What Florida is getting from the massive ‘omnibus’ spending bill

New hurricane hunter jet for Lakeland is a highlight.
The Capitol on Feb. 27, 2018 (Alex Leary | Times)
The Capitol on Feb. 27, 2018 (Alex Leary | Times)
Published March 22, 2018|Updated March 22, 2018

WASHINGTON – Florida lawmakers are heralding an array of funding for the state that in the $1.3 trillion spending bill, including $122 million for a new "hurricane hunter" jet.

The legislation also includes some measures that follow the Parkland school shooting. The Student, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act, championed by Florida lawmakers, will provide grants to increase security and identify threats.

The bill incorporates "Fix NICS," designed to promote better reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The Centers for Disease Control will be able to research gun violence, breaking prohibition that has been in place since 1996. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, was among the advocates. It does not repeal the so-called Dickey amendment but makes clear that research is not barred.

It does not include a solution for "Dreamers," tens of thousands of whom live in Florida. A bipartisan push to provide more permanent protection for the young immigrants failed, while President Trump only got a sliver of money for the border.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson both highlighted the hurricane jet, which will replace an outdated aircraft for the Lakeland-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mission.

Rubio is a Republican member of the appropriations committee and his office pointed to a long list of Florida provisions, including $82 million for the Herbert Hoover Dike construction and funding for the Citrus Health Response Program, a courthouse in Fort Lauderdale and full funding of requests from military bases in the state.

A full list as provided by Rubio's office:

. Stop School Violence Act
2. National Institute of Justice; Comprehensive School Safety Initiative
·        $75M; report language included
3. Everglades
·        Restored cuts proposed by the Administration for Everglades and $10.032M included for Everglades.
·        Supported the budget request of $82 million for Herbert Hoover Dike construction and included an additional $180 million in the additional funding pot for Flood Control in the Construction account. In FY17, the Herbert Hoover Dike project received an additional $18.67 million from this additional funding pot.
·        Included additional $35 million in the Construction account for Environmental Restoration and Compliance. In the FY17 work plan, the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration project received an additional $8.5 million from this additional funding pot.
·        Included senate report language in the Investigations account  for Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) Expedited Validation Study which urges the Corps to expedite the required validation report for the Central Everglades Planning Project.
·        Included senate report language in the Investigations account encouraging the Corps to conduct, at full federal expense, a study of the coastal areas in the South Atlantic Division to identify the risks and vulnerabilities of those areas to increased hurricane and storm damage reduction as authorized in section 1204 of the WIIN Act.
·        Included senate report language in the Construction account  that Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan-Indian River Lagoon-South urging the Corps to expedite preparations for design work on the C-23 and C-24 South Reservoirs that along with C-44 Reservoir.
·        Included senate report language in the Construction account urging the Corps to provide states with guidance and recommendations to implement cost effective measures and planning for sand management. Also included conference report language encouraging the Corps to include in future budget submissions the study of sediment sources authorized in section 1143 of PL 114-322
·        Included additional $3 million for the Continuing Authorities Section 103- Shore Protection.
·        Included two construction new starts for Navigation, and one construction new start for a Coastal Storm Damage Reduction project (the Lido Key Shore Protection project would be eligible to compete under this new start).
·        Included additional $481 million above the FY17 enacted levels in the O&M account including $24.28 million for Navigation Maintenance; $30 million for Inland Waterways; and $50 million for Small, Remote, or Subsistence Navigation.
·        Included additional funding to meet the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund spending target established by WRRDA 2014.
·        Included $40 million in the O&M account for Donor and Energy Transfer Ports.
·        Included senate report language in the Construction account directing the Corps to make publically available a comprehensive snapshot of all SFER cost-share accounting down to the project level for FY18 by September 30, 2018.
·        Included $6 million for Coastal Ocean Data System (CODS), $3.5 million above the budget request.
·        Included $70 million above the budget request in the Construction account for Environmental Infrastructure. In FY17, the Florida Keys Water Quality Improvements received $2M from this additional funding pot.
·        Supported the budget request of $10 million for the National (Levee) Flood Inventory remaining line item in O&M, $5 million above the FY17 enacted levels.

4. Other Florida items
·        $178.2 million provided for Specialty Crop Pests, including the Citrus Health Response Program
·        Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Stock Assessments – Provide up to $10,000,000 under NMFS for red snapper stock assessments in the Gulf of Mexico.
·        Hurricane Hunters – Expanded on Senate report language and provided $121,000,000 for NOAA to procure a hurricane hunter backup.
·       Funding for Ft. Lauderdale, FL courthouse
·        includes full funding for Florida MILCON request at Eglin AFB, Mayport, MacDill AFB, Hurlburt Field and Patrick AFB
·        includes an additional two Florida projects from the UFR list authorized in the NDAA at Eglin AFB and Tyndall
·        includes report language regarding strategic disperal of east coast homported capital ships, as you requested
·        includes report language regarding test and training range instrumentation modernization, as you requested
·        Report language included on best practices for producing new housing in high cost metropolitan areas

5. Foreign Policy
·        Includes $20 m for democracy programs in Cuba.
·        Includes $15 m for democracy promotion in Venezuela.
·        $615 m to support the US Strategy for Engagement in Central America.

And from Nelson:

$3.3 billion to fight the opioid epidemic and mental health crises. An estimated 2.6 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder. In Florida alone, more than 5,200 people have died from an opioid-related event in 2016 – a 35 percent increase from 2015. Nelson requested additional funding for treatment, prevention and research.

·         $67.47 million in total funding for citrus greening research and the Citrus Health Research Program. As citrus greening has hurt growers across Florida, Nelson has advocated for increased funding to study and address the problem to help the state's citrus industry.

·         $895 million for Kennedy Space Center to modernize launch facilities, more than doubling what the center received last year.  Nelson requested the increased funding to bolster work on launch and processing infrastructure needed for NASA's initiative to explore deep space.

·         $121 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to purchase a reliable backup for its aging hurricane hunter jet.  Nelson has been pushing for a replacement since 2015. The funding comes in the wake of several incidents over the last two years when the jet NOAA uses to gather hurricane measurements was grounded during hurricane season.

·         $76.5 million in total funding to protect and restore the Everglades. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing additional funding for Everglades restoration.

·         $82 million to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing for additional funding for dike repairs.

·         $279.6 million, a 14-percent increase, in funding to support Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The four historically black colleges and universities in Florida—Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville – prepare over 16,000 students for careers in STEM, aviation, law, nursing and other fields.

·         $250 million in federal funding for positive train control grants.  Positive train control technology will help prevent deadly crashes on our railroads. It's critically important for those railroads that carry passengers, like Sunrail and Tri-Rail.  Nelson, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee, pressed for the funding to help passenger railroads meet a federal deadline to install the lifesaving technology.

·         $100 million for research and development program for automated vehicles. The SunTrax facility at Florida Polytechnic University is a qualified proving ground and will have the opportunity to benefit from the program.

·         Restored and increased funds to $35 million for democracy programs in Venezuela and Cuba. Nelson requested Congress "redouble, not eliminate support for democracy and human rights" in Venezuela. The democracy programs support civil society organizations and promote human rights.

·         Included $60 million for the Nonprofits Security Grant Program. The program helps certain non-profits harden their facilities against attack, such as organization like the Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in Orlando and Miami and elsewhere. Nelson requested this funding after JCCs across Florida received a series of telephone bomb threats.

·         Increased funding for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program to $5 million. Nelson requested $5 million in funding to provide long-term support and services for Holocaust survivors.