CA League of Cities Update 4/16

Tomorrow, the State Senate COVID-19 Subcommittee will have its first hearing.  The focus of this hearing is oversight of the Governor’s expenditures related to the emergency funding authorized by the Legislature in March to address COVID-19.  The League’s Advocacy team will be closely monitoring this hearing and does not anticipate providing testimony as the focus is oversight on the recent State expenditures.  The League will actively participate in upcoming budget hearings and negotiations as the State budget discussions begin, and we will keep you updated on these efforts and how you can help advocate. 

The League released its weekly CA Cities Advocate today, and I encourage you to read Executive Director Carolyn Coleman’s message focusing on our advocacy efforts related to COVID-19.  These efforts continue to increase daily with the Legislature, the Governor and his Administration, and with Congress, fighting for the resources cities need to provide critical services for your residents. 

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced new initiatives to support the millions of California workers who have lost jobs or wages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through an executive order issued today, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will launch a new call center on Monday that will operate 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Unemployment Insurance Branch will be upstaffed with 1,340 employees, including 740 EDD employees and 600 employees from across state government. The Governor also directs EDD to expedite access to the Work Share program to avert layoffs. Notes attached from the press conference.

At the federal level, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris announced they will join with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to introduce the Coronavirus Community Relief Act. The legislation would provide $250 billion in stabilization funds geared towards all cities with populations under 500,000 that are struggling in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This legislation is similar to H.R. 6467, which we have been actively pushing to get co-sponsors from the California delegation.  Your efforts in requesting co-sponsors is working as each day, we hear of additional California members joining this effort.  We will need to do more, and the regional managers will continue to work with you on getting more support for this critical legislation.

Federal Updates

·       National League of Cities Update

Today, on the House side, Representative Joe Neguse’s office added 12 more cosponsors to the Coronavirus Community Relief Act (H.R. 6467), bringing the total to 112 cosponsors.  Please thank your Members of Congress who have cosponsored or committed to support the bill.

The Neguse/Sen. Heinrich bill definition of use of funds is below, for your reference.  The CARES Act allows the allocated funds to be used for “necessary expenditures.” The Neguse/Heinrich bill changes expenditures to costs, and allows for costs to include but not be limited to lost revenue.

(d) USE OF FUNDS.-A unit of local government shall use the funds provided under a payment made under this section to cover only those costs of the unit of local government that-

          (1) are costs that-

(A) are reasonably deemed by the unit of local government to be necessary; and

(B) directly or indirectly involve, relate to, are, have been, or will be incurred due to, or are, have been, or will be a response to circumstances caused by, the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19); and

          (2) were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30 2020.

(1) COSTS.-The term ‘Costs’ includes but is not limited to lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, and increases in costs reasonably believed to be the direct or indirect result of, or direct or indirect responses to circumstances caused by, the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19).

The bill also provides flexibility for governments with a population of less than 500,000 to reallocate the money. Please see the language below.

To the extent that a unit of local government does not need all of the funds paid to it, it may transfer such funds to another unit of local government in the State for uses in paragraph (1) of this subsection and such transfer is deemed to be a cost of the transferor.

Last, USDA has released guidance for distribution of the additional $100 million for the ReConnect rural broadband program. The money will be directed to applicants who submitted 100% grant applications that were not successful during the first ReConnect funding round. If applicants already resubmitted their application for the second round of funding, they will also be eligible for priority consideration. Full program details are online at www.usda.gov/reconnect.

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