What the federal spending bill means for Kentucky’s business and agricultural community

The passage of the federal spending legislation Saturday will impact Kentucky business and the agriculture community through new funding provisions as well as regulations.

Over the weekend, Congress passed the so-called “CRomnibus” (H.R. 83), a $1.013 trillion federal spending bill that will fund the federal government through September 2015, sending it to the President’s desk to be signed.  The passage of this measure effectively avoids a government shutdown.

What is a Cromnibus (H.R. 83)?

The measure is a combination of a long-term omnibus spending bill and a short-term continuing resolution (CR).  The omnibus portion funds 11 of the 12 appropriations bills, leaving out the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The CR portion will fund DHS through the end of February 27, 2015.  By design, this will require the U.S. Congress to debate President Obama’s recent action regarding immigration.

Within the spending bill are measures that may be of interest to Kentucky’s business, energy and agricultural industries.

Regulatory:

  • Authorizes a $60 million cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Amends Dodd-Frank- “swaps pushout requirements” for farmers and other commodity producers from having to put down unnecessary collateral to get a loan and/or expand their business.
  • Enhances congressional oversight of EPA’s review of mining permits
  • Exempts livestock producers from onerous greenhouse gas regulations
  • Prevents The Army Corps from implementing the Clean Water Act/Waters of the US in certain agricultural areas (farm ponds and irrigation ditches).
  • Prohibits the Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) from blocking coal power generation projects, helping coal exports.
  • Prohibits funding for The Army Corps to change the definition of “fill material,” which could have harmful effects on many U.S. industries

Small Business Administration (SBA):

  • The bill includes $195 million – full funding – for small business loans.
  • Fully funds the small business disaster relief program at $187 million, and increases funding for entrepreneurial programs by $24 million above fiscal year 2014.

Healthcare:

  • No new funding for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • Requires health insurance companies to disclose to consumers whether their ACA plans provide coverage for abortion services.

Energy:

  • Provides $571 million funding for research and development relating to coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil fuel technologies.
  • Provides $150 million for the Office of Surface Mining, including $69 million in state grants to allow states to implement programs without increasing fees on the mining industry.

Rural Development:

  • Provides a total of $2.4 billion for rural development programs.

Army Corps of Engineers:

  • Increases funding to The Corps and prioritizes funding to be used for navigation projects and U.S. inland waterways (good for U.S. exports).

Conservation Programs:

  • Provides $859 million for Natural Resources Conservation Service to help farmers conserve and protect their land.

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