891 13,734,411 10,690,344 4.1
18 Tampa Bay, FL 3,022,138 12,548,812 10,811,256 4.2
19 Baltimore, MD 2,856,713 16,964,659 14,470,685 5.9
20 St Louis, MO 2,845,618 9,609,860 8,337,593 3.4

 

Support $65 million Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Small Starts Program Grant for the West Valley Connector ProjectThe Omnibus Budget Act passed by Congress in March of 2018 includes $2.54 billion for Capital Investment Grants (CIG), including $400 million for Small Starts projects.  Small Starts is the funding source that San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) is pursuing for the West Valley Connector project.

SBCTA proposes to implement bus rapid transit (BRT) in a 19-mile corridor from Pomona to Rancho Cucamonga. Currently called the West Valley Connector BRT, the project will operate as part of Omnitrans’ sbX BRT service. The project includes the purchase of 60-foot articulated vehicles, 22 new stations, a vehicle maintenance facility, and transit signal priority. SBCTA estimates the capital cost of the project is $219 million and expects to seek $65 million of that from the Small Starts program.

The West Valley Connector Project (WVC) is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line located in the Cities of Pomona, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, and Fontana and consists of a hybrid of alignments identified in the 2010 Omnitrans sbX System Corridors plan. The purpose of the Project is to improve the speed and quality of public transit service in the western San Bernardino Valley. The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) intends to construct the WVC, which will then be operated by Omnitrans as approved by both the SBCTA Board and Omnitrans Board in January 2017. Phase 1 consists of connecting the Pomona Metrolink Station on the Riverside Line to Ontario International Airport via Holt Boulevard and the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink Station on the San Bernardino Line via Milliken Avenue, terminating at Victoria Gardens on Day Creek Boulevard south of Main Street.

Support legislation to prevent FAA Diversion of Local Sales Tax to Aviation Improvements.    Support legislation or an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill to clarify that FAA’s interpretation of aviation fuel tax cannot divert locally-approved transactions taxes from transportation projects to aviation improvements.  Potential loss of funding is triggered by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rulemaking finalized on December 8, 2014, (79 FR 66282) that misinterprets a statute related to taxes on aviation fuel.  As congress develops a framework to consider an FAA Reauthorization bill in 2018, Inland Action requests inclusion of language to affirm that it was never the intent of Congress to divert local, voter-approved transportation sales tax revenue to airports.  This change will preserve the trust California voters have placed in their local counties and transportation agencies when approving local voter-approved transportation tax measures. 

As stated in the FAA’s proposed rule (78FR 699789), “the agency interpreted the provisions of Sections 47107(b) and 47133 to apply to any state or local tax on aviation fuel, whether the tax was specifically targeted at aviation fuel or was a general sales tax on products that included aviation fuel without exemption.  Also, FAA interpreted these statutes to make no distinction between taxes imposed by a local government or state government agency.”  This interpretation of “local tax on aviation fuel” which includes any state or local sales tax is directly contrary to what Congress intended in the FAA statute.  As stated in the conference report for the 1987 amendments to the FAA statute, the requirement that local taxes on aviation fuel must be spent on airports “is intended to apply to local fuel taxes only, and not to other taxes imposed by local governments, or to state taxes.”

FAA’s interpretation reverses a long-standing view held by state and local tax officials alike that “local taxes on aviation fuel” is limited to fuel taxes and does not include sales taxes that extend to aviation fuel.  The impact of the FAA’s change in interpretation represents a major intrusion of federal power over state and local decision-making, including the explicit will of the voters with respect to voter-approved measures, raising significant constitutional questions of federalism.  When voters approve a tax increase, they expect all the revenue generated from that tax to be spent as described in the ballot measure.  The FAA ruling would divert significant proceeds from these voter-approved measures to purposes not authorized by the voter.

Lastly, the ruling imposes a significant unfunded mandate on California and its local agencies due to the fact that the sale of aviation fuel is not segregated from other taxable sources.  Consequently, compliance will require a complicated new tracking system.  Clarification is required to state that general sales taxes, particularly local voter-approved taxes, are not subject to 49 U.S.C. Sections 47107(b)(1) and 47133(a) and are consistent with the original intent of Congress that “local tax on aviation fuel” is limited to fuel excise taxes on aviation fuel.

Request:  Re-establish Congressional intent and 29 years of federal interpretation that state and local sales tax measures of general application are not the same as aviation fuel excise taxes and that states and localities should be able to use those revenues as approved by the voters.

Concerns: (1) This FAA rulemaking is contrary to states’ rights and is an assault on state and local control of their general application sales tax measures.  (2)  Many local governments have voter approved sales tax measures for specific purposes such as transportation funding.  This rulemaking will overturn the decision of local voters in taxing themselves for specific purposes.  (3)  Due to the fact that sales taxes on aviation fuel are not segregated from other taxable sources, the burden placed on states and local governments to implement a complicated new tracking system is onerous and unjustified.

Solution:  Legislation is required to clarify that local voter-approved taxes are not subject to 49 US.C. Sections 47107(b)(1) and 47133(a) and that consistent with the original intent of Congress “local tax on aviation fuel” means specific local fuel excise taxes on aviation fuel.  One vehicle to accomplish this result is to support the proposed Lowenthal Napolitano amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill which would exempt from the 2014 FAA rule voter approved general sales taxes in effect prior to enactment of this FAA bill.

END OF DOCUMENT

 

 

 

Inland Action 2017 Federal Legislative Issues At-A-Glance

 

Economic Development


Education


Environment


Healthcare


Transportation

 

Inland Action Top Three Federal Legislative Issues 2017 

  1. Urge that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Replacement plan be viable, well vetted, and in place prior to any repeal of the current act. Modifications to the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) must strive to maintain the current enhanced federal match for the Medicaid expansion population and ensure that funding mechanisms are actuarially sound to allow for the continuance of flexible and innovative quality health care programs that benefit the economic and public health of local communities.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published estimates that under the AHCA 24 million people would lose insurance by 2026. The potential loss of coverage for low-income health care consumers, decreased affordability, cost shifts to states and thereby local health plans and hospitals, and potentially unsound payment structures to Medicaid plans, all have the propensity for devastating implications to the Inland Empire.   Regional health care jobs and GDP have been created through the ACA:

County Jobs in Jeopardy GDP in Jeopardy
San Bernardino 12,000 $892M
Riverside 12,000 $900M

Inland Action requests support for the following AHCA considerations:

 

  1. Encourage the development of a strategy and coalition with other regions in the country to avoid the loss of transportation funding from EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone and encourage an enhanced federal role in reducing emissions from interstate and international goods movement vessels. The Clean Air Act sets ozone attainment standards that must be met by 2023.  For the South Coast Air Basin, it is estimated that oxides of nitrogen, one of the key ingredients in ozone and fine particulate formation, must be reduced by around 80 percent from 2010 levels by 2023, and almost 90% by 2032. Despite all of our efforts and the strongest clean air programs in the nation, it is becoming apparent to many that this may not be realistic for the South Coast Air Basin.

 

Inland Action encourages an enhanced federal role in reducing emissions from Intrastate and international goods movement vessels. The 2012 South Coast Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) shows that San Bernardino County had the worst 24-hour PM 2.5 concentrations and the worst 1‑hour and 8-hour ozone concentrations in Southern California in 2011 – between 130% and 180% of federal standards. Much of this is a result of activity outside of or coming through the County, largely from ship, train, and truck emissions, and due to the region’s unique geographic features.  This causes the Inland Empire to be disproportionately impacted.

 

  1. Support HR 161 (Hastings),   Services for Ending Long-Term Homelessness Act. Nationally, on any given night, there are approximately 83,000 people who are experiencing chronic homelessness. Chronically homeless people often live in shelters or on the streets for years at a time, experience repeated episodes of homelessness without achieving housing stability, or cycle between homelessness, jails, mental health facilities, and hospitals. This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to design national strategies and implement programs to address chronic homelessness. Homelessness is a persistent problem impacting San Bernardino County. According to the 2016 Point-In-Time Count Homeless Survey, the number of homeless, 1,887, represents a 12% decrease over the 2015 homeless count due to aggressive action. In San Bernardino County, 33,274 students had experienced homelessness, about 8.1 percent of the total county student population of 411,000. That is nearly double the State’s overall percentage of 4.3 percent.

 

Inland Action 2017 Federal Legislative Issues – Detail

 

Economic Development Issues

Support HR 161 (Hastings/Takano Cosponsor),   Services for Ending Long-Term Homelessness Act.   Nationally, on any given night, there are approximately 83,000 people who are experiencing chronic homelessness. Chronically homeless people often live in shelters or on the streets for years at a time, experience repeated episodes of homelessness without achieving housing stability, or cycle between homelessness, jails, mental health facilities, and hospitals. This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to design national strategies and implement programs to address chronic homelessness.

Research indicates that permanent supportive housing is a cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness that leads to improved residential stability and reduction in psychiatric symptoms. Studies have also shown that supportive housing is associated with significant reductions in costs for emergency room visits, hospitalizations, shelters, sobering centers, jails, and other public services used by people experiencing homelessness. By implementing permanent supportive housing, communities are making progress toward ending chronic homelessness.  To promote an end to chronic homelessness, the Department of Health and Human Services must award grants to provide:

Priority for grants is given to applicants that target services to individuals and families who have experienced more homelessness, use more public emergency care, or have a history with the criminal justice system.

Homelessness is a persistent national problem that impacts cities and communities throughout San Bernardino County. According to the 2016 Point-In-Time Count Homeless Survey, the number of homeless, 1,887, represents a 12 percent decrease over the 2015 homeless count. This improvement is a result of investments in positive programs such as permanent supportive housing, homeless outreach, and aggressive use of the “housing first” and “rapid re-housing” protocols. Despite a decline in the homeless population in San Bernardino County, additional assistance at the federal level is needed.*

In San Bernardino County, 33,274 students had experienced homelessness, about 8.1 percent of the total county student population of 411,000. That is nearly double the State’s overall percentage of 4.3 percent.**

*2017 San Bernardino County Legislative platform.

** 2014 SB SUN article

 

Support reinstatement of HUD cuts to FHA mortgage insurance premiums to help potential lower- and middle-income home buyers. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suspended indefinitely a planned cut in the annual mortgage insurance premium on home loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration.  The Obama administration announced the cut on January 9, 2017, and it was supposed to take effect January 24, 2017.  The cut would have reduced the annual insurance premium on most new FHA mortgages to 0.6% from the current 0.85%.  That quarter-point cut would have saved someone with a $500,000 mortgage $1,250 per year.

Lower- and middle-income home buyers in the Inland Empire are already dealing with tighter credit standards, low inventory levels, and a steady rise in home prices leading to homeownership rates nationally hovering around a 50-year low. Doing anything that would make it harder for buyers to enter the housing market is a fundamental step in the wrong direction.

 

Support a change in HUD’s loan limit rules to give fairer treatment to both new home development and to homes in submarkets that are much higher price points than other submarkets in the same market area. Riverside and San Bernardino counties continued to lead the area in Federal Housing Administration loans, but median home prices in the two-county area are steadily rising near FHA loan limits.  The FHA loan limit in Los Angeles and Orange Counties is $636,150. The loan limit in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties is significantly lower at $379,500.

The Inland Empire is a leader in FHA home sales as a percentage of overall activity. Riverside County’s share of FHA sales in November 2016 was 30.1% and San Bernardino County’s share was 32.3%.

Due to a lack of inventory, home prices are steadily increasing. Many potential homebuyers in the Inland Empire who have the income to qualify for loans much larger than the conforming limit fail to obtain these loans because they lack the down payment. It is now harder to save with the cost of rents increasing due to the increase and demand for real estate. The FHA limit barrier is also a problem to homebuilders in the Inland Empire where it is nearly impossible to build a house profitably given the high fees and other costs.  Even if the land residual were near zero, it would still be a challenge to build and sell a home for less than $370,000.

 

Support a long-term modification to the Employment-Based Fifth Preference Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5 Program) and consider added reforms to ensure the program complies with its original intentOn January 13, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a notice of proposed new regulations for EB-5, with comments required by April 11, 2017. The main EB-5 legislation is set to expire on April 28, 2017.

 

The United States currently has five employment-based preference visa programs. These are primarily for a variety of skilled workers and individuals who have worked for the U.S. government or other special positions. In 1990, Congress created the fifth preference visa program, The EB-5. This fifth-preference deals with immigrants willing to invest between $500,000 and $1 million in a job creating opportunity that employs at least ten full-time U.S. workers. The immigrant investors earn eligibility to live in the U.S. conditionally for two years and then, if certain job-creation conditions are met, to apply to remove the temporary status and request lawful permanent residency.

In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. As of March 6, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has approved 880 regional centers generating over $3.8 billion in investment around the United States which can facilitate important economic growth in economically depressed areas throughout the country, including the Inland Empire region for Southern California.  Over 240 Invest in the USA (IIUSA) members have worked to develop best practices and reforms for this industry.

With the proliferation of regional centers in recent years, the EB-5 program has faced challenges because of some bad actors that have abused the program, and Congress has expressed concerns about how the program is run. However, there are multiple public and private sector examples in the Inland Empire as to how responsible and established regional centers have effectively and responsibly implemented these programs.  Potential reform concepts include the potential to raise the investment requirement from $500,000 to $1,350,000 in economically depressed areas and from $1,000,000 to $1,800,000 in non-depressed areas.

 

Education Issue 

Support restoration of the year-round Pell Grant to help more Inland Empire students complete college and earn degrees fasterThe Pell Grant program is the foundation of federal student aid, providing opportunity and access to millions of students from low-income families who might otherwise be unable to attend college.  The vast majority of Pell recipients come from families with incomes at or below $30,000, and the Inland Empire suffers from one of the lowest baccalaureate degree attainment rates in the country.

At California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), 12,052, or 65%, of the university’s 18,543 undergraduate students receive Pell awards to help them pursue college degrees and upward mobility. Nearly 90% of CSUSB’s students come from Inland Empire communities, and 80% of undergraduate students are first-generation, meaning neither parent has earned a four-year college degree.  Even with CSUSB’s modest annual tuition and fees ($6,610), Pell is critical to the success of students.  The average Pell grant awarded to eligible CSUSB students is $4,623, out of a maximum award of $5,815.  In 2015-16, 58% of CSUSB’s nearly 3,800 bachelor’s degrees went to Pell grant recipients.

At the University of California, Riverside (UCR), over 11,060 students or 55% of the university’s 19,827 undergraduate students receive Pell awards. UCR is widely recognized as one of the most ethnically diverse research universities in the nation with 44% underrepresented minorities and 57% first generation college students. UCR enrolls a higher percentage of Pell Grant recipients than any other top research university in the country.  Tuition/fees for a full-time UCR undergraduate is $15,211. If students received a summer Pell grant, they would be able to afford summer school, for which they currently must pay the full price. Attending summer school allows students to shorten their time to degree and therefore decrease the overall financial cost to attend college.

The Pell Grant is a critical point of access to students in the private college/university sector as well. Approximately 30% of students at University of Redlands receive Pell Grants, and these students graduate at higher rates than the overall student body.  Pell grants are an important tool for all public and private colleges and universities in the Inland Empire to assist a vast number of students attain a college education.

Year-round Pell would help students earn degrees more quickly. Many students exhaust their annual Pell eligibility after just two semesters, making it difficult for them to afford summer courses and more likely to wait until the beginning of the next academic year to continue their studies.  To maintain maximum eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, you must be enrolled in at least 12 units each quarter.  Part time awards are prorated for less than full time enrollment.  A year-round Pell program would allow eligible students to receive a third semester of Pell in an academic year, up to an additional $1,983, enabling them to enroll in summer classes.  It is estimated that thousands of students would take advantage of summer studies if year-round Pell were available to them.

Faster completion of degrees can lower the overall financial burden on students and their families, reducing the need to take out loans. And, as students complete their degrees more quickly, educational institutions will be able to admit additional qualified students and enroll more students in high-demand classes.

Restoration of the year-round Pell grant, which was eliminated five years ago to avoid cuts to the regular Pell award, has always had strong bi-partisan support. There are numerous proposals to bring back year-round Pell.  Inland Action supports restoring the year-round Pell grant to ensure many more deserving students in the Inland Empire have the opportunity to attend and complete college in a timely way.

 

Environmental Issues 

Support HR 857 (Cook/Aguilar Co-Sponor) California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act of 2017 and S. 32 (Feinstein) California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2017. The California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act of 2017 is the House Companion to Senator Feinstein’s California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2017.  Together, these bills will protect critical remaining areas of habitat and landscape connectivity in the California Desert, as well as preserve access for outdoor recreation and strike balance among desert communities.

Both Senator Feinstein’s and Congressman Cook’s bills would:


Support HR 497 (Cook/Co-Sponsor Aguilar), Santa Ana River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act and encourage other of the Inland Empire delegation to co-sponsor the bill
. This bill directs the Department of Interior: (1) to quitclaim to the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District in California approximately 327 acres of identified federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management, and (2) in exchange for such land, to accept from the Conservation District a conveyance of approximately 310 acres of its land.

Since the late 1980’s, the Santa Ana River Wash Plan has been a topic of discussion when it was proposed to the Cities of Highland and Redlands, California. It has taken years and numerous meetings between cities, local agencies, industry and federal and State resource agencies, as well as studies and committee reports, to draft the final Upper Santa Ana River Wash Plan. The land exchange authorized in this bill takes place in a designated region within the Santa Ana Wash, at the junction of the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek.  The plan is comprehensive and identifies land where existing mining operations can continue to provide the aggregate needed to support the region’s growing construction industry and establishes protected areas for native plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act.

Inland Action supports HR 497, as it calls for an exchange of land uses in order to create habitat for sensitive and endangered species, to set aside disturbed and nearby properties for future mining, and facilitates other benefits for local infrastructure projects, widening roads, installing traffic controls, trails and water recharge projects.

Summary. The Santa Ana River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act, (HR 497), is a bi-partisan bill which is a land-use plan that allows the transfer of land between the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District and the Bureau of Land Management.  Currently, land within the Santa Ana Wash is owned by both the San Bernardino Water Conservation District and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Parcels owned by the district are currently used for the purpose of recharging water in more than 77 basins, and also provide Riversidian Sage Scrub habitat.

Under the HR 497:

 

Support California WaterFix to upgrade California’s aging water infrastructure. California WaterFix is a proposed plan to upgrade the California’s aging water infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to address changing conditions.  Two new underground tunnels would transport drinking water from the north Delta to the south. The tunnels would provide flexibility and reduce conflicts with migrating fish. They would capture excess flows to store in reservoirs or groundwater aquifers for future use.  And, they would protect against sea level rise and levee failure, helping to safeguard this high-quality drinking water for millions of Californians.

Imported water from the Delta is vital to the Inland Empire because the region stores this water to sustain the region during droughts and uses it to replenish groundwater basins. The high-quality supply form Northern California is crucial to our ground water basins and for recycling water. California WaterFix is an opportunity to address current challenges in the Delta while also planning for future ones.

Action: Support administration/legislative action and federal funding to keep California WaterFix on schedule.  Support the advancement of permitting for conveyance and ecosystem improvements that help achieve the coequal goals of water reliability and ecosystem restoration.

Background: The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is where California’s two largest rivers meet, an area where saltwater from the Pacific mingles with freshwater from the rivers.  The 738,000-acre Delta is a complex web of waterways, sloughs, canals and islands.  It also is the linchpin in the State Water Project, the system that supplies drinking water to more than 25 million Californians and approximately 45% of the fruits and vegetables produced in the United States.

The Delta is home to 500,000 people and provides habitat for more than 300 species of wildlife, 29 of which are threatened or endangered. The fertile peat soil produces $700 million annually in agricultural crops, and the Delta’s ecosystem supports the commercial salmon industry of the entire west coast.

Water flowing through the Delta supplies 30% of Southern California’s drinking water (4% of total Delta exports), 33% of the Bay Area’s, and up to 90% of the Central Valley’s drinking and irrigation water. Some communities are 100% dependent on the Delta for their water supplies.

Over the years, the Delta’s ecosystem has deteriorated, and its 1,100-mile levee system is increasingly vulnerable to failure caused by earthquakes, floods and other forces of nature. The decline of the Delta’s ecosystem has led to historic restrictions in water supply deliveries. The result is a pressing two-fold need to improve California’s water reliability and restore the Delta’s fragile ecosystem.

The Delta was once a vast marshland covered with tulles and teaming with wildlife. Settlers, lured at first by the gold rush of the mid 1800s, built levees to drain and reclaim the land. Tidal wetlands are an important source of food and shelter for fish such as delta smelt that live year-round in the estuary.  Adjacent floodplains such as the Yolo Bypass are feeding grounds for young salmon on their journey to the Pacific Ocean.

Today, about 95% of the original wetlands and original floodplains are no longer part of the Delta ecosystem due to levee construction and other human activities.  Yet it remains California’s most important estuary and a vital environmental resource, home to more than 750 plant, bird, animal, and fish species.

Today’s Delta region faces numerous threats that are projected to worsen.  Absent intervention, California’s water supply system and the Delta ecosystem are at risk of collapse and are projected to worsen due to a variety of natural and man-made stressors. The four main stress factors are seismic threats, sea-level rise, land subsidence from farming practices, and fishery declines.

More than 95 percent of the biomass in the Delta is non-native. Striped bass, Black bass, Asian clams and many other invaders, large and small, are either eating the native populations or the foods on which they rely. In this highly-altered environment, the introduced species are over-running the native species and are a key factor in reducing populations of some endangered species.

Public water agencies are promoting a more comprehensive approach to restoring the Delta as a way to restoring reliable water supplies long-term.

Fixing the Problem: Federal and State officials, water agencies, and other interested parties have undertaken a comprehensive effort to fundamentally and systematically improve both the State’s water supply reliability and restore the Delta’s ecosystem. These efforts are known as the California WaterFix and California EcoRestore. These strategic action plans will construct a new conveyance tunnel to protect California’s water supply and improve the Delta ecosystem through habitat restoration.

Without a strategic investment in the Delta, the water supply and ecosystem will continue to deteriorate and jeopardize the delivery of safe, reliable drinking water to 25 million people.

The California WaterFix proposes to build three new intakes in the northern Delta and to transport the supply via twin tunnels to the existing California Aqueduct system. The new intakes will improve drinking water quality while creating a much more flexible water project that can avoid conflicts with migrating fish species. The tunnel conveyance method will protect the supply from natural threats such as earthquakes. To further help the Delta ecosystem, California EcoRestore proposes to protect and restore more than 30,000 acres of habitat such as tidal marshes and seasonal floodplains in the coming years.

After a Record of Decision authorizes the project, and funding decisions by State and federal agencies are made, California WaterFix will move into design, construction and commissioning phases, with an estimated timeframe of approximately 16 years.

California WaterFix is science-driven and achievable approach that scientists and water experts tell us will help fix California’s aging water delivery system and protect our economy. This current project has been the subject of an unprecedented level of study and scrutiny, as well as public review and comment.

Current cost estimates, while not finalized, put the average cost of the project at about $5 per household per month, making it a sound investment in protecting our water supplies and the quality of that water. The generations before us invested in infrastructure, including water systems, that made California strong, prosperous and the envy of the world. It’s time to renew that commitment by investing in California Water Fix.  In the coming months, major environmental and permitting decisions will be made.  Water agencies will carefully consider the investments and next steps.

 

Support the Sites Reservoir Project in California, a State-wide solution for water resources.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta affects all of California and its water supply including Southern California and the Inland Empire region. The Sites Project Authority, by and through a consortium of local agencies, is developing the Sites Reservoir Project, a 1.8 million acre foot off-stream storage facility located west of the Sacramento River in Colusa County, California (near Maxwell), to secure long-term water sustainability and benefit California’s economy and environment. H.R. 1269 would also authorize the Federal government to be involved in construction of the project.

Sites Reservoir establishes capacity to store extra water and is a cost-effective way to add over 500,000 acre feet to California’s water system annually, serving over 1.2 million families in its initial year.   The Sites Reservoir Project Authority will own, manage, and operate the reservoir, integrating the State’s water system while providing a new source of water to businesses, farms, and families.   Fifty percent of Sites Project water will be dedicated to environmental flows.

California operates one of the most extensive and complicated water storage systems in the world. This project creates an off-stream reservoir that will not dam an existing river or block fish migration on the Sacramento River, enhancing over $1B in habitat investments over the past twenty years to protect migratory corridors for endangered salmon and the Pacific Flyway.  Completion of this project can result in restoration of operational flexibility to California’s water system while ameliorating the recently magnified effects of heavy flood years.

Over thirty-three statewide agencies, including Metropolitan Water District, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency, Coachella Valley Water District, Orland-Artois Water District, and California Water Service are in support of the project. 

Potential Benefits:

Affected agencies include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Department of the Interior; Department of Water Resources; and state and local water agencies. The project is currently in the EIR stage (CEQA/NEPA), with draft EIR completion schedule for June, 2017.  The total estimated project costs is $4.4B – $4.8B (offset by State, local, and private funds).

 

Support Excluding Water Conservation Subsidies from Gross Income.  For many years Inland Action has advocated for water conservation, including the various rebate plans different local and regional water agencies provide consumers. Certainly the best and most efficient dollars spent on water policy are those for water not used. With the recent drought in the Western States, it is imperative every possible savings be implemented.  Although our drought conditions have changed with recent storms, conservation is a way of life for all Californians.  Water use efficiency is a critical ongoing practice in Southern California.

Southern Californians face draconian reduction goals for water use. To assist consumers, various conservation rebate plans are offered by water providers to assist and encourage consumers to meet these goals. The Metropolitan Water District alone has provided rebates to more than 195,000 people. Since 1990, Metropolitan has invested nearly $1.3 billion cumulative on conservation, recycling and groundwater recovery.

Current U.S. Tax code is unclear whether water conservation rebates constitute taxable income, and Inland Action is concerned that the current gains in household conservation will be lost without a clear policy excluding conservation subsidies for water conservation programs.

Currently under Section 136 of the IRS Code, energy conservation subsidies are excluded from gross income. This policy was adapted to encourage consumers to conserve in the face of a looming energy crisis. Certainly the very real drought conditions that cycle through the Western States are crises of comparable magnitude, and these incentive programs should be considered equally with current energy tax policy considerations. In addition, water conservation measures provide significant energy savings as well.

There is currently no legislation assisting with this issue, yet the parity of this issue with energy is unmistakable. We encourage the energy exemption in Section 136 of the IRS Tax Code to be expanded to apply to water conservation programs.

 

Healthcare Issues 

Urge that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Replacement plan be viable, well vetted, and in place prior to any repeal of the current actModifications to the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) must strive to maintain the current enhanced federal match for the Medicaid expansion population and ensure that funding mechanisms are actuarially sound to allow for the continuance of flexible and innovative quality health care programs that benefit the economic and public health of local communities.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published estimates that under the AHCA 24 million people would lose insurance by 2026. The potential loss of coverage for low-income health care consumers, decreased affordability, cost shifts to states and thereby local health plans and hospitals, and potentially unsound payment structures to Medicaid plans, all have the propensity for devastating implications to the Inland Empire.

Economic Impact: Currently, the economic impact of the Medicaid Expansion (MCE) in the Inland Empire has resulted in the following positive economic provisions that are clearly in jeopardy under the AHCA:

County Jobs in Jeopardy GDP in Jeopardy
San Bernardino 12,000 $892M
Riverside 12,000 $900M

Cuts to Medicaid and potential increases in the uninsured population will weaken the local economy, place financial burdens on hospitals and create challenges to maintain the same level of services. 

Healthcare Improvements – Infrastructure: California and its hospitals have made significant investments in programmatic functions and quality of care improvements as a result of the ACA. Any replacement plan should build upon these initiatives and successes, including the managed care model, which has provided a cost effective and flexible delivery of care system.

Access to Care: Through the ACA, the number of uninsured Californians has been cut in half. But, the CBO estimates, under the AHCA, 24 million nationwide will lose their health care coverage by 2026.

Inland Action requests support for the following AHCA considerations:

  1. Maintain Federal Financial Support for Currently-Covered Services. 

 

  1. Ensure Per Capita Allotments or Block Grants are Built on Reliable, Dependable, and Publicly-Verifiable Data. 

 

  1. Provide States the Flexibility to Implement Delivery System and Other Reforms. 

 

  1. Maintain the Medicaid Program’s Coverage of Supports and Services for the Elderly and People with Disabilities 

 

IEHP Membership by Congressional District

(88% of the Market Share in the Inland Empire)

Support efforts to increase the cap on the number of primary care residency slots funded by Medicare. There is a severe shortage of Primary Care providers in the Inland Empire and throughout California, and the problem is getting worse.  Only 22% of doctors in California are in primary care.  To further complicate the matter, one third of physicians and nurse practitioners are 55 and older.

 

The only way to become a practicing doctor in the U.S. is to complete a residency program after medical school.  The problem is that for the past two decades there has been a cap on the number of primary care residencies funded by Medicare, which is the primary source of payment for residents.  The number of primary care residents a hospital was teaching at the end of 1996 is the same cap that a teaching hospital is limited to today. That cap has limited the expansion of residency programs, which ultimately limits caring for many poor and uninsured individuals.

 

Transportation Issues 

Support the Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan for spending up to $1 trillion on restoring infrastructure and a separate component for goods movement infrastructure. Inland Action supports the Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan for spending up to $1 trillion on restoring the country’s crumbling infrastructure and the inclusion of a separate component for goods movement infrastructure. The United States needs a huge increase in spending on public works after years of neglect. A $200 billion investment in roads and bridges alone is estimated to create more than 2.7 million new jobs. Inland Action further recommends that the Infrastructure Plan include a separate component that funds critical goods movement infrastructure which has been inadequately funded by transportation authorization bills enacted over the past 20 or more years.

 

Although some portion infrastructure plan could include tax credits for public-private partnerships, Inland Action also encourages the Trump Administration and Congress to include within the Infrastructure Plan direct public investments in public infrastructure. Not all needed infrastructure can be structured as a public-private partnership that produces revenue to repay the private financing that is invested in some types of projects such as toll roads or toll bridges.

 

Inland Action encourages the California delegation to work with the Trump Administration in designing an infrastructure program that is efficient, that funds projects that are needed and justified through a competitive process, and that allocates funding throughout the country for urban, as well as rural infrastructure needs. The infrastructure plan is a vehicle for bi-partisan cooperation within Congress.

 

Support legislation to clarify that FAA’s interpretation of aviation fuel tax cannot divert locally approved transactions taxes from transportation projects to aviation improvements. Potential loss of funding is triggered by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rulemaking finalized on December 8, 2014 (79 FR 66282) that misinterprets a statute related to taxes on aviation fuel. As Congress develops a framework to consider an FAA Reauthorization bill in the coming weeks, Inland Action requests inclusion of language to affirm that it was never the intention of Congress to divert local transportation sales tax revenue to airports. This change will preserve the trust California voters have placed in their local counties and transportation agencies when approving local voter-approved transportation tax measures.

 

As stated in the FAA’s proposed rule (78 FR 69789), “the agency interpreted the provisions of Sections 47107(b) and 47133 to apply to any state or local tax on aviation fuel, whether the tax was specifically targeted at aviation fuel or was a general sales tax on products that included aviation fuel without exemption. Also, FAA interpreted these statutes to make no distinction between taxes imposed by a local government or state government agency.” This interpretation of “local tax on aviation fuel” which includes any state or local sales tax is directly contrary to what Congress intended in the FAA statute.  As stated in the conference report for the 1987 amendments to the FAA statute, the requirement that local taxes on aviation fuel must be spent on airports “is intended to apply to local fuel taxes only, and not to other taxes imposed by local governments, or to state taxes.”

 

FAA’s interpretation reverses a longstanding view held by state and local tax officials alike that ‘‘local taxes on aviation fuel’’ is limited to fuel taxes, and does not include sales taxes that extend to aviation fuel.   The impact of the FAA’s change in interpretation represents a major intrusion of federal power over state and local decision-making, including the explicit will of the voters with respect to voter-approved measures, raising significant constitutional questions of federalism.    When voters approve a tax increase, they expect all of the revenue generated from that tax to be spent as described in the ballot measure.    The FAA ruling would divert significant proceeds from these voter-approved measures to purposes not authorized by the voter.

 

Lastly, the ruling imposes a significant unfunded mandate on California and its local agencies due to the fact that the sale of aviation fuel is not segregated from other taxable sources. Consequently, compliance will require a complicated new tracking system.   Clarification is required to state that general sales taxes, particularly local voter-approved taxes, are not subject to 49 U.S.C. Sections 47107(b)(1) and 47133(a) and are consistent with the original intent of Congress that “local tax on aviation fuel” is limited to fuel excise taxes on aviation fuel.

 

Request: Re-establish Congressional intent and 29 years of federal interpretation that state and local sales tax measures of general application are not the same as aviation fuel excise taxes and that states and localities should be able to use those revenues as approved by the voters.

 

Background: In 1987 Congress passed the FAA authorization amendments that required airports to spend aviation fuel excise tax revenue on airport uses.  The conference report for the 1987 amendments to the FAA statute (H.R. Conf. Rept. No. 484, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. 1987 accompanying P.L. 100-223) clearly stated that the requirement that local taxes on aviation fuel must be spent on airports “is intended to apply to local fuel taxes only, and not to other taxes imposed by local governments, or to state taxes.”

 

Problem: On December 8, 2014 (79 FR 66282), FAA made a final rulemaking that contradicts the Congressional intent and 29 years of practice by saying that “the agency interpreted the provisions of Sections 47107(b) and 47133 to apply to any state or local tax on aviation fuel, whether the tax was specifically targeted at aviation fuel or was a general sales tax on products that included aviation fuel without exemption.”

 

Concerns: (1) This FAA rulemaking is contrary to states’ rights and is an assault on state and local control of their general application sales tax measures.  (2) Many local governments have voter approved sales tax measures for specific purposes such as transportation funding. This rulemaking will overturn the decision of local voters in taxing themselves for specific purposes.  (3)  Due to the fact that sales taxes on aviation fuel are not segregated from other taxable sources, the burden placed on states and local governments to implement the tracking system necessary is extensive and represents an unfunded mandate.

 

Solution: Legislation is required to clarify that local voter approved taxes are not subject to 49 U.S.C. Sections 47107(b)(1) and 47133(a) and that consistent with the original intent of Congress “local tax on aviation fuel” means specific local fuel excise taxes on aviation fuel.

 

Encourage the development of a strategy and coalition with other regions in the country to avoid the loss of transportation funding from EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone and encourage an enhanced federal role in reducing emissions from interstate and international goods movement vessels. Inland Action encourages the Inland Empire Congressional delegation to develop a strategy to avoid the loss of transportation funding and to develop a coalition with other regions of the country which will be impacted by EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone. The Clean Air Act sets ozone attainment standards that must be met by 2023.  For the South Coast Air Basin, it is estimated that oxides of nitrogen, one of the key ingredients in ozone and fine particulate formation, must be reduced by around 80 percent from 2010 levels by 2023, and almost 90% by 2032. Despite all of our efforts and the strongest clean air programs in the nation, it is becoming apparent to many that this may not be realistic for the South Coast Air Basin.

 

Although technologies have advanced significantly, they are not where they need to be to meet the 2023 ozone attainment deadline. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, working with private and public partners, is working on scenarios representing alternative paths to attainment, but preliminary analysis indicates just how daunting this will be.  Reaching some of the long term goals requires nearly complete transformation of passenger vehicles to zero-emission technologies, approximately 80% of the truck fleet to zero-or near-zero technology, and nearly all locomotives operating in the South Coast air basin to be using some form of zero-emission technology.

 

As air quality in the South Coast Air Basin improves and comes closer to background levels of ozone, the incremental impacts of further reducing ozone becomes higher, with very real consequences to our county’s economy, as well as the availability and quality of jobs for our residents. Approximately 20% of the jobs in San Bernardino County are related to the logistics sector.  These jobs need to be retained and grown for the County’s economy to recover.   Unemployment in SB County persists at 5.4% (January 2017), compared with the national average of 4.8%.

 

Despite having some of the worst air quality in the nation, the Southern California region, in partnership with the State and the private sector, has made great strides in cleaning up the air over the last several decades, and we are committed to continuing that effort. However, failure to meet those standards could result in loss of federal transportation dollars to our region

 

Inland Action also encourages an enhanced federal role in reducing emissions from interstate and international goods movement vessels. The 2012 South Coast Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) shows that San Bernardino County had the worst 24-hour PM 2.5 concentrations and the worst 1‑hour and 8-hour ozone concentrations in Southern California in 2011 – between 130 and 180 percent of federal standards.  Much of this is a result of activity outside of or coming through the County – largely from ship, train, and truck emissions due to the region’s unique geographic features.  This causes the Inland Empire to be disproportionately impacted.

 

Recent estimates indicate that more than 5,000 premature deaths and more than 900,000 lost work days annually result from poor air quality in Southern California. Although air quality has been improving over time, in order to meet more stringent national ozone standards, Southern California will need to reduce NOx emissions by two-thirds by 2023 and three-quarters by 2030.  The impacts are so dramatic that the Southern California Association of Governments the regional metropolitan planning organization estimates that emissions from three sources alone – ships, trains and aircraft – will exceed the federal standards in 2030.

 

This is a daunting challenge, and the clean-up of those modes must occur through cooperative actions at the federal and State level.

 

Support the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority application for TIFIA financing for the I-10 Express Lane Project. The TIFIA request for the I-10 Contract 1 project is approximately $203M equating to one-third of the total project cost of $616M.  The remainder of the funds will consist of toll revenue bonds, federal, State and local funds. TIFIA funding will provide favorable funding to initiate the project.

 

Construction of Express Lanes on I-10 and I-15 in San Bernardino County has been a high priority as a mechanism to reduce congestion, to provide travelers an option for more dependable travel times, and for general economic vitality in the County and region. San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (previously known as SANBAG) has submitted a letter of intent for TIFIA funding to widen the existing I-10 freeway between the Los Angeles/San Bernardino County Line and I-15, a distance of approximately ten miles.  The project is the first phase of a thirty-three mile improvement planned for the I-10 Corridor within San Bernardino County.

 

The first phase is eight miles west of Haven Avenue to add a single new lane and, combined with the existing HOV lane, to provide two Express Lanes in each direction.  Also in the first phase two miles east of Haven Avenue, two lanes will be constructed by the project.

 

Support TIGER Grant funding for SANBAG’s Rail-to-Redlands Project. Extension of rail service from San Bernardino to Redlands in San Bernardino County has been a priority for more than two decades, as promised to the voters in their approval of the local transportation sales tax initiative.  San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) has submitted an application for a TIGER grant for the Redlands Passenger Rail Project in the amount of $14 million consisting of $8.5 million for Positive Train Control, $3.5 million for Quiet Zone Safety Improvements, and $2 million to accommodate the Metrolink Express Train by building a siding track and hybrid station platform. This project is funded through a combination of State and federal funds, with substantial investment of local voter approved revenue.  The project also represents an exemplary collaboration with local business (esri) interests and the University of Redlands, which are working with SANBAG to provide contributions for station improvements in their vicinity.  Approval of this grant application will move this project to construction in the near future.

 

 

 

Inland Action 2016 Federal Legislative Issues At-A-Glance

 

Economic Development

Support the San Bernardino Promise Zone Application.

 

Education

Urge Congress to support Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) and other funding for cybersecurity education to help address the nation’s severe shortage of college graduates who are prepared to enter both the private and public sector cybersecurity workforce.

Support Pell Grants, making it possible for all eligible students in higher education, including public, private, for-profit and community colleges, to receive grants.

 

Environment

Support HR 4024 (Aguilar/Cook), Santa Ana River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act.

Support Senate Bill 2533 (Feinstein), California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act.

Support Excluding Water Conservation Subsidies from Gross Income.

 

Healthcare

Urge Congress to Support Site Neutral Payments for Hospitals and allow “Grandfather Provisions” for stand-alone clinics to allow billing at hospital rates.

 

Veterans Homelessness

Urge Congress to preserve the priority for homeless veterans in HUD and Veterans Administration policy through continued provision of HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) resources to offer eligible homeless veterans access to permanent housing with support services. Subcontract VA support service resources to experienced community-based organizations.

 

Law Enforcement

Urge Congressional reconsideration of their action to redirect funds from the Asset Forfeiture Program, thereby diverting those funds from use by local law enforcement agencies.

 

San Bernardino International Airport

Support the transfer of public land use covenants at the former Norton Air Force Base to consolidate and expand parks and recreation and homeless assistance programs in the City of San Bernardino.

 

Transportation

Support Amendment to H.R. 4441 authored by Congresswoman Napolitano, clarifying that FAA’s interpretation of aviation fuel tax cannot divert locally approved transactions taxes from transportation projects to aviation improvements.

Encourage the Inland Empire Congressional delegation to develop a strategy to avoid the loss of transportation funding and to develop a coalition with other regions of the county which will be impacted by recent EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone.

Support modification of definition of large projects under FAST Freight and Highways Project Discretionary Grant Program.

Encourage enhanced federal role in reducing emissions from Intrastate and International Goods Movement Vessels.

Support the San Bernardino Associated Government application for TIFIA financing for the I-10 Express Lane Project.

Support San Bernardino Associated Governments TIGER Application for Rail to Redlands.

 

Inland Action Top Four Federal Legislative Issues 2016

 

Urge Congress to support Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) and other funding for cybersecurity education to help address the nation’s severe shortage of college graduates who are prepared to enter both the private and public sector cybersecurity workforce. Cybersecurity is one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation.  We must be prepared to meet the growing threat of cyber-attacks and raise the level of security for sensitive data stored online.  California State University, San Bernardino is home to one of the top two cyber education programs in the nation.  Recognized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) as a Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Assurance Education, CSUSB is among 220 colleges and universities across the country with this designation, and it is the lead institution of this consortium of colleges and universities.  Combined, these institutions are producing 10,000 graduates annually with cyber assurance certification; yet, the shortage of cyber experts in private industry alone is estimated to be 230,000, and it is projected that government is short one million or more cyber professionals. An investment of $50 million from the federal government would help to more than double the output of cyber-certified graduates from these 220 CAE-designated institutions of higher education.

 

 

Urge Congress to preserve the priority for homeless veterans in HUD and Veterans Administration policy through continued provision of HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) resources to offer eligible homeless veterans access to permanent housing with supports. Subcontract VA support service resources to experienced community-based organizations.  HUD-VASH is an evidence-based, field-tested, permanent housing intervention that has proven results in achieving stable housing for the most vulnerable and disabled homeless veterans.  Community-based organizations have demonstrated a flexible and collaborative approach in identifying resources, including services and housing, more effectively and efficiently than the bureaucratic and institutional responses of the Veterans Administration (VA). Community-based organizations deliver consumer-centric supports that are cost effective and results oriented.

 

Support Amendment to H.R. 4441 authored by Congresswoman Napolitano, clarifying that FAA’s interpretation of aviation fuel tax cannot divert locally approved transactions taxes from transportation projects to aviation improvements. Potential loss of funding is triggered by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rulemaking finalized on December 8, 2014 (79 FR 66282) that misinterprets a statute related to taxes on aviation fuel. As Congress develops a framework to consider an FAA Reauthorization bill in the coming weeks, we request inclusion of language to affirm that it was never the intention of Congress to divert local transportation sales tax revenue to airports. This change will preserve the trust California voters have placed with their local counties and transportation agencies when approving local voter-approved transportation tax measures.

 

Support Senate Bill 2533 (Feinstein), California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act.  Despite the hope of relief from an El Nino Winter, California’s drought continues. While recent rains gave some optimism that we would at least not lose ground, currently that appears to no longer be the case. Emergency conservation plans have been extended to ensure urban conservation continues through 2016.  Inland Action supports Senator Feinstein’s bill as a proper, immediate and comprehensive approach to accommodate as many stakeholders as possible. 

 

Legislative Issues – Detail

 

Economic Development Issues 2016

Support the San Bernardino Promise Zone Application.
The San Bernardino Promise Zone (SBPZ) application has been prepared with strict adherence to the application guidelines.   San Bernardino is a resilient city on the brink of recovery from bankruptcy, poverty, high crime, and a vile terrorist attack.  A Promise Zone designation will build upon the assets in and around the heart of the City to overcome severe challenges, including an extreme poverty rate of 47% and an unemployment rate of 20%.  The SBPZ consortium aligns regional leaders and their combined assets to achieve collective impact by addressing the following six interconnected priority areas:

Reduction of violent crime through prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies.

Increased graduation and preparation for higher education for PK-12 student with 21st Century skills that support cradle to career pathways and success in local jobs.

Delivery of skill-based education to residents with access to local jobs in growing sectors.

Attraction of new capital resources with sufficient depth and leveraging investment to catalyze economic revitalization, support business growth, and enhance commercial areas.

Transformation of extreme poverty into a viable, mixed income, service enriched inclusive community with investment in infrastructure and housing.

Alignment with Affordable Care Act Strategic Goals to provide families with health insurance coverage and empowerment to advance their own health, safety and well-being through prevention and wellness programs.

The County of San Bernardino is qualified to lead this effort as it delivers substantial resources and collaborates in effectively leveraging more from $2B annually in state and federal allocations and grant awards. The County has lead the SBBPZ consortium in its work identifying evidenced-based best practices that will facilitate lasting change. The Promise Zone designation will accelerate the work of this consortium, increasing its competitiveness for additional funding and mobilizing committed partners to advance mutual objectives to revitalize a city in tremendous need.

The specifics of planned, evidence-based activities/interventions, resources and capabilities are contained in the Goals and Activities template and in the commitment letters submitted as additional documentation. The central theme of the SBPZ Plan is (1) a placed-based revitalization strategy anchored in a physical transformation of the Zone, a district of extreme poverty and need, linked with (2) the alignment of major institutions and their wealth of resources, led by the County of San Bernardino, focusing on maximum investment in and engagement with SBPZ resident.   2016 Promise Zone Application    2016 Promise Zone Map 

 

Education Issues 2016

Urge Congress to support Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) and other funding for cybersecurity education to help address the nation’s severe shortage of college graduates who are prepared to enter both the private and public sector cybersecurity workforce. Cybersecurity is one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation. We must be prepared to meet the growing threat of cyber-attacks and raise the level of security for sensitive data stored online.

California State University, San Bernardino is home to one of the top two cyber education programs in the nation. Recognized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) as a Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Assurance Education, CSUSB is among 220 colleges and universities across the country with this designation, and it is the lead institution of this consortium of colleges and universities. Combined, these institutions are producing 10,000 graduates annually with cyber assurance certification; yet, the shortage of cyber experts in private industry alone is estimated to be 230,000, and it is projected that government is short one million or more cyber professionals. An investment of $50 million from the federal government would help to more than double the output of cyber-certified graduates from these 220 CAE-designated institutions of higher education.

In 2015, the NSA and National Science Foundation (NSF) piloted GenCyber summer camps at 43 colleges and universities for students and teachers at the K-12 level. The goals of the program include increasing diversity and interest in cybersecurity careers and improving teaching methods for delivering cybersecurity content in K-12 computer science curricula. Cal State San Bernardino ran the largest GenCyber camp in the nation, with more than 250 Girl Scouts from Title I Inland Empire middle schools participating. Following their GenCyber experience at CSUSB, over 85 percent of students indicated they would be likely to pursue careers in cybersecurity. A permanent funding line of $5 million annually would ensure the continuation of this program and would help to increase the pipeline of future cybersecurity college graduates.

Cal State San Bernardino is one of approximately 30 schools nationwide to receive five-year grants from the NSF to increase the number of cyber experts in federal government. CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service provides full-ride scholarships and stipends, from $50,000 to $80,000 per student, with the expectation that recipients will serve the federal government in paid cybersecurity positions for two or three years following graduation. CSUSB’s current CyberCorps grant is funded through 2017. Continued NSF funding for the CyberCorps program would enable CSUSB and other CAE-designated institutions to produce more cyber experts for our nation.

The NICE Challenge Project (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) is a pilot initiative of DHS, NSF, NSA and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The NICE project was created to develop virtual challenges and environments to test both college students and professionals on their ability to perform specific cybersecurity tasks and demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities. This project provides a uniquely American solution to validate the quality and skill sets of cybersecurity personnel graduating from U.S. colleges and universities. Currently, 30 colleges/universities in the country, including Cal State San Bernardino, are using this pilot program. A permanent funding line of $20 million would provide infrastructure for 300 U.S. colleges and universities to implement the program and validate the readiness of their graduates for cybersecurity jobs in our country.

The President’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) invests $62 million to: (1) expand the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program; (2) develop a Cybersecurity Core Curriculum that will ensure cybersecurity graduates who wish to join the federal government have the requisite knowledge and skills (NICE Challenge Project); (3) strengthen the National Centers for Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cybersecurity Program to increase the number of students studying cybersecurity at these institutions; (4) enhance student loan forgiveness programs for cybersecurity experts joining the federal workforce; and (5) catalyze investment in cybersecurity education as part of a robust computer science curriculum through the President’s Computer Science for All Initiative.

Support Pell Grants, making it possible for all eligible students in higher education, including public, private, for-profit and community colleges, to receive grants and restore year-round eligibility. The vast majority of Pell recipients come from families with incomes at or below $30,000. The Inland Empire region (Riverside & San Bernardino Counties) in Southern California, with a population of 4.4 million, has a higher unemployment rate of 5.9 percent than the national rate of 4.9 percent. This fact, coupled with a low college-going rate, means employers are struggling to find skilled and educated workers to advance our region’s economy.

Inland Action strongly urges Congress to support programs and funding that provide access to higher education and job skills that are critical for the 21st century; in particular, maintaining Pell Grants at the current discretionary individual maximum amount of $4,860 with appropriate fiscal controls, performance requirements, and renewal qualifications. Additionally, Inland Action supports restoring year-round eligibility for Pell Grants (known as “Summer Pell”). This would provide Pell-eligible students with federal financial aid to help cover summer attendance. Doing so would allow students to move to completion more quickly thereby encouraging timely degree completion, decrease the student debt burden, and allow students to enter the workforce more quickly.   Pell Grants 

 

Environmental Issues 2016

Support HR 4024 (Aguilar/Cook), Santa Ana River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act. Since the late 1980’s, the Santa Ana River Wash Plan has been a topic of discussion when it was proposed to the Cities of Highland and Redlands, California. It has taken years and numerous meetings between cities, local agencies, industry and Federal and State resource agencies, as well as studies and committee reports, to draft the final Upper Santa Ana River Wash Plan.

The Santa Ana Wash Plan Land Exchange Act is a land-use plan that allows the transfer of land between the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District and the Bureau of Land Management. The land exchange takes place in a designated region within the Santa Ana Wash, at the junction of the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek.

The plan is comprehensive and identifies land where existing mining operations can continue to provide the aggregate needed to support the region’s growing construction industry and establishes protected areas for native plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act.

Inland Action supports the Aguilar/Cook bill, as it calls for an exchange of land uses in order to create habitat for sensitive and endangered species, to set aside disturbed and nearby properties for future mining and facilitates other benefits for local infrastructure projects, widening roads, installing traffic controls, trails and water recharge projects.

Summary. The Santa Ana River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act, (HR 4024), is a bi-partisan bill which is a land-use plan that allows the transfer of land between the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District and the Bureau of Land Management. Currently, land within the Santa Ana Wash is owned by both the San Bernardino Water Conservation District and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Parcels owned by the district are currently used for the purpose of recharging water in more than 77 basins, and also provide Riversidian Sage Scrub habitat.

Under the HR 4024:

New lands would be set aside for conservation purposes near land managed by BLM.

Land exchange will help to continue to support Inland Empire business and transportation projects, while safeguarding essential environmental conservation efforts.

The wash area is occupied by two mining companies, Cemex and Robertson’s Ready Mix, which extract aggregate for cement and concrete production. The production of aggregate will support approximately $8.5 million in infrastructure projects and $36 million annually in payroll from this site alone.

The exchange of land between the district and BLM will connect a patchwork of land ownership to create a consolidated open space for conservation purposes and will optimize mining efficiency and water conservation efforts.

The bill expands property for the development of a long-term water supply and storage.

 

Support Excluding Water Conservation Subsidies from Gross Income. For many years Inland Action has advocated for water conservation, including the various rebate plans different local and regional water agencies provide consumers. Certainly the best and most efficient dollars spent on water policy are those for water not used. With the current drought on the Western States, it is imperative every possible savings be implemented.

Southern Californians face draconian reduction goals for water use. To assist consumers, various conservation rebate plans are offered by water providers to assist and encourage consumers to meet these goals. The Metropolitan Water District alone has provided rebates to more than 195,000 people.

Current U.S. Tax code is unclear whether water conservation rebates constitute taxable income, and Inland Action is concerned that the current gains in household conservation will be lost without a clear policy excluding conservation subsidies for water conservation programs.

Currently under Section 136 of the IRS Code, energy conservation subsidies are excluded from gross income. This policy was adapted to encourage consumers to conserve in the face of a looming energy crisis. Certainly the very real drought in the Western States is a crisis of comparable magnitude, and these incentive programs should be considered equally with current energy tax policy considerations. In addition, water conservation measures provide significant energy savings as well.

There is currently no legislation assisting with this issue, yet the parity of this issue with energy is unmistakable. We encourage the energy exemption in Section 136 of the IRS Tax Code to be expanded to apply to water conservation programs. The Joint Committee on Taxation determined there was negligible revenue effect on the current budget by adapting this policy.

 

Support Senate Bill 2533 (Feinstein), California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act.  Despite the hope of relief from an El Nino Winter, California’s drought continues. While recent rains gave some optimism that we would at least not lose ground, currently that appears to no longer be the case. Emergency conservation plans have been extended to ensure urban conservation continues through 2016. After 5 years of drought, it would be irresponsible to take no action and expect a wet winter to accommodate the water needs of California.

Inland Action supports Senator Feinstein’s bill as a proper, immediate and comprehensive approach to accommodate as many stakeholders as possible. It is important this bill move quickly through the Senate so the Senate and House may go to conference and reconcile their differences and deliver direction and leadership as early as possible.

Critical aspects of this Bill include:

Assistance for drought stricken communities: The bill allows communities with fewer than 60,000 residents to apply for Federal Grants for short-term and long-term solutions. Many disadvantaged communities are at risk of running out of clean water, and this legislation allows the state to prioritize those communities most at risk.

Desalination: The bill allows the Federal Government to help both desalination projects and research, and authorizes $100M over five years for various research, technology and environmental projects, as well as reauthorizing the Desalination Act.

Storage Projects: Inland Action believes inadequate storage facilities, highlighted by the ongoing drought, is the most vital component of improving long term water sustainability, especially considering the anticipated patterns of more severe storms during wet periods followed by longer periods of drought. This bill promotes the building of new reservoirs and increasing the capacity of existing reservoirs. It authorizes $600MM for Calfed storage projects, establishes deadlines for the Bureau of Reclamation to complete certain feasibility studies and updates Army Corps dam operations to increase water supply while reducing flood risk.

Water Recycling, Conservation and Efficiency: Southern California is the nation’s leader in recycling projects, and the Federal and regional water policy associations have identified 110 potential projects with the ability to produce 1.06 million acre feet of water. This bill authorizes $200M in increased funds for the Bureau of Reclamation’s water and reuse program, and authorizes the EPA to label water-efficient products for consumers similar to the popular Energy Star Program.

Additional Funding Programs: This bill authorizes $200 million for the Reclamation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (RIFIA), which allows water districts and municipalities to leverage loan guarantees to reduce loan repayment costs. This program is modeled after TIFIA, a successful federal loan guarantee program for transportation projects strongly supported by Inland Action.

Protecting Endangered and Threatened Fish and Wildlife: This bill authorizes $55MM for a number of short-term, low cost proposals to protect and assist in the protection and recovery of fish populations. Inland Action understands and supports drought and water policy that works to support existing environmental policy, and encourages all stakeholders to work together to accommodate a balanced approach to solutions.

Provisions for Emergency Operations during the Drought: The short-term operational provisions of this bill, designed to take advantage of El Nino storms, are critical to delivering urgently-needed water supplies. The language of this bill was carefully drafted with the input of the Federal agencies that implement the Endangered Species Act, who agree the bill’s provisions remain consistent with the ESA and related biological opinions. The California Water Project must be operated based on real-time monitoring information which allows greater pumping at times when the water quality and flows are not going to impact protected species without and mandated pumping levels. These provisions are limited to the duration of the drought declaration or two years, whichever is longer.

 

It is this last component that will provide the most practical and immediate drought relief and has taken considerable effort to accommodate the many conflicting issues as best as possible. Inland Action strongly supports the efforts of the broad coalition brought together to craft this bill and strongly supports the implementation of the key provisions, especially regarding the provisions for emergency operations, as soon as possible.

 

Healthcare 2016

Urge Congress to support site neutral payments for hospitals and allow “Grandfather Provisions” for stand-alone clinics to allow billing at hospital rates.  California hospitals are working hard to ensure that the promise of the Affordable Care Act – the right care at the right time in the right location – is fulfilled in communities throughout the State.  Because of the severe shortage of primary care and specialty physicians who will accept Medi-Cal patients, hospitals are undertaking a variety of innovative approaches for ensuring access to care in underserved communities.  This includes financial partnerships with physician groups, as well as constructing and operating new hospital-based outpatient clinics and satellite facilities.

These off-campus facilities, often located in communities with otherwise limited access to care, are bringing needed health care services to Medi-Cal patients and those who are uninsured. Unfortunately, these important outpatient services will now be at risk because of a provision included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The provision (in Section 603) requires “site-neutral” payment reductions for all new hospital outpatient departments located more than 250 yards from the main hospital campus.

The site-neutral provision means that any outpatient service provided by a hospital in a facility off of the main hospital campus will be reimbursed at the same, lower amount paid to physicians beginning January 1, 2017. Hospitals will see their payments cut dramatically at the same time that they are working to provide more health care services to more people in underserved communities throughout California.

The legislation is particularly problematic for hospitals that had been following existing federal rules, in place since January 2001, as they undertook new partnerships and facilities to take patient care services out of the hospital and into the community. Under the new requirements, only outpatient facilities that were operational and billing Medicare before November 2, 2015, will be “grandfathered” under the old rules and will continue to be paid at the existing hospital reimbursement rate.

This limited grandfather provision means that hospitals that are in various stages of project development of outpatient programs, but have not yet completed them, will now be subject to reduced payment rates. These hospitals followed the rules, but the rules have been changed in the middle of the game. 
Inland Action urges Congress to expand the grandfather provision of the BBA to incorporate hospital outpatient facilities that are currently in various stages of development. This limited amendment will help to ensure that Medi-Cal patients and the uninsured continue to have access to life-saving care.   Healthcare Payment Neutral

 

Homeless Veterans 2016 

Urge Congress to preserve the priority for homeless veterans in HUD and Veterans Administration policy through continued provision of HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) resources to offer eligible homeless veterans access to permanent housing with supports. Subcontract VA support service resources to experienced community-based organizations.  HUD-VASH is an evidence-based, field-tested, permanent housing intervention that has proven results in achieving stable housing for the most vulnerable and disabled homeless veterans.  Community-based organizations have demonstrated a flexible and collaborative approach in identifying resources, including services and housing, more effectively and efficiently than the bureaucratic and institutional responses of the Veterans Administration (VA). Community-based organizations deliver consumer-centric supports that are cost effective and results oriented.

HUD-VASH is an evidence-based housing intervention targeted to homeless veterans that includes a HUD housing voucher and supportive services provided by the VA. Tens of thousands of veterans across the country have been successfully housed and stabilized through HUD-VASH including hundreds in the Inland Empire of California.  HUD-VASH was central to the County of San Bernardino’s successful rehousing of 401 homeless veterans during its 401 => 0 Initiative, July to Thanksgiving 2015.

The provision of social services to support tenancies of vulnerable and disabled homeless veterans is essential to this initiative. Without the provision of services, tenancies are at risk.   HUD-VASH was created by HUD Secretary Jack Kemp in 1992, dormant from 1995 to 2006, and revitalized under President George W. Bush in 2007. Both VA Secretary Shinseki and Secretary Robert McDonald in the current Administration have been supportive of sustaining HUD-VASH in the budget. Some voices are saying that HUD-VASH is no longer necessary. That sentiment is belied by the number of homeless veterans who continue to be on the streets and in the shelters of our country.

In a number of communities across the country, the supportive services have been subcontracted out from the VA to local, community-based organizations. Research indicates that these community-based agencies deliver better outcomes in supporting the veteran, housing the veteran, and reintegrating the veteran into the community.

Most especially, the upgrading of housing search and stabilization is vital to the success of the program and the well-being of those who have served our country.

 

Law Enforcement Issues 2016

Urge Congressional reconsideration of their action to redirect funds from the Asset Forfeiture Program, thereby diverting those funds from use by local law enforcement agenciesFor over thirty years, the Asset Forfeiture Program has allowed law enforcement to deprive criminals of both the proceeds and tools of crime.  The resources provided by the equitable sharing program have allowed agencies to participate in joint task forces to thwart and deter serious criminal activity, purchase equipment, provide training, upgrade technology, engage their communities and better protect their officers.  The program has been remarkably successful.

Recently, Congress removed funds from the asset forfeiture program to pay for other programs.  This decision by Congress will have a significant and immediate impact on the ability of law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to protect their communities and to provide citizens with the services they expect and deserve.

Significant contributions to the community have been made possible through the Asset Forfeiture Program. This coming fiscal year San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is using funds received from asset forfeitures in the amount of $230,000 for:

Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program                                      $        50,000

Drug Use Is Life Abuse (DUILA) Program                                        50,000

Gangs & Drugs Task Force                                                              10,000

Operation Clean SWEEP                                                                    30,000

Public Safety Internship Program                                                     90,000

TOTAL                                                                                  $        230,000

These community programs will no longer be funded without the Asset Forfeiture Program. It is critical that these provisions, and the decision to suspend the equitable sharing program, be reconsidered.

 

San Bernardino International Airport 2016

Support the transfer of public land use covenants at the former Norton Air Force Base to consolidate and expand parks and recreation and homeless assistance programs in the City of San Bernardino. The proposed transfers will enhance programs and services while facilitating much needed economic development programs.  Affected Agencies: National Parks Service and the US Department of Health and Human Services; United States Air Force; Office of Economic Adjustment.

Overview. In recent years, the City of San Bernardino and surrounding areas have experienced significant economic distress while grappling with unprecedented demand for community services and inadequate infrastructure to serve them.  Former Norton AFB Parcel G-1 was transferred to the City of San Bernardino, Parks and Recreation Department under a Public Benefit Conveyance (PBC) in the early 1990’s, pursuant to Federal Base Closure requirements (Public Law 100-526) for public parks and recreation purposes.   Former Norton AFB Parcels J and J-1 were similarly transferred to Operation Grace, a California non-profit corporation, under separate PBC’s for non-profit and homeless assistance purposes through the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  A PBC is a Federally sanctioned transfer of former military property (land and buildings) to a community based organization in exchange for a use restriction/covenant that runs with the land.  This covenant is typically in favor of a sponsoring Federal agency – in this case, the U.S. Department of Interior and DHSS, respectively.  Precedence exists in post Base closure communities to transfer/sell these types of PBC properties under certain conditions.   The Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA) is the regional joint powers authority, formed under the California Government Code and recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense under Public Law 100526 as the Local Reuse Authority for the former Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, CA.  Norton AFB was announced for closure in 1988 and the IVDA is charged with the responsibility for economic development and reuse of the former Base property and surrounding lands.

Opportunity: The City of San Bernardino, IVDA, and Operation Grace are interested in facilitating a sale of Parcels G-1, J, and J-1 for economic development purposes. The sites are surrounded by other vacant in-fill parcels which are a part of a successful public-private partnership known as Alliance-California.  Parcels G-1, J, and J-1 have the potential to be acquired, remediated, and assembled with adjacent parcels to accommodate new development in the area.   Transfer of the use covenants can be achieved locally with compensation to the providers and expansion of service capabilities.  The National Parks Service would need to approve a transfer of the existing parks and recreation use covenant to a proximate but separate site within the City of San Bernardino, and DHHS would need to approve a transfer of the existing nonprofit homeless assistance use to another site at the former Base.  All proceeds from the sales and transfers would be used by the City and Operation Grace, respectively, for qualified purposes as approved.   Support:   City of San Bernardino, Operation Grace (a non-profit corporation), IVDA, USAF, OEA.
Consolidation of Community Services – Norton AFB Maps

Potential Benefits:

Increased operational efficiencies and capabilities of consolidation of programs and services for parks and recreation and homeless assistance needs in San Bernardino and surrounding region.

Ability to maximize community benefits at underutilized Seccombe Lake Park area

Removal of buildings and facilities which are subject to environmental hazards

Cessation of community liability for code and deed compliance for buildings which have reached functional obsolescence.

Compensation to service providers for the fair market value of the property; providing funding to providers to achieve parks and recreation and homeless assistance benefits in the City while removing or transferring the present use restrictions to more suitable properties.

Ability to attract and retain over 600,000 sf of new industrial development and over $35M in new investment, as well as payment of all applicable development impact, permitting, and park fees associated therewith.

Potential to provide as many as 500 construction jobs and 200 full time jobs

Potential to retain a major corporation interested in staying in San Bernardino

Ability to achieve economic development and local investment potential while ensuring such uses are compatible with both the Airport and the community over the long run.

 

History: The Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA) is a regional joint powers authority, formed pursuant to the requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense under Public Law 100-526 as the Local Reuse Authority for the former Norton Air Force Base.   Norton AFB was announced for closure in 1988 and officially closed in 1994.  Over 10,000 jobs were lost due to closure.  The IVDA is charged with the effective reuse of Norton Air Force Base for the economic benefit of the East Valley region of the Inland Empire in Southern California.   To date, over 8,300 jobs have been created resulting in 11.8 million square feet of new facilities and over $1.5B in private investment.

 

 

Transportation Issues 2016 

Support Amendment to H.R. 4441 authored by Congresswoman Napolitano, clarifying that FAA’s interpretation of aviation fuel tax cannot divert locally approved transactions taxes from transportation projects to aviation improvements. Potential loss of funding is triggered by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rulemaking finalized on December 8, 2014 (79 FR 66282) that misinterprets a statute related to taxes on aviation fuel. As Congress develops a framework to consider an FAA Reauthorization bill in the coming weeks, we request inclusion of language to affirm that it was never the intention of Congress to divert local transportation sales tax revenue to airports. This change will preserve the trust California voters have placed with their local counties and transportation agencies when approving local voter-approved transportation tax measures.

As stated in the FAA’s proposed rule (78 FR 69789), “the agency interpreted the provisions of Sections 47107(b) and 47133 to apply to any state or local tax on aviation fuel, whether the tax was specifically targeted at aviation fuel or was a general sales tax on products that included aviation fuel without exemption. Also, FAA interpreted these statutes to make no distinction between taxes imposed by a local government or state government agency.” This interpretation of “local tax on aviation fuel” includes any state or local sales tax is directly contrary to what Congress intended in the FAA statute.  As stated in the conference report for the 1987 amendments to the FAA statute, the requirement that local taxes on aviation fuel must be spent on airports “is intended to apply to local fuel taxes only, and not to other taxes imposed by local governments, or to state taxes.”

FAA’s interpretation reverses a longstanding view held by state and local tax officials alike that ‘‘local taxes on aviation fuel’’ is limited to fuel taxes, and does not include sales taxes that extend to aviation fuel.   The impact of the FAA’s change in interpretation represents a major intrusion of federal power over state and local decision-making, including the explicit will of the voters with respect to voter-approved measures, raising significant constitutional questions of federalism.    When voters approve a tax increase, they expect all of the revenue generated from that tax to be spent as described in the ballot measure.    The FAA ruling would divert significant proceeds from these voter-approved measures to purposes not authorized by the voter.

Lastly, the ruling imposes a significant unfunded mandate on California and its local agencies due to the fact that the sale of aviation fuel is not segregated from other taxable sources so compliance will require a complicated, new tracking system.   Action is required to clarify that general sales taxes, particularly local voter-approved taxes, are not subject to 49 U.S.C. Sections 47107(b)(1) and 47133(a) and are consistent with the original intent of Congress that “local tax on aviation fuel” is limited to fuel excise taxes on aviation fuel.

Request: Re-establish Congressional intent and 29 years of federal interpretation that state and local sales tax measures of general application are not the same as aviation fuel excise taxes and that states and localities should be able to use those revenues as approved by the voters.

Background: In 1987 Congress passed the FAA authorization amendments that required airports to spend aviation fuel excise tax revenue on airport uses.  The conference report for the 1987 amendments to the FAA statute (H.R. Conf. Rept. No. 484, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. 1987 accompanying P.L. 100-223) clearly stated that the requirement that local taxes on aviation fuel must be spent on airports “is intended to apply to local fuel taxes only, and not to other taxes imposed by local governments, or to state taxes.”

Problem: On December 8, 2014 (79 FR 66282), FAA made a final rulemaking that contradicts the Congressional intent and 29 years of practice by saying that “the agency interpreted the provisions of Sections 47107(b) and 47133 to apply to any state or local tax on aviation fuel, whether the tax was specifically targeted at aviation fuel or was a general sales tax on products that included aviation fuel without exemption.”  

Concerns: (1) This FAA rulemaking is contrary to states’ rights and is an assault on state and local control of their general application sales tax measures. (2) Many local governments have voter approved sales tax measures for specific purposes such as transportation funding. This rulemaking will overturn the decision of local voters in taxing themselves for specific purposes.  (3)  Due to the fact that sales taxes on aviation fuel are not segregated from other taxable sources, the burden placed on states and local governments to implement the tracking system necessary is extensive and represents an unfunded mandate.

Solution: The Napolitano Amendment would clarify that local voter approved taxes are not subject to 49 U.S.C. Sections 47107(b)(1) and 47133(a) and that consistent with the original intent of Congress “local tax on aviation fuel” means specific local fuel excise taxes on aviation fuel.

 

Encourage the Inland Empire Congressional delegation to develop a strategy to avoid the loss of transportation funding and to develop a coalition with other regions of the county which will be impacted by EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone.   The Clean Air Act sets ozone attainment standards that must be met by 2023.  For the South Coast Air Basin, it is estimated that oxides of nitrogen, one of the key ingredients in ozone and fine particulate formation, must be reduced by around 80 percent from 2010 levels by 2023, and almost 90 percent by 2032.  Despite all of our efforts and the strongest clean air programs in the nation, it is becoming apparent to many that this may not be realistic for the South Coast Air Basin.  Although technologies have advanced significantly, they are not where they need to be to meet the 2023 ozone attainment deadline. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, working with private and public partners, is working on scenarios representing alternative paths to attainment, but preliminary analysis indicates just how daunting this will be.  Reaching some of the long term goals requires nearly complete transformation of passenger vehicles to zero-emission technologies, approximately 80 percent of the truck fleet to zero-or near-zero technology, and nearly all locomotives operating in the South Coast air basin to be using some form of zero-emission technology.

As air quality in the South Coast Air Basin improves and comes closer to background levels of ozone, the incremental impacts of further reducing ozone become higher, with very real consequences to our county’s economy, as well as the availability and quality of jobs for our residents. Approximately 20% of the jobs in San Bernardino County are related to the logistics sector.  These jobs need to be retained and grown for the County’s economy to recover.   Unemployment in SB County persists at 5.8% (January 2016), compared with the national average of 4.9%.  Despite having some of the worst air quality in the nation, the Southern California region – in partnership with the State and the private sector – has made great strides in cleaning up the air over the last several decades, and we are committed to continuing that effort.  However, failure to meet those standards could result in loss of federal transportation dollars to our region.  We encourage our Inland Empire delegation to develop a strategy to avoid the loss of transportation funding and to develop a coalition with other regions of the county which will be impacted by recent EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone.

 

Encourage enhanced federal role in reducing emissions from Intrastate and International Goods Movement Vessels.

The 2012 South Coast Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) shows that San Bernardino County had the worst 24-hour PM 2.5 concentrations and the worst 1-hour and 8-hour ozone concentrations in Southern California in 2011 – between 130 and 180 percent of federal standards.

Much of this is a result of activity outside of or coming through the County – largely from ship, train, and truck emissions due to our region’s unique geographic features.  This causes the Inland Empire to be disproportionately impacted.

Recent estimates indicate that more than 5,000 premature deaths and more than 900,000 lost work days annually result from poor air quality in Southern California.

Although air quality has been improving over time, in order to meet more stringent national ozone standards, Southern California will need to reduce NOx emissions by two-thirds by 2023 and three-quarters by 2030.  The impacts are so dramatic that the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the regional metropolitan planning organization, estimates that emissions from three sources alone – ships, trains and aircraft – will exceed the federal standards in 2030.

This is a daunting challenge, and the clean-up of those modes must occur through cooperative actions at the Federal and State level.

 

Support modification of definition of large projects under FAST Freight and Highways Project Discretionary Grant Program. Fix America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) was signed by President Obama on Dec 4, 2015. FAST creates the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects discretionary grant program designed for major highway and freight projects funded at $4.5 billion over five years. Its features include:

Eligibility only for projects that cost the minimum of at least $100 million, 30 percent of a State’s apportioned total, or 50 percent of the apportioned total for the largest state in case of multistate projects.

10 percent of total funding is reserved for small projects and 25 percent is set aside for rural projects.

Eligibility for discretionary grants facilitating freight movement is critical to Southern California, and in particular, the Inland Empire. San Pedro Bay houses the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – together the world’s largest sea-land port. International trade moves through these ports to and from all parts of the nation. After docking, goods are transported by trucks if the distance is less than 500 miles, or by train for longer distances. Ninety percent of the port traffic to and from points outside the region crosses the Inland Empire. This freight traffic, already heavy, is projected to nearly triple in the next 20 years because of tremendous growth in international trade through the ports.

The eligibility requirements that have been established by the DOT define large projects as $100 million or larger. Even though the busiest and most critical freight corridors in the country are located within the Inland Empire, it is likely that the $100 million requirement for large projects will disqualify most Inland Empire nationally significant freight projects from qualifying for large grants, because most projects in the Inland Empire will not meet the $100 million requirement. The eligibility requirements for Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects should be modified so that critically important freight and highway projects in the Inland Empire will qualify for competing for these discretionary grants. One proposal is to permit the aggregation of smaller projects that are functionally related, so that the $100 million requirement for large projects could be satisfied.

 

Support the San Bernardino Associated Government (SANBAG) application for TIFIA financing for the I-10 Express Lane Project. The TIFIA request for the I-10 Contract 1 project is approximately $203M equating to one-third of the total project cost of $616M.  The remainder of the funds will consist of toll revenue bonds, federal, state and local funds.  Construction of Express Lanes on I-10 and I-15 in San Bernardino County has been a high priority as a mechanism to reduce congestion, to provide travelers an option for more dependable travel times, and for general economic vitality in the County and region.  SANBAG has submitted a letter of intent for TIFIA funding to widen the existing I-10 freeway between the Los Angeles/San Bernardino County Line and I-15, a distance of approximately ten miles.  The project is the first phase of a thirty-three mile improvement planned for the I-10 Corridor within San Bernardino County.

The first phase is eight miles West of Haven Avenue to add a single new lane and, combined with the existing HOV lane, to provide two Express Lanes in each direction.  Also in the first phase two miles east of Haven Avenue, two lanes will be constructed by the project. The TIFIA request for the I-10 first phase project is approximately $203 million, equating to one-third of the total project cost of $616 million.  The remainder of the funds will consist of toll revenue bonds, Federal, State and local funds. TIFIA financing will provide favorable funding to initiate the project.

 

Support SANBAG TIGER Grant for Rail-to-Redlands. Extension of rail service from San Bernardino to Redlands in San Bernardino County has been a priority for more than two decades, as promised to the voters upon approval of the local transportation sales tax initiative.  San Bernardino Associated Governments has submitted an application for a TIGER grant for the Redlands Passenger Rail Project in the amount of $14 million consisting of $8.5 million for Positive Train Control, $3.5 million for Quiet Zone Safety Improvements, and $2 million to accommodate the Metrolink Express Train by building a siding track and hybrid station platform. This project is funded through a combination of State and Federal funds, with substantial investment of local voter approved revenue.  The project also represents an exemplary collaboration with local business (Esri) interests and the University of Redlands, which are working with SANBAG to provide contributions for station improvements in their vicinity.  Approval of this grant application will move this project to construction in the near future.

 

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Inland Action Top Four Federal Legislative Issues 2015 

 

 

Encourage Inland Empire legislators to develop a strategy to avoid the loss of transportation funding resulting from recent EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone.  The Clean Air Act sets attainment standards that must be met by 2023.  Failure to meet those standards (which is very likely in the South Coast Air Quality Management District) could result in loss of federal transportation dollars to our region.  Inland Empire legislators are encouraged to develop a strategy to avoid the loss of transportation funding and to develop a coalition with other regions of the countryCAA Ozone Standards – Attainment Challenges for Region February 2015.pdf

 

Support Reauthorization of the Authority of the Export-Import Bank of the United States to assist the continued growth and expansion of small business manufacturing and employment through exporting. The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex‑Im Bank), is the official export credit agency of the U.S. government. Its mission is to assist in the financing of U.S. exports of goods and services to support U.S. employment. The FY 2015 continuing resolution extends Ex-Im Bank’s general statutory charter through June 30, 2015.  A sunset in Ex-Im Bank’s authority would mean that the agency’s authority to enter into new obligations generally would cease. Inland Action supports the reauthorization of the authority of Ex-Im Bank to enable the continued growth of exporting and job creation in the Inland Empire.

 

Enact long-term surface transportation legislation with appropriate funding levels and additional streamlining provisions to support the nation’s current and emerging infrastructure needs, including a dedicated federal fund source to resolve goods movement issues.   Map-21 was finally approved by Congress in 2012.  With Map-21’s short-term extension expiring in May 2015, we need the next long-term federal transportation bill. As most transportation projects can take decades to come to fruition after multi-year planning efforts, it is essential that any new transportation bill account for these long-term planning needs by providing a funding and policy structure of, at minimum, five to six years.  Map-21 also recognized the critical importance of goods movement.  However, Map-21 lacks the funding to improve these corridors to ensure the efficient delivery of goods to market.

 

Support H.R. 594, Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2105, to halt a proposal by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers until proper coordination with local stakeholders is undertaken.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently proposed Clean Water rule modifications to clarify the judicial scope of the Clean Water Act.  San Bernardino County, which has no navigable waters, is impacted by the proposed rule interpretation. Inland Action supports H.R. 594, which would prohibit both the Corps and EPA from enforcing “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act,” or the proposed guidance entitled, “Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected By the Clean Water Act,” for any rulemaking or decision regarding the scope or enforcement of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act).

 

 

Inland Action 2015 Federal Legislative Issues At-A-Glance

(Details Follow)

 

 

Air Quality

Economic Development

Education

Environment

Homelessness

Transportation

 

 

Legislative Issues – Detail

 

Air Quality 2015

 

Encourage Inland Empire legislators to develop a strategy to avoid the loss of transportation funding resulting from recent EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone.  The Clean Air Act sets attainment standards that must be met by 2023.  Failure to meet those standards (which is very likely in the South Coast Air Quality Management District) could result in loss of federal transportation dollars to our region.  Inland Empire legislators are encouraged to develop a strategy to avoid the loss of transportation funding and to develop a coalition with other regions of the country which will be impacted by recent EPA proposals to adopt more stringent standards for ground-level ozone.

 

Encourage enhanced federal role in reducing emissions from intrastate and international goods movement vessels.

 

 

Economic Development Issues 2015

 

Support Reauthorization of the Authority of the Export-Import Bank of the United States to assist the continued growth and expansion of small business manufacturing and employment through exporting.  The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex‑Im Bank or the Bank), a wholly owned federal government corporation, is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the U.S. government. Its mission is to assist in the financing of U.S. exports of goods and services to support U.S. employment. The FY 2015 continuing resolution passed in the 113th Congress (CR; Sec. 147 of P.L. 113-164) extends Ex-Im Banks general statutory charter (Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, as amended, 12 U.S.C. §635 et seq.) through June 30, 2015.  Previously, the charter was set to sunset on September 30, 2014. A sunset in Ex-Im Bank’s authority would mean that the agency’s authority to enter into new obligations generally would cease and a wind-down of operations would be required, compared to an “authorization of appropriations” expiring, which would not, in and of itself, terminate such authority to operate. Congress is actively debating whether to renew Ex-Im Bank’s authority and, if so, for how long and under what terms. 

 

Exporting has become an important part of small business growth by enabling small business manufacturers to diversify and expand their customer base into foreign markets.  Products containing the “Made in America” designation are highly valued and actively sought throughout these foreign markets.  California Export Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce reflects that the “Total Export Value” (total value of shipments supported by Ex-Im Bank) in the aggregate over the past six years totaled approximately $23 billion for the State of California and $628 million for Inland Empire Congressional District areas.  In addition, in 2013 alone, exports of goods and services directly and indirectly supported an estimated 11.3 million U.S jobs with 7.1 million supported by goods exports.  California goods exports supported approximately 800 thousand of those jobs.

 

Export finance enables the small business manufacturers to reach and directly service this customer base in these markets, which increases productivity, job creation and domestic economic activity.  Export finance also enables small business manufactures to indirectly service foreign markets through the manufacture of components incorporated into larger exported products.  The Ex-Im Bank, through its lending programs, provides the necessary risk mitigations to induce commercial banks to provide financing for U.S. exporters that otherwise would not meet the bank’s standard credit criteria. By their nature, credit to these exporters have a higher risk component based on security in export-related “foreign” accounts receivable and inventory and may include inventory classified as “work-in-process.” Generally speaking, commercial banks would not lend against these assets.  However, with the assistance of the Ex-Im Bank, the higher risk is mitigated enabling access by small business to this source of credit.  Export finance through or with the assistance of Ex-Im Bank, either alone or along with commercial banks, has proven to be a critical component for small business manufacturers and exporters in the Inland Empire.

 

During the pendency of the 2015 continuing resolution, other legislation has been introduced, for example, to provide “clean reauthorization” of Ex-Im Bank (H.R. 4950), to reauthorized Ex-Im Bank with reforms (S.2709), and to terminate its authority (H.R. 2263 and S. 1102), along with a number of discussion drafts of bills.

 

Inland Action supports the continued growth and expansion of small business manufacturing and employment in the Inland Empire through exporting.  For these reasons, Inland Action supports the reauthorization of the authority of Ex-Im Bank either under its current terms, or under comparable terms to enable the continued growth of exporting and job creation in the Inland Empire.

 

Support Congressional efforts to encourage return of Ontario International Airport to local control.  Inland Action encourages the Inland Empire legislative delegation to help facilitate the transfer of the airport from the current airport sponsor, Los Angeles, to a new local airport authority – Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA).  This issue has been thoroughly vetted throughout the region over the past several years. More than 130 municipalities, public officials, business and civic groups, and newspaper editorial boards in the four-county region are on record in support of local control. Indeed, there has never seen a single issue to unite the Southern California region as this issue has.

 

A number of the respected regional planning agencies in Southern California concur with our assessment. Example: The Southern California Association of Governments Regional Council has taken the position that under local control ONT can recover from the economic downturn of the past several years while positioning itself for long-term growth.

 

At year-end 2014, ONT had lost 43 percent of its air service and annual passenger traffic since 2007 as Los Angeles placed its full attention on expanding LAX.  Local control of ONT will increase the likelihood that the airport can be successful again because the new airport sponsor – the Ontario International Airport Authority – will have a vested interest in ONT making the greatest contribution to its economy.

 

Transfers of public use airports from one public sponsor to another have always been made by simple transfer, not sale. Ontario seeks the return of ONT to local control while making LA and LAWA whole with respect to its unreimbursed investments. This objective is consistent with previous transfers of U.S. public airports between governmental agencies.

 

The OIAA as the new airport sponsor will take responsibility for all ONT debt and grant obligations, as well as for the development of air service and airport property. Ontario and the OIAA will also release Los Angeles from liability arising out of certain airport operations and conditions, such as any future environmental claims.

 

 

 

Education Issues 2015

 

Support Pell Grants, making it possible for all eligible students in higher education, including public, private, for-profit and community colleges, to receive grants.Federal support for financial aid and tax incentives for those attending both public and private colleges is critically important to more than 130,000 students attending institutions within San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

 

Federal student aid through the Pell Grant currently supports over 53,000 students at fifteen Inland Empire colleges and universities.  Pell Grants play a critical role in providing academic access and a road to professional success for financially needy students.  Protecting campus-based programs, such as SEOG and Perkins, gives campuses flexibility to help the students who most need it or those who are confronted with unforeseen, challenging circumstances.

 

Therefore, we support the FY 2015 appropriation which maintains the discretionary base for the maximum Pell Grant at $4,860. Together with the available mandatory add-ons and the scheduled mandatory inflationary increase, the maximum Pell Grant will be $5,775 for academic year 2015-16.

 

We support more stringent requirements on the academic progress of recipients as well as limits on Pell money that goes to students who repeatedly enroll in programs without earning any academic credits.  Impact: All eligible students in higher education, including public, private, and for-profit and community colleges, can receive Pell grants.

 

Support the Use of FAFSA Prior-Year Income Data.   Allowing students and families to use their income tax data from the preceding year on the FAFSA form would allow students to both complete their aid application earlier and to receive notification about offered financial packages earlier. This would help students to determine the scope of aid available sooner and assist in their higher education decision-making. Moving to prior-prior year data would allow many students and families in Inland Southern California, especially those who are first in their families to attend college and who are learning how to navigate this process for the first time, much-needed additional time to fill out the FAFSA and more time to make decisions about college.  Impact: This could increase the number of students who fill out FAFSA forms, thereby increasing the number of students who attend college.

 

Support proposed reform or reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  Initially passed twelve years ago, NCLB expanded the use of data to identify those students who are most in need of additional instruction and offered parents access to new metrics related to the quality of their schools. Members of Congress have been questioning the capability of the accountability metrics. Current law imposes significant paperwork and regulatory burdens on states and school districts.

 

NCLB remains highly contentious, and has had a massive impact on how K-12 education is delivered in this country. California’s population is evolving and is now majority Latino, as well as increasingly low-income. Approximately 60% of the State’s K-12 students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs; nearly one in four Californians live in poverty. In San Bernardino City Schools, the number of impoverished families ranges from 80 % to even 100% of all students served.  We must continue to benefit our students, especially high need populations, with an education that sets up all students for success.

 

Past experience with NCLB has shown us that what gets measured gets done. Previously hidden subgroups came to the fore of the discussion and helped push greater educational success for many underserved and high need populations.  But, the punitive approach doesn’t work.  Reauthorization of NCLB should:

 

  1. Pay more attention to measuring the success of sub-populations at the micro-level in all districts while allowing underperforming districts to innovate and experiment to drive student success.
  2. Create multiple measures of student attainment, not just one test score as exemplified by the Academic Performance Impact (API).  Educational aptitude should include those areas most critical for the world of work and the creation of an employable citizenry at all levels of educational attainment.  We particularly see promise in quantifying the areas of engagement, health and wellbeing as noted in GALLUP’s 2014 State of American Education.

 

Environmental Issues 2015

 

Support H.R. 594 Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2105 to halt a proposal by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers until proper coordination with local stakeholders is undertaken.  The US Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently proposed Clean Water rule modifications to clarify the judicial scope of the Clean Water Act, attempting to improve the efficiency of the process by which the Corps determines which waters are and are not covered by the act.

 

Certainly it is telling that a Southern California group, in particular one from the Inland Empire, which has no navigable waters, is impacted by the proposed rule interpretation. Including dry channels, ditches and water reuse projects in the determination of the scope is not only cumbersome to local agencies, it is unfair.

 

Inland Action supports H.R. 594, which would prohibit both the Corps and EPA from:

 

This bill would withdraw the interpretive rule from April of 2014 and require them to consult with relevant State and local officials to develop recommendations for a regulatory proposal that would identify the scope of waters covered under the Clean Water Act and the scope of the waters not covered.

Support H.R. 291 (Napolitano) and S. 176 (Feinstein, Boxer) Water in the 21st Century Act.  Water in the 21st Century Act would expand rebates and grants for water conservation and efficiency; support local investments in water recycling and improved groundwater management and storage; invest in research into water-saving technologies and desalination; and establish an open water data system. The measures also help local communities take steps to become better prepared for drought.

Efficiency and Conservation:

 

Innovation through Research, Data and Technology:

 

This legislation is supported by the Western Recycled Water Coalition, WaterNow, the Clean Water Construction Coalition, the Northern California Water Association, the North Bay Water Reuse Authority and the WateReuse Association.

Inland Action supports a timely authorization of the Water in the 21st Century Act, as it not only helps residents, businesses and local water agencies in Inland Southern California (and the Nation) to conserve, recycle and manage limited water supplies, it also helps them to become better prepared for drought, which continues to impact California. 

Support Desert Conservation and Recreation Act and encourage continued discussion among stakeholders.  The California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2015 builds upon the California Desert Protection Act of 1994. The new legislation preserves more land, sets aside off-road recreational sites and allows for the development of renewable energy in a responsible way.

 

Key provisions:

 

 

Request that the Department of Fish & Wildlife coordinate with local agencies when making resource policy decisions, including doing expanded cost/benefit analysis.Inland Action supports the development of safe, reliable and affordable water supplies for the region, including development of adequate infrastructure, storage, recycle facilities, desalinization and storm water capture. Recent court decisions affecting the habitat of the Santa Ana Sucker have greatly impacted the region’s ability to develop local facilities and reduce their dependence on Delta and Colorado sources. The court decision in late 2012, supporting the Center for Biodiversity’s position that the habitat for the endangered fish needed to include vast amounts of dry watershed area, has crippled the region’s ability to develop local sources.

 

The United Stated Department of Fish and Wildlife (USDF&W) continues to enforce a ruling without the considerations of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) statute that states that agencies must consider not only the threatened or endangered species, but “the entirety of the human environment, not just the protection of the listed species.”

 

Local water agencies have been diligently preserving the known habitat of the Santa Ana Sucker, and the population has stabilized. The vast expanse of “habitat” in 2010-2012 interferes tremendously with local agencies recharge, recycle, storage, and storm water capture programs. These programs are necessary to reduce the demand for the region’s water from the State Water Project.

 

State Water Project volume has been drastically reduced by both a combination of the drought and the need to preserve the habitat of the Endangered Delta Smelt, which is occasionally impacted by the pumping operations. Between both the reduced water allowances and the limited local alternative water source development, the financial impacts on the region are unsustainable.

 

With this in mind, Inland Action has supported the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and the multi-faceted approach it provides for over 6 years. Despite the efforts to address the needs of the Delta Smelt in the plan, the USDF&W is blocking some critical aspects of the plan and slowing its implementation. Clearly the NEPA requirement of consideration of human as well as endangered species needs has not been addressed with equal consideration by the USDF&W.

 

The Inland Empire is a leader in water stewardship, but the impacts of the slowing of the implementation of the BDCP, limited local facilities due to the expansion of the Santa Ana Sucker Fish Habitat and the current drought have greatly impacted our ability to recover from the recession.  A safe, reliable and affordable water supply is an American standard, and we ask that the Department of Fish and Wildlife balance the needs of the American citizens with the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.

 

 

 

Homelessness 2015

 

Support the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 576/S. 256)that will expand the definition of homelessness, allowing approximately 900,000 homeless children and families nationwide to access federal assistance programs.  According to the most recent U.S. Department of Education data on homeless youth in public schools, there are 1.2 million eligible homeless students.  This figure is especially surprising given that in the same year, only 222,197 homeless people living in families were eligible to receive services through HUD homeless assistance programs (2013 P.I.T. Count). These programs provide the emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent housing these families need to get back on their feet.  Sadly, we are seeing a drastic increase in school-aged children who are experiencing homelessness. But without being able to access federal services, families cannot get the support they need to get out of their horrible situations. Due to the narrow HUD definition, only one in ten homeless children in California is eligible for federal housing programs.

 

HUD’s definition of homelessness does not include families living in weekly rate hotels or doubling up, nor does it include unaccompanied adults, children or youth who are living couch to couch.  Further HUD, which provides housing vouchers and other crucial services, has required separate proof that families with children, or an unaccompanied minor, are actually homeless. HUD requires written documentation to prove one’s homelessness, requirements that are difficult to meet for people in transient situations.

 

The Homeless Children and Youth Act:

 

Currently (2013-2014) the number of homeless kids in San Bernardino County is 36,868. We have seen this number almost triple from 12,596 since 2006-2007. This represents 12%of all K-12 homeless kids in the State of California.    The overwhelming majority do not meet HUD’s current definition of Homeless (954).

 

Denying services to homeless families and unaccompanied homeless children and youth happens because HUD doesn’t count them as actually being homeless or not homeless enough.  The Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2015 provides an opportunity to help homeless families and homeless children right in our own backyard in a tremendous way. Inland Action encourages support of The Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2015.

 

 

Transportation Issues 2015

 

The Inland Empire covers more than 27,000 square miles in Southern California and is home to over four million people.  As the 13th most populous metropolitan area in the nation and the third largest in the State of California, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties have suffered dramatically during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Despite improving unemployment numbers, the Inland Empire still persists at a 7.2 percent (December 2014) unemployment rate, which is higher than much of the nation.

 

The Inland Empire is also home to the highest volume goods movement corridor in the nation.  As the nation’s economy begins to come back, increasing volumes of goods are once again flowing through our region.  With approximately 40 percent of the nation’s goods valuing nearly $100 billion annually entering the country through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Inland Empire is particularly hardest hit as those goods move from the ports to other destinations through the rail and highway systems in our area.

 

Transportation is one of the best ways to provide the improved job opportunities and economic growth that our region needs.  To that end, Inland Action has identified several key issues that need to be addressed as Congress considers the next transportation bill.

 

Enact long-term surface transportation legislation with appropriate funding levels and additional streamlining provisions to support the nation’s current and emerging infrastructure needs.

 

Inland Action supports, in concept, the lowered tax on repatriation of corporate earnings as a source of funding for the transportation authorization bill.  Inland Action also supports an increase in the gas tax, which has not been increased since 1993, and the careful study of a container fee as a possible source of revenue dedicated to goods movement projects in areas of the county most impacted by goods movement.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

 

Develop a dedicated federal fund source to resolve goods movement issues and encourage stakeholder participation in plan development throughout the full corridor.

 

 

Support funding for critical transportation projects and partner with State and local agencies to develop multi-modal systems that link vital transportation corridors.

 

 

 

 

 

Support continuation of TIFIA loans which greatly leverage scarce federal resources available for transportation projects.  Map-21 expanded the funds available for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan.  TIFIA loans help states pay for large, partially funded projects of regional and national significance. The assistance also can be in the form of a loan guarantee or a standby line of credit.  The new transportation authorization bill should continue to support expansion of TIFIA loans, which greatly leverage scarce federal resources available for transportation projects.

 

 

 

Implement project delivery streamlining changes that can deliver mobility improvements to commuters more efficiently.

 

 

 

Supplemental Information – Air Quality Issues 2015

CAA Ozone Standards – Attainment Challenges for Region February 2015 v2.pdf

 

Supplemental Information – Education Issues 2015

 

SUPPLEMENTAL BACKGROUND: EDUCATION RELATED PROGRAMMATIC FUNDING

 

The FY 2015 “CRomnibus” included funding for several key programs related to the University of California’s (UC’s) student financial aid and higher education priorities. Below are details and highlights of several key priorities to UC.

 

Funding for Higher Education Programs

($ in thousands)

 

FY 2012

FY 2013

FY 2014

FY 2015

FY 2016 Request

Pell Grants (Discretionary)

22,824,000

22,778,352

22,778,352

22,475,352

24,475,352

Pell Grants (Maximum Award)*

5,550

5,645

5,730

5,775

5,915

Federal Work Study 

976,682

925,595

974,728

989,728

989,728

Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG)

734,599

696,175

733,130

733,130

733,130

*Pell Grant Maximum Award is in dollars, not thousands of dollars.

The FY15 CRomnibus included sufficient funding to maintain the $4,860 discretionary base.  Available mandatory funding added to Pell according to previous laws will raise the maximum award to $5,775 (est.), which is a $45 increase.

UC Riverside: For the 2014-15 year, UC Riverside offered about $48.6 million in Pell Grant funds to over 10,700 undergraduate students. This is approximately 56.8% of UCR’s undergraduate population.

CSUSB: 10,373 undergraduates received Pell Grants, which is 64.5% of CSUSB’s undergraduate population.

University of Redlands: 989 undergraduates; this was over $5M in Pell Grant funding for 30% of the undergraduates at University of Redlands.

Loma Linda University:  29% of undergraduates received Pell Grants in 2012-13.

 

Other Higher Education Programs

For most other higher education programs – including the campus-based programs of SEOG and Federal Work Study, as well as support for Hispanic-Serving-Institutions (HSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), international education, TRIO, and GEAR UP, funding was either level or received modest increases in FY 2015 over last year, but many of the funding levels are below the FY 2012 levels.

 

 

SUPPLEMENTAL EDUCATION PELL GRANT DATA

Eduction-Copy of CollegeData_RIV-SB.fnl.pdf

 

 

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Inland Action Federal Legislative Issues 2014 

Priority Issues

 

Support California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 and the Bay Delta Conservation PlanThe California Emergency Drought Relief Act and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan are excellent examples that encourage comprehensive, long-term water planning.  The California Emergency Drought Relief Act considers the interests of both environmentalists and business fairly and properly prioritizes agency decision-making to accelerate environmental reviews, project decisions, and project approvals.  The Bay Delta Conservation Plan embraces a multi-disciplinary process that is working to support the co‑equal goals of water supply reliability and habitat restoration, with particular emphasis on statewide cooperation and teamwork.  These initiatives are examples for areas throughout the nation of best water supply management techniques and planning practices. 

 

Support Establishment of an Inland Empire Regional Office of U.S. Customs Service that will provide a commitment of personnel for the International Arrivals at Inland Airports.  The greater Inland Empire region of Southern California is currently home to five commercial and cargo airports:  Ontario, March, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, and Victorville. Current staffing, administration, and coordination for Inland Empire Airports are centralized through the international port of entry at Los Angeles International Airport. Significant cost savings and efficiencies can be achieved through the establishment of an Inland Empire regional office for U.S. Customs services.  Such an office could serve both existing User-Fee and Landing Rights Airports within geographic proximity to major commercial, cargo, rail, and goods movement corridors and allow for effective provision of inspection services for airports, ports of entry, and foreign trade zone businesses and users.

 

Oppose legislation and budget actions to cap or eliminate tax exemption on municipal bondsMunicipal bonds are issued by local governments, including states, cities, counties, redevelopment agencies, special-purpose districts, school districts, and public utility districts, primarily to finance new capital facilities.  Interest income received by holders of municipal bonds is often exempt from the federal income tax and may be exempt from state income tax.

 

Over the last decade (2003-2012), localities financed $1.65 trillion of infrastructure projects through tax-exempt, municipal bonds.  If a 28% benefit cap on tax exempt interest was in place for projects financed over the last decade, it would cost state and localities an additional $173 billion in interest expenses.  If tax-exempt interest were eliminated completely, it would have cost state and local governments an additional $495 billion.  Proposals to limit or remove tax exemptions would significantly curtail local government infrastructure investment, increase unemployment rates, and lower GDP. 

 

Enact long-term transportation legislation with appropriate funding levels and additional streamlining provisions to support the nation’s infrastructure needs. Map-21 was enacted in 2012 after nine extensions totaling 33 months in duration.  With only seven months remaining in Map-21, progress in developing the next federal transportation bill is urgently needed. Inland Action and our business partners believe that a long-term, fully funded transportation bill will provide the economic stimulus needed to jump start a still lagging economy and provide infrastructure agencies with the stability needed to invest in the development of multi-year projects.  Many transportation projects take decades to become construction ready after multi-year planning efforts.  It is essential that any new transportation bill account for long-term planning needs by providing a funding and policy structure of at least five to six years.  New funding methods should be developed so that general funds are not backing up the highway trust fund.                      

 

Inland Action 2014 Federal Legislative Issues At-A-Glance

(Details Follow)

 

Economic Development

Education

Environment

Transportation

Healthcare

 

 

Legislative Issues – Detail 

Economic Development Issues 2014

 

Support Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Improvement Act and local decision making authority for private sector Workforce Investment Boards.  (H.R. 804/S. 1356)  The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 and Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIB) were created to induce businesses to participate in the local delivery of workforce development services through Local Workforce Investment Boards.  WIA was enacted and implemented during a period of economic growth.  WIA stipulates that Boards be chaired by private sector members of the local community with the majority of the Board members required to represent business interests. 

 

The State of California, pursuant to the previsions within WIA, has designated the County of San Bernardino and the County of Riverside as Local Workforce Investment Areas with the authority to develop and implement a comprehensive workforce investment system and activities.  San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, as a Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIA), invested in building the infrastructure for a comprehensive “One-Stop” delivery system.  LWIAs have strengthened private-sector leadership; streamlined multiple programs; set long-term, proactive policies that enhance the competitiveness of local and regional industries; and developed unique local initiatives, programs and partnerships.
 

Inland Action supports the California Workforce Association’s specific recommendations for WIA reauthorization.  It has been Inland Action’s long standing position that Employment Services remain under the governance, guidance, and accountability of the LWIBs.   LWIBs are the backbone to the economic recovery success, growth, and expansion for local communities.  LWIBs identify and ensure that the workforce system addresses local needs, form collaborative partnerships to maximize resources, address critical workforce development issues, and administer education and training programs to ensure individuals have the credentials to qualify and fill high demand jobs.

 

LWIBs reach out to their communities to provide a strong economic arm and a helping hand.  LWIBs understand the need to rebuild communities and the current economy; prepare for future growth and plan expansion; provide guidance to businesses and job seekers to assure their success; and comprise and solidify the bond between businesses and job seekers to reach common objectives and goals.  In particular, there is a critical need to provide career training in all aspects of medical care fields, due to the significant shortage of health care providers in the Inland Empire. 

 

For these reasons, Inland Action supports legislation that strengthens private sector Workforce Investment Boards and employment services to remain under the governance, guidance, and accountability of the Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs).  SBWIB Gap Analysis WIA Reauth.pdf

 

Support legislation and budget actions to restore, enhance and protect Community Development Block Grant Funding.  Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funds can be used to develop community improvement programs and projects to assist clients or benefit area residents.  Funds are used to (1) build community facilities, roads, and parks; (2) repair or rehabilitate housing; (3) provide new or increased public services to local residents; or (4) fund initiatives that generate new jobs.

 

CDBG regulations require that at least 51% of the people served have incomes that are less than the low- and moderate-income limits set by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Each year the County of San Bernardino receives grant funds from HUD through the CDBG Program. Similar CDBG allocations are provided to states, urban counties, and metropolitan cities across the country.  The County is responsible for implementing a CDBG Program covering the unincorporated areas of the County and twelve cities that cooperate in the County CDBG Program.   There are also twelve metropolitan cities in the County that receive CDBG funds from HUD separately from the County’s CDBG funding.  

 

San Bernardino County’s allocation was reduced 21% from FY 10/11 to FY 13/14.  The two year reduction of CDBG funding levels is a detriment to the residents in the County of San Bernardino who will have been impacted through the reduction of much needed services and programs. This program, along with the HOME Program, serves as the nation’s primary vehicle through which local governments address housing and community development needs.  

 

Oppose legislation and budget actions to cap or eliminate tax exemption on municipal bondsA municipal bond is a bond issued by a local government or their agencies. Potential issuers of municipal bonds include states, cities, counties, redevelopment agencies, special-purpose districts, school districts, public utility districts, and any other governmental entity, or groups of governments at or below the state level. Interest income received by holders of municipal bonds is often exempt from the federal income tax and may be exempt from state income tax. Most municipal debt is issued to finance new capital facilities, but some is issued to refund a prior bond issue, usually to take advantage of lower interest rates.   

 

A report issued by HIS Global Insight titled Protecting Bonds to Save Infrastructure and Jobs highlights the benefits of municipal bonds and the impacts which will occur if tax-exempt status is capped or eliminated by Congress.  State and local infrastructure investment is a crucial fuel for US economic growth. Primary and secondary education; mass transit; public power, water and sewer facilities; roads, streets, highways; and hospitals are all an integral part of the engine that powers our national economy:

Support Congressional efforts to encourage return of Ontario International Airport to local control. Ontario International Airport (ONT) has been owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) since 1985 when the City of Ontario transferred ownership.  Air traffic and passenger numbers at ONT have dropped over the past several years from 7 million annual passengers to 3.97 million annual passengers, below the 1985 level when it was transferred to LAWA.  Passenger numbers continued to decline sharply in 2013, dropping 8% from the prior year.  Set ONT Free information sheet.pdf

 

LAWA claims the declining passenger count at ONT is a result of the recession.  Yet in 2013, LAWA’s flagship, Los Angeles International Airport, saw a 3 million annual passenger increase.  It is apparent that LAWA is focused on boosting air traffic at LAX while ONT drifts into obscurity.  ONT’s ability to remain viable and to serve as the economic engine for the Inland Empire and region as a whole is at risk. 

 

In the report prepared by the firm of Oliver Wyman in late 2013, the regional impact was for a further loss of 8,000 jobs and $430 million if current trends lines were allowed to continue, on top of the previous 10,100 jobs and $540 million already lost.

 

In 2013 the City of Ontario sued LAWA and the City of Los Angeles, and court-ordered negotiations have failed to produce a settlement.  The City of Ontario is prepared to proceed with the lawsuit to regain local control of ONT.  Although the negotiations and legal actions are not within the purview of Congress, several influential representatives have made public their support for returning ONT to local control.  These actions have and do make an impact.  Inland Action urges members of Congress to make their support of local control for ONT known in both public and private settings to ensure the survival of this important job-creating and economic asset for the southern California region.

 

 

Education Issues 2014 

Urge Congress and the Administration to support Pell Grants at the current individual maximum amount. Inland Action strongly urges Congress and the Administration to support programs and funding which provide access to higher education and job skills for the 21st century.  In particular, Pell Grants are critically important and should be maintained at the current individual maximum amount, with appropriate fiscal controls, performance requirements, and renewal qualifications. 

Issue: The inland region of Southern California is experiencing one of the nation’s highest levels of unemployment at 8.9%, coupled with a low college-going rate, resulting in employers struggling to find skilled and educated workers to advance the region’s economy. 

Background:  With the fiscal crisis in the State of California, it is imperative that creating an educated and skilled workforce not be left on the cutting room floor. In spite of the high unemployment rate in the Inland Empire, businesses are struggling to find workers with the skills and education levels needed to fill jobs. Community colleges and the State universities are primed to serve these needs, but since State resources are limited, federal programs and resources are vital to the State and national economies. 

The Inland Empire region of Riverside and San Bernardino counties in California has a low share of college/university graduates. In 2005, the share of college graduates was 1.5 times higher in the State (31%) than in the Inland Empire (19%) [PPIC Report, April 2008]. The Inland Empire region is the fastest-growing region in the fastest growing State. By 2015 the Inland Empire is expected to provide nearly 1.5 million non-farm civilian jobs, up 28% from 2004, but a large share of the population will likely not have the higher education or technical skills that these jobs require. Investment in programs that advance affordable access to 2-year and 4-year degrees is imperative.  Inland Empire universities currently have as high as 65% of undergraduate students who depended upon Pell Grants to obtain higher education.   

The population obtaining degrees and certificates (career and technical education) needs to expand to match the needs of the job growth sectors for the region.   

If only 2% more Californians earned an associate’s degree, the State’s economy would increase by $20 billion and tax revenue would grow by $1.2 billion annually. More importantly, 174,000 new jobs would be created throughout the State, and the unemployment rate in the Inland Empire would be reduced. These numbers are only further enhanced when applied to the universities. 

Specific programs of interest include Pell Grants and supporting programs such as Gear up, TRIO, MSIs and HSIs; as well as workforce development funding such as the Perkins Act, and Department of Labor’s Community College and Career Training Grants Program. Many students within the region’s colleges and universities are eligible for Pell Grants.  But, without Pell Grants or with a reduced Pell Grant program, many of these students will no longer have access to education and training. Additionally, many Pell Grant students are first generation college attendees and represent a highly diverse demographic that is reflective of our region. 

Because the regional, State, and national economies are directly tied to the educational and workforce development attainment, it is imperative that access to and advancement of an educated and skilled workforce be invested in, at the highest possible level.  Supplemental background info re Pell Grants.pdf

 

Environmental Issues 2014 

Support California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014.  Inland Action supports the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 introduced by Senators Feinstein and Boxer of California and by Wyden and Merkley of Oregon.  It is the type of legislation that considers both the interests of environmentalists and business fairly.  This bill considers the existing State Regulations while providing the operational flexibility needed to assist those areas and communities hardest hit and makes the best use of any additional rain during this crisis.  This bill: 

This is truly drought relief legislation that has most of the authorities it provides sunset when the Governor declares the end of the drought.  Inland Action currently supports this bill because it is consistent with Inland Action’s goal of encouraging comprehensive, long-term water planning, such as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, so that water supply cycles can be better anticipated.  

Support the Bay Delta Conservation PlanIn light of current California and regional drought conditions, Inland Action supports comprehensive long term solutions to the Delta water conveyance and storage issues, with particular emphasis on statewide cooperation and teamwork.  Inland Action supports the ongoing “Bay Delta Conservation Plan” (BDCP), a multi-disciplinary process that is working to support the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and habitat restoration. 

BDCP restoration is likely to be a net plus in jobs for the region over the half-century scope of the plan, according to a study by natural resource economist David Sunding of the University of California, Berkeley. 

The proposed “twin tunnel” conveyance system, in any of the proposed capacities, will help restore the health of the Delta while addressing the water needs of the most fertile valley in the world, as well as the growing population of Southern California. Although the primary funding source will be the actual users, any project of this magnitude will require the support and cooperation of various levels of government.  Had this plan been in operation prior to the current drought, many of the current dire impacts would have been better mitigated. 

Support timely reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, as several critical projects for the San Bernardino County Flood Control District depend on it.    The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizes water resources projects and policies for navigation, flood control, hydropower, recreation, water supply and emergency management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  WRDA has been traditionally authorized every two years; however, it has not been enacted into law since 2007.  Bills have passed in each House (H.R.  3080 and S. 601).  Inland Action urges the Conferees to adequately address the variants between the two bills and bring this back to each house as soon as possible.   

Many critical projects in the Inland Empire are to be authorized under WRDA, including the Santa Ana Mainstem, San Timoteo Creek Basins, and other smaller projects that the Corps will be asked to prioritize once the authorization is in place.  Specific areas Inland Action would like to see adopted include: 

Irrespective of the court decision, Inland Action supports provisions in the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA) that support financing for critical habitat acquisition, as proposed in the House version. This will allow Southern California region’s various water agencies to set aside habitats for endangered species while they focus on reuse, conservation and recycling projects and address the issues brought up in the Center for Biological Diversity’s litigation.  

Whereas the increased habitat could cost one million Southern Californians a third of their water supply and account for a $4 billion economic loss to the region, Inland Action opposes this arbitrary ruling that fails to consider the scientific and economic realities which should have been central to the agency’s decision. 

Similar to this issue and the overall reach of Federal agencies into regional water projects, often without a definitive scientific approach, EPA and Corps of Engineers must consider the spirit of the California Drought Relief Act and the overall streamlining in the House and Senate WRDA bills when determining jurisdiction on navigable waterways, especially in the arid Inland Empire. The demands of the additional 404 permitting on the costs and timing of projects that can include roadside ditches and culverts should be exempted.  The value of extending these permits to waterways that are dry eleven months of the year needs more inclusive consideration of the needs of local agencies. 

Support the Desalinization and Water Purification Program (H.R. 745).  The purpose of this act was to develop more cost effective, technologically efficient, and implementable means to desalinate water.  The original program was established in 1996, and its last extension expired September 30, 2013.  This bill will extend the authorization for 5 years at $3MM for the fiscal years 2013 through 2018.  Although use of desalinized water is less likely to benefit the Inland Empire directly, we support every consideration for sources that reduce the demands on the State Water Project and believe that this research is evidence of our focus on being good stewards of our resources.  

Support the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.  This plan is a multi-agency, multi-interest approach to developing an effective biological mitigation and conservation plan while providing renewable projects developer with permit timing and some cost certainty under the California Endangered Species Act. Of the 22.5 million acres of federal and non-federal acres in the Plan, it falls predominately in the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino.  As California looks to achieve the 33% renewable energy portfolio by 2020, it is clear that solar and wind projects need to be developed as quickly as possible. 

Although there are various options currently being considered, and the process is slowly narrowing those options, Inland Action supports this process of putting all the stakeholders at the table. The endless cycle of litigation attached to green projects destroys progress and innovation in developing alternate sources of energy.  Only through a cohesive outreach and integrated permitting/planning process can projects be effectively pursued by the private sector.  The economic and environmental benefits to the area are needed with urgency, as well as the proper consideration of existing State and federal restrictions.   

 

Transportation Issues 2014 

The Inland Empire covers more than 27,000 square miles in Southern California and is home to over four million people.  As the 13th most populous metropolitan area in the nation and the third largest in the State of California, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties have suffered dramatically during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Despite improving unemployment numbers, the Inland Empire still persists at 8.9% (December 2013) unemployment rate.  According to local economist John Husing, the Inland Empire has recovered about 38% of the 148,500 jobs lost during the recession in 2008, 2009 and 2010, a recovery much weaker than much of the rest of the nation. 

The Inland Empire is also home to the highest volume goods movement corridor in the nation.  As the nation’s economy begins to come back, increasing volumes of goods are once again flowing through our region.  With approximately 40% of the nation’s goods valuing nearly $100 billion annually entering the country through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Inland Empire is hardest hit as those goods move from the ports to other destinations through the rail and highway systems in the area.  

Transportation is one of the best ways to provide the improved job opportunities and economic growth that our region needs.  To that end, Inland Action has identified several key issues that need to be addressed as Congress considers the next transportation bill. 

Support Establishment of an Inland Empire Regional Office of U.S. Customs Service and urge U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide a commitment of personnel for the International Arrivals Terminal at San Bernardino International Airport.   The greater Inland Empire region of Southern California is currently home to five commercial and cargo airports:  Ontario, March, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, and Victorville. Current staffing, administration, and coordination for Inland Empire Airports is centralized through the international port of entry at Los Angeles International Airport. Significant cost savings and efficiencies can be achieved through the establishment of an Inland Empire regional office for U.S. Customs services.  Such an office could serve both existing User-Fee and Landing Rights Airports within geographic proximity to major commercial, cargo, rail, and goods movement corridors and allow for effective provision of inspection services for airports, ports of entry, and foreign trade zone businesses and users.   

The San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) has been working to develop international commercial airline service since construction of its international terminal began in 2010.  Construction of this terminal is now complete, and the SBIAA is seeking to engage U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to provide staffing necessary to process international flights via User Fee Agreement whereby the SBIAA reimburses CBP for staffing, facilities, and incidental costs. 

The SBIAA originally entered into a User Fee Agreement (User Fee) with CBP in 2007.  Since this time CBP has continually provided a single CBP officer to process international flights through a temporary facility meeting the requirements of CBP.  However, with the completion of its international terminal that was constructed in close coordination with CBP and their specifications, the SBIAA is seeking to increase the number of CBP personnel in order to process flights of up to 350 passengers. 

In June of 2011, SBIAA approached CBP to discuss provisioning of personnel to process flights of Interjet Airlines between Mexico and the San Bernardino International Airport (SBD).  At that time, CBP advised SBIAA that they would not provide the requisite personnel to process international flights, citing Title 19 Code of Federal Regulations Part 122 that User Fee airports must provide permanent CBP personnel to process flights rather than providing support personnel from LAX.  CBP also expressed serious concern with the efficiency of permanently assigning personnel to SBD for one flight per day. 

CBP Discussions:  Discussions with CBP resumed in 2014 in an effort to resolve CBP’s staffing concerns and to provide potential international commercial carriers that SBIAA has assurances with CBP for processing flights into SBD.  In January 2014, SBIAA met with the LAX Acting Port Director Don Kusser and Assistant Port Director Scott Jackson, with a follow up meeting taking place at SBD in February 2014.  The intent of these meetings was to identify CBP’s staffing concerns and find a mutually beneficial solution. 

CBP estimated 6-7 CBP personnel would be required to process an international arrival at SBD.  In an effort to maximize utilization of personnel, the concept of stationing CBP personnel at SBD to process flights at SBD, ONT, RIV, and VCV intrigued CBP, and they requested that SBIAA provide a business plan identifying and detailing this proposed arrangement.  CBP’s intent to maximize the utility of their personnel could be met with the coordination of flight times at airports located within the greater Inland Empire.   CBP indicated that this could be a workable solution to their staffing efficiency concerns, and they would further consider this concept.    

Present Status and Requested Support: The International Arrivals Terminal at San Bernardino International Airport has been completed and has received its formal Certificate of Occupancy. Representatives of the Airport have held meetings with a number of airlines who have expressed interest and are considering the inauguration of international service from the airport utilizing the facility. However, they have all inquired about the ability of the Airport to gain a commitment of service from CBP if they choose to begin service. While it is understood that the timing and availability of CBP personnel must be addressed in the cooperative effort that has been initiated there is still an absolute need to be able to represent that CBP personnel will be made available subject to certain reasonable conditions. It is this contingent commitment that we now seek.

Enact long-term transportation legislation with appropriate funding levels and additional streamlining provisions to support the nation’s current and emerging infrastructure needs.

Develop a dedicated federal funding source to resolve goods movement issues and encourage stakeholder participation in planning development throughout full corridors.

Support Redlands Rail and partner with State and local agencies to develop multi-modal systems that link vital transportation corridors. 

Continue Expansion of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).  Map-21 expanded the funds available for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan.  TIFIA loans help agencies pay for large, partially funded projects of regional and national significance. The assistance also can be in the form of a loan guarantee or a standby line of credit.  The new transportation authorization bill should continue to support expansion of TIFIA loans, which greatly leverage scarce federal resources available for both rail and highway transportation projects. 

Streamline the project delivery process by implementing process changes that can deliver mobility improvements to commuters more efficiently.   

Encourage enhanced federal role to improve air quality by reducing emissions from intrastate and international goods movement vessels.

 

Healthcare Issues 2014 

Urge Congress and the Administration to take action to enhance graduate medical education and funding for research and education.   

Issue: California faces a shortage of physicians with Inland Southern California having among the most severe shortages in the country. The medical school at the University of California, Riverside opened in August 2013 with a class of 50 students and is establishing residency training in six specialties. Both activities will expand the physician workforce and provide economic stimulus to the region.  

Action: Inland Action urges Congress and the Administration to take action in the areas of Graduate Medical Education and funding for research and education that will train more doctors and improve the health of Americans over the long term.

Background: The demand for physicians will continue to rise due to a growing population, aging baby boomers and a wave of soon-to-retire doctors. In Inland Southern California, a rapidly growing and ethnically diverse region with more than 11% of California’s population, there are only about half of the primary care physicians per capita needed.  

Opening a medical school with associated residency training programs in our region will be the most effective means of addressing the doctor shortage and diversifying the physician workforce, thereby improving health care access and delivery. The primary drivers of where a physician practices is where he or she grows up and where an M.D. finishes residency training. The new UCR medical school will capitalize on both of these factors by emphasizing recruitment of local students and building GME in the region. The school has already established a program in internal medicine and, in July 2014, will start a primary care pediatrics residency track. New programs are being planned in family medicine, psychiatry and OB/GYN. 

The Balanced Budget Act of 1996 capped the number of residency slots supported by Medicare and many of the current proposed spending cuts include reductions to existing GME funding through Medicare. There are funds in the Affordable Care Act for new primary care GME slots, but they can only be accessed by Federally Qualified Health Centers, not medical schools.  

Inland Southern California has a severe scarcity of residency training programs. In addition to the primary care specialties of family medicine, general internal medicine and general pediatrics, the region needs many more general surgeons, OB/GYNs and psychiatrists. Every hospital – particularly those in rural areas – needs general surgeons to keep their emergency department open. The region’s relative high fertility rate demands more OB/GYNs. And, there is a documented severe shortage of psychiatrists in Riverside County, where county-employed psychiatrists work substantial overtime to meet demand. 

Urge Congress and the Administration to support the Medicare Audit Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 1250/S. 1012). 

Issue: The Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program continues to have ongoing inefficiencies and misaligned incentives. Excessive inappropriate denials by RACs are a direct driver of the ALJ backlog, and hospitals are bearing the financial burden with over $1 billion stuck in the appeals process. 

Action: Inland Action urges Congress and the Administration to support the Medicare Audit Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 1250/S.1012) in the House and Senate. 

Background: Inland Action supports California’s hospitals in seeking appropriate oversight of the Medicare program and understands the need for careful review to protect the integrity of the program. Unfortunately, the RAC program has resulted in a deluge of inappropriate payment denials, causing the appeals process to be backlogged with hundreds of thousands of claims. Furthermore, the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) national RAC survey indicates that more than 70% of appealed inpatient denials are overturned. One hospital system in California has been successful in recouping over $20 million due to its appeal efforts and has experienced an 80% success rate at the ALJ level. California hospitals are wasting valuable resources fighting inaccurate RAC denials for several years. 

The persistent failures of the RAC program have become even more evident recently after the release of a recent memo from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA). 

According to the memo, the OMHA has become so overwhelmed by the volume of claim appeals awaiting Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings that it has “temporarily suspended the assignment of most new requests for an Administrative Law Judge hearing to allow OMHA to adjudicate appeals involving almost 357,000 claims for Medicare services and entitlements already assigned to its 65 Administrative Law Judges.” The memo further states, “With the current backlog, we do not expect general assignments to resume for at least 24 months, and we expect post-assignment hearing wait times will continue to exceed 6 months.” 

Excessive inappropriate denials by RACs are a direct driver of the ALJ backlog, and hospitals are bearing the financial burden with over $1 billion stuck in the appeals process. In less than two years, the appeal rate has skyrocketed from 1,250 to more than 15,000 claim receipts per week, which has contributed to the backlog of nearly 6,000 cases per ALJ. During the 30-month appeals process, hospitals are not paid for the care they provide to Medicare beneficiaries, nor are they able to collect interest when the appeals are overturned in their favor. Per the AHA, the national value of appealed hospital claims neared $1.5 billion through September 2013. 

Without fundamental reform, the RAC program will continue to harm California hospitals and Medicare beneficiaries. Inland Action urges Congress to contact the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and encourage the agency to adopt the RAC reforms contained in the Medicare Audit Improvement Act of 2013, H.R. 1250 and S. 1012.  Further, Inland Action asks that Congress encourage the Secretary to devote more resources to OMHA in order to comply with the statutory guidelines that require the agency to respond to these appeals. Inland Action looks forward to working with the Legislature to support this important legislation. 

Important Points:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inland Action 2013 Federal Issues

Priority Issues 

Fund Completion of  Metrolink Regional Rail Service to Redlands.

Completion of the Metrolink commuter rail service to the City of Redlands, originally approved by San Bernardino County voters in 1990, is approaching construction.  Federal transit investment for this local sales-tax project is needed to complete the funding package and provide regional Metrolink service to the City of Redlands, the University of Redlands, and Esri, the leading worldwide supplier of GIS software applications.  Once completed, the rail service will connect to the City of San Bernardino’s sbX Bus Rapid Transit Project currently under construction and the Metrolink regional rail network anchored by Union Station in Los Angeles.  Inland Action supports Federal contribution to developing transit systems for San Bernardino County’s growing inland population. 

Enact New Federal Transportation Legislation and Ensure Southern California Membership on the National Freight Policy Council.

Inland Action supports enactment of new long-term federal transportation legislation with appropriate funding mechanisms to support the nation’s growing infrastructure needs.  The next federal transportation bill must expand Map-21’s designation of critical goods movement corridors by providing a dedicated federal funding source to improve these corridors.  With 40% of the nation’s goods valuing nearly $100 billion annually entering Southern California through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, it is critical that Southern California be actively involved in crafting transportation solutions for the next act and be represented on the National Freight Policy Council.  Southern California transportation partners support the appointment of Fran Inman and Ray Wolfe to serve on the National Freight Policy Council as established in MAP-21.

Support Establishment of an Inland Empire Regional Office of U.S. Customs Service.

The greater Inland Empire region of Southern California is currently home to five commercial and cargo airports:  Ontario, March, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, and Victorville, but current service for Inland Empire airports is centralized through the international port of entry at Los Angeles International Airport. Significant cost savings and efficiencies can be achieved through the recognition of an Inland Empire Regional office for U.S. Customs services.   

Support Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Improvement Act and local decision making authority for private sector Workforce Investment Boards. 

The Workforce Investment Act and Local Workforce Investment Boards were created to induce businesses to participate in the local delivery of workforce development services through Local Workforce Investment Boards.  Local Workforce Investment Areas were granted authority to develop and implement comprehensive workforce investment systems in collaboration with private sector to meet regional economic needs. Inland Action supports legislation that strengthens private sector Workforce Investment Boards and Employment Services to remain under the governance, guidance, and accountability of the Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs).

Strongly support Pell Grants and Stafford Loans

Pell Grants are to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students promote access to post-secondary education and arethe foundation of Federal student aid.  Stafford Loans are a supplement to other resources and grants which provide the opportunity for eligible students to enroll in accredited American institutions of higher education.  These programs represent much needed Federal investment in secondary and post-secondary education for low income students.  Inland Action supports continued funding of these programs and opposes reductions to these programs.  

Reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act. 

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizes water resources projects and policies for navigation, flood control, hydropower, recreation, water supply and emergency management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  WRDA has been traditionally authorized every two years; however, it has not been enacted into law since 2007.   Inland Action supports reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act as a priority issue.

 

Inland Action 2013 Legislative Platform At-A-Glance

(Issue details follow)

Economic Development

 

Education

 

Environment

 

Transportation

Redlands Rail

Ontario Airport Transit Connections

 

Healthcare

 

Legislative Platform Issues- Details

Economic Development Issues 2013 

Support Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Improvement Act and local decision making authority for private sector Workforce Investment BoardsThe Workforce Investment Act (WIA) 1998 and Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIB) were created to induce businesses to participate in the local delivery of workforce development services through Local Workforce Investment Boards.  The Act (WIA) was enacted and implemented during a period of economic growth.  WIA stipulates that Boards be chaired by private sector members of the local community with the majority of the Board members required to represent business interests.  

 The State of California, pursuant to the previsions within (WIA), has designated the County of San Bernardino and the County of Riverside as a Local Workforce Investment Areas with the authority to develop and implement comprehensive workforce investment system and activities.  San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, as a Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIA), invested in building the infrastructure for a comprehensive “One-Stop” delivery system.  Local areas have strengthened private-sector leadership; streamlined multiple programs; set long-term, proactive policies that enhance the competitiveness of local and regional industries; and developed unique local initiatives, programs, and partnerships. 

Inland Action supports the California Workforce Association’s specific recommendations for WIA reauthorization.  It has been Inland Action’s long standing position that Employment Services remain under the governance, guidance, and accountability of the Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs).   LWIBs are the backbone to the economic recovery success, growth, and expansion for local communities.  LWIBs identify and ensure the workforce system addresses local needs, form collaborative partnerships to maximize resources, address critical workforce development issues, and administer education and training programs to ensure individuals have the credentials to qualify and fill high demand jobs.

LWIBs reach out to their communities to provide a strong economic arm and a helping hand.  LWIB’s understand the need to rebuild communities and the current economy, prepare for future growth and plan expansion, provide guidance to businesses and job seekers to assure their success, comprise, and solidify the bond between businesses and job seekers to reach common objectives and goals.  In particular, there is a critical need to provide career training in all aspects of medical care fields, due to the significant shortage of health care providers in the Inland Empire.  

For these reasons, Inland Action supports legislation that strengthens private sector Workforce Investment Boards and Employment Services to remain under the governance, guidance, and accountability of the Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs). 

Support US Air Force 163d Reconnaissance Wing Remote Piloted Aircraft Program in Southern CaliforniaThe Air Force is considering moving the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) mission for the 163d Wing based at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, to an east coast location. This is part of the move from the MQ-1 Remote Piloted Aircraft to the more capable MQ-9. The Air Force should consider the investment in March Air Force Base’s Flying Training Unit, which has trained over 160 Predator aircrews, and the favorable weather for Predator training and flying in Inland Southern California and the Victor Valley region rather than abandoning the investments made in Southern California.  

Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) in Victorville (formerly George AFB), is the current location for the 163RW’s Launch and Recovery Element for CA ANG FTU flying operation, where there is currently a permanent 18,000’ sq., $6 million MILCON hangar project just completed in March 2012.  There is ample room for growth at SCLA in current facilities.  In addition, all Maintenance Instructors are already DUAL QUALIFIED; MQ-1 & MQ-9.  The 163 RW has 860 Personnel (300 Full-Time), and they are the largest tenant at March Field, occupying 90 acres accommodating 20 structures with 12 Predators assigned.  The 163RW annual payroll is $40 million with an additional $12 Million in local purchasing and contracts. 

Inland Action asks that the five year buildup of the 163d Remote Piloted Aircraft Flying Training Unit and the money spent at Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville is not wasted and that the 163d RW moves forward with the MQ-9 to support Air Force Remote Piloted Aircraft missions into the future.

 

Education Issues 2013 

Priority Issue:  Protect Student Financial Aid.

Pell GrantsFederal Pell Grants are the foundation of Federal student aid.  The maximum Pell grant is $5,635 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  The grants are need-based to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to post-secondary education.  Thirty years ago, a Pell Grant would cover about 2/3rds of college tuition at a public university.  Now, a Pell Grant covers about 1/3rd of such tuition expense.

Locally, approximately 60% of CSU San Bernardino students are Pell Grant-eligible and benefit from the Federal Government’s investment in such student’s pursuit of college degrees.

Inland Action supports maximum Pell Grant funding and opposes any restrictions to eligibility or reductions in the maximum amount of a Pell Grant. 

TRIO ProgramsTRIO is, in fact, eight separate programs which provide a wide range of services to reach students who have an economic need.  TRIO now includes: Upward Bound; Talent Search; Student Support Services; Educational Opportunity Centers; Training Program for Federal TRIO Programs; Ronald E. McNair Post baccalaureate Achievement Programs; Upward Bound Math/Science Program; and, Veteran Upward Bound programs.

The recipients of such grants are educational institutions, both public and private, as well as agencies and organizations, including community-based organizations with experience in serving disadvantaged youth and secondary schools.  For this fiscal year, the total number of participants who have or will benefit from these programs exceeds 789,000! 

Inland Action supports maximum TRIO Program funding and opposes any restrictions to eligibility or reductions in the funding of TRIO Programs.

GEAR-UP ProgramThis is a discretionary grant program which is designed to increase the number of low-income students for post-secondary education.  This program provides grants to states and partnerships to provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools.  These funds are also used to provide college scholarships to low-income students.

Inland Action supports maximum GEAR UP funding and opposes any reductions in the funding of GEAR UP.

Stafford LoansA Stafford Loan is a student loan offered to eligible students enrolled in an accredited American institution of higher education to help finance the student’s education.  These loans are to “supplement” other resources and grants.  Because the loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government, they are offered at a lower interest rate than the borrower would otherwise be eligible to obtain in a private loan.  The lower rate (for undergraduates as low as 3.4%) enables many students to borrow the necessary funds to continue their education.

Inland Action supports continuing Stafford loans and continuing the undergraduate 3.4% subsidized loan rate.

 

Environmental Issues 2013 

Reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act.  The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizes water resources projects and policies for navigation, flood control, hydropower, recreation, water supply and emergency management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  WRDA has been traditionally authorized every two years; however, it has not been enacted into law since 2007. 

The Reauthorization Act: 

•          Supports preserving and maintaining current federal law, which provides for federal participation through the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in a long-standing partnership with state and local governments for funding, implementing, and maintaining essential and environmentally sound navigation, harbor, beach management, and flow control projects across this nation.

•          Supports federal matching funds for local governments to plan for reducing flood damage risks under the WRDA and ask that the federal share of water resource projects not be shifted to state and local governments because most state and local governments do not have the fiscal resources to assume the federal share.

•          Requests that counties be consulted before the federal or state government undertakes water resource projects within the jurisdiction of the county.

•          Supports the federal government providing state and local governments with a major voice in the decision-making process, which includes the authority to assume full responsibility for planning and implementing flood control projects and determining the necessity or advisability of flood control projects by the federal government.

Status:
The draft bill was released in the fall, but the committee has been working on changes based on comments received from other offices and the public.  A revised version of the bill is expected in March.  Since January there have been two legislative hearings examining the need for the WRDA and some of the policy issues that could be addressed. 

Inland Action supports a timely reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, as several critical projects for the San Bernardino County Flood Control District depends on it.

Following is a list of local water projects in jeopardy without reauthorization of the WRDA:

Santa Ana River Mainstem Flood Protection Project  in district 8 / 31  located in various cities at 81.5M Supervisor district 3/5    

San Timoteo Creek Basins Flood Protection Project in district 31 located in Redlands/Loma Linda at 4M Supervisor district 3

San Timeteo Creek Basins Flood Protection and Water Quality Study in district 31 located in Redlands/Loma Linda at 2M Supervisor district 3

Lytle-Cajon Channel Flood Protection Project in district 31 located in San Bernardino/Colton at 3.9M Supervisor district 5

Lytle-Cajon Basin Flood Protection, Water Quality and Water Conservation Study in district 31 located in San Bernardino/Colton at 2M Supervisor district 3

Seven Oaks Dam Water Quality Special Study in district 8 / 31 located in various cities at 6.5M Supervisor district 3

Seven Oaks Dam Water Conservation Special Study in district 8 / 31 located in various cities at 2M Supervisor district 3

Cactus Basins Flood Protection Water Quality and Water Conservation Project in district 31 located in Rialto at 21.8M Supervisor district 5

Rialto Channel Flood Protection Project in district 31 / 35 located in Rialto at 19.5M Supervisor district 5

Mojave Forks Dam Flood Protection and Water Conservation Project in district 8 located in various cities at 32.5M Supervisor district 1

Mojave River Fluvial Geomorphologic Study in district 8 located in various cities at 1M Supervisor district 1/3

US Army Corp of Engineers-San Timeteo Loan in district 31 located in Redlands/Loma Linda at 4M Supervisor district 3

Deer Creek Basin Flood Protection Study in district 31 located in Rancho Cucamonga at 4.7M Supervisor district 2

Twin Creek Levee Flood Protection Project in district 31 located in San Bernardino at 1.8M Supervisor district 5

Wilson Creek Flood Protection Project in district 8 located in Yucaipa at 455,000 Supervisor district 3

Wildwood Creek Flood Protection and Water Quality Project in district 8 located in Yucaipa at 3.9M Supervisor district 3

Mojave Levee Phase II Flood Protection Project in district 8 located in Victorville at 850,000  Supervisor district 1

Mission Zanja Flood Protection, Water Quality and Water Conservation Project in district 31 located in Redlands at 3.9M Supervisor district 3

2013 Environment Issues -WRDA.pdf

Critical Habitat for the Santa Ana SuckerThe US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ruling in December 2010 doubled the Critical Habitat for the Santa Ana Sucker, a fish that is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and that live in the Santa Ana River in Western Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange counties original designated habitat.  Many critical projects for local water supplies, flood control and transportation are jeopardized by the ruling, and the quality of life in the region will suffer.

Although the issue is in litigation and regardless of the outcome, Inland Action wishes to express its objection to the unsubstantiated expansion of the habitat, despite growing concerns about water use and the political turmoil and relatively far greater environmental impacts of importing the water from other sources outside the basin.

The increased habitat could cost $1 million to Southern Californians, a third of their water supply, and account for a $4 billion dollar economic loss to the region.  Inland Action opposes this arbitrary ruling that fails to consider the scientific and economic realities which should have been central to the agency’s ruling.

Inland Action objects to unsustainable expansion of the Santa Ana Sucker habitat. 

2013 Critical Habitat for the Santa Ana Sucker.pdf

The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD) has been a leading agency of the Santa Ana Sucker Task Force.  Formed in response to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s expanded critical habitat designation for the Santa Ana Sucker, the Task Force has been active over the past couple of years.  Water agencies, cities and other affected entities along the Santa Ana River quickly realized that the Fish and Wildlife’s expanded critical habitat designation would adversely affect the ability to secure additional local water supplies and undertake other important projects.  The Task Force undertook an education campaign to make sure that citizens, government leaders and USFWS understood the potentially devastating consequences of the habitat designation.  USFWS ignored the economic impacts of its decision and failed to coordinate with local agencies, both of which are required by the Endangered Species Act.  

The protection of the Santa Ana Sucker is a priority for SBVMWD, and the agency is working closely with federal, state and local agencies in a collaborative process to protect the fish and its habitat.  Many members of the Santa Ana Sucker Task Force have been collaborating for the past decade to study the fish and protect the Santa Ana Sucker’s habitat.  In fact, much of the habitat was already included in the Western Riverside County Multi Species Habitat Conservation Plan, a regional conservation plan with 22 participating agencies encompassing 1.26 million acres of territory.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service should not have ruled as it did unless it found that the MSHCP was not being implemented, which did not happen.

Currently, the Santa Ana Sucker Task Force is appealing a court decision to try and maintain its legal challenge against the critical habitat designation.  SBVMWD believes that the appeal should be successful because of the merits of the case and will continue to brief legislators about the status of the court case.  Critical projects to enhance local water supplies are at risk because of the USFWS decision, and SBVMWD has a legal obligation to ensure that water supplies are adequate to meet the growing demand for the region.   

California State Water Project

In light of current California and regional water supply conditions, Inland Action supports comprehensive, long-term solutions to the Delta water conveyance and storage issues, with particular emphasis on statewide cooperation and teamwork.  In particular, Inland Action supports the ongoing “Bay Delta Conservation Plan” (BDCP), a multi-disciplinary process that is working to provide the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and habitat restoration.

BDCP restoration is likely to be a net plus in jobs for the region over the half-century scope of the plan, according to a study by natural resource economist David Sunding of the University of California, Berkeley.

The proposed “twin tunnel” conveyance system, in any of the proposed capacities, will help restore the health of the Delta while addressing the water needs of the most fertile valley in the world, as well as the growing population of Southern California.  Although the primary funding source will be the actual users, any project of this magnitude will require the support and cooperation of various levels of government.

 

Transportation Issues 2013

The Inland Empire covers more than 27,000 square miles in Southern California and is home to over four million people.  As the 13th most populous metropolitan area in the nation and the third largest in the State of California, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties have suffered dramatically during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Despite improving unemployment numbers, the Inland Empire still persists at a 10.9 percent (December 2012) unemployment rate, higher than the state’s average of 9.8 percent and well above the national average of 7.8 percent.  Some areas of the region are still seeing employment rates of over 20 percent.

The Inland Empire is also home to the highest volume goods movement corridor in the nation.  As the nation’s economy begins to come back, increasing volumes of goods are once again flowing through our region.  With approximately 40 percent of the nation’s goods valuing nearly $100 billion annually entering the country through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Inland Empire is particularly hardest hit as those goods move from the ports to other destinations through the rail and highway systems in our area. 

Transportation is one of the best ways to provide the improved job opportunities and economic growth that our region needs.  To that end, Inland Action has identified several key issues that need to be addressed as Congress considers the next transportation bill.


Key Issues:

Long-Term Surface Transportation.  Enact long-term legislation with appropriate funding levels and additional streamlining provisions to support the nation’s current and emerging infrastructure needs

 

Goods Movement.  Develop a dedicated federal fund source to resolve goods movement issues and encourage stakeholder participation in plan development throughout the full corridor

Map-21 establishes the FPC including membership from state departments of transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.  

Goods Movement does not begin and end at the ports of entry, the impacts to local communities along the corridor are far‑reaching and significant.  Local communities suffer greatly as a result of the lack of investment in the entire length of the corridor to move these goods from the ports to the rest of the country. The FPC should recognize this reality by encouraging California to include two local community representatives from a highly impacted area such as the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) metropolitan planning organization region on the state’s freight advisory group.  Although the Ports are a significant component of the overall system, they are not the end of the system and should not signal the end of federal support for goods movement corridors.  For the entire corridor, the “last mile” of product delivery is just as important, if not more so, than the “first mile.” 

Funding for Critical Transportation Projects.  Partner with state and local agencies to develop multi-modal systems that link vital transportation corridors together.

Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink Station.  Enhanced service from this multi-modal hub can help provide connections for passenger/commuter rail riders to the airport.

San Bernardino Airport Connection. As Ontario Airport begins to grow again, transit connections to nearby regional airports can help leverage capacity in a highly congested air region. 

Gold Line extension.  This planned eight-mile light rail extension from Montclair to Ontario Airport will help connect Los Angeles County passengers to Ontario. 

 

Project Delivery StreamliningImplement process changes that can deliver mobility improvements to commuters more efficiently.

 

Air Quality. Encourage enhance federal role in reducing emissions from Intrastate and International Goods Movement Vessels

 

Support Establishment of an Inland Empire Regional Office of U.S. Customs ServiceThe greater Inland Empire region of Southern California is currently home to five commercial and cargo airports:  Ontario, March, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, and Victorville. Current staffing, administration, and coordination for Inland Empire Airports is centralized through the international port of entry at Los Angeles International Airport. Significant cost savings and efficiencies can be achieved through the establishment of an Inland Empire Regional office for U.S. Customs services.  Such an office could serve both existing User-Fee and Landing Rights Airports within geographic proximity to major commercial, cargo, rail, and goods movement corridors and allow for effective provision of inspection services for airports, ports of entry, and foreign trade zone businesses and users. 

 

Healthcare Issues 2013 

Enhance the Capacity of  Provider and Hospital NetworksWide access to health care coverage and reduced costs cannot be achieved without full provider participation and adequate hospital preparedness. 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Medicaid Payment Boosts.  California provides one of the lowest rates of reimbursement in the nation for medical services to the poor through Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid), contributing to an existing shortage of doctors to serve those patients. Despite an impending expansion of Medi-Cal already approved in the Governor’s FY 2013-14 budget, legal wrangling continues over a 10 percent cut to Medi-Cal reimbursements approved in 2011. Meanwhile under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the federal government provided a temporary payment boost in 2013 and 2014 to Medicaid primary care doctors to match the higher Medicare payment rates. This provision is meant to ensure adequate networks and access to care once expanded Medicaid enrollment begins. California Medicaid providers have the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation, so a federal Medicaid payment boost to match Medicare would result in a 136 percent increase in primary care fees for California providers and create opportunities for new networks and doctors to provide care to Medicaid patients while receiving adequate reimbursement to cover their expenses. (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)  

Due to last-minute passage of fiscal cliff negotiations in Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was unable to begin the payment boost to States in time for the January 1, 2013 proposed start date. The payment increase is estimated to begin in Spring 2013, but a further delay would jeopardize its effectiveness in boosting provider networks for the underserved. An extension of the payment boosts would help to stabilize the expanded provider networks serving the Medicaid population in the first three years of the expansion. 

Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) Cuts.  States make Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments to hospitals treating large numbers of low-income patients. This provision is intended to recognize the disadvantaged financial situation of those hospitals because low-income patients are more likely to be uninsured or Medicaid enrollees. As with most Medicaid expenditures, the federal government reimburses states for a portion of their Medicaid DSH expenditures based on each state’s federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP). While most federal Medicaid funding is provided on an open-ended basis, federal Medicaid DSH funding is capped. Each state receives an annual DSH allotment, which is the maximum amount of federal matching funds that each state is permitted to claim for Medicaid DSH payments. (Source: Congressional Research Service)

The ACA will cut Medicaid DSH payments by $18.1 billion between 2014 and 2020. U and under a new Medicare DSH formula, even in a state that cuts its uninsured rate in half, a hospital could see Medicare DSH payments drop 38 percent. How the Health and Human Services Secretary will distribute the share of cuts among States is yet to be determined and CMS will release a proposed methodology in Spring 2013. Cuts to DSH’s could severely hurt the effectiveness and resources available to California hospitals in the most underserved communities, which will have high numbers of remaining uninsured even after full ACA implementation. A recent UC Berkeley and UCLA joint study finds that even after ACA implementation, Los Angeles County will have 32 percent of the State’s remaining uninsured, many of whom will be seeking uncompensated service at local DSH’s.  

Issues:

Elimination of the 1996 Medicare Cap on Funds Allocated for Medical Resident Education.  The Inland Empire needs additional funding for more medical resident training slots, to eliminate the urgent need for more primary care physicians.  Inland Action also supports the ability for institutions to bill for medical services provided by residents. 

3/12/13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 Inland Action Priority Federal Issue

  • Fund I-215/I-15 Devore Junction
    There is a need for $30MM of Federal funding to complete this important project of national significance for goods movement through San Bernardino County; it is the second worst grade-related bottleneck on a national freight corridor.



 

Other Federal Issues

Transportation Issues

 

  • Funding for City of Highland – Inland Empire Goods Movement Phase II-The City of Highland is pursuing additional funding for significant regional arterial roadway and infrastructure improvements as well as on and off-ramp improvements to the 5th Street/SR-210 corridor to accommodate goods movement throughout Southern California and the nation.  The proposed project will provide enhanced transportation infrastructure for portions of 5th Street between SR-210 and I-215.  $10m will be requested during the TIGER IV round of funding.

Education

The maximum Pell grant is $5,550.  The grants are need-based to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education.  30 years ago, Pell Grants would cover about 2/3rds of college tuition at a public university.  Now, it covers about 1/3rd of such tuition expense. 

Recent changes in the grant process placed more stringent limitations on the issuance of grants such that (a) a student cannot receive more than 1 grant during any single award year; (b) limits the time period in which a student can receive grants from 18 semesters to 12 semesters; and, (c) reduced the highest annual income level under which a student would automatically receive the maximum grant amount from $30,000 to $23,000. 

Although the reforms are expected to save money, any change in eligibility for a Pell Grant places more economic pressure on students trying to complete their college education.

Inland Action supports Pell Grants and opposes any further restrictions to eligibility or reductions in the maximum amount of a Pell Grant.

A Stafford Loan is a student loan offered to eligible students enrolled in an accredited American institution of higher education to help finance the student’s education.  Because the loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government, they are offered at a lower interest rate than the borrower would otherwise be eligible to obtain in a private loan.

Currently, in the 2011-2012 academic year, a Stafford Loan bears interest at 3.4% for undergraduate subsidized loans.  Unfortunately, the interest rate for such loans is scheduled to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% effective July 1, 2012.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a tax credit for undergraduate college education expenses.  The credit provides for up to $2,500 in tax credits on the first $4,000 of qualifying educational expenses (which includes tuition, books, lab supplies and software). The credit applies for the first 4 years of undergraduate study ($10,000 in total).

The credit has limitations on the income of the person eligible for the credit, which could include the parent of a dependent student.

The credit is scheduled to expire (i.e. sunset) after 2012.

Inland Action supports extending the time period in which the tax credit will be available beyond 2012.

 

Environment

The bill amends the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 to, among other things:

The bill is supported by a broad coalition, including:  local governments, environmental groups, off-road enthusiasts, renewable energy companies, and others.  Example of Support.pdf  2010 California Desert Protection Act Overview.pdf

Status:
Sponsor:  Senator Feinstein (introduced 01/25/2011)
Co-sponsors:  No co-sponsors
Committees:  Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Latest Major Action:  01/25/2011 Referred to Senate committee.  Status:  Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Inland Action supports S.B. 138 and appreciates legislative efforts that balance conservation, recreation, and renewable energy development, while making sure the needs of our military are met.

Support:  Inland Action supports the Army Corps of Engineers requested funding for FY13 (estimated $37 Million) for this project, which is vital to the entire reach of the Santa Ana River, from San Bernardino to Newport Beach including funds to support recreation planning and implementation.

Local Support comes from the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department (SBMWD), in partnership with East Valley Water District and other public water agencies in the region.

Support:  Inland Action supports the expedient completion of these studies and the resolution of the water quality problem in waters contained by the dam which are a high priority for the region.

The Reauthorization Act:

  • Supports preserving and maintaining current federal law, which provides for federal participation through the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in a long-standing partnership with state and local governments for funding, implementing, and maintaining essential and environmentally sound navigation, harbor, beach management, and flow control projects across this nation.
  • Supports federal matching funds for local governments to plan for reducing flood damage risks under the WRDA and ask that the federal share of water resource projects not be shifted to state and local governments because most state and local governments do not have the fiscal resources to assume the federal share.
  • Requests that counties be consulted before the federal or state government undertakes water resource projects within the jurisdiction of the county.
  • Supports the federal government providing state and local governments with a major voice in the decision-making process, which includes the authority to assume full responsibility for planning and implementing flood control projects and determining the necessity or advisability of flood control projects by the federal government.

Inland Action supports a timely reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Reauthorization Act.


San Bernardino International Airport

Economic Development

Support:   We are asking for support of the local system and private sector boards.  We feel the private sector boards are extremely effective working with local educational institutions and businesses.  Economic Development white paper

The Air Force is considering moving the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) mission for the 163d Wing based at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California to an east coast location. This is part of the move from the MQ-1 RPA to the more capable MQ-9. The Air Force should consider the investment in March ARB’s Flying Training Unit (FTU), which has trained over 160 Predator aircrews,  and the favorable weather for Predator training and flying in Inland Southern California and the high desert region. Inland Action asks that the five year buildup of the 163d RPA FTU and the money spent at Southern California Logistics  Airport (SCLA) is not wasted and that the 163d RW moves forward with the MQ-9 to support Air Force RPA missions into the future.

Healthcare Issues

Over the next decade, California hospitals will face additional payment reductions in reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid.  Unless something is done prior to January 2, 2013, Medicare will face a 2% cut to reimbursement through sequestration in 2013.  Recently, President Obama also released his 2013 FY budget which includes a proposal that would reduce Medicare spending by $267 billion and Medicaid spending by $50 billion over the next 10 years.  These items will worsen hospital losses and hurt the same organizations providing much to the economy as well as the state and cities within they reside.  Heathcare white paper.

 

Other

Community Enrichment Issues

Non-Profit organizations are an essential contributor to the overall health of communities.  Non-profits provide programs to help in all areas of a community’s life including healthcare, education, housing, the arts, job training, and more.

However, a report published in 2009 by the University of San Francisco called “The Inland Non-Profit Sector-A Growing Region faces the Challenges of Capacity” revealed a startling and discouraging statistic regarding the level of support received by the Inland Empire from private and public foundation grants.

Specifically, the Inland Empire receives $27 per capita from these sources.

The California average is $119 per capita

LA County receives $139 per capita

The SF Bay Area receives $650 per capita

Sadly, the report shows that an area in desperate need of this support receives very little of it!  Our goal is to increase our share of these important dollars.

There are several reasons for this disparity.  The Riverside Community Foundation (and its Director Daniel Foster), is creating an Inland Empire Grants Development Initiative to identify these causes and create a strategy that will address them.  This will include creating an alliance of public and private leaders to support these initiatives. Inland Action is adding its support to this initiative.

How you can help.  Until we have defined the strategy in greater detail, we ask that you support our Region by being aware of this funding disparity, and when possible, encourage the many public and private foundations you come into contact with to review their funding allocations and consider increasing their support of programs in the Inland Empire.

                               

 

Elected Officials

The following is a quick list of the elected officials related to the Inland Empire. Each link will take you to the respective website in a new tab.

U.S. Congress

California Senate

California Assembly

County Supervisors