Dec 17 2014
"This law includes funding for important programs that are priorities for communities in southern and eastern Kentucky," said Rogers. "For example, the legislation provides specific economic development assistance for coal mining communities, funds much-needed rural housing loans, and supports a number of initiatives to fight the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. It also decreases the backlog of military veterans' claims and reins in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Let me be clear: this law does not include any new funding for the President's Executive Amnesty plan. We will address his amnesty plan with the new Congress in 2015."
Additional items to note in the law that will benefit Southern and Eastern Kentuckians:
The legislation supports a holistic, multifaceted approach to the scourge of prescription drug abuse, including funding for our federal law enforcement officers on the front lines, critical drug abuse treatment programs, and educational efforts to help states implement model drug laws that reduce diversion and abuse.
$20 million is provided for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to partner with the states hardest hit by the prescription drug epidemic in developing and implementing strategies to combat addictions and abuse.
It includes the following funding for treatment, law enforcement, education and other drug-related issues:
- $91 million for Drug Courts, plus an additional $1.4 million for technical training for the judges who administer these important courts
- $5 million for Veterans Treatment Courts to meet the unique needs of those who have bravely served in the U.S. Armed Forces
- $367 million for DEA’s diversion control program, with encouragement to intensify support for its Distributor Initiative
- $7 million for an anti-meth task force, plus $7 million to help state and local law enforcement agencies clean up meth labs
- $7 million for an anti-heroin task force
- $175, 465 million for National Guard Counter-Drug Operations, including support for the Kentucky National Guard to eradicate marijuana from the Daniel Boone National Forest. The Kentucky State Police reported nearly a half million plants were eradicated in Kentucky last year.
- $245 million for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). The Appalachian HIDTA, covering parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, has been a national leader in the fight against prescription drug abuse. In partnership with Operation UNITE, AHIDTA recently launched a pilot voluntary program in southern and eastern Kentucky to distribute free oral drug testing kits for parents who suspect their children are abusing drugs at home.
- $1.25 million to help states develop and implement legislation to reduce drug abuse.
The legislation includes a number of other provisions aimed at spurring federal action to reduce the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs. For example, the legislation:
- expresses opposition to the approval of the powerful painkiller, Zohydro, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and requires the agency to report to Congress on its ability to track usage of the drug once it is on the market,
- encourages the FDA to finalize guidance on Abuse Deterrent Formulations in order to incentivize innovation in this emerging field for manufacturing prescription narcotics, and
- encourages the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities to participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) prescription drug take-back program.
The legislation demonstrates the Congress' commitment to reining in the EPA and beating back the Administration's devastating anti-coal policies.
- It cuts EPA funding by $60 million below the 2014 level, causing the agency to reduce its staffing to the lowest level since 1989.
- The Obama Administration is prevented from moving forward with a policy that would preclude U.S. investments in coal-fired generation plants overseas. By putting a halt to this regulation, the legislation ensures that U.S. coal will have a vibrant market in emerging economies around the world.
- It prevents the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from changing the definition of “fill material,” which would be harmful to several U.S. industries, including the coal mining industry.
- The bill rejects a proposal from President Obama to spend $66 million on new or expanded job-killing regulatory programs at the EPA.
- $571 million is included for Fossil Energy Research to ensure that the U.S. is developing in the necessary technology to maintain coal as a part of its energy portfolio for the long term.
- It directs the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to submit monthly status reports on any Section 404 mining permit applications under review. These monthly reports will allow the House Appropriations Committee to oversee how many mining permit applications have been submitted, the number of days under review, and whether they are being approved.
- The law maintains Office of Surface Mining State regulatory grants at $68 million to allow states to implement programs without increasing fees on the mining industry. It also rejects the President’s proposal to hire more Federal regulators to increase Federal oversight inspections of State programs.
- The law prevents the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from regulating certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches, under the Clean Water Act.
Economic and Community Development
The legislation includes funding for a number of federal programs that support the efforts of southern and eastern Kentucky communities to create new opportunities through access to pre-school and post-secondary education, access to low-income housing opportunities, and supports grants for important programs in the region. It includes:
Support for Economic Development
- $10 million for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to develop a comprehensive strategy to assist coal mining communities
- $90 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), including $10 million for broadband development in distressed Central Appalachian counties
- $2.5 million for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make micro-loans in small and rural communities to create new job opportunities
- $230 million to help Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) build their capacity to serve low-income individuals and communities that otherwise lack access to affordable financial products and services
- $3 million for the HubZone Program, which helps small businesses in rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities
- $3.4 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to keep families safe and healthy through initiatives supporting energy assistance
- $674 million for Community Services Block Grants, which help the region's Community Action Agencies further their mission to provide critical services
- $372 million for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), a program that provides funds to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their jurisdictions
- $12.7 million for a competitive grant program to provide technical assistance for improved water quality or safe drinking water in rural communities
Support for Rural Housing
- $900 million for Section 502 Direct Loans, which helps low-income individuals or households purchase homes in rural areas
- $27.5 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Section 523 Self-Home program, which helps very low-income families construct their own affordable homes
- $900 million for the HOME program, which provides formula grants to states and localities that can be used to build, buy and/or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or home ownership or provide direct rental assistance to low-income people
- A flat-rent provision was also included, allowing local market factors to be considered when flat-rent rates are determined. This will keep rental rates low for many of Kentucky's Fifth District Residents.
Support for Education Programs
- $839 million for TRIO programs, which serves and assists low-income individuals and first-generation college students as they progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to college.
- $301 million for Gear Up Programs, which are designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.
- $8.5 billion for Head Start, which provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income families.
- The law reinstates student aid eligibility for students enrolled in career pathways programs.
- It provides an opportunity for laid off coal miners and other individuals that do not have a high school diploma or the equivalent to receive federal financial aid, if enrolled in an eligible career pathways program.
- Directs the DoD and VA to develop an interoperable health records management system, allowing agencies within each Department to be able to communicate regarding patient services and records.
- Funds VA medical services at $45.2 billion, including funding for mental health services, suicide prevention and treatment for homeless veterans
- Includes $2.5 billion for processing the disability claims backlog at the VA
- Provides $5 million to the VA Office of the Inspector General for the purpose of addressing the VA “wait list” scandal and continue auditing the VA hospital appointment scheduling process and lapses in patient care
Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information, visit http://halrogers.house.gov/ or follow Rogers on Twitter @RepHalRogers or on Facebook @CongressmanHalRogers.