Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (10/12/1998)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Economic Development

Title II: Appalachian Regional Development

Economic Development Administration and Appalachian Regional Development Reform Act of 1998 - Title I: Economic Development - Economic Development Administration Reform Act of 1998 - Amends the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (the Act) to replace titles I through VI of such Act with the provisions of this Act. Directs the Secretary of Commerce to cooperate with States and other entities to ensure 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. Authorizes the Secretary to provide appropriate technical assistance to such entities in order to alleviate economic distress, encourage partnerships for economic development strategies, and promote investment in infrastructure and technological capacity to keep pace with the changing global economy. Directs the Secretary to promulgate regulations for intergovernmental review of proposed economic development projects. Authorizes the Secretary to enter into economic development cooperation agreements with two or more adjoining States.

Defines an "eligible recipient," for purposes of this Act, as: (1) an area with a per capita income of 80 percent or less of the national average or an unemployment rate at least one percent greater than the national average or one which has experienced or is about to experience actual or threatened severe unemployment or economic adjustment problems; (2) an economic development district; (3) an Indian tribe; (4) a State; (5) a political subdivision; (6) an institution of higher education; or (7) a nonprofit organization acting in cooperation with local officials.

Sets forth provisions similar to existing provisions of law authorizing grants to eligible recipients for acquisition or development of public works and development facilities. Retains a limitation that prohibits more than 15 percent of the amounts made available for such assistance from being expended in any one State.

Authorizes assistance for public works and economic development to be available for a project to be carried out on a military or Department of Energy installation that is closed or scheduled for closure or realignment without requiring an eligible recipient to have title to the property or a leasehold interest for any specified term.

Sets forth provisions similar to those under existing law authorizing grants for economic planning. Authorizes the Secretary to make grants for related administrative expenses as well. 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 recipient is eligible but for which the recipient cannot provide the required non-Federal share. Provides supplementary grant conditions and requirements, authorizing the Secretary to reduce or waive the required non-Federal share in certain cases.

Sets forth provisions similar to those under existing law that authorize technical assistance useful in alleviating or preventing conditions of excessive unemployment or underemployment. Authorizes grants for training and research for such purposes as well. Permits the Secretary to reduce or waive the non-Federal share of a project so assisted if the project is not feasible without, and merits, such a reduction or waiver.

Retains an existing provision of law regarding the prevention of unfair competition.

Sets forth provisions similar to those under existing law which authorize grants for economic adjustment to alleviate long-term economic deterioration and sudden economic dislocation. Revises criteria for such assistance.

Authorizes the Secretary, subject to appropriations, to: (1) approve the use of grant funds for projects the scope or purpose for which has been modified after the grant has been made, except for a grant for which funds were obligated in FY 1995; and (2) use funds for projects constructed for less than the projected costs to improve such projects.

Bars assistance for public works and economic development from being used for attorney's or consultants' fees incurred in connection with obtaining grants and contracts.

Requires areas to have per capita incomes of 80 percent or less of the national average or unemployment rates at least one percent greater than the national average or to have experienced or be about to experience actual or threatened severe unemployment or economic adjustment problems in order to be eligible for grants for public works and economic development or economic adjustment. Requires from such applicants: (1) documentation of meeting such criteria; and (2) evidence of a comprehensive economic development strategy which identifies the economic problems to be addressed through such assistance, as well as related information.

Revises conditions under which areas may be designated as economic development districts by the Secretary. Retains: (1) existing incentives for increasing grant assistance in districts where participants are actively participating in economic development activities and the project is consistent with the district's comprehensive economic development strategy; and (2) provisions authorizing assistance to parts of districts not in eligible areas.

Directs the Secretary to carry out this Act through an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development who shall serve as the Administrator of the Economic Development Administration. Directs the Secretary to maintain an information clearinghouse on all matters relating to economic development and adjustment, disaster recovery, defense conversion, and trade adjustment programs and activities of Federal and State governments and to assist applicants for such assistance. Authorizes the Secretary to furnish procurement divisions of the Federal Government with a list of business firms located in distressed areas that desire Federal contracts.

Requires the Secretary to conduct reviews of university centers and economic development districts that receive grant assistance under this Act to assess their performance and contribution toward retention and creation of employment.

Requires notification of specified congressional committees of reorganization of the Economic Development Administration at least 30 days prior to reorganization.

Provides for penalty, administrative, and recordkeeping provisions similar to those under existing law.

Authorizes appropriations for FY 1999 through 2003. Authorizes additional appropriations for defense conversion activities and disaster economic recovery activities.

Repeals provisions of the Act regarding economic recovery for disaster areas, special economic development and adjustment assistance, and the job opportunities program.

Title II: Appalachian Regional Development - Appalachian Regional Development Reform Act of 1998 - Amends the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 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 2001; 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. Provides for annual reviews of designations and permits designation renewals for another one-year period only if a county still meets the designation. 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 2001: (1) the authorization of appropriations under the Act; and (2) the termination date of the ARC and the Act.