Federal spending bill: What's in it for NH?By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader
March 24. 2018 11:51PM
The $1.3 trillion, omnibus federal spending bill includes New Hampshire-specific projects and other program add-ons that the state's congressional delegation says should lead to more federal money sent back to programs in the state.
Here are some examples of both in the 2,200-page measure that President Trump said Friday most members of Congress probably didn't read.
SPECIFIC TO NEW HAMPSHIRE
PFC study: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., secured the first-ever, nationwide study on the impact of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in drinking water. The bipartisan funding bill also directs the Department of Defense to report on the extent of PFC contamination in drinking water, plans for community notification and procedures for timely cleanup.
Shaheen got the study endorsed in a defense spending bill last December through her activism over PFCs found in water samples near the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth.
Aid for fishermen: The spending bill includes $2 million in new grants for research into New England groundfish after the state's congressional delegation blocked a costly at-sea monitoring fee from being imposed on New Hampshire fishermen this year.
Northern Border Commission: This provides $15 million for the commission that gives grants to economic development projects in New England and upstate New York, which is a $5 million increase over the previous year. Trump's budget had called for eliminating this program. The measure also has language in it, sought by Shaheen, to address the needs of rural towns such as in northern New Hampshire hit hard by paper product plant closures.
Low-income heating aid: This contains a $250 million increase for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) over the previous year, when it served 28,000 people in the state, and it also has $23 million more for weatherization assistance and $5 million more for state energy programs. Trump's budget had called for eliminating LIHEAP.
Rural farmers: The bill includes a provision U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., sponsored, to remove a reporting requirement for small farmers in New Hampshire and other states to access federal conservation programs through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
AREAS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE INTEREST
Opioid epidemic money: This includes an increase of $3.3 billion with $142 million of that being set aside for states such as New Hampshire with the highest rates of mortality from drug overdoses. In 2016, New Hampshire was in the top five in that category and last year it led the nation for overdoses from fentanyl, the synthetic opioid.
VA infrastructure: This contains $2 billion to address a construction backlog of improvements to older VA facilities across the country; New Hampshire's delegation is hoping to access some of that money to direct even more federal aid to the Manchester VA Medical Center.
Rural broadband: The $600 million initiative nationwide would be a 10-fold increase over current levels and includes $7.5 million to improve the national broadband map that advocates said should help identify gaps in coverage for New Hampshire.
Community Block Grants: A $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Community Development Block Grant (CCDBG) programs, the largest single-year increase in the programs' history. Both already earmark significant grants to New Hampshire communities.
Pell Grants: The maximum grant under this deal would go up $175 to $6,095 per student each year, the largest increase in eight years. While the Trump budget called for cutting work study grants in half, this compromise raises them more than 10 percent or by more than $110 million next year.
Violence against women: Shaheen put into the agreement $492 million, the most ever, for the Office on Violence Against Women for grants used for domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions, rape prevention programs, hotlines, training for law enforcement, women's shelters and housing support services. This also would reduce the backlog of rape kits.