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California Capitol Hill Bulletin



                           Volume 6, Bulletin 34 -- October 21, 1999    [or see pdf version]

CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:
Californians Succeed In Restoring SCAAP Funding; Meth Enforcement Funding Included
Federal Funding Will Extend One More Week, to October 29
California Appropriations Items Summarized on Institute Website
Institute Holds Congressional Reception Hosted by IBM, SCE, and CSU
Senate Finance Reports Tax Extender Bill; Includes R&D Credit And Graduate Education Assistance
California Water Interests Reach Agreement on Allocation
Commerce Committee Examines Safe Drinking Water Act, MTBE
Letter Circulating To Fight Pest Which Threatens State Vineyards
Education & Workforce Committee and Subcommittee Chairs, Governor Davis
             Weigh in Against Title I 100% Hold Harmless Rider
House Votes to Reauthorize Title I, Bilingual, Immigrant, and other Education Programs
Senate Judiciary Looks at Tech Industries' Future Workforce Needs
Provision Would Save California From Prospect of Double Penalties for Child Support System Failures
House Agriculture Takes up Preparations for the 1999 World Trade Organization Conference
Congress Passes Bill Designating Riverside Medal of Honor Memorial
Study Highlights California's High Rates of Uninsured Children
PPIC Reviews Population Projections for California
New State-Federal Relations Fellow Arrives at Institute


To expand communications between Washington and California, the California Institute provides periodic faxed bulletins regarding current activity on Capitol Hill which directly impacts our state. Bulletins are published weekly during sessions of Congress, and occasionally during other periods. The e-mail edition is made possible in part by in kind donations from Sun Microsystems and QUALCOMM, Inc.

Californians Succeed In Restoring SCAAP Funding; Meth Enforcement Funding Included

With passage of the Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Conference Report on Wednesday night, the united California congressional delegation succeeded in restoring the much needed funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). SCAAP partially reimburses states for the costs of incarcerating illegal criminal aliens. The conference report, passed by a vote of 215-213, contains $585 million for the program. Earlier in the year, the Senate Appropriations Committee had slashed the funding to $100 million. The entire California delegation then sent a letter urging restoration of the funds. See, Bulletin, Vol. 6, Nos. 29 (9/16/99) & 30 (9/23/99). Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer took the lead in the Senate for full funding and Governor Gray Davis also worked to overturn the action. Key California conferees on the measure were Rep. Julian Dixon and Lucille Roybal-Allard (both Los Angeles).

This past fiscal year California received about $244 million under the program. Had the Senate's funding level been retained, our share would have dropped to about $31 million, or about six percent of the estimated $500 million the state spends on incarcerated criminal aliens.

The Conference Report also includes $18.2 million to continue a state enforcement program to eliminate methamphetamine production. The program has allowed the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement to hire 81 meth enforcement officers, and has increased the number of meth labs that have been shut down to 1,600 statewide.

The Senate has also approved the Conference Report by voice vote, but its final disposition remains uncertain, as the President may veto the bill in opposition to other provisions.
 

Federal Funding Will Extend One More Week, to October 29

With the approval of H.J.Res 71, passed by the House and Senate this week, funds are provided to maintain government operations one additional week beyond the October 21 expiration of the prior continuing resolution. Funds will now expire at midnight on Friday, October 29.
 

California Appropriations Items Summarized on Institute Website

The California Institute staff has reviewed three of the FY2000 appropriations measures which have already been signed into law, and the results are available on the Institute's website, http://www.calinst.org . Bills covered include energy and water, VA/HUD, and transportation.

For Energy and Water, see: http://www.calinst.org/pubs/ew00.htm .

For Transportation, see: http://www.calinst.org/pubs/tran00.htm .

For VA/HUD, see: http://www.calinst.org/pubs/vahud00.htm .

The appropriations bills are lengthy and complex, and there may be errors and omissions. Please let us know of any problems and we will update our site as quickly as possible. We intend to review additional appropriations bills as resources permit.
 

Institute Holds Congressional Reception Hosted by IBM, SCE, and CSU

In the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, the California Institute held a Congressional reception marking (a bit early) the close of the first session of the 106th Congress. The event was well attended by Congressional staff and members and by Institute Board members, supporters and colleagues. We again wish to express our thanks to the sponsors of the event, IBM Corporation, Southern California Edison, and the California State University.
 

Senate Finance Reports Tax Extender Bill; Includes R&D Credit And Graduate Education Assistance

After weeks of negotiations, the Senate Finance Committee reported by voice vote an $8.5 billion package extending several tax credits, including the popular research and experimentation (R&D) tax credit. The credit will be extended through the end of the year 2000. California's high technology industries will continue to urge Congress to permanently extend the tax credit. The bill also extends the welfare-to-work and the work-opportunity tax credits for 18 months through December 31, 2000.

In a victory for varied California interests, the bill also reinstates section 127 educational assistance for graduate level courses and extends the exemption for both graduate and undergraduate courses through December 31, 2000. Section 127 exempts employees from including as income up to $5,250 paid by their employers for tuition expenses. The provision is currently limited to undergraduate level courses, but California's high technology industries, which often pay for the graduate-level education of their employees, supports extending the program to graduate education.
 

California Water Interests Reach Agreement on Allocation

Three major Southern California water districts have reached an agreement on how to allocate their Colorado River water share. Under a 1922 agreement, California is guaranteed 4.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water annually, but only a small percentage of this share has been budgeted to the state's coastal and inland areas. The agreement was reached among the Metropolitan Water District of South California, the Imperial Irrigation District, and the Coachella Valley Water District. It represents a major step in resolving this long-running dispute. Although federal and state approval is still needed, Governor Gray Davis issued a press release praising the agreement.

Under the agreement, the water rights of the three districts are defined, providing transfers among the districts to reallocate each's share. The agreement also lets Imperial transfer 200,000 acre-feet of water annually to the San Diego County Water Authority, which it has not be able to do under the old agreement.
 

Commerce Committee Examines Safe Drinking Water Act, MTBE

On Wednesday, October 20, the House Commerce Subcommittee on Health and Environment held a hearing on the implementation of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act, which is aimed at protecting the public from contaminated drinking water. The focus of the hearing was a study of the Act's implementation reported by the General Accounting Office. GAO found that, although the Environmental Protection Agency and the states had made "important strides" in complying with the statutory requirements, the long-term implementation of the Act by EPA and the states will require "continuous oversight" by Congress.

Several members of the Committee expressed concern that in the last several budget requests EPA has requested less funding for drinking water research than its fully authorized level. As a consequence, GAO found that stakeholders were concerned that the research underlying upcoming regulations on arsenic and microbial pathogens was inadequate. Dr. Norine Noonan, EPA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development defended EPA's research strategy and its adequacy.

Also testifying before the Subcommittee was Stephen K. Hall, Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies. Mr. Hall testified that EPA and the state have worked effectively to move the State Revolving Fund money under the Act into the communities that need it to improve their water systems. As for research, however, Mr. Hall was concerned that EPA's lack of sufficient resources might result in its making regulatory decisions before getting the benefit of sound science.

Mr. Hall also addressed California's MTBE problem, and reiterated ACWA's strong support for Rep. Brian Bilbray's (Imperial Beach) bill, H.R.11.

Testimony from all the witnesses can be obtained through the Committee's website at: www.house.gov/commerce .
 

Letter Circulating To Fight Pest Which Threatens State Vineyards

Representative Ken Calvert (Riverside) is circulating a letter asking the Department of

Agriculture to designate FY 2000 funds from the APHIS contingency fund towards the research and mitigation of Pierce's Disease which continues to devastate California vineyards. Carried by the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter, Pierce's Disease has caused over $33 million in damages to Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties. A 1997-2000 survey predicts $50 million in damages to California. Because California's wine industry creates approximately 112,000 jobs, and adds $11 million to the state's gross product, Pierce's Disease has the potential to degrade California's economy and agricultural industry.

During a meeting with California Congressional staff on Thursday, State Food and Agriculture Secretary Bill Lyons recounted the experience of one Southern California grape grower whose crop has been impacted severely by the disease. From beginning on just three vines a few years ago, Pierce's Disease could affect nearly a million of the grower's vines next year.

The letter reports that Congress and the Department of Agriculture understand the severity of the Pierce's Disease problem and have begun to act accordingly. Last year, the Department of Agriculture, provided $100,000 for FY99. This year Congress has approved Agriculture Appropriations legislation which includes language directing all parties involved to work together to draw upon the APHIS contingency fund as appropriate to fight the disease.

Offices of Members wishing to sign the letter should contact Jolyn Murphy in Rep. Calvert's office at x5-1986.
 

Education & Workforce Committee and Subcommittee Chairs, Governor Davis Weigh in Against Title I 100% Hold Harmless Rider

Further elevating the issue beyond purely geographic politics, Education and Workforce Full Committee Chairman Bill Goodling (PA) and the chairs of three of that panel's subcommittees wrote on Tuesday to Appropriation Committee leaders asking them to "reject the Senate legislative rider to fund the Title I program at a 100 percent hold harmless during deliberations on the Fiscal Year 2000 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Act." The Subcommittee chairs joining Goodling were Chairman Michael Castle (DE) of the Early Childhood, Youth and Families Subcommittee; Chairman Peter Hoekstra (MI) of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee; and Chairman Buck McKeon (Santa Clarita) of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, Training and Life-Long Learning. The letter asks the appropriations conferees to "fight for the house position by allowing the authorizing legislation to take effect which targets funds where disadvantaged children live and attend school." Reps. McKeon and Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham (San Diego) served key roles in in securing the letter.

Also this week, Governor Gray Davis wrote to every member of the California Congressional delegation urging members to continue efforts to oppose the 100% hold harmless. The letter notes that the provision "prevents states like ours from receiving our fair share of Title I funding based on the most reliable data available." The Governor's letter also urges focus on other priorities in the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill, including Social Services Block Grants and the Workforce Investment Act.

The provision is included in the Senate version of the Labor-HHS-Education bill, while the House Appropriations Committee has sharply criticized the rider. The House is expected to consider its version soon, perhaps as an attachment to the D.C. appropriations bill which is headed for floor action tomorrow.

For further information on the 100% hold harmless issue, see Bulletin Vol. 6, No. 33 (10/14/99) .
 

House Votes to Reauthorize Title I, Bilingual, Immigrant, and other Elementary & Secondary Education Programs

By a vote of 358 to 67 on Thursday, the House passed H.R. 2, called the Student Results Act, which would reauthorize myriad federal education programs, including Title I, and bilingual and immigrant education programs. While the Title I program was considered broadly in the Education and Workforce Committee in preceeding weeks (for details, see Bulletin, Vol.6, No. 33, 10/14/99), the provisions regarding bilingual and immigrant education were examined for the first time in a manager's amendment on the House floor.

One of the major changes in the bilingual and immigrant education programs would be that the bilingual education would be shifted from the current competitive grant program into a formula grant program to the States after appropriations reach $220 million. The funding would be based on each state's relative share of limited English proficient (LEP) students. A recent study of funding alternatives run by the Congressional Research Service estimated that California's share of bilingual education grants would increase if funding were allocated according to a formula based on LEP numbers. However, the bill also provides that no state will receive less under this program during the period from 2000 to 2004 than the state received in 2000. States would be directed to distribute half of funds according to high concentrations of eligible children and half by competitive grant.
 

Senate Judiciary Looks at Tech Industries' Future Workforce Needs

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration held a hearing on Thursday, October 21 to explore the current and future workforce needs of America's high tech industries.

The Subcommittee heard from Roberta Katz, Chief Executive Officer of the Technology Network (TechNet). TechNet is a network of senior executives in leading technology companies, headquartered in Palo Alto.

Ms. Katz testified that the serious shortage of skilled U.S. professionals requires companies to continue to use the H-1B visa program to fill job shortfalls, and supported increasing the current H-1B caps even more. She also emphasized, however, that information technology companies spend about $210 billion annually on the formal and informal training of its workforce, as well as providing an additional $4 billion in support to K-12 schools, colleges and universities. The companies see the workforce problems not as an immigration issue, but as one of competitiveness, and they must have the flexibility to hire the skilled workers they need in order to compete globally.

Further testimony from the hearing can be obtained through the Committee's website at: www.senate.gov/~judiciary.
 

Provision Would Save California From Prospect of Double Penalties for Child Support System Failures

Included in the "Fathers Count Act of 1999," H.R. 3073, is a provision that will save California from paying double federal penalties as a result of its failure to have a centralized child support State Disbursement Unit (SDU) in place. Under the welfare reform law, states are required to have a SDU in place, or pay stiff penalties for the failure to do so. California was unable to meet the deadline for a SDU and last year legislation was passed to lower the penalties it must pay the federal government.

The alternative penalty procedure contained in H.R. 3073 will ensure that California is not subject to additional penalties as a result of its failure to have a statewide child support automated data processing system certified by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Ways and Means Committee approved H.R. 3073 late on Thursday, October 21. The alternative penalty provision had not been expected to garner opposition, and it was included in the bill.
 

House Agriculture Takes up Preparations for the 1999 World Trade Organization Conference

The House Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday, October 20 held a hearing on the upcoming World Trade Organization's (WTO) Third Ministerial Conference. At the November 30 Conference in Seattle, the 134 WTO members will negotiate U.S. and world agricultural trade goals.

Witnesses in attendance at the WTO hearing included Ambassador Charlene Barsehfsky, the U.S. Trade Representative, and Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture. Ambassador Barsehfsky noted that while the Uruguay Round in 1994 created a foundation of commitments to open markets, fair trade, respect for science and an enforceable rule of law, the U.S. must expand this foundation to increase opportunities for US and worldwide farmers. She outlined major U.S. goals some of which include eliminating agricultural export subsidies, reducing trade-distorting domestic supports, lowering tariff rates, improving access for U.S. exports under tariff-rate-quotas, as well as ensuring a transparent process concerning agricultural biotechnology products. Barsehfsky also expressed the need to build an international consensus of goals, and set a rapid timetable to achieve those goals.

In his testimony, Secretary Glickman concurred with Barsehfsky and added that in planning the U.S. negotiating strategy the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has sought advice and ideas from all segments of the agricultural industry to help better develop policy goals for the Conference. The USDA held public "Listening Sessions" in twelve cities, including Sacramento, to hear directly from farmers and ranchers on issues they felt should take top priority at the negotiations. Secretary Glickman further described the Administration's efforts through the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee and the five Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees for Trade to gather advice on the U.S. trade negotiating strategy. Listening to all parties directly and indirectly involved in the WTO negotiations will help ensure that every producer has a fair share and all products, goods and services are traded freely throughout the world.

For testimony of all of the witnesses, contact the Committee through its website at: http://www.agriculture.house.gov/ .
 

Congress Passes Bill Designating Riverside Medal of Honor Memorial

The Senate on Wednesday followed the House in passing a bill, authored by Rep. Ken Calvert (Corona) and cosponsored by every member of the California Congressional delegation, which designates the Medal of Honor Memorial now being built at Riverside National Cemetery as a National memorial. The memorial is near completion and will be dedicated in November, according to Rep. Calvert.
 

Study Highlights California's High Rates of Uninsured Children

One Step Forward, One Step Back, a recent study by the Families USA Foundation found that while California not surprisingly has more uninsured children than any other state, California experienced a net decline of 4.2 percent or 121,788 children covered by Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The decline, from 1996 to 1999, ranked as the second greatest numerical drop in the country. California's child Medicaid drop-off did slow in 1998 when counties established a temporary moratorium on Medicaid terminations for families losing cash welfare. The report estimated that 240,000 children may be discontinued when eligibility redeterminations resume in 1999.

The study cites several national trends as reasons for California's high rate of uninsured children. Because of the 1980s expansion of Medicaid eligibility, the number of children eligible for Medicaid has steadily increased for over a decade. Passed in 1997, CHIP also provided more coverage for children who live in families with incomes above the Medicaid levels in effect in 1997 but under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The report further suggests that due to national welfare reform in 1996, children nationwide, and especially in California, lost Medicaid coverage when their families left welfare, which triggered automatic Medicaid eligibility. The study also found that some families who move from welfare to work are no longer eligible for Medicaid because of higher family income, but may not receive affordable family coverage in their new jobs.

The study focused on the top twelve states with the highest rates of uninsured children. For a complete version of the study, contact the Families USA Foundation at their website: http://www.familiesusa.org .
 

PPIC Reviews Population Projections for California

In California Counts, How Many Californians?, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) explores the variations in California's growth projections. Report author Hans P. Johnson suggests that predictions in population counts will have a significant impact on future policy decisions concerning infrastructure, education, welfare, transportation, and corrections.

The various organizations concerned with comparing and analyzing population counts agree on some general ideas. The California Department of Finance (DOF), US Census Bureau (CB), US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), UCLA, and Center for Continuing Study for the California Economy (CCSCE) agree that California's future growth rates will exceed the national growth rate, but will be generally lower than past rates, even though absolute levels of growth will remain high. Natural growth increases, rather than net migration, will provide the greater source of that growth. Analysts also agree that international migration will remain strong, while domestic migration will decelerate.

PPIC's examined differences between population projections, which vary by as many as 10 million persons, with the CB projecting a population of 41.5 million in 2025, compared with UCLA's projection of over 52 million. By 2040, the difference between the highest and lowest projections increases to over 16 million, which is equal to almost half of the state's current population.

The report also highlights differences among racial and ethnic population estimates, as well as age structure projections. While the CB reports that no race/ethnic group currently constitutes a majority of California's population, other analysts predicted that a non-majority status will not exist in California until at least July 2000. Further differences between child dependency ratios exist, which could impact public school attendance numbers for California.

Johnson also attempts to explain the discrepancies between population projections by citing methods and assumptions of projections as reasons for the differences. Depending on what type or method a source uses in its projections, it may or may not consider economic factors, in addition to evaluating births, deaths and migration. When projections are developed is also a factor in considering discrepancies because of California's volatile domestic migration in the past ten years.

For more information, contact the Public Policy Institute of California at 415-291-4400 or visit their website: http://www.ppic.org .
 

New State-Federal Relations Fellow Arrives at Institute

The California Institute is pleased to announce the arrival of our new Congressional Fellow, Sarah Nakasone. A native of New Jersey, and a graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Sarah comes to us most recently from Sacramento where she served in the highly competitive Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship program, as a staff member for Assemblywoman Lynne Leach. She has a background in higher education, K-12 education, and aging and long term care policy developed through her experience in the Fellowship. Sarah also draws from her experiences studying international politics abroad at Oxford University, and working in bipartisan federal politics at the White House, Common Cause and the office of Congresswoman Marge Roukema (NJ).

Each fall, the California Institute welcomes a new Fellow for a one-year appointment. This position is generously funded by California State University system, via the Center for California Studies at CSU Sacramento.

The Center for California Studies also runs four fellowship programs in Sacramento: the Assembly Fellowship Program, the Senate Associates Program, the Executive Fellowship Program and the Judicial Fellowship Program. The annual Congressional Fellow at the California Institute is selected from the previous year's class of Sacramento Fellows. Deadlines for applications to the Sacramento programs range from mid-January to mid-February for Fall 2000. For more information about the applications for the Sacramento programs, please call for the Center for California Studies at 916-278-6906 or visit their website at: http://www.csus.edu/calst/Programs/programs.html .
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