Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020 Hunter Moorehead, Legislative Consultant

Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020
Hunter Moorehead, Legislative Consultant

The House of Representatives and U.S. Senate approved legislation funding the government at current levels through November 21. This allows our employees to continue working without any lapse of federal appropriations.

The bill includes language allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to continue disbursing Commodity Credit Corporation funds for the Market Facilitation Program. This will ensure farmers continue to receive financial assistance.

Our legislative committee is working to educate legislators about the need for additional salaries and expenses funding for the next fiscal year. In addition, Members of Congress continue to highlight FSA’s field office staffing needs and the inability to adequately deliver farm programs.

The agency has completed the new workload analysis and our farmers deserve better customer service. We believe field office staff numbers are short over 2,000 FTEs. The time has come for the USDA to give us the tools necessary to deliver farm programs.

2020 Appropriations Update

2020 Appropriations Update
September 11, 2019
Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant

On June 25th, the full House voted 227-194 to approve the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture appropriations bill which included an increase in FSA salaries and expenses of 3.8 % or $ 41 million. The Senate has yet to act on any 2020 appropriation measures. Due to this lack of progress, the House is planning to move a continuing resolution next week that will run through November 21st or 22nd, or through December 6th. It appears November 21st or 22nd will the most likely choice, but we are told the decision has not been made yet. At this time, we do not expect that the government will face another shutdown. With an election year coming up, we do not feel that anyone in Congress will have the stomach to add this as an issue for voters to take sides on.

The Senate planned on moving 4 bills this week through subcommittee and full committee appropriations. Democrats met Monday night, and decided they wanted to push back on anticipated allocations in domestic discretionary as well as on some issues important to their base (border wall restrictions, abortion/title X, etc.). There is a divide between members who want to work with the majority and address their concerns through the process (in conference) and those who want to begin fighting on every appropriations bill immediately.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell reiterated on the Sunday news programs his intention is to only pass appropriations bills in the Senate acceptable to the President.

The plan had been to mark up four bills this week (DoD, E&W, LHHS, SFO), four next (Ag, FS, MilCon/VA, THUD), and four the following week (CJS, DHS, Interior, Leg Branch). Chairman Shelby and Senate Republican Leadership hoped to have the first four bills on the Senate floor next week (9/16-9/20). Absent some agreement between Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Leahy and Senate Leadership, the FY 2020 appropriations schedule appears to be moving further down the calendar.

NASCOE fully understands that our members will have concerns, especially considering the events last year. We will continue to closely monitor the appropriations process and will keep membership apprised as new developments arise.

Photos of NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairs Clint Bain and Neil Burnette.

Reminder! July 1 Application Deadline for NASCOE Leadership Program

Good Afternoon Everyone!

The application deadline is coming up for the NASCOE Leadership Development Program! JULY 1st-Please spread the word! The team has an exciting agenda planned to develop NASCOE’s future leaders. If you have ever considered getting more involved in your state or on the national level of NASCOE, this training is for you! It will provide you with all the tools you need and help you build those key relationships.

Please visit the NASCOE Leadership Development page for more details and instructions on how to apply. Direct your questions to Donny Green and Neil Burnette, Legislative Co-Chairs.

www.nascoe.org/Leadership-Development/

Application Deadline: July 1, 2019

Submit applications to your State President and Area Executive.

Lynsey Brooks and Ashlee Dalton
NASCOE Leadership Development Program Coordinators

Hurry July 1st is the Leadership Program Deadline

Announcing the NASCOE Leadership Development Program

NASCOE Leadership Development Program

October 24-26, 2019
Dallas, Texas

NASCOE is excited to announce an opportunity for states to develop and enhance leadership to promote sustainability and success into the future. We are asking states to identify, engage, educate, and invest in the “NASCOE Leadership Development Program” which is designed to focus exclusively on leadership development and enhancement all the way from the state level to the national level!

We have so much undiscovered and available talent within NASCOE’s membership, and we want to do our best to recruit and train future aspiring leaders to continue carrying the torch. It is NASCOE’s goal to deliver this training in a “train-the-trainer” format so that the results and benefits will be perpetual by allowing states to take this model back home and continue “passing the torch” to future generations of up and coming leaders.

It is important to understand that this leadership training is not focused on a traditional audience compared to NASCOE’s audience for legislative conferences. Our intent is to focus on leadership development, with only a segment of legislative education.

Over the course of several months, NASCOE’s leadership has worked diligently to formulate a targeted plan of action, a suitable venue location, and a team of excellent presenters and coordinators.

Please visit the NASCOE Leadership Development page
for more details and instructions on how to apply.

www.nascoe.org/Leadership-Development/

Application Deadline: July 1, 2019

NASCOE Contacts: Donny Green and Neil Burnette, Legislative Co-Chairs

$19.1 Billion Disaster Bill Heads to President’s Desk

Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant
June 5, 2019

Below are the highlights of the disaster aid package previously passed by the Senate, passed by the House earlier this week, and is now awaiting the President’s signature:

Title I – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

  • Agricultural Programs — $3.005 billion. Payments for crop and livestock losses due to hurricanes, typhoons, volcanic activities, tornadoes, floods, snowstorms, or wildfires during 2018 and 2019. 
     
  • Emergency Forest Restoration Program — $480 million.  Assistance to owners of private forests to restore disaster-damaged forests. 
     
  • Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations — $435 million. Financial and technical assistance to states and local sponsors to protect and restore watersheds.
     
  • Emergency Conservation Program — $558 million. Provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.
     
  • Rural Community Facilities Program — $150 million.  Grants for facilities to provide health care, education, public safety, and public services to rural communities.
     
  • Nutrition Assistance Program for Puerto Rico — $600 million.  Additional funding to continue disaster nutrition benefits in Puerto Rico during its recovery from Hurricane Maria. 
     
  • Nutrition Assistance Program for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) — $25.2 million.  Additional funding for nutrition benefits in CNMI following typhoons in September and October.
     
  • Nutrition Assistance for America Samoa — $18 million for disaster nutrition assistance for American Samoa.
     
  • Study of Puerto Rico disaster nutrition assistance — $5 million for a study of the disaster nutrition assistance provided to the Commonwealth in 2017.

The Bill also includes:  

  • Provides trade mitigation assistance through the Market Facilitation Program to producers who derive at least 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities. 
  • Establishes crop insurance for hemp products.
  • Allows certain California communities affected by 2018 wildfires to be eligible for USDA Rural Development programs until 2020 Census data is available.
Photos of Donny Green and Neil Burnette, NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairs.

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.

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

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.