September 2017
DMGS Capitol Commentary- September 2017
Hurricane Harvey Aftermath and Recovery
Pew Charitable Trusts: "Harvey Recovery Efforts Will Take Years. Fixing Flood Insurance Shouldn’t."
With Tropical Storm Harvey unleashing unprecedented rainfall across the Houston region and other Texas communities, it is clear that this storm will go down as one of the most destructive weather events ever to strike the United States. President Donald Trump has authorized emergency aid, and local, regional, and federal disaster relief teams are focused on ensuring the safety and security of the millions of people directly affected by Harvey. But for many of those afflicted, rebuilding their lives may take years.

When Congress returns to work next week, its top priority must be appropriating sufficient recovery aid for communities battered and inundated by Harvey, which came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane. Lawmakers also face the task of debating and reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which expires at the end of September. The program, which provides federally backed coverage for homeowners and small businesses in more than 22,000 U.S. communities, is nearly $25 billion in debt.

So far, the presidential disaster declaration for Harvey covers 18 Texas counties where, according to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts, just over 400,000 NFIP policyholders live. That’s roughly 16 percent of households in those counties.

Capitol Commentary: Around the Country
California
Can California get 100 percent of its electricity from renewables?

The Los Angeles City Council threw its weight Monday behind legislation that would require California to deliver 100 percent of its electricity from renewable and carbon-free sources by 2045.

The ambitious goal is the focus of Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon’s bill introduced in May. The bill passed the state Senate, but needs approval from the Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Supporters at a rally on the steps of City Hall say now is the time to build more solar, wind and other power plants that don’t burn fossil fuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change and extreme weather patterns, including rising sea tides and larger and more frequent wildfires.

Florida
Trump nominates Miami lawmaker to United Nations post

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Trujillo has been tapped to serve in the United Nations, the White House announced Friday.

President Donald Trump nominated Trujillo to the role of representative to the UN general assembly. The position would make the powerful Florida House budget chief one of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s four deputies.

Trujillo, an attorney, would take Haley’s place in meetings and assemblies when she’s unavailable. He would also get the title of “ambassador.”

Kentucky
Depleted state pension system will get lawmakers’ attention in October, speaker says

A special law-making session to tackle Kentucky’s financially strapped public pension systems will likely be held in October and tax reform possibly will be addressed later, House Speaker Jeff Hoover said.

Hoover, speaking to reporters before the 54th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair that attracted about 1,500 people, also said all House members will meet at 11 a.m. Tuesday in closed session at the Capitol to discuss pension reform.

He noted that the Public Pension Oversight Board will receive recommendations on pension reform before the Tuesday meeting. Hoover, R-Jamestown, said he wanted the meeting to be closed so members could express themselves freely. No straw vote will be taken to determine how members feel on the issue, he said.

Illinois
‘Compromise’ Illinois school bill dramatically moves big step closer to reality

The Illinois House passed a “compromise” school funding bill — setting the stage for state government to overhaul the way it bankrolls public education.

The measure, which initially failed, cleared the chamber 73-34. The Senate on Tuesday plans to take up the bill — which Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he’ll sign.

The compromise is thought to be a historic step forward for public school funding statewide. It was reached after weeks of negotiations — and was struck as a way to get both Republicans and Rauner on board.

Oregon
State recognizes housing crisis: Oregon legislature provides funding for programs

Legislators are well aware that the state is in the midst of a housing crisis. As a result, they have passed a number of bills to expand existing programs and followed that up with more funding to address the issue.

“The Legislature can do two things,” said State Sen. Bill Hansell, who represents Wallowa County. “We, as the Legislature, need to look for ways to incentivize private sector affordable housing in all parts of the state; and second, we shouldn’t pass laws or polices that disincentivize or make things more difficult for those people who are wanting to build the housing units.”

Wallowa County has a good catalog of “assisted housing,” much under the Oregon Section 8 housing program, which offers qualified beneficiaries lower rental rates each month. However, there is another program for “affordable housing” handled through Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), which the legislature has championed.

Washington
Washington state forms team to oversee fish-spill response, puts new pen permits on hold

A week after the escape of thousands of Atlantic salmon into the waters off the San Juan Islands, the state Saturday formed a multiagency response team to oversee and coordinate containment and recovery.

“The release of net pen-raised Atlantic salmon into Washington’s waters has created an emergency situation,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news release.

Inslee and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz also said the state will not issue new leases or permits for net pens until a full review of the incident is completed.

The company that runs the Cypress Island fish-farm operation, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, also said Saturday it would not rebuild the collapsed pens, but would concentrate on recovering the salmon still remaining in the netted enclosures.

Industry Overview: Mobile Banking
Peer-to-peer mobile payment application Venmo reported $8 billion in transactions for the second quarter of 2017, doubling its 2016 second quarter numbers. With this trajectory, analysts believe Venmo could process nearly $85 billion in transactions by 2019. Whether it is sending money to a roommate for rent or paying a friend for a night out, P2P mobile payment applications enable faster exchanges, but the numbers also illustrate a growing trend in consumer behavior.

Peer-to-peer banking technology has created a conducive atmosphere for transactions, but as financial technologies evolve, institutions must keep pace with new platforms to appease consumer demand. While this occurs, financial regulators must also maintain a framework that encourages growth while protecting consumers.

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