Bustos’ Bill to Provide Relief to Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers Clears Committee
WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) introduced six new pieces of legislation during the month of October to fight for hardworking Illinoisans, grow our workforce, spur economic growth, protect first responders and implement key aspects of the Rural Green Partnership.
Additionally, Congresswoman Bustos’ Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers Leasing Relief Expansion Act passed out of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs last week to be presented to the full House. This legislation would extend home and automobile leasing protections in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, allowing the spouses of catastrophically injured servicemembers to terminate property leases and automobile leases and Gold Star spouses to terminate automobile leases. The legislation was strengthened in committee by Congressman Max Rose (NY-11) to require that the dependent of an injured or fallen servicemember also be granted this financial relief.
Congresswoman Bustos introduced the following legislation:
October 17th: BUSTOS, SCHRIER, PANETTA INTRODUCE BILL TO INCREASE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH FUNDING
The America Grows Act would restore U.S. commitment to publicly-funded agriculture research, while most domestic agriculture research has declined. Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
This legislation authorizes a five percent annual funding increase over the next five years for research activities at the USDA, specifically at the:
- Agriculture Research Service (ARS) – USDA’s chief in-house scientific research agency with 90+ locations nationwide and overseas.
- National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – which funds external research through a nationwide network of land-grant colleges and universities, agricultural experiment stations, schools of forestry, schools of veterinary medicine, and cooperative extension experts.
- National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) – which collects and reports statistics on U.S. agriculture, such as the farm census, crop forecasts, and price estimates.
- Economic Research Service (ERS) – which provides economic and policy analysis on farming, ranching, food, conservation practices, farm management, commodity markets and rural economic development.
October 22nd: BUSTOS, DURBIN, JONES INTRODUCE NEW BILL TO INVEST IN AMERICAN WORKFORCE
The Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act is a bicameral piece of legislation that increases federal investments in worker training and helps prepare workers for the jobs of the future. This legislation would ensure that American workers have the skills needed to successfully navigate the transition into technologically-advanced positions and in-demand industries. It has been estimated that nearly 50 percent of jobs in the United States could be at risk due to automation.
Specifically, this legislation would:
- Study Workforce Training Practices: The bill would direct the GAO to conduct a study of the barriers to providing, and opportunities for improving, training for workers in industries that are most likely to be impacted by automation.
- Invest in Workforce Training: The bill would create a grant program through the Department of Labor to support industry or sector partnerships in developing and carrying out training programs for workers who are, or are likely to become, dislocated because of advances in technology, including automation.
- Expand Current Programs: The bill would increase funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants and amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to ensure workers who are dislocated by automation are included in WIOA programs.
October 24th: BUSTOS, DURBIN, DUCKWORTH INTRODUCE NEW BILL TO PROTECT ROADSIDE FIRST RESPONDERS
The Protecting Roadside First Responders Act is designed to reduce first responder roadside deaths. The bill would establish a new national safety priority within an existing federal grant program to increase public awareness of “Move Over” laws and encourage implementation of life-saving vehicle technology.
This legislation would also:
- Require NHTSA to promulgate rules mandating crash avoidance technology on all new motor vehicles, within two years, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, and lane departure warnings.
- Require all federal fleet vehicles to have crash avoidance technology (automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, and lane departure warnings) within five years.
- Require all federal fleet vehicles used for emergency response activities to be equipped with digital alert technology within five years.
- Require research on the efficacy of Move Over laws and related public awareness campaigns as well as recommendations on how to improve these efforts to prevent roadside deaths.
October 24th: BUSTOS, DELGADO, CRAIG AND SPANBERGER INTRODUCE REBUILD RURAL AMERICA ACT
The Rebuild Rural America Act would improve the way that the federal government supports economic development projects in small towns and rural communities to better fit their specific needs.
Specifically, this legislation would:
- Create a new $50 billion grant program, the Rural Future Partnership Fund, to provide non-competitive, five-year, renewable block grants to certified rural regions to implement locally-developed regional revitalization plans.
- Encourage rural regions to develop comprehensive, collaborative, and locally-driven community and economic development plans that revitalize infrastructure, provide support for public services and job training and foster local entrepreneurship.
- Require interested rural regions to form a Regional Rural Partnership Council that brings together local leaders, elected officials, economic development organizations, cooperatives, higher education institutions, foundations and other entities important to regional development.
- Empower rural community leaders by creating national capacity and training programs that will help connect the expertise and resources of the USDA and national and regional technical assistance providers with rural regions.
- Establish a State-by-State Rural Innovation and Partnership Administration to oversee this new program and offer hands-on help to local leaders.
- Launch a Rural Future Corps in coordination with AmeriCorps to assist rural communities with implementing Rural Partnership Plans and expanding critical services including childcare, health services, nutrition assistance, education and job training.
October 29th: BUSTOS INTRODUCES BILL TO BUILD ON RURAL GREEN PARTNERSHIP, INVEST IN CARBON CAPTURE
The Investing in Energy Systems for the Transport of CO2 (INVEST CO2) Act would establish a program to provide secured loans to private entities to construct transportation infrastructure for anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2). These pipelines would allow CO2 to be captured at industrial sources, such as manufacturing plants or ethanol refineries, and moved to areas where it can permanently be stored or beneficially used.
Key provisions of this legislation include:
- Low-interest loans for trunk and feeder lines, with the program authorized at $500 million in funding.
- Loans cannot cover more than 80 percent of total cost of a CO2 transport infrastructure project; loan terms are 35 years, with 5-year deferrals.
- Establishes the U.S. Department of Transportation as the lending authority.
- Does not change the existing safety, permitting and citing regulatory framework for pipelines.
- Expresses the sense of Congress that each state should consider designating carbon dioxide pipelines as “pollution control devices” under their state law in order to qualify for the establishment of a 10-year waiver of ad valorem and property taxes for the pipelines.
October 29th: BUSTOS, ROE AND KUSTOFF INTRODUCE BILL TO SUPPORT RURAL HEALTH WORKFORCE
The bipartisan, bicameral Rural America Health Corps Act would help address workforce shortages in rural health care. Specifically, this legislation would improve the National Health Services Corps (NHSC) by creating a program to provide new dedicated student loan forgiveness funding for health care providers serving rural areas. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
In order to repay student loans for doctors, dentists, behavioral health clinicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the NHSC program currently provides up to $50,000 annually for two years of service. This legislation would create a new $25 million program to expand current NHSC placements and provide funding for up to five years instead to assist with recruitment and retention efforts.