NASCOE Legislative Update: May 17, 2019

Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant
May 17, 2019

The current work period has proven active for agricultural policy proposals and related oversight hearings. The below provides an update of certain activities that impact FSA programs and employees.

Disaster Assistance — The House of Representatives, on May 10, passed legislation providing assistance for 2018 and 2019 hurricanes, wildfires floods and related disasters. The Senate is currently negotiating with the House to finalize what will become the final legislation. The Senate is expected to debate disaster assistance next week. The House details are summarized below for your review. 

House Passed Bill:

  • $3.005 billion for crop and livestock losses for 2018 and 2019
  • $480 million for Emergency Forest Restoration Program
  • $125 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations
  • $500 million for Emergency Conservation Program
  • $600 million for Puerto Rico nutrition assistance
  • $25 million for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands nutrition assistance
  • $5 million for American Samoa nutrition assistance
  • $5 million to study Puerto Rico nutrition assistance provided during 2017
  • Market Facilitation Program payment limitation language:
    • $900,000 and 75% from agriculture AGI payment limitation
    • $125,000 payment cap

Market Facilitation Program — The Secretary of Agriculture recently commented that USDA will provide another round of trade assistance. Our contacts believe the total assistance will range between $15 and 20 billion. It is likely that payment rates for specific commodities will be adjusted compared to 2018. Once available, we will provide additional details. 

Federal Appropriations — The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to consider the fiscal year 2020 bill on Thursday, May 23. Our meetings with Members and staff have been productive but didn’t provide any details about funding levels. Currently, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, June 11.

H.R. 2478 Federal Retirement Fairness Act — Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) has introduced legislation allowing former temporary employees, in a temporary position after December 31, 1988, to be credited for service under FERS. Unlike previous legislation, this proposal is more favorable by not requiring significant investment by individual employees while giving workers additional credit toward retirement. We will continue to monitor this legislation that could potentially impact many of our members.

2019 Candidacy Announcements

NASCOE Secretary, Marcinda Kester reminds members that NASCOE will post to the NASCOE Website announcements of persons desiring to run for any NASCOE office. In order to be published on the NASCOE website, announcements must be received by the Secretary no later than May 15 of the applicable year.

All announcements will be posted at the same time as soon after June 1 as practical. In no way is this to be construed that announcements must be publicized in this manner as candidates may, if they so desire, initiate their own mailing.

Please transmit any Candidacy Announcements to NASCOE Secretary, Marcinda Kester at:


Announcements must be received no later than May 15, 2019.

If no announcement for an Officer, Area Executive or Alternate Area Executive is received by May 15, a statement will be placed on the NASCOE Website that no candidates have announced at this time for the respective position(s).

Neither the NASCOE newsletter nor area bulletins are to be used for announcements of candidates. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that the announcement has been correctly posted. 

Pay Increase & Retroactive Pay Update — April 14, 2019

As promised in our last update on the pay increase and retroactive pay issues, NASCOE is sharing some good news from the National Finance Center (NFC bulletin # 1555103318) on the timing of the receipt of the pay raise and the retroactive measure.

“On Sunday, April 7, 2019, NFC generated the pay adjustment actions (NOA 894) for the 2019 retroactive pay increase. What this means is that most employees will see their salary increase in pay period (PP) 07, with retroactive funds included back to PP01.”

However, some employees that have intervening personnel actions (within grade Increases (WGI’s), promotions, and etc.) processed between PP01 and PP06 will not see immediate pay increases. These scenarios require additional corrective personnel actions from the Human Resources Offices to process the salary changes. “Therefore, retroactive funds will be disbursed in subsequent payroll dates.”

The entire document notification is posted on the Employee Personal Page (EPP) under “News and Announcements”. Employees with questions concerning this notification should contact their Servicing Personnel Office.

Neil Burnette & Donny Green
NASCOE Legislative Committee Co-Chairpersons

Executive Order Signed for Pay Increase

March 29, 2019

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order authorizing a 1.9 percent pay increase for federal employees, retroactive to January.

It is speculated the addition of six new locality pay areas played a part in the delay of releasing the updated pay tables. The tables have now been updated and released.

As of last night, OPM still would not detail exactly when federal employees would see the raise reflected on their paycheck.

Below are links to the new pay tables and the Executive Order:

2019 General Schedule Locality Pay Tables:

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/2019/general-schedule/

Executive Order:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-adjustments-certain-rates-pay-2/

Neil Burnette & Donny Green
NASCOE Legislative Committee Co-Chairpersons

NASCOE Convention Cash Club Contest Begins

The NASCOE Publicity Committee will award a $500 stipend to an eligible NASCOE member from each area to help defray the cost of attending the 60th Anniversary NASCOE convention in Manhattan, Kansas on July 31 through August 3, 2019. Applicants must submit a one-page essay of 500 words or less discussing the following topic:
 

“This year’s NASCOE convention theme is Denim and Diamonds. Please tell us how the theme applies to you and your involvement in NASCOE.”

Visit the NASCOE website to view the rules for the contest and to apply.  If you have any questions, please contact any member of the NASCOE Publicity Committee.

President Signs Appropriations Bill to Fund Government

On Friday afternoon, President Trump signed the legislation to avert another government shutdown and ensures the entire federal government is funded through September 30.

The legislation covers seven appropriations bills:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies;
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;
  • Financial Services and General Government;
  • Homeland Security;
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies;
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

The legislation, H.J. Res. 31, passed the Senate and House yesterday, February 14, 2019.

Photos of NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairs Donny Green and Neil Burnette

Government Funding Update – February 14, 2019

FY19 Appropriations Bill Update

February 14, 2019

Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant

The Homeland Security Conference Report (including all the other appropriations bills outstanding for FY 2019) passed the Senate 83-16, and passed the House 300-128 (with 4 not voting) late this evening.

President Trump has signaled that he will sign the bill before the February 15 deadline which will prevent another government shutdown.

NASCOE’s Legislative Team will continue to track the President’s action on the bill and will provide additional updates.

Government Funding Update from Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant

The optimism at the end of last week about a deal on border security spending facilitating a compromise allowing completion of the FY 2019 appropriations process ran into a speedbump on Sunday.

After reportedly resolving the perceived lynchpin issue of border security funding – rumored to be $2 billion, a new issue of contention arose over the weekend. Reportedly, Democratic conferees on the Department of Homeland appropriations conference are insisting on a cap of 16,500 detention beds in the US.

Cynics paint this new matter as Democrats moving the goal post on the conference negotiations, others characterize it as House conferees reflecting the views of the new House Democratic majority, and still others describe it as a natural extension of Democrats’ concerns over the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, etc.

Senators Shelby and Leahy and Chairman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger are scheduled to meet at 3 pm today (2/11) to discuss the status of the conference negotiations and determine the path forward.

Reportedly, an additional weeklong CR is being prepared in case additional time is needed to conclude negotiations/passage of a final deal. None of the stakeholders want another shutdown.

Murmurings of a year-long CR for Homeland Security are also popping up around the Hill, but hopes are that the current negotiations will resolve this new matter and permit completion of the FY 2019 appropriations process.
NASCOE’s Legislative Team will continue to provide updates as this situation develops.

NASCOE Member Attends State of the Union Address as Special Guest – February 5, 2019

Jesse Wegner, Iowa Association President

Jesse Wegner, National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE) member and President of the Iowa Association of Farm Service Agency County Office Employees (IASCOE), is attending the 2019 State of the Union Address tonight as special and honored guest of Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer.

Each member of Congress is allowed to invite one guest to the State of the Union Speech. It is a special privilege and opportunity to have one of our own members attend with Congresswoman Finkenauer while representing NASCOE.

This honorable invitation highlights the importance and success of NASCOE’s outreach initiative that benefits all of our members. We are proud of Jesse’s shining example of building relationships through our outreach initiatives.

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#NASCOE and #NASCOEatSOTU and #SOTU

Representative Abby Finkenauer, Iowa pictured with her Special Guest for the 2019 State of the Union Address, Iowa-IASCOE President, Jesse Wegner. Jesse is the CED in Fayette County, Northeast Iowa.

Update on Legislation to Reopen Government

Friday, January 25, 2019 — The House and Senate have now approved the continuing resolution funding the government through February 15.

The legislation will now head to the President’s desk for his signature. Earlier today the President announced the agreement to end the shutdown and stated he would sign the bill to open government for three weeks.

We realize that FSA employees are concerned about timelines for processing and receiving their back pay, and we expect that there will be guidance provided to all employees on Monday when they return to work. Our understanding is that payroll processing will be a priority and processed as quickly as possible.