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Congress Passes FY 2015 Appropriations Package

Revises Local Hire and Medical Marijuana Policies in Addition to Appropriations

December 18, 2014
After some controversy, Congress passed the FY 2015 appropriations package last weekend.
The $1.092 billion, 1,603 page package includes 11 out of the 12 annual appropriations bills. The twelfth appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was excluded so that next year the new Republican-controlled Congress can formulate a strong response to President Barack Obama’s executive order on illegal immigration. However, Congress did pass a continuing resolution to keep DHS funded through Feb. 27, 2015.

The appropriations package, dubbed the “cromnibus,” includes several appropriations in which cities may be interested:
  • Public Safety: $2.3 billion for state and local Department of Justice (DOJ) Grants ($55 million more than FY 2014). Unfortunately, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) was cut by $6 million, and does not include funding for COPS technology.
  • Energy: $1.9 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs ($22 million more than FY 2014).
  • Drought: $50 million to the Bureau of Reclamation to address drought throughout the Western states.
  • Water: $1.449 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Funds and $906.9 for Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. 
  • Workforce: $2.6 billion for Workforce Investment Act grants.
  • Transportation: $500 million for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grants ($100 million less than FY 2014 and does not provide funding for planning).
  • Housing: $900 million for the HOME Investment Partnership program ($100 million less than FY 2014), $3 billion for Community Development Block Grants, and $2.1 billion for homeless assistance grants ($30 million more than FY 2014). 
In addition, the cromnibus included some policy changes. While information on these will continue to be released, the League has flagged two issues of interest:
  • Medical Marijuana Enforcement: Prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where medical marijuana is legal. This could have an impact on cities that have banned dispensaries on the basis of federal law, and could also bolster negotiations for a stronger medical-only regulatory protocol in California. 
  • Local Hire Practices: Allows states, cities, and other recipients of federal transportation funding to establish local hiring bid specifications or consider local hiring when evaluating bids and proposals for a project. This language was originally included in H.R. 3620 (Rep. Karen Bass), a League-supported bill. 
The full text of the appropriations package is posted online.

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