- Allow existing emissions models to be used to avoid the loss of transportation funding arising from EPA adoption of the SAFE Vehicle Rules Part 1.
- Support prompt appoint of qualified candidates to fill existing judicial vacancies in the Central District of California, especially in the Eastern Division serving the Inland Area.
- Delay or eliminate Medicaid Disproportionate-Share Hospital (DSH) Cuts.
- Support increased federal workforce training initiatives and programs that will successfully serve Inland Empire employers and workers and address the shortage of qualified aircraft mechanics in the Inland region (S.3043/H.R.5427).
- Support for increased federal workforce training initiatives and programs that will successfully serve Inland Empire employers and workers and address the shortage of qualified aircraft mechanics in the Inland region (S.3043/H.R.5427).
- Support access to capital through federal programs, including the improvement and modernization of the EB-5 Program (S.2778), and continued support for Small Business Administration financing programs designed to serve as a backstop for small businesses seeking capital.
- Concern regarding disproportionate impact of Tariffs/Trade issues on the Inland region.
- Support reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to ensure economically disadvantaged and non-traditional students have opportunities to earn college degrees and fill and attract high-skilled, high-demand jobs.
- Support continuing protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students, as well as establishing a pathway to citizenship.
- Support for Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act (S. 2225 and H.R. 4968).
- Support increased funding for Individual with Disability Education Act (IDEA) Formula Grants (H.R. 1878).
- Support increased funding for water supply, water quality, and water storage projects.
- Support funding for Continued Management of the Salton Sea.
- Support increased funding to U.S. Forest Service for air tanker bases, with a focus on dedicated funding at San Bernardino International Airport.
- Delay or eliminate Medicaid Disproportionate-Share Hospital (DSH) Cuts.
- Rescind or substantially modify the proposed Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) Rule.
- Support and protect positive coverage gains of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- Support prompt appoint of qualified candidates to fill existing judicial vacancies in the Central District of California, especially in the Eastern Division serving the Inland Area
- Support new judgeships which are urgently needed in the Central District, beyond filling the existing vacancies, to bring the Court back to its fully authorized strength.
- Allow existing emissions models to be used to avoid the loss of transportation funding arising from EPA adoption of the SAFE Vehicle Rules Part 1.
- Support research and policies that provide for integrated deployment of Automated Vehicles throughout the country.
- Protect authority of San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) to perform financial, technological, and environmental analysis, as well as construction, for public transportation to Ontario International Airport.
Economic Development Issue
Support increased federal workforce training initiatives and programs that will successfully serve Inland Empire employers and workers and address the shortage of qualified aircraft mechanics in the Inland region (S.3043/H.R.5427). There is a shortage of qualified aircraft mechanics throughout Southern California. The solution is to modernize training curriculum through support for S.3043/H.R.5427, and fund training regarding aviation.
The Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training (PARTT) 147 Act (S.3043/H.R.5427) would direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to replace current training requirements with a new, community-drafted regulation that would establish a performance-based oversight system. Under the new law, aviation maintenance technician schools certificated and governed by Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 147, would have the flexibility to teach content that is reflective of today’s high-tech environment. The PARTT 147 Act will empower performance-based curriculum development and facilitate the creation of programs that meet industry needs. Under the Act, schools will maintain reliance on FAA mechanic testing standards that ensure certificated individuals have the knowledge and skill required to safely and adequately perform work on aircraft and components. Inland action urges support for this legislation and a community drafted Part 147.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-254) created two new grant programs to recruit and train the next generation of aerospace workers and pilots. Section 625 of the law creates two Department of Transportation (DOT) administered grant programs which have been endorsed by more than 40 leading aviation organizations. The goal of the technician program is to incentivize collaboration between key stakeholders; the grant applications must be jointly submitted by business or union, school and state or local governmental entity. The programs are authorized at $5 million each for five years starting in 2019 and can provide grants of up to $500,000. Inland Action joins aviation allies urging congressional leaders to fully fund the $10 million authorized for these programs as part of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations process.
As background, an analysis by Boeing suggests that airlines in North American will need 189,000 new technicians and 206,000 new pilots over the next two decades. Consultants forecast that demand for aviation maintenance technicians will outstrip supply by 2022. Despite facing a shortage of qualified technical workers, the aviation maintenance industry is growing and hiring. Federal support of local workforce programs would help train a new generation of skilled workers for high-paying jobs. Congress should focus on career and technical education programs that create new opportunities for collaboration between employers, government agencies, and educational institutions to build programs that align with business needs while reinforcing the importance of applied skills.
Support access to capital through federal programs, including the improvement and modernization of the EB-5 Program, and continued support for Small Business Administration (SBA) financing programs designed to serve as a backstop for small businesses seeking capital. The inability to access sufficient capital and credit is one of the biggest issues facing Inland Empire small businesses. The solution is to improve and modernize
the EB-5 Program through support for S.2778; and to continued funding for SBA resource partners.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5 Program) has been very useful as a gap and longer-term financing tool for projects in the Inland Empire. The EB-5 Program has created jobs for U.S. workers, including those in the Inland Empire, while providing lawful permanent residency to foreign nationals who invest in U.S. companies. In the past decade, the EB-5 Program has been a successful tool for financing job creation projects. The Immigrant Investor Program Relief Act (S.2778) proposes improvements to modernize the EB-5 Program in alignment with industry and market principles. The Act reflects a fair compromise between rural and urban stakeholders, providing substantial market advantages to rural and urban distressed areas while providing opportunities for “downtown” projects. The bill would overhaul the entire EB-5 Program with a 6-year program reauthorization to September 30, 2025. Inland Action urges support for the improvement and modernization of the EB-5 Program through support for S.2778.
Inland Action urges federal legislators to increase support for Small Business Administration financing programs designed to serve as a backstop for small businesses seeking capital they otherwise might not qualify for, namely the CDC/504 loan program that assists small businesses in financing the purchase of commercial real estate or equipment. Inland Action also supports the microloan program that makes direct, guaranteed loans to intermediaries (non-profit community development corporations or economic development entities) who leverage the proceeds to make smaller loans to small businesses, particularly low-income or minority small business owners, and those with no credit history.
Although improving in recent years, levels of bank lending to small businesses still remain below pre-recession levels. Given that nearly two-thirds of small businesses seeking capital report that a loan from a bank is their expected source of financing in the next six months, this trend is holding back the nation’s job creators and in turn hampering the nation’s economic recovery. Small businesses employ half of the private sector, create two-thirds of new jobs, and account for more than 40% of the private sector’s contribution to gross domestic product. In order to help small businesses gain access to the credit and capital they need to run their business successfully, Congress must adopt policies that support functional capital markets without imposing undue restrictions on banks or other providers of debt and equity capital.
Concern regarding the disproportionate impact of Tariffs/Trade issues on the Inland region. The tariffs and trade war will have a major negative impact on the California economy. Business through Los Angeles ports is down significantly, and unemployment has increased. The tariffs/trade issue also has a particularly negative impact on the Inland Empire. Most of the Inland region’s recent development and job growth have been tied to logistics/distribution. The tariffs and trade war have greatly reduced the flow of products imported to and exported from the U.S. that utilize the logistics/distribution operations in the Inland Empire – which will result in significant job losses and long-term negative impact on warehouse and distribution facilities. Inland Action encourages our legislative delegation to continue to address these issues.
Support reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to ensure economically disadvantaged and non-traditional students have opportunities to earn college degrees and fill and attract high-skilled, high-demand jobs. The HEA authorizes resources to colleges and universities, financial assistance to students in postsecondary education, and aid to minority-serving institutions, pipeline programs and teacher preparation programs, among others. Last authorized in 2008, the HEA is now past due for renewal. Passage of the FUTURE Act in 2019 addressed a time-sensitive piece of HEA reauthorization by permanently renewing recently expired mandatory funding for a range of programs benefiting minority-serving institutions. The FUTURE Act also included changes to simplify the financial aid application process. Priorities in the HEA reauthorization are: (1) To provide for long-term sustainable footing for the Pell Grant program and index the maximum grant to inflation; (2) To reform the Supplemental Opportunity Education Grant (SEOG) and Work Study programs’ outdated funding formula to better target resources to needy students at campuses serving large numbers of low-income individuals; and (3) To ensure that both mandatory and discretionary funding streams for minority-serving institutions are maintained.
Support continuing protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students, as well as establishing a pathway to citizenship. Inland Action joins our area educational partners — University of California, Riverside; California State University, San Bernardino; Riverside Community College District; and San Bernardino County Schools — in supporting DACA students. Of the 223,000 DACA participants in California out of 800,000 nationally, approximately 4,000 enrolled in the 10-campus UC system; about 9,500 at the California State University’s 23 campuses; and an estimated 72,000 are enrolled in a community college institution. In addition to its social and humanitarian imperatives, DACA has vast economic benefits for the country. A study by CATO Institute notes that the elimination of DACA would cost the federal government $60 billion in tax revenues, with the overall economy likely to shrink by $215 billion.
Support for Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act (S. 2225 and H.R. 4968).
The Inland Empire, which suffers from one of the lowest baccalaureate degree attainment rates in the country for metropolitan areas of one million or more, as well as one of the highest poverty rates, desperately needs more skilled and educated workers. Maintaining and strengthening federal support for students is critical to increasing the number of college graduates and growing our educated workforce.
The Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act would ensure that vulnerable college students are able to afford basic necessities, such as housing or food. Specifically, this legislation would:
- Establish a $500 million competitive grant program to help institutions of higher education identify and meet the basic needs of students, including access to food, housing, transportation, childcare, health care, and technology.
- Require at least 25% of grants go to community colleges. Grant priority will also go to institutions with 25% or higher Pell enrollment, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions.
- Require the Department of Education to coordinate with the Departments of Agriculture, Housing & Urban Development, and Health & Human Services to develop and implement an agreement to: (1) Securely share data to identify current students who may be eligible for federal means-tested programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Medicaid, and federal housing assistance; and (2) Coordinate efforts to help institutions enroll eligible students in these programs.
Support increased funding for Individual with Disability Education Act (IDEA) Formula Grants (H.R. 1878). When IDEA was enacted in 1975, Congress promised to provide 40% of the average per-pupil expenditure to pay for this expanded federal mandate. Congress has never fulfilled that promise. For California, 40% 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% 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 in IDEA, and that legislation is passed to fully fund IDEA (i.e., H.R. 1878, 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 increased funding for water supply, water quality, and water storage projects.
Diverse sources of water supplies, increased water storage capacity and enhanced resilience to drought are high priorities to maintain and grow California’s economy. Inland Action supports actions to implement measures that improve California’s water reliability and drought preparedness, including support for:
- H.R. 1162 (Napolitano): Water Recycling Investment and Improvement Act, which would provide increased funding that could accelerate regional water projects.
- H.R.1429 (Waters): Drinking Water Infrastructure for Job Creation Act, which would increase and stabilize both the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Clean Water State Revolving Fund providing low-cost financial assistance to water agencies.
- H.R. 1435 (Garamendi): Sites Reservoir Project Act, if amended to specify and require continued coordination between the Central Valley Project and State Water Project if Sites is built.
- S.1932 (Gardener): Drought Resiliency and Water Supply Infrastructure Act, which would enhance federal funding for surface and groundwater storage projects and establishes the “Reclamation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act,” a new source of low-cost financing that could benefit recycled water projects in Southern California.
Inland Action also supports water conservation rebate tax parity. Water conservation rebates provided by public utilities or governments are not currently exempt from federal taxes. Inland Action supports a federal tax exemption for water conservation rebates to encourage additional water savings, specifically, H.R. 2313 (Huffman), the Water Conservation Rebate Tax Parity Act, which would extend the tax exemption that currently exists for energy conservation devices to include water conservation and stormwater management devices as well.
Inland Action encourages secure funding for monitoring and remediation. Ensuring safe drinking water is a fundamental requirement for healthy communities and economies. With growing concerns about the presence in some water supplies of a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS), water agencies are working to ensure inland Southern California has a safe and reliable drinking water supply. Inland Action supports administrative and legislative actions to secure funding to help public water agencies defray the cost of monitoring and/or remediation of constituents (including PFAS) in drinking water supplies, including full cost-recovery by drinking water and wastewater providers. In particular, we support the following bills which would provide resources for treatment and mitigation measures to address PFAS and other substances:
- H.R. 2533 (Pallone), the Providing Financial Assistance for Safe Drinking Water Act; and
- H.R.2570 (Rouda), the PFAS User Fee Act of 2019.
Inland Action supports advance Bay Delta and State Water Project Improvements. Water reliability is a vital issue for the inland Southern California, including for major local state water contractors such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, and Mojave Water Agency. Inland Action supports upgrading the State’s infrastructure to improve conveyance in the Delta and ensure more reliable long-term water deliveries for the State Water Project, which provides 30% of Southern California’s water. Inland Action also supports continued federal funding for scientific research and habitation restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to advance ecosystem improvements in support of California’s coequal goals of water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration.
Support funding for Continued Management of the Salton Sea. Although the Salton Sea is located in Riverside County, few projects in the region come anywhere near the Salton Sea in terms of the potential for calamity or, conversely, enormous gain. The Salton Sea is impacted by rising salinity of the Sea, as well as changes in runoff from irrigated agriculture supplied by Colorado River water. Reduced water flows to the Sea could result in the exposure of nearly 100 square miles of dry lakebed, resulting in diminished habitat, significant air quality problems, and a damaged economy.
A key issue at the Salton Sea is exposure of previously submerged lakebed, known as playa, as the lake surface shrinks. This playa exposure is subject to wind erosion and can be a source of fine airborne dust smaller than 10 micrometers, known as Particulate Matter 10, or PM10; as well as a source of PM 2.5. The dust is a significant health hazard and can contribute to respiratory illness in humans. It can also damage agricultural crops and wildlife and harm the region’s tourism industry. Areas downwind from the Sea are already suffering from severe non-attainment for PM 10 under the Clean Air Act. These areas suffer the highest rates of childhood asthma in California, with emergency room admissions for children under four years of age roughly twice the State average. In the near future, tens of millions of citizens downwind from the Sea could be impacted by dust blown from the playa into densely urbanized areas throughout Southern California.
In recent years, local, State, tribal, and federal governments have achieved significant progress in addressing the long-term management of the Salton Sea. These efforts have resulted in the development of the Salton Fee Funding and Feasibility Action Plan, a living document and framework for the future management of the Salton Sea, and Phase I of the Salton Sea Management Program 10-Year Plan, which guides investments at the Salton Sea in line with an MOU between the United States Department of the Interior and the California Natural Resources Agency. Current efforts are designed to address playa exposure by developing habitat or dust suppression projects on exposed playa.
With a plan in place, and funding generally available to the projects through the 2018 Farm Bill at the federal level and through the passage of Proposition 68 at the State level, it is critical that funding be delivered to these projects in a timely and efficient manner. At the federal level, the following steps are suggested:
- All Federal Agencies: Consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding Implementing One Federal Decision under EO 13807, support actions to enhance federal interagency working group cooperation in a manner that expedites action at the Salton Sea benefitting all parties concerned.
- Department of Agriculture: (a) Support efforts to secure a greater portion of the USDA’s $6 billion annual mandatory conservation funding; and (b) Support the Feinstein USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program Air Quality Initiative, which was reauthorized under the Farm Bill, to set aside $37.5 million in funding to address air quality concerns relating to agricultural operations.
- Army Corps of Engineers: (a) Support appropriation of $30 million in federal funds authorized for Salton Sea revitalization in 2007 and again in December 2016 through the Water Resource Development Act; and (b) Support the Tribal Partnership Program to ensure tribes holding property around the Sea receive funds for feasibility planning.
- Bureau of Reclamation: (a) Support strong cooperation between the Department of Interior, and particularly Bureau of Reclamation as a major landowner, and the State and local partners; and (b) Support the Department’s commitment to providing $30 million federal share toward air quality management and habitat restoration projects.
- Environmental Protection Agency: (a) Support receipt by Salton Sea Authority and other partners of WIFIA funding to accelerate investment in the area by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for projects at the Sea that address significant Environmental Protection Agency national priorities.
Support increased funding to U.S. Forest Service for air tanker bases, with a focus on dedicated funding at San Bernardino International Airport. Inland Action appreciates the recent appropriation to the Forest Service of an additional $2 million for air tanker base repairs for 2020. Inland Action further supports increasing this appropriation in future years to at least $6 million. Specifically, we support any and all appropriations for the purpose of making improvements at the air tanker base at San Bernardino International Airport (SBD). This base is critical to fire response operations in Southern California.
With six Large Airtanker (LAT) pits and one Very Large Airtanker (VLAT) pit, SBD has the most pits of any airtanker base in the nation. During the 2018 Holy fire, and in other large fires throughout the last few years, SBD has had multiple DC-10’s vying for the same loading pit. At least one more VLAT pit is necessary to better serve Southern California, particularly during times of emergency. Santa Maria is the next closest VLAT base. Naturally, SBD is an unparalleled location for fires occurring in San Bernardino Mountains, the Cleveland National Forest, or in the San Gabriel Mountains.
SBD has some major assets. It has the most mixed storage capacity (100,000 gallons) of any federal airtanker base and is the closest to the manufacturing plant which is in Rancho Cucamonga. SBD also has near unlimited parking due to the relationship with the airport and the Fixed Base Operator (FBO). Unsurprising, depending on fire season, SBD is usually one of the top three airtanker bases in terms of retardant gallons pumped in the country.
Despite the major assets and prime location, during large fire operations, the existing facilities are inadequate for the number of responders utilizing them. While the local FBO assists, the area is still too crowded. Also, SBD is limited by water pressure and volume out of the hydrant and, therefore, have had to turn away airtankers during maximum capacity. SBD is constructing another 25,000-gallon storage tank. However, with the faster and larger fleet, SBD will again be limited by the water pressure and volume out of the hydrant. SBD is also severely handicapped when it comes to technology and communications.
Because the airtanker base sits on U.S. Forest Service land, the U.S. Forest Service is responsible for the maintenance of the ramp. Funds to maintain the ramp and related facilities are severely limited. It is, therefore, critical that additional funds be made available to improve wildfire responses across the region.
Health Care Issues
Delay or eliminate Medicaid Disproportionate-Share Hospital (DSH) Cuts. The Medicaid Disproportionate-Share Hospital (DSH) supplemental payment program is designed to provide additional funding to hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of Medi-Cal and low-income/charity patients. This federal supplemental payment program compensates DSH providers for their unrecovered costs of caring for a higher level of Medicare, Medicaid and other indigent patients. In California, the DSH program is administered by the Department of Health Care Services, which annually determines eligibility. DSH payments to hospitals are determined by many variables. On average, DSH payments cover about half of the uncompensated care costs incurred by qualifying hospitals. In the Inland Empire, there are 15 DSH hospitals including the two San Bernardino hospitals, which are part of the Dignity Health/CommonSpirit Health System.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid DSH payments to hospitals were scheduled to be reduced in 2014, based on the assumption that hospitals would see a lower number of uninsured and underinsured patients. Policymakers acknowledged slower than anticipated enrollment and delayed implementation of Medicaid DSH cuts, most recently until May 22, 2020. Unless Congress acts to delay them again, Medicaid DSH payments will be drastically reduced, impacting 139 California safety-net hospitals, by an estimated $500 million. In the Inland Empire, that number is nearly $50 million. Reductions of this magnitude will undermine providers’ ability to maintain access to care to the most vulnerable patients.
Lawmakers are asked to work with colleagues to protect access to care in underserved communities and further delay or preferably eliminate Medicaid DSH cuts.
Rescind or substantially modify the proposed Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) Rule. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that will critically change the way states are able to finance their Medicaid programs. CMS asserts the proposed rule is intended to increase program transparency; however, the rule goes far beyond this purported objective to strengthen the fiscal integrity of the Medicaid program and help ensure that state supplemental payments and financing arrangements are transparent and value driven. Instead, it proposes significant policy changes to provider taxes, bona fide provider donations, intergovernmental transfers and certified public expenditures. The rule also would restrict states’ use of certain provider supplemental payments. The proposal also seeks to change the review process for supplemental payment programs and provider tax waivers. Finally, under the rule, CMS would grant itself unfettered discretion in evaluating state financing arrangements through vague new concepts. The impact of this proposal is immense, both in terms of funding, but more importantly, for Medicaid beneficiaries.
Stakeholders across the country have submitted comments on this proposed rule, asking CMS to rescind the proposal. While fiscal accountability and transparency are important, the proposal goes far beyond these purported goals by uprooting longstanding past and current policies on which Medicaid/Medi-Cal programs are built and financed. The proposed rule would significantly diminish the objectivity of current regulations by giving CMS far too much discretion in approvals and in disallowing Medicaid/Medi-Cal expenditures. Additionally, the rule would impose a multitude of new reporting requirements that are overly burdensome and duplicative and will require wholesale changes at the state and local levels.
Most importantly, such impacts would almost assuredly diminish the ability of our beneficiaries (the patients) to access timely care, would leave states hamstrung in pursuing value-based and other innovative payment and delivery initiatives, and would cause instability in health care markets even beyond Medicaid/Medi-Cal. Without substantial modification or rescission, the proposed rule would force states and their local public partners to make painful budgetary decisions, as it is simply not possible to replace all non-federal share funds affected by the proposed rule with only state and or local tax revenue. Such a result would stall the successful advancements made by states in implementing the Affordable Care Act and set Medicaid back many years at a time when its importance has never been greater as a safety net to millions of residents.
Support and protect positive coverage gains of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Robust health coverage must exist in a healthy economy. Regardless of age, race or other demographic, everyone is a consumer of health care. Important to individuals as a way to address health care needs and promote financial stability, adequate health coverage is a critical component to a strong business environment by reducing the cost shift from public payers to private contracts, making private coverage more affordable for businesses. This promotes employers’ access to a healthy and skilled workforce and contributes to a vibrant and connected community. One of the most successful contributions of the ACA are the coverage gains under the program, through Medicaid expansion and subsidies for individual coverage.
California’s Medi-Cal program is the nation’s largest Medicaid program in terms of the number of people it serves (more than 13.5 million), and dollars spent (over $85 billion). Medi-Cal covers one in three Californians; more than one in ten adults under age 65; the majority of people living with HIV/AIDS; about half of all children in California; and care for two-thirds of all nursing home residents. A strong Medicaid program stabilizes the insurance market, contributing to lower costs to the system. For example, a recent study indicates marketplace premiums were 7% lower in states that expanded Medicaid. The cost of this program is shared by State of California and the federal government, though there exists enhanced federal funding to cover the expansion population. This enhanced funding is scheduled to phase down beginning in 2020.
Covered California – California’s insurance marketplace – provides coverage for more than 1.3 million individuals. Individuals that meet certain income requirements are eligible for financial help through subsidies to make coverage affordable. The ACA also provided important insurance protections, like eliminating lifetime limits and preexisting conditions.
Lawmakers are asked to support and protect the positive gains of the ACA, including increased access, protection for those with pre-existing conditions, preventive care, economic impact, and ban on lifetime limits.
Support prompt appoint 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. The crisis of judicial vacancies in the district has only gotten worse in the past year. Now nine of the Court’s 28 authorized Article III judgeships – nearly one third – are currently vacant. The longest of these vacancies dates to August 2014. All of them have been deemed by the Judicial Conference to be Judicial Emergencies. As of January 27, 2020, only three nominations are pending before the Senate. (In 2019, the President made nominations for eight of these vacancies, but none were confirmed; and the Senate returned the nominations at the end of the year. The President re-nominated three of those individuals on January 9, 2020 but has not yet re-nominated the others.)
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. The average pending civil caseload per District Judge in the Central District now stands at 485, a 54% increase since 2015 (coinciding with the buildup of vacancies that began in 2014). The weighted caseload per judge (which factors in the relative time to dispose of different types of cases to provide a more accurate picture of a judge’s caseload) in the Central District for 2019 was 681 cases, up from 627 in 2018 and 570 in 2017. This is 27% higher than the national average of 535, which also increased from 2018 to 2019. 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, now home to over 4.6 million people and 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 because one of the nine 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. That means that last year 63% of the civil cases and 42% of the criminal cases filed in the Eastern Division were reassigned to a judge in either Los Angeles or Santa Ana. In 2019, 1,054 civil cases and 306 criminal cases that should have been heard in the Eastern Division were reassigned to another division due to the lack of District Judges in the Eastern Division available to hear them.
While the percentage of cases reassigned from the Eastern Division in 2019 dipped slightly from the 66% civil and 51% criminal reassigned in 2018, the number of vacancies in the other divisions increased in 2019, meaning there were less judges in those divisions available to reassign cases to, and the caseload for all judges rose. This illustrates the critical importance of filling the vacancy in the Eastern Division with a judge who will sit in the Eastern Division. If the Eastern Division vacancy is not filled concurrently with the vacancies in the other divisions, more Eastern Division cases will be reassigned to the other divisions in order to balance the workload among the total number of active judges. We strongly support filling all of the vacancies with qualified judges, but it is important to remember that one of those appointees needs to be someone willing to sit in the Eastern Division so that a greater proportion of cases from the Inland Empire can be heard in the Inland Empire.
This represents a substantial burden on the parties, their attorneys, witnesses, and family members, who must travel to those courthouses for hearings and trials and incur 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 community, but the communities of the presiding court to which their case is reassigned.
Filling the existing vacancy in the Eastern Division is therefore of paramount importance. Moreover, this position must be filled with a nominee who is committed to sit in the Eastern Division. Because District Court appointments are made to a given district, not to a specific division within that district, District Judges are generally free to choose which division to sit in. Accordingly, a nominee from Los Angeles is likely to choose to sit in Los Angeles, not Riverside.
Fortunately, there is a well-qualified candidate whom the President nominated in 2019 who fits this bill. John Holcomb has practiced law in the Inland Empire for many years and has committed to sit in Riverside if appointed. Inland Action has met with him, reviewed his qualifications, and wholeheartedly supports his appointment. The Senate returned his nomination to the White House at the end of 2019 (along with all other unconfirmed nominations). We urge the President to re-nominate him and the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.
Support new judgeships which are urgently needed in the Central District, beyond filling the existing vacancies, to bring the Court back to its fully authorized strength. Filling the existing vacancies is only the first step, however, to providing adequate judicial resources to the people of the Central District of California. New judgeships can only be authorized by Congress. Congress last created a new permanent judgeship in the Central District of California in 1990, which was also the last time Congress enacted comprehensive judgeship legislation.
Recent studies from the Judicial Conference of the United States show the need for additional judgeships in the Central District of California, beyond the current 28 positions. (One of the 28 currently authorized judgeships in the District is a temporary position.) The Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking body of the federal courts, makes biennial recommendations to Congress for which districts and circuits around the country are in need of new judgeships. In March 2019 the Judicial Conference recommended Congress authorize nine additional judgeships for the District, in addition to making the one temporary judgeship in the District permanent.
The need for additional judgeships must also be addressed. The first priority, however, must be to vet, nominate, and confirm qualified candidates for the seven existing vacancies. This is especially true for the current vacancy in the Eastern Division, which must be filled with a qualified candidate who will sit in the Eastern Division. Inland Action supports John Holcomb for the position and urges his prompt re-nomination and confirmation.
Allow existing emissions models to be used to avoid the loss of transportation funding arising from EPA adoption of the SAFE Vehicle Rules Part 1. This issue is critical to Southern California, as a provision of the Clean Air Act stipulates loss of funding if certain reductions of pollutants are not attained by 2023.
On September 27, 2019, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published the “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule Part One: One National Program.” This Rule revokes California’s authority to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards and set zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates in California.
In California, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Caltrans use a unique model (called “EMFAC”) to demonstrate that each region and the State comply with the conformity requirements of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). The current version of EMFAC assumes that CAA (I and II) and the ZEV mandate will continue to operate in California – resulting in cleaner cars. If those standards are rolled back, the EMFAC model will not meet federal planning requirements to be based upon the “latest planning assumptions.”
As a result, transportation agencies will be unable to demonstrate that their projects conform to federal CAA requirements. This means that MPOs and Caltrans (for rural non-attainment areas) will be unable to make new transportation conformity determinations for their Regional and Federal Transportation Improvement Plans (TIPs) and amendments for projects not exempt from federal Clean Air Act requirements, as applicable.
The general consequences of failing to conform to the CAA are described in the Act. If an MPO in a non-attainment area fails to update its regional transportation plan at the required four-year update cycle, a 12-month transportation conformity grace period starts; only projects in a previously conforming TIP can continue to be authorized by Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration. If the MPO fails to adopt a Regional Transportation Plan that conforms to federal CAA requirements by the end of the 12-month grace period, the conformity finding lapses. During a conformity lapse, only certain projects can receive additional federal funding or approvals to proceed (E-76 or federal permits), until the MPO has both a conforming plan and TIP. This impacts regionally significant roadway and transit projects.
The SAFE vehicle rules pose a clear risk of loss of federal project approvals, as well as federal funding. In the past few years, the attitude about loss of federal funding for transportation projects has been met with the response that “it will never happen.” Adoption of the SAFE vehicle rules makes it clear that loss of funding (as well as approval for transportation projects) is real and imminent. It is critical that the California Congressional delegation send a clear, bi-partisan message to the current administration that we need a remedy to this issue. The current dispute about the SAFE rules needs to be settled by allowing for the existing California emissions model to be used for conformity determinations.
Support research and policies that provide for integrated deployment of Automated Vehicles throughout the country. The deployment of Automated Vehicles (AVs) will likely lead to a once-in-a-century transformation of our transportation systems and our communities. AVs will be a disruptive, society-changing technology, not just for urban planning, but for employment, social engagement, mobility, and a full range of physical, social, and economic factors.
Public policies that assure AVs will be designed and introduced for the benefit of society need to be developed today, before AVs are ubiquitous, at which time it will be too late to manage their introduction and their impacts on society.
Inland Action supports the following key principles for deploying AVs in alignment with the public interest:
Shared Use. Maximize deployment of shared-use vehicles as an alternative to personal car ownership. Inland Action strongly encourages development of a shared mobility model instead of private ownership for AV travel. This will exploit the benefits of AV in a way that does not perpetuate existing conditions that have led to sprawl, inequitable access to mobility, stormwater management challenges, energy waste, and environmental degradation. Regulatory and financial structures should be put into place that will facilitate shared mobility by not disadvantaging it as compared with private ownership.
Guiding Strategies Mobility:
Connectivity. Inland Action supports development and provision of mass transit or transportation utilizing automated and autonomous vehicle technologies, especially in managing first-mile and last-mile issues while improving safety, reliability and economic performance.
Vehicle Pooling. Maximize ridesharing by encouraging pooling, prioritizing pooled vehicles’ mobility, and providing for shared-vehicle passenger safety and comfort.
Part of an Efficient Multimodal System. Deploy AVs as part of a multimodal system that transports people and goods to destinations quickly and efficiently and, taken as a whole, that is energy-efficient, space-efficient, environmentally benign, and beneficial to human health.
Strengthen High-Quality Transit Service rather than duplicating it. Deploy AVs to transport people to transit stations rather than duplicating transit routes.
Complete and Livable Streets. Prioritize people rather than vehicles, improve real and perceived safety for vulnerable road users, provide an array of transportation mode options, and provide quality public space by taking advantage of shared AVs’ reduced need for parking and right-of-way space.
Transportation Equity. Improve affordable access to destinations and goods through AV deployment, particularly among low-income and disadvantaged communities and individuals with physical impairments. Approach AV vehicle travel, refueling, and AV storage in a manner that improves health, safety, environmental, and livability outcomes in those communities. Address the special transportation needs of rural residents and communities in a manner that improves access to destinations and goods without inducing sprawl.
Infrastructure Financing Analysis. Inland Action recommends a thorough analysis of the fiscal mechanisms used currently to finance vehicle-related infrastructure investments that may be impacted by widespread adoption of AVs— parking structures, high-occupancy toll lanes, congestion-pricing, gasoline taxes, and similar strategies—to ascertain both long-term effectiveness as well as whether changes will affect the ability to repay current revenue-based borrowing.
Fund Research. AVs will have a disruptive influence on our society, including loss of millions of jobs, creation of new industries, changes in land use, etc. Federal funding should be made available to study the impact of AVs on employment, retraining, land use policy, and design of transportation infrastructure. In addition, research should be funded, and pilot projects should be funded to develop policies, pricing structures, and access limitations that encourage the shared-use mobility model for AVs.
Protect authority of San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) to perform financial, technological, and environmental analysis, as well as construction, for public transportation to Ontario International Airport. In California, State legislation has been introduced by a Los Angeles County legislator to create a new rail Authority, duplicating authority of SBCTA, to construct rail facilities in San Bernardino County. This new agency is an unnecessary additional layer of government and would delay delivery of critical transportation projects. Although this is proposed State legislation, Congressional representatives have expressed support for this initiative which would override the authority of local elected officials and would move forward in advance of analysis and approval by SBCTA.
A segment of the Gold Line rail project is currently under construction in Los Angeles to extend service to the City of Pomona within the coming years. SBCTA has collaborated with the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Gold Line Authority), including participation as a non-voting member of that Authority, for the past decade to fulfill the long-range transportation goal of intercounty rail service between Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties.
The Project. The Gold Line Phase 2B Project (Project) includes 12.3 miles of light-rail track construction primarily in Los Angeles County, except for 0.6 miles of construction in San Bernardino County, which contains the planned eastern terminus station at the Montclair Transit Center. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) is responsible for funding the portion of the Project in Los Angeles County, and SBCTA is responsible for funding the portion in San Bernardino County, which pertains to both original construction of the Project and on-going operations and maintenance.
Cost Escalations Skyrocket. In June 2017, prior to receipt of the final cost proposals, the Gold Line Authority identified a cost increase and total Project cost of $1.49 billion, resulting in a funding deficit of $290 million for Phase 2B across both counties. In December 2017, a State grant was awarded in the amount of $290 million, which included funding for the Los Angeles portion and remaining funding needed in San Bernardino County, which was $41 million. At that point, the Gold Line Authority initiated the design-build procurement process to entered into a contract for design and construction of the Project. Upon receipt of proposals, the Gold Line Authority staff estimated that an additional $570 million was needed to construct the Project to Montclair. In an effort to mitigate the cost increases, the Gold Line Authority and LA Metro approved moving forward with securing the $126 million needed to build to Pomona by 2024 and then allowing two additional years to secure the funding needed to build the remaining portion to Montclair. Final completion was slated for 2028 instead of 2026.
The Gold Line Authority has identified SBCTA’s cost for the portion in San Bernardino County at $94.4 million. Taking into account the cost for conceptual engineering, CEQA clearance, and SBCTA oversight, this brings the total estimated cost for the 0.6-mile portion in San Bernardino County to $97.4 million. SBCTA is now at least $17.4 million short, while also being in a position of waiting to see where and when the additional funding needed in Los Angeles is going to come to fruition.
Forward Movement. Based upon real concerns for even more anticipated funding shortfalls for the SBCTA costs, as well as concerns for duplication of publicly funded transit services along the alignment, SBCTA recognized there is an alternative available that could meet the needs of the communities in the existing Metrolink corridor between Pomona and Montclair that could be implemented at a substantially lower cost using Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) hybrid-rail. This technology is being implemented as part of the future Arrow Service between San Bernardino and Redlands.
While the extension of the Gold Line to Montclair has been anticipated for many years, the current circumstances present a compelling case for re-examination of the project going forward. These circumstances include 1) significantly escalated construction costs for Gold Line to Montclair, 2) the need for SBCTA to scrutinize investment of transit subsidies on potentially duplicative services, and 3) the new opportunity presented for lower-cost linkages through the use of DMU service on existing Metrolink tracks. This option also opens the possibility for more economical future rail service expansion within San Bernardino County. Instituting the Gold Link DMU service would not preclude the option of extending Gold Line to Montclair in the future.
SBCTA has already approved moving forward with an analysis of potential alternatives to provide connectivity and to serve Ontario International Airport (ONT). SBCTA has been meeting for over a year with representatives from ONT, universities, major business and employers from throughout San Bernardino County on what the transit needs of the County are and potential options to meet the needs of rail service to ONT. Through that process, SBCTA has committed to begin the environmental clearance process for rail access to ONT by 2022.
Fiscal Realities. The fiscal realities in San Bernardino County are vastly different than in Los Angeles County. LA Metro’s annual budget this year is $7.2 billion for capital costs and transit operations. San Bernardino County’s taxpayer approved local transportation tax will raise just over $6 billion during its entire 30-year life span. The SBCTA Board is very aware of and sensitive to the constraints of Measure I dollars and the requirement that projects be delivered in the most cost-effective manner serving the taxpayers who generate these funds.
San Bernardino County does not have the revenue to support ongoing operations and maintenance costs for two competing services. It is estimated that staffing a new construction authority will cost nearly $5 million annually, a cost San Bernardino County cannot support and its constituents will not approve.
Service Goals. Enhancement of the Metrolink service along the San Bernardino Line will meet the goal of regional rail connectivity, accommodate future access to ONT, and provide real benefits to San Bernardino residents east of the City of Montclair. The Redlands Rail Project is already in construction and will serve as the blueprint for integrating smaller, cleaner and more cost-effective trains on the San Bernardino lines. SBCTA has already signed contracts to construct the first self-contained, zero-emission rail vehicle in North America and will have it in service by 2024 on the Redlands Line.
Development of the DMU zero emission rail vehicle technology was made possible by a grant from the State, and they are committed to seeing that technology spread throughout California. The zero emission trains will provide the service that residents in Claremont and Montclair desire, as well as the connection to rail service to Pasadena and increased frequency of service that they were promised. In addition to Montclair, Rancho Cucamonga is already in the process of developing transit-oriented development near their Metrolink station, as well as working with Lewis Homes on their billion-dollar housing development to provide access to and encourage use of the Metrolink station.
SBCTA Commitment. SBCTA will continue to work with Los Angeles transportation agencies to solve the concerns of connectivity to Ontario Airport. The proposal to usurp authority of locally elected officials and to create a new and competitive government agency, while perhaps well intended, is not acceptable to the residents and business community in San Bernardino County.
What You Should Know About the Inland Empire
Southern California’s Inland Empire (IE), comprised of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, is one of the fastest-growing population centers in the United States, located about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. The IE is seen as accessible and affordable with a young, diverse, and growing population. We are a region of opportunity, natural beauty and a favorable quality of life, with an expanding economic base. Our population is projected to reach 7 million in the next thirty years.
The IE is over 27,000 square miles with nearly five million residents. San Bernardino County is the largest geographic county in the U.S. We are proud of our many strengths and achievements:
- Ontario International Airport is the fastest-growing airport in the U.S., and the No. 1 airport for outgoing cargo.
- Our San Bernardino County Transportation Authority will introduce North America’s first zero-emission, hydrogen-powered train as part of the Redlands passenger rail line in 2024.
- California State University, San Bernardino, has established one of the top two cyber security programs in the U.S.
- The California Air Resources Board is building a state-of-the-art vehicle emissions testing and research facility at the University of California, Riverside.
- Loma Linda University, a global leader in healthcare, will open its $1 billion expansion in 2021.
- From 2000-2015, 6,061 patents were issued to entities in the IE, more than one per day.
- The I.E. is home to more than 25 colleges and universities, the second largest high school district in the State at Chaffey Joint Union, and some of the most innovative career pathway programs.
- The IE is headquarters for corporations of national significance grown by San Bernardino County native entrepreneurs:
- Esri, the international supplier of geographic information system software with 49 offices worldwide and employees from 73 countries.
- Garner Holt Productions, the world’s largest manufacturer of animatronic figures for entertainment, military training, and prosthetics, with installations in 32 countries.
- Stater Bros. Markets, a privately held supermarket chain operating 169 markets in California. Its IE distribution center is the largest under-one-roof facility in America.
While we have much to be proud of, the IE also faces challenges:
- Only 20% of adults in the IE have a four-year college degree or higher, versus 32% for California and 30% for the nation.
- San Bernardino County ranks 50 out of 57 California counties for clinical care, which includes ratios of population-to-care providers, preventive screening practices, and insurance coverage.
- In San Bernardino County, 18.2% of the population lives below the poverty line, primarily females, a number that is higher than the national average of 13.1%.
- About 41% of IE households have a language other than English spoken in the home.
- The IE lags significantly behind, receiving only $25.55 per capita philanthropic investment, compared to $262.99 per capita average investment in California.
The IE can embody a new California Dream – one where the opportunity for a better life is very much within reach. That is why more than 120 people a day are moving to the IE. Inland Action works with State and federal leaders to provide support that will help California’s most robustly growing population center fulfill its extraordinary promise and potential.