Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (08/06/1998)


Title I: Public Works and Economic Development Programs

Subtitle A: Reauthorizations

Subtitle B: Innovative Financing Pilot Programs

Title II: Appalachian Regional Development

Economic Development Partnership Act of 1998 - Title I: Public Works and Economic Development Programs - Subtitle A: Reauthorizations - Rewrites the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (the Act, for purposes of this title). Directs the Secretary of Commerce to cooperate with States and other entities to assure that Federal economic development programs are compatible with and further the objectives of State, regional, and local economic development plans and comprehensive economic development strategies. Directs the Secretary to: (1) provide appropriate technical assistance to such entities in order to alleviate economic distress, encourage partnerships for economic development strategies, and stimulate modernization and technological advances in the generation and commercialization of goods and services; and (2) issue regulations for intergovernmental review of proposed economic development projects. Authorizes the Secretary to enter into appropriate economic development agreements with two or more adjoining States.

Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to eligible recipients (defined later under this Act) for acquisition or development of land and improvements for public works, public service, or development facility usage, as well as the acquisition, design and engineering, construction, rehabilitation, alteration, expansion, or improvement of such facilities. Provides assistance conditions relating to the establishment of industrial or commercial plants and the increase of employment in the area. Prohibits more than 15 percent of the appropriations made for such assistance from being expended in any one State. Allows grants to be increased due to construction cost increases, with limitations.

Authorizes the Secretary to make direct grants for economic development planning and related administrative expenses. Requires such planning to be a continuous process and to be prepared as part of a comprehensive economic development strategy for the area involved. Requires State certification of an economic development plan's consistency with local and economic development district plans. Provides a Federal cost-share limit of 50 percent of project costs.

Authorizes the Secretary to make supplementary grants for a project for which the applicant is eligible but cannot supply the required matching share. Provides supplementary grant conditions and requirements, authorizing the Secretary to reduce or waive the required non-Federal share in such cases.

Authorizes the Secretary to make direct grants for training, research, and technical assistance for alleviating or preventing conditions of excessive unemployment or underemployment. Allows such grants to include amounts for relocation assistance.

Authorizes the Secretary to make direct grants for public facilities, public services, business development, planning, technical assistance, training and other assistance which demonstrably furthers the economic adjustment objectives of the Act. Allows such grant to be used in either direct expenditures by the recipient or through redistribution to other public and private entities, but prohibits any such redistribution to a private profit-making entity. Authorizes the Secretary to: (1) approve the use of grant funds for projects the scope or purpose for which changes after the grant has been made; (2) use funds for projects constructed for less than the projected costs to improve such projects; and (3) make assistance available for projects to be carried out at a military or Department of Energy installation.

Prohibits any assistance under the Act which would produce unfair commercial competition.

Authorizes the sale of financial instruments in revolving loan funds to further the purposes of the Act.

Requires reports from grant and assistance recipients.

Defines as an eligible recipient for purposes of the Act an area that: (1) has a per capita income of 80 percent or less of the national average or an unemployment rate one percent above such average; (2) has experienced or is about to experience a special need to meet an expected rise in unemployment; or (3) is determined by the Secretary to be a pocket of poverty or high unemployment within a larger community of less economic distress and that has demonstrated a resistance to economic recovery without assistance under the Act. Requires from recipients: (1) documentation of the presence of any such criteria; and (2) a comprehensive economic development strategy which identifies the economic problems to be addressed through such assistance, as well as related information.

Authorizes the Secretary, in order to plan and carry out economic development projects of broader geographic significance, to designate appropriate economic development districts and economic development centers within such districts. Provides geographic, population, and other requirements with respect to each such designation. Directs the Secretary to prescribe standards for the termination of such districts and centers. Authorizes the Secretary to increase by up to ten percent of project costs the amount of grant assistance otherwise provided in the Act for projects within designated districts.

Requires each designated district to provide to the Appalachian Regional Commission a copy of such district's comprehensive economic development strategy.

Authorizes the Secretary to provide assistance to a district area which does not meet the requirements of an eligible recipient under the Act when such assistance will be of substantial direct benefit to a qualifying area in such district.

Directs the Secretary to administer the Act with the assistance of an Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development who shall serve as the administrator of the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Directs the Secretary to establish in the EDA an Office of Economic Development Information to serve as a central information clearinghouse on all matters relating to economic development programs and activities of Federal and State governments, to help applicants for such assistance, and to develop electronic links or other connections to other information databases to assist such entities in identifying and applying for assistance and resources under such programs. Requires public access to Office information and data services. Requires appropriate consultation with other persons and agencies. Authorizes the Secretary to furnish procurement divisions of the Federal Government with a list of business firms located in distressed areas which desire Government supplies and services contracts.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) notify specified congressional committees of any EDA reorganization of its offices, programs, or activities at least 30 days before such reorganization; (2) conduct an evaluation at least every three years of each university center and economic development district receiving assistance to assess its performance and contribution toward job retention and creation; (3) establish a Federal Coordinating Council for Economic Development to coordinate with Federal, State, and other districts and organizations its activities relating to comprehensive economic development strategies and grants; and (4) establish an Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund Task Force to review and make recommendations concerning the financial management and related standards and requirements of revolving loan funds from which financial instruments are sold in order to further the purposes of the Act.

Imposes penalties upon persons: (1) making false statements in order to obtain assistance under the Act; and (2) who embezzle or commit other fraud-related crimes while connected in any capacity with the Secretary in the administration of the Act. Sets forth: (1) conflict-of-interest provisions; and (2) recordkeeping requirements for the Secretary and recipients regarding assistance under the Act.

Provides that assistance under the Act shall supplement and not supplant other Federal assistance.

Authorizes appropriations to carry out the Act for FY 1999 through 2003. Authorizes additional appropriations for administrative expenses and defense conversion activities.

Subtitle B: Innovative Financing Pilot Programs - Authorizes the Secretary to guarantee a loan made by a private lending institution to a State, political subdivision, Indian tribe, or organization or association for any purpose for which the Secretary can make a direct grant under title I of this Act. Provides funding.

(Sec. 122) Directs the Secretary, acting through the Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, to carry out a program to demonstrate the effectiveness of encouraging economic development by making grants for reducing interest rates on loans for economic development activities. Outlines grant requirements, terms, and conditions.

(Sec. 123) Directs the Secretary to convey to the city of Two Harbors, Minnesota, the J and J Casting Site in Lake County, Minnesota, together with a road easement.

(Sec. 124) Directs the Secretary, by September 30 of each of FY 1999 through 2003, to report to the Congress an evaluation of the effectiveness of the loan guarantees and grants under this Subtitle.

(Sec. 125) Prohibits funds made available under this Act from being expended in violation of the Buy American Act.

Title II: Appalachian Regional Development - Amends the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 (the Act, for purposes of this title) to: (1) require the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to meet at least once a year, and allow the ARC to conduct additional meetings by electronic means as considered advisable; (2) require the ARC to obtain a quorum of State members before reaching certain decisions; (3) extend permanently the authorization of appropriations for ARC administrative expenses; (4) revise compensation levels for ARC employees; (5) extend ARC administrative authority through FY 2003; and (6) reduce from 100 to 50 percent of program costs the Federal cost-sharing requirement with respect to demonstration health projects in the Appalachian region under this Act, with an exception of 80 percent of such costs for counties designated as distressed.

(Sec. 208) Repeals the following programs and provisions under the Act: (1) the land stabilization, conservation, and erosion control program; (2) the timber development program; (3) the mining area restoration program; (4) the water resource development and utilization survey; (5) the Appalachian airport safety improvements program; (6) the sewage treatment works program; and (7) amendments to the Housing Act of 1954.

(Sec. 214) Reduces from 100 to 50 percent of program costs the Federal cost-sharing requirement with respect to Appalachian vocational education and education demonstration projects, with an exception of 80 percent of such costs for counties designated as distressed. Makes an identical reduction with respect to Federal costs for Federal grant-in-aid programs in the Appalachian region.

(Sec. 218) Adds specified criteria and measurements to be considered when determining programs and projects to be given assistance under the Act.

(Sec. 219) Directs the ARC to designate as: (1) distressed counties those counties that are the most severely and persistently distressed; (2) competitive counties those counties which are approaching economic parity with the rest of the country; and (3) attainment counties those counties which have attained or exceeded such economic parity. Requires the ARC to give special consideration to counties designated as distressed. Limits to 30 percent of project costs the authorized assistance for a county designated as competitive, and prohibits assistance for a county designated as attainment. Provides exceptions and an authorized waiver by the ARC.

(Sec. 220) Empowers the ARC (currently, the President) to make grants for administrative expenses and ARC research and development projects under the Act. Reduces from 75 to 50 percent of program costs the Federal share of such projects, with an exception of 80 percent for counties designated as distressed. Repeals provisions concerning such projects which: (1) require certain ARC studies and reports; (2) authorize appropriations through June 30, 1969; and (3) ensure public availability of all information obtained from such projects.

(Sec. 221) Extends through FY 2003: (1) the authorization of appropriations under the Act; and (2) the termination date of the ARC and the Act.