WASHINGTON-Provisions in a new law passed with the support ofU.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) stand to deliver numerous benefits for Arkansas for the remainder of the government’s Fiscal Year 2019. The bill funds federal agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, State, Treasury and Justice and contains measures advancing many of the Natural State’s priorities and interests.
“This bill provides crucial funding for federal agencies –– many of which directly impact Arkansas’s economy and help meet vital needs in our state –– while avoiding a government shutdown. I fought to advance these priorities in addition to securingadditional funding for border security and,while it doesn’t fund the president’s request in its entirety, it does increase resources for improved safeguards at our southern border. I’m proud to have helped deliver a funding package that contains a variety of measures critical for our state andwill continue to advocate for increased funding for our border security in addition tosupportingprograms Arkansans rely on,” Boozman said.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Boozman again demonstrated his commitment to Arkansas by supporting legislation that funds programs, initiatives and grants that are crucial to the state.
The following departments and agencies with direct, Arkansas-specific relevance were funded as a result of passage of this measure:
Department of Agriculture, including Rural Development programs, the Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies:
- National Center for Toxicological Research:The bill includes $66.7 million for this facility located in Jefferson, Arkansas near Pine Bluff. This funding will support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) research to promote and protect public health.
- Agriculture Research: The bill includes $3 billion to support research conducted by land grant and non-land grant universities through the Agricultural Research Service. This funding will support agricultural research at the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University that ranges in scope from innovative crop production practices to the protection of clean source water.
- Rural Development: Included in the bill is significant funding for programs that help rural areas by supporting business development and job training opportunities. The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Access (ATTRA) is a program that connects Arkansas agricultural producers to information that helps them improve their operations. This bill funds the program at $2.8 million. ATTRA administers the Armed to Farm program that assists veterans in transition to civilian life by training them for a career in farming. ATTRA has a regional headquarters located in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as science-related programs and agencies:
- Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts: The bill supports the critical components of our judicial system that offer an alternative treatment to jail for individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Drug courts received $77 million and veterans treatment courts received $22 million to help break the cycle of addiction.Arkansas launched its first drug court in 1994 and participation in these rehabilitation practices continues to increase.
- Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): At Boozman’s request, the billincludes language related to the equitable use of grant funding for rural areas and asks the Department of Justice to consider the unique needs of rural communities when making grant awards. Arkansas law enforcement agencies have used this grant to hire additional personnel.
Department of the Treasury, including Financial Services and General Government funding:
- High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA): The bill includes $280 million to support effective and innovative drug control efforts by federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in HIDTA areas. In Arkansas this includes Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski and Washington counties.
- Drug Free Communities Program: The bill provides $100 million for community-based coalitions organized to prevent youth substance use.
Department of Homeland Security:
- Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire/Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants:The bill provides $350 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants and $350 million for SAFER Grants which provide funding to local fire departments to hire firefighters, support the training needs of personnel and purchase essential equipment. Arkansas fire departments have received hundreds of thousands in funds to procure critical tools and equipment.
- Emergency Management Performance Grants:The bill provides $350 million in funding that can be allocated to local emergency management services to support emergency preparedness.
Department of the Interior, EPA and Related Agencies:
- Flatside Wilderness Study: The bill includes report language related to studying land adjacent to the Flatside Wilderness Area for inclusion within the Flatside Wilderness Area.
- Land and Water Conservation Fund: The bill includes funds to support conservation projects in Arkansas including the Buffalo National River and the Cache River.
- Water Infrastructure: The bill provides $2.9 billion to finance infrastructure improvements to public wastewater and drinking water systems.
- Protecting and Restoring Quality Wetlands – The bill funds the North American Wetlands Conservation Act at $42 million. These grants areimportant to conserving our nation’s fish and wildlife resources and have led to the conservation of more than 77,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Arkansas.
- US Forest Service: The billprovides increased funding for fire assistance to protect the more than 19 million acres of forests in Arkansas. It provides $77 million for the Forest Inventory and Analysis which is used to assess forest health and the spread of non-native insects and diseases, make economic planning decisions, monitor wildlife habitat, gauge wildfire risk and assess rates of land use change. Forest Inventory Analysis data allows foresters, landowners and policy makers to effectively monitor forest trends and make informed management decisions. The bill also funds the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program which supports two ongoing projects in Arkansas: The Ozarks-Highlands Ecosystem Restoration Project in the Ozark National Forest and the Shortleaf-Bluestem Community project in the Ouachita National Forest.
Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development:
- Contract Tower Program: The billfunds this program, which provides enhanced safety, improved air traffic control services and significant FAA cost savings, at $168 million. There are five contract towers in Arkansas: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Texarkana.
- Community Planning and Development– The bill provides $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, the federal government's largest and most widely available source of financial assistance supporting state and local government-directed neighborhood revitalization, housing rehabilitation and economic development activities. Grants are used to implement plans intended to address housing, community development and economic development needs, as determined by local officials.