CHARLESTON– A new bill securing funding for the Green Bank Telescope is moving along in the U.S. Senate.
The FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies appropriations bill passed out of an appropriations sub-committee on Tuesday. The bill fully funds the Green Bank Telescope and ensure continued NASA and NSF support for the observatory.
The bill will be voted on by the full Appropriations Committee Thursday.
Other parts of the bill include:
- Skylar’s Law: Directs the Secretary to establish a National Endangered Missing Advisory network that would enable immediate public notification regardless of evidence of abduction. Senator Manchin introduced Skylar’s law in December following the death of Skylar Neese, who was murdered by two friends. No AMBER Alert was sent out for her disappearance because it did not meet the strict criteria for an AMBER Alert.
- Bureau of Prisons: Directs the Bureau of Prisons to curtail its overreliance on augmentation which allows BOP to move any employees – secretaries, teachers, case managers, etc. – to the front lines enforcing security at federal correctional facilities, regardless of the department the staff member usually works in. In March, Senator Manchin sent a letter to former Bureau of Prisons director Marc Inch urging him to end overreliance on augmentation. He also sent a letter in April highlighting the $106 million in additional funding he helped secure in the FY18 omnibus bill to hire more full-time correctional officers.
- Rural Broadband: First-time authorization allowing EDA to use funds in support of broadband infrastructure as well as strong report language directing the Commerce Department to ensure broadband access and improve mapping in rural areas through the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA).
- Opioids: Within DOJ, significant funding aimed at combatting the opioid and heroin epidemic, including $360 million for the Opioid Initiative, $80 million for drug courts ($5 million more than FY18), and $90 million for Second Chance Act Programs (+$5 million), as well as significant funding targeting fentanyl detection.
- Rural Funding: Report language throughout the bill and Committee report highlighting the needs of rural and underserved, and requiring agencies to ensure the equitable geographic distribution of funds and an appropriate balance of rural and urban needs
- Restored Funding: Not only restored but increased funding for a number of programs and agencies important to West Virginia that were proposed for elimination by the administration, including Economic Development Administration, Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, NASA RESTORE-L satellite servicing program, and the Legal Services Corporation, among others.
- EDA: $305.5 million for the Economic Development Administration ($4 million more than FY18), which provides critical grant funding to help foster innovation and rebuild our nation’s small, rural communities. This also includes $25 million for EDA’s Regional Innovation Program, with a 40% set aside for rural communities.
- Census: Increased support and funding for the 2020 Decennial Census.