AGRICULTURE & WATER With cattle in Washington’s wolf country, ranchers worry (AP/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin) Yakima Valley’s less-heralded crops are big contributors (Yakima Herald) BORDER STATES Portland developers try to ease homeless crisis that they helped to create (The Oregonian) OPINION: Oregon’s hare-brained to want to toll Washington drivers (Greg Jayne, Opinion Editor/The Columbian) EDITORIAL: Protect... Read more »
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
WASHINGTON— This tragedy demonstrates the brutality of the network of which I often speak. These smugglers have no regard for human life and seek only profits. The Department of Homeland Security and its partners in the U.S., Mexico and Central America will continue to root out these smugglers, bring them to justice and dismantle their networks.
The dedicated men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement not only investigate and help prosecute horrific incidents like this but they and their U.S. Customs and Border Protection colleagues work hard day and night, 365 days a year, to prevent senseless deaths and injuries like these. They put their lives on the line to rescue and save the lives of those who attempt the treacherous journey north on the network of abuse and death.
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
WASHINGTON—All 180 airlines and more than 280 last-point-of-departure airports around the world have implemented the first phase of enhanced security measures as outlined in Secretary Kelly’s June 28th remarks.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has lifted the restrictions on large personal electronic devices for the ten airports/nine airlines in the Middle East and North Africa, which were announced in March. These airports and airlines have successfully implemented the first phase of enhanced security measures.
There are currently no airlines under restrictions for large personal electronic devices. Airlines worldwide have implemented additional security measures that ultimately make the global aviation community more secure.
The quick and decisive action taken by airlines, nations, and stakeholders is a testament to our shared commitment to raising the bar on global aviation security. Airlines were able to implement the necessary enhanced security measures because of the close coordination and extensive communication between aviation partners and the DHS/TSA.
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OUR NEWS RELEASES FROM THIS WEEK Statement from House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen on the end of the third special session BORDER STATES Federal, state agencies investigate if military training set SE Oregon wildfires (The Oregonian) Central Idaho residents told to prepare to flee wildfire (AP/Tri-City Herald) 8 things to know about cougars, and sightings,... Read more »
OLYMPIA— After months of negotiations ended with no solution to address the contentious issue of water rights and rural development in response to the Supreme Court ruling known as the Hirst decision, Rep. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell) and Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland) members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, issued the following statements:
Statement from Rep. Derek Stanford:
“We had multiple proposals and with each one, the goal was to allow landowners to go ahead and build, take the burden off of the counties, and protect senior water rights holders, including the water that farms, fish and people rely on in our state. When we were unable to get to an agreement on a long-term solution, we offered a 24-month delay that provides immediate relief for property owners. This reasonable approach would give lawmakers more time to work on a permanent solution for this complex issue. But Republicans in the Senate were even against this temporary solution to help families who are currently unable to build.”
Statement from Rep. Larry Springer:
“Our 24-month delay bill is not kicking the can down the road, because doing so with somebody’s livelihood and life savings is not an option. We are absolutely committed to protect the families who have already made investments, who have wells in the ground and mortgages on property. The priority was to make them whole. So we made several offers that bring immediate relief to landowners, but were unable to come to a final agreement with Republicans. While we all negotiated in good faith, they were simply not willing to agree to any of the solutions that we felt would avoid additional litigation. A fix that would put us right back in court is not a long-term solution.”
With a rise in violent gang activity in South King County over the last year, state lawmakers sought and secured funding in the new state budget to help prevent street gangs, especially among young people. Sen. Joe Fain of Auburn and Reps. Tina Orwall of Des Moines and Eric Pettigrew of Seattle built on previous efforts to improve public safety and prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs.
“Working on gang prevention and intervention policies for a few years, we’ve learned a great deal about how kids get drawn into juvenile gangs, and we need to focus on innovative practices to break the criminal cycle before it breaks our young people,” said Orwall. “These dollars will go toward research on best practices for effective interventions to keep young adults from getting involved in gang activity that harms not only themselves, their families and neighborhoods, but endangers entire communities.”
Gang activity forces people to live with the daily threat of intimidation and harassment. Crimes such as drug dealing, vandalism, theft of personal property and automobiles, assault, rape, and murder are prevalent in communities where gang membership is on the rise. Even people who are not directly affected by gang-activity also share in the indirect costs such as lower property values and higher insurance premiums, and first-responders are increasingly vulnerable to personal injury or death when responding to gang-related crimes.
“Gang violence is not isolated to one area and affects all of us throughout South King County,” said Fain. “Providing young people with alternatives to gangs makes our neighborhoods safer and ensures a better life for at-risk youth now and in the future.”
The new 2017-19 state budget approved at the end of June includes $1 million for a grant program for areas with the greatest criminal street gang problems. Grants are eligible to local governments and non-profit organizations who collaborate and can demonstrate effective prevention and intervention efforts in the past. Grant recipients are also required to report on how effective the funding has been for improving community safety and the effect it’s had on at-risk youth.
“At a time when we are seeing a significant increase in gun violence in South King County – often with direct ties back to gang violence – I and other Police Chiefs applaud the Operating Budget funding by the Legislature to continue gang intervention grants, to update and fully populate a gang data-base to give us accurate information, and to help gather more detailed numbers regarding juvenile firearms usage,” said Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas. “I truly appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Senator Joe Fain and Representative Tina Orwall on this issue, as well as the work of other legislators such as Representatives Eric Pettigrew and Pat Sullivan.”
In May, city officials and police chiefs from Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Renton and other South King County cities announced a joint task force following a rise in gang activity and violence in 2017. This includes the Valley Enforcement Gangs and Narcotics Task Force, which is supported by the FBI and other national agencies.
“We know that once a young person has gotten involved in a gang or the criminal justice system it is very difficult to shift course,” said Pettigrew. “Several years ago I was able to secure funding to support young adults in avoiding or moving away from gangs, helping young people avoid mistakes that can follow them for the rest of their lives. These programs have already made a difference in our communities and I am glad that we were able to continue funding this ongoing work.”
The lawmakers also secured $75,000 for the Juvenile Rehabilitation Program, part of the state Department of Social and Health Services, to collect and analyze data from juvenile gang and gun offenses. The results will allow state officials to better target solutions and improve prevention efforts. Following review, the department will also make research-based recommendations to the Legislature that could improve public safety.
AGRICULTURE & WATER COLUMN: Congress should listen to farmers (Kelli Scott/The Wenatchee World) BORDER STATES Idaho draft wolf plan has predator’s fans, foes howling (Lewiston Tribune/The Spokesman-Review) Shark warning issued for parts of the Oregon coast (The Oregonian) BUSINESS, LABOR & ECONOMY Washington unemployment rate holds steady at 4.5 percent (AP/The Spokesman-Review) Rockwell Collins plans... Read more »
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly discussed his top priorities for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Aspen Security Forum. In a discussion with NBC News’ Pete Williams, Secretary Kelly highlighted DHS efforts to confront transnational criminal organizations by reducing drug demand, raise global aviation security standards, and bolster cybersecurity.
Secretary Kelly on stamping out transnational criminal organizations by reducing drug demand:
“…the profits that come out of that drug market are fantastic and as a result the countries to our south, Mexico and further south, suffer terribly because of the violence and the trafficking, and the production…As Americans we should be ashamed of ourselves that we have done almost nothing to get our arms around drug demand…to try to influence the lives of folks who live in places like Central America, we work very very hard to inject investment, certainly U.S. help…”
Secretary Kelly on raising global aviation security standards:
“We can actually use this crisis as a way to raise global aviation security …In my view globally, at least of those final points of departure…we are raising aviation security as opposed to just going after one single threat.”
Secretary Kelly on bolstering cybersecurity:
“…The name of the game is coordination within our government at every level… and then fantastic partnerships with the commercial tech industry…”
Secretary Kelly on the DHS reauthorization:
“…I truly believe that it’s time to do this. One of the things I am hoping for is that we can really start looking at the efficiencies in the department…”
Secretary Kelly on the DHS workforce:
“ …For 45 years I benefited from serving under men and women who are the most amazing people in our society, the 1% as we say that serve in the U.S. military…when I came to this job I was really really pleasantly surprised at all of the patriotism, all of the dedication, all of the focus on protecting the nation is not just in the U.S. military…the men and women, particularly the law enforcement organizations…are incredibly dedicated people doing incredibly dangerous things and every one of them loves their job.”
AGRICULTURE & WATER Darigold CEO speaks to Congressional panel on NAFTA’s importance (Yakima Herald) BORDER STATES Microsoft’s Wilsonville jobs are going to China, underscoring travails of domestic tech manufacturing (The Oregonian) Oregon rancher challenging well shutdown (AP/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin) Oregon highway fuel spill worsens, contaminates groundwater (AP/ Walla Walla Union-Bulletin) Idaho Supreme Court upholds grocery... Read more »
AGRICULTURE & WATER Ag groups studying Trump’s NAFTA revamp plans (Yakima Herald) BORDER STATES Using bait for wolf hunting proposal on agenda for Idaho Fish and Game meeting in Bonners Ferry (The Spokesman-Review) BUDGET & TAXES Billions of dollars at stake as Washington lawmakers push for last-minute deal on construction, water (The Seattle Times) Moses... Read more »
AGRICULTURE & WATER The world of wheat: Growing grain in Washington (The Spokesman-Review) A day in the fields at WSU’s dryland Research Station (The Spokesman-Review) Small profits forecast for most growers in 2017 (Columbia Basin Herald) BLOG: AgWatch | Budgets, biofuels, buzzing and bulls (Nevonne McDaniels/The Wenatchee World) BORDER STATES 2018 gubernatorial candidates already out... Read more »
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Additional Visas for Temporary Workers Provided Until End of Current Fiscal Year
WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary nonagricultural workers will be able to hire up to 15,000 additional temporary nonagricultural workers under the H-2B program under a final rule that the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor submitted to the Federal Register today. To qualify for the additional visas, petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017.
After consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly determined there are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017.
“Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses at risk of significant harm due to a lack of available seasonal workers,” said DHS Secretary John Kelly. “As a demonstration of the Administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.”
The H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker program was designed to serve U.S. businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified U.S. workers to perform nonagricultural work of a temporary nature. Congress set the annual H-2B cap at 66,000. A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas, is available starting April 1 through September 30. On March 13, 2017, USCIS received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2017 statutory cap of 66,000. In May, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural work visas available to U.S. employers through September 30. The Secretary took the intervening time to consult with the Secretary of Labor on the issue and to properly develop this rule in accordance with Congressional requirements.
Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA with their petition. A new tip line to report general H-2B abuse and employer violations has also been established.
Details on eligibility and filing requirements will be available in the final rule and on a new uscis.gov webpage to be published when the final rule is posted for public inspection. This page will also include information on how individuals can report abuse in the program.
If members of the public have information that a participating employer may be abusing this program, DHS invites them to submit information to ReportH2BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov.
CAPITOL BUZZ RADIO AUDIO: Headlines for the week of July 10-14 (SoundCloud) OUR NEWS RELEASES Inslee veto reneges on negotiated tax agreement, betrays Washington workers, say House Republican leaders Governor signs MacEwen bill reforming high school assessments to benefit students Harmsworth calls for Legislature to act on Sound Transit 3 car-tab relief Walsh says DNR... Read more »
AGRICULTURE & WATER Cherry crop could set record (Columbia Basin Herald) So far, 2017 producing good prices for Timothy hay (Columbia Basin Herald) EDITORIAL: Property owners need access to water again (Yakima Herald) BORDER STATES New Oregon wildfires crop up (The Oregonian) Oregon Legislature passes 4 new public records laws (AP/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin) OPINION: Allowing... Read more »
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly met with Bahraini Interior Minister Lt. General Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa to discuss the Department’s cooperation with the Bahraini Ministry of Interior on regional security issues and efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Bahrain relationship.
Secretary Kelly and His Excellency Sheikh Rashed discussed the importance of continuing security cooperation, particularly as it relates to challenges Bahrain faces from regional threats. Secretary Kelly and Sheikh Rashed spoke about the need to increase information sharing between the Department and Ministry of Interior, and Secretary Kelly offered his support to work with Bahrain in the fight against terrorism.
The Department of Homeland Security is committed to continuing to work with the Bahraini Ministry of Interior in the furtherance of our shared international security interests.
Secretary Kelly greet Bahrain’s Minister of Interior Lt. General Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa (DHS Photo/Jetta Disco)
Secretary Kelly and DHS leadership meet with representatives from Bahraini Ministry of Interior (DHS Photo/Jetta Disco)
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
WASHINGTON - The fiscal year 2018 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill released by the House Appropriations Committee today prioritizes the most pressing issues facing our Department. It supports critical aviation security, disaster relief, cybersecurity, and immigration enforcement measures, which are all essential to protecting our nation and preserving our way of life. It also includes physical and technological efforts to safeguard the southwest border. Most importantly, this bill supports the men and women of the Department, who work tirelessly and selflessly every day to keep our citizens secure, and empowers them to do their sworn duties. I want to thank Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman John Carter on his work on this bill, and I urge the full committee to act swiftly so this bill can be considered by the full House. Additionally, I would urge the Senate to support a similar bill quickly.
AGRICULTURE & WATER Ferndale dairy farmer avoids animal cruelty conviction, gets cows back (The Bellingham Herald) BORDER STATES Microsoft laying off 124 workers in Wilsonville, Ore., manufacturing plant (The Seattle Times) Land-use group tries to stop Oregon solar farm (AP/The Spokesman-Review) University of Oregon reduces size of tuition increase (AP/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin) OPINION: Gov. Brown... Read more »
2318 Rayburn House Office Building
Good morning, Madam Chairman and Members of the Committee. My name is Denis Onieal, and I serve as Acting Assistant Administrator at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Acting United States Fire Administrator responsible for managing the United States Fire Administration (USFA) at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC). It gives me great pleasure to be here today to discuss the functions of the USFA.
In 1974, Congress passed the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act that established the USFA and the National Fire Academy (NFA) to help decrease tragic loss due to fire and to promote the professional development of the fire and emergency medical services (EMS) community.
The USFA focuses on supplementing, not duplicating, existing programs of training, technology and research, data collection and analysis, and public education. Over the years, the USFA has adjusted to the constant changes and challenges facing the fire and EMS community - from all hazards to terrorism.
From the DHS/FEMA perspective, it’s important to recognize that every emergency, every Federal disaster, starts with a local emergency response. The fire and emergency services responded to 25 million local emergencies last year. To the extent that a community has well-trained, well-led cadre of fire and emergency responders, the emergency stays local. During incidents so large that the local forces are overwhelmed, the emergency becomes a disaster, triggering State and Federal response, assets and costs. It is in the interest of both DHS and FEMA to keep local emergencies local through fire department data analysis, fire prevention, public education and response.
In the case where the local responders are overwhelmed, it is important that the local forces integrate seamlessly with outside help – State and Federal – using the National Incident Management System and the Incident Command System. Not properly prepared and trained, the local forces will not integrate well with State and Federal assets resulting in increased loss of life and property and increased criticism of DHS/FEMA efforts. Through its training, data collection and analysis, research, and public education/prevention programs, the USFA helps prepare local first responders to protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards by partnering with State and local fire and emergency services and stakeholders to achieve the desired outcomes:
Because of our collective efforts with fire and emergency services stakeholders in public safety education, fire prevention programs, inspections, fire and building code initiatives, and installation of smoke alarms and residential sprinkler systems, fire related deaths in the United States declined 11 percent from 2006-2015. In addition, the number of on-duty firefighter fatalities has decreased 28.9 percent during the same period. The USFA is committed to promoting health and safety for all of the Nation’s firefighting and EMS communities.
The USFA identified five broad goals as a framework to implement our mission: to provide national leadership to foster a solid foundation for our fire and emergency services stakeholders in prevention, preparedness and response.
These goals provide strategic and operational direction:
The USFA actively supports these goals in partnership with the fire and EMS community. We continue to evaluate and institute new initiatives as needed based on the current climate and existing challenges.
While we have made great strides, the analysis of international and domestic fire statistics show the United States fire problem remains among the worst in the industrial world. There are a number of factors that contribute to the Nation’s fire problem beginning with the changing nature of the fire threat. Today, the intensity and severity of residential fires due to building construction, home design and furnishing materials, make safe evacuation more difficult than in the past.
The USFA works with partners to develop tactics and to update and revise curriculum and programs to effectively fight the evolving threat of residential fires.
There has been a rapid escalation of severe wildfire behavior over the past two decades. Consequently, there are increased risks to responders and citizens, greater home and property losses, higher costs, and larger threats to communities and landscapes. Drought contributes to these impacts. As communities continue to expand into wildland areas, the number of buildings damaged or destroyed in wildland fires increases. We must continue to assist communities in reducing risk and mitigating the impact of WUI fires.
The USFA plays an active leadership role in several intergovernmental and coordinating bodies including the Wildland Fire Leadership Council and provides subject matter expertise to the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group. Since the release of the National Strategy and the National Action Plan, the USFA works with WUI partners to continually promote and implement the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy.
The NFA provides six different courses to help fire departments and local communities contend with the growing risk of fire in the WUI. The courses focus on mitigation through community awareness, land use planning, adoption and code enforcement, and preparation of evacuation plans.
The USFA also developed a toolkit to assist fire and EMS departments with educating themselves and their communities about wildland fire threat and risks along with mitigation strategies. The toolkit contains community risk assessment tools, information on Fire Adapted Communities, related codes and standards, outreach mitigation materials, specialized community planning, and land use resources. There is also access to current research articles, links to local training for citizens and responders, and wildfire safety tips and messages to share through social media. This collection of WUI resources assists fire departments, community organizations, local governments, emergency managers, and citizens alike to strengthen the way their city, town, or community prepares for a wildfire emergency.
As the population of older adults increases, National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data show that their risk of fire death increases. As the “baby boomers” begin to age, there is a projected increase in the number of fire and emergency medical services calls. The USFA is adjusting its training and programs to prepare for this shift in demographics. The use of residential sprinklers and smoke alarms together are a highly effective way to mitigate this increased risk. We are working diligently to promote the installation and use of residential fire sprinklers.
Between 2011 and 2015, fire and emergency services responded to an annual average of 142,490 technical rescues (such as vehicle extrications, swift water rescues and high-angle rescues) and 1,515 explosive bomb removals. It is not commonly known but about 20-25 percent of bomb disposal teams are part of fire departments. To provide perspective, in 2015 about 25 million incidents were reported to NFIRS. Of these, 64.5 percent were rescue and EMS; 4.5 percent were fires; 3.6 percent were hazardous conditions with no fire; and all other types of incidents accounted for 27.4 percent. The fire and emergency services have evolved well beyond a fire focus to encompass all hazard response.
Over 500 people have been killed in the Unites States in AS/MCIs since the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. AS/MCIs occur locally and impact fire, EMS, and police departments. The ambush on Dallas police offices on July 7, 2016 is an example of a collaborative effort where a Dallas Fire Department Captain and crew entered the active shooter scene to save police officers. The initial commanding officer for the Dallas Fire Department, Chief Tami Kayea, is a graduate of the NFA’s Executive Fire Officer Program. She publicly attributed her success in managing the initial response to that tragedy to the training she received at the NFA.
The USFA recognizes that it is essential to be at the forefront of this increasing demand on emergency providers by ensuring we offer educational and training materials to ensure incident safety. We clearly have a role and responsibility to all emergency responders for fire and fire-based EMS.
Thousands of Americans die each year, tens of thousands of people are injured, and property and business continuum losses reach billions of dollars. There are huge indirect costs of fire, such as temporary lodging, medical expenses, psychological damage and negative environmental impacts. The direct loss by fire in 2015 included 3280 civilian deaths, 15,700 civilian injuries and $14.3 billion in property loss. Someone is injured by fire every 34 minutes, killed every two and a half hours every day in America.
It is imperative to evaluate all aspects of USFA programs to realize the most effective way to do business. This evaluation is necessary at the Federal, State and local levels. The idea of maximizing limited resources to achieve optimal results is important for the sustainability of the Nation’s fire service and the livelihood of our communities. The USFA cooperates with others in the development of data collection tools to identify the location of at-risk populations and local fire and emergency trends. As instructor fees and student travel stipend costs increase, the NFA has begun converting some of its courses from residential delivery to mediated on-line delivery. While on-line training does increase costs, it also increases the number of people trained. Additionally, it makes NFA training available to those who cannot travel to the NETC.
The USFA programs and key initiatives are in support of the efforts of local communities to reduce the number of fires and fire related deaths and injuries. We champion Federal fire protection issues and coordinate information about fire programs.
The NFA promotes the professional development of the fire and emergency services response community and other allied professionals engaged in fire prevention and control activities. We deliver training and education to first responders and community leaders to assist in the preparation and response to all emergencies. As a result, first responders are better prepared to manage hazards at the lowest possible level. The NFA provides a variety of education and training opportunities for command level fire officers, emergency managers, emergency responders, technical staff, and other allied professionals such as architects and engineers.
In Fiscal Year 2016, NFA provided 3,737 course offerings, reaching 103,257 students. Courses are delivered in classrooms at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC), and in classrooms throughout the United States in cooperation with State and local fire training agencies and colleges and universities. The NFA also has a robust system of online instructor mediated and self-study courses.
Students who attended NFA courses reported that courses have improved job performance and increased professional development. Through feedback from the NFA’s long-term, follow-on evaluation survey, 94.4 percent of students reported that their NFA course work helped increase their skills and enhance their job performance; and 90 percent of supervisors of students indicated that the information gained from the courses helped improve performance within their departments.
NFA continues to face the challenge of reaching America's estimated 1.3 million firefighters with meaningful education and performance-improvement training. In recognition of this challenge and need to further reach into a changing workforce, the NFA implemented significant curriculum enhancements that include mobile computing, webinars, podcasts, online training, and mediated online education and other adjuncts to classroom delivery.
The USFA serves as an information conduit to the fire, emergency services and allied professional communities. We distribute research findings and information through multiple channels including social media, our web site, the Learning and Resource Center, national radio and print, and other outreach efforts that directly reach our fire and emergency services’ practitioners. Critical issues such as community risk reduction, prevention, firefighter health and safety, the WUI, human trafficking and critical infrastructures are disseminated to our colleagues and partners every day. Our educational outreach effort create prevention and life safety infographics (i.e., graphics without words) for people with limited English language abilities. These tools help our fire departments get information about life-saving practices to large and small communities throughout the country. The USFA also leads the Fire is Everyone’s Fight (FIEF) national initiative to unite the fire service, life safety organizations and professionals in an effort to reduce home fire injuries, deaths and property loss by changing how people think about fire and fire prevention.
The USFA assists State and local entities in collecting, analyzing and disseminating data and special reports on the occurrence, control, and consequences of all types of fires, emergency medical incidents, and other emergency activities through the efforts of the National Fire Data Center (NFDC). The NFDC tracks firefighter fatalities and conducts an analysis of the fatalities that occur each year.
The USFA is in the process of modernizing the NFIRS data entry browser tool along with other NFIRS web tool applications in order to improve overall system reliability, performance, ease of data entry, and system administration by fire departments and state users. The goal of the modernization is to make the software more user friendly and encourage further participation. The modernization will integrate user access to the NFIRS Data Warehouse which has been in use by USFA for several years and is now being rolled out to an increasing number of states and departments. The NFIRS Data Warehouse provides a much larger suite of standard reports and the ability to create new reports or modify existing ones. Data warehouse users are able to access, share, and compare incident data among departments, States, and nationally. Use of the data warehouse has allowed USFA to track data quality issues in near real-time and therefore improve the data used for annual analyses and data distribution. This tool assists USFA and the Nation’s fire service in identifying trends, developing focused prevention, and mitigating programs and measures.
Supporting the DHS Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate, USFA staff serve as subject matter experts for first responder needs as they relate to firefighter health and safety. Working in collaboration with public and private partners, the USFA develops projects, provides technical expertise, and serves as federal liaison to the fire community for initiatives of mutual interest such as emergency vehicle and roadway safety, firefighter occupational health and safety, emergency medical services (EMS) issues, residential fire sprinklers, and smoke alarms. Some of the Federal agencies we partner with include the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology; Non-governmental partners include the NFPA; International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), National Volunteer Fire Council, International Fire Service Training Association, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
An example of this collaboration is the partnership with FEMA’s Mission Support office which resulted in the development and installation of fire sprinklers in temporary housing for disaster survivors. The USFA partnered with CPSC to conduct research on new smoke alarm technology and focused on the modernization of the 40 year old alarm devices for greater effectiveness and safety. We collaborated with the ORNL on the development of new technologies to detect direct current to protect responders from electrocution. The USFA is also working with the IAFF on a study of occupational violence to firefighters and EMS to find ways to mitigate attacks on first responders.
To enhance response capacity and capability at the state, local, and tribal levels, the USFA supports the development of Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Teams (AHIMT). Currently, there are 128 Type 3 AHIMTs strategically located in 44 states within the ten FEMA Regions. These teams are all-hazard responders and manage incidents ranging from wildfires to hurricanes to terrorism incidents. The Type 3 AHIMTs have been able to manage incidents that formerly utilized the National Type 1 or Type 2 Incident Management Teams, producing the same outcomes at a fraction of the costs. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) recognizes the operational value of Type 3 AHIMTs, considers them part of their response resource base, and has incorporated USFA’s training and development program into their core training requirements for future credentialing of Type 3 Incident Management Teams.
Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Roles and Responsibilities Framework
At the recommendation of the Government Accountability Office, the USFA signed an agreement with FEMA’s Grant Programs Directorate in December 2016. This agreement provides a framework for each component’s role and responsibility to improve the management of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. This collaboration is ongoing and will be reviewed and evaluated by Assistance to Firefighters Grant and USFA staff to ensure quality grant program management.
Madam Chairman, thank you for your time today. I appreciate the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of United States Fire Administration and the hard work of our staff. Today we know that annual losses from floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters combined, by comparison average just a mere fraction of fire loss. Your continued support is instrumental as we work together for a fire safe America. I am happy to answer any questions the Committee may have.
AGRICULTURE & WATER Counties waiting for well-drilling direction (The Wenatchee World) BORDER STATES Oregon driver’s license holders get reprieve as state moves toward Real ID compliance (The Oregonian) Right 2 Dream Too, homeless ‘rest stop,’ opens to public at new spot (The Oregonian) 27,000 gallons of sewage spill into Portland creek (AP/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin) OPINION:... Read more »
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Remarks as Delivered
MEXICO CITY - Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Mexican Secretary of Government Osorio Chong held a press availability to discuss the continued partnership between the two nations. Secretary Kelly’s remarks as delivered below:
I want to thank Secretary Osorio Chong and his team for hosting me today. We had a good, substantive conversation about our shared security priorities.
I have had a wonderful three days in Mexico, meeting with many members of the Mexican government. I’d like to also thank President Peña Nieto, Secretaries Videgaray, Meade, and Osorio Chong, General Cienfugeos, Admiral Soberon, and Attorney General Cervantes for taking the time to meet with me.
I cannot stress enough how valuable the U.S.-Mexico relationship is to each of our nations, and I know Secretary Osorio Chong -- and everyone I have met with over the past three days — agrees.
When I signed on as Secretary of Homeland Security, President Trump and I had a long conversation about our nation’s partnership with Mexico. The President has been very clear about his desire to work with Mexico on many of our shared issues.
You can see the Administration’s commitment to this partnership in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s significant interactions in Mexico, including one visit he shared with me a few months ago. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will also be meeting with his Mexican counterpart in a couple of weeks. These connections are an expression of the President’s intent to create stronger, durable bonds between our countries.
Mexico and the United States have a history of partnership, and it is natural for the two countries to work together to solve common problems in the region. We've had excellent operational cooperation in the security and law enforcement missions for years. Our intention now is to make those ties even stronger. We recognize that our prosperity and security are intertwined, and that criminal networks grow in influence and power when our two countries do not work together. As a practical matter, that means looking towards new agreements where we can share information, training, infrastructure, and planning resources. We will accomplish this with mutual trust and support.
Mexico has taken the regional lead in economic development of the Northern Triangle – having just cohosted the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central American with the U.S. They have also been coordinating with us on increasing efficiency to speed legitimate trade and travel across the most productive border in the world.
We are also working together to defeat the scourge of illegal drugs, with special emphasis on the heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl that is flooding the hemisphere and resulting deaths in both our countries.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to travel to the southwest part of the country, to meet with General Cienfuegos and Admiral Soberon. There I had the chance to talk with the soldiers and Marines working to eradicate mountainous poppy fields. As a former general, it was good to be out talking with the troops. Particularly these troops, who put their lives on the line to stop the production and transfer of drugs that otherwise would make their way into the U.S. bringing the accompanying violence and death.
The United States lost 60,000 people to drug overdoses just last year, and the toll in Mexico among citizens and law enforcement agents and officers has also been very high. I acknowledged to my counterparts that America’s insatiable appetite for drugs is the cause of much of the turmoil on their side of the border. I pledged to continue to work with our government – and anyone else who can help in this fight – to address drug demand reduction in the U.S.
Once again, thank you Secretary Osorio Chong, for your hospitality today. I look forward to continuing our solid working relationship and meeting with you again soon.
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
On Wednesday and Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met with President Enrique Peña Nieto and other senior Mexican government officials in Mexico City. Discussions with the President, Secretaries Videgaray and Meade, and Attorney General Cervantes focused on security, trade facilitation, immigration control, drug interdiction, drug demand reduction in the United States and joint efforts to confront transnational organized crime. Secretary Kelly will meet with Secretary Osorio Chong on Friday.
Secretary Kelly, with other U.S. cabinet officials, has met regularly with the Government of Mexico in order to expand cooperation and align strategies on issues of mutual interest.
“Mexico is a great partner to the United States,” said Kelly. “We are actively discussing how we can jointly combat illicit traffic across our shared border, such as illegal immigration coming north, and bulk cash and firearms flowing south. We are also examining how we will use technologies, data-sharing, joint training and harmonized business practices to improve trade and legal travel between our countries, making it faster, more efficient and more secure.”
This is Secretary Kelly’s second trip to Mexico since becoming the Secretary of Homeland Security in January.
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Sea-Tac Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the nation with 3.4 million more passengers last year than in 2015. With the highest total annual number of arrivals and departures in the state, it is a vital economic driver in South King County. But are these benefits taking a toll on the well-being of those living in the area?
Reps. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) and Mike Pellicciotti (D-Federal Way) want to know to what extent the volume of air traffic at the airport is affecting communities in their districts, so they secured money in the Operating Budget to fund a UW study and find out.
“This is a critical first step in a full impact study to determine the effects the airport activity has on our communities,” said Orwall, whose House Bill 1171, called for a study of the environmental impacts associated with aircraft traffic, including ultrafine particulate matter air pollution. “I am relieved that we managed to get these funds because it’s only through studies of this nature that we can fully understand the health impacts and learn how to mitigate their effects.”
“The full extent of airplane traffic effects, including noise and vibration, have not been fully examined in all of South King County,” said Pellicciotti, who had sought funding in the Capital Budget for a study to determine noise, vibration, and air quality issues, including the ultrafine particulate matter, in and around his district. “This is an important first step to independently slow the effect on our community.”
Orwall’s bill never made it to the House floor for a vote, and the Capital Budget was not moving and has yet to pass the legislature, so the two members from neighboring districts worked on finding a different path. They succeeded at securing $250,000 in the Operating Budget for the University of Washington to complete a study on the air quality implications of air traffic at SeaTac International Airport.
The UW School of Public Health will:
The university will coordinate with local governments to share results and collect feedback from community members, and will report study findings and recommendations to the legislature by December 1, 2019.
Sea-Tac air traffic not only impacts communities surrounding the airport, it has a pronounced regional effect. For example, in Beacon Hill, which is higher in elevation, residents are much closer to overhead aircraft traffic, and it is the neighborhood with the highest childhood asthma hospitalization rate and adult deaths due to chronic lower respiratory diseases.
Dr. Roseanne Lorenzana, co-Chair of Community Health Advocates Collaboration Against Aircraft Emissions & Noise, and resident homeowner of Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, said that preliminary studies done elsewhere suggest exposure to ultrafine particulates from aircraft emissions can worsen asthma symptoms.
“This study will provide important information about the degree of our exposure to help us identify protective measures for our children and elderly. We are grateful to Rep. Tina Orwall as well as co-sponsor Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos for their diligent work in creating the opportunity to conduct this work,” Lorenzana said.
This afternoon Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett) spoke to lawmakers, labor and business leaders, parents, and other paid leave advocates at the Washington State Capitol steps a few minutes before heading to the State Reception Room for the historic bill signing of the new Paid Family and Medical Leave law.
Senate Bill 5975, which passed the Legislature with strong bipartisan support last Friday, was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee today. With this law, Washington became the fifth state in the nation to set up a paid family and medical leave program for workers.
Starting in 2020, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program will provide Washington state workers, who have worked at least 820 hours, up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a baby or an ailing family member, and up to 12 weeks to tend to personal illnesses. Total annual leave will be capped at 16 weeks, or 18 weeks for difficult pregnancies.
Depending on their earnings, workers can be granted up to 90 percent of their pay or up to $1,000 per week during their leave. To fund the program, both employers and employees will pay into the social insurance fund, and businesses with 50 or fewer employees can opt out.
This comprehensive, practical and affordable plan for both workers and businesses will foster stronger families and a secure middle class.
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OLYMPIA – Late Friday evening, Washington lawmakers passed a historic bipartisan legislation that will provide paid family and medical leave benefits to working Washingtonians.
The bill is the result of months of negotiations among legislators, the Washington Working Families Coalition and leaders from the business community. Senate Bill 5975 will be funded by contributions from both employers and employees. Benefits will begin in January 2020.
“To care for a baby or an aging parent, paid family leave is the gift of time and peace of mind that we can be there for our families, put food on the table and go back to a job that is secure,” said Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, who authored the original House bill. “This legislation, which is both worker-friendly and fiscally responsible, is good for families, smart for business, and keeps our state moving forward.”
The benefit amount will be determined on a progressive scale, a first in the United States, with low-wage workers receiving up to 90 percent of their salary or wages while on leave. Once a worker qualifies for the program, the worker can change jobs without losing coverage. The statewide program’s portability better accommodates a modern workforce in which workers change jobs with increasing frequency.
“Too often moms and dads are not able to take time to bond with and care for their newborn, or recover from a serious injury,” said Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, the measure’s prime sponsor. “Our paid family and medical leave plan provides economic stability for working families, while respecting the needs of employers. This plan represents what is possible when Republicans and Democrats work together in the best interest of our state.”
All qualified employees will be eligible for up to 12 paid weeks of medical or family leave with a combined annual maximum of 16 total weeks. Individuals with pregnancy related complications may take an additional two weeks of medical leave.
“Washington state has proved once again that we are leaders for the cause of working families and shown that even on issues with a vast range of perspectives, bipartisan compromise is possible when the focus stays on the common good,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, the lead Senate Democratic negotiator. “I was devastated when my first paid family leave law that was adopted in 2007 was ultimately defunded in the wake of the Great Recession. But through tough-minded bipartisan negotiations, we have developed a program that will become a cornerstone for thriving families and successful businesses.”
Average premiums will cost about $4 a week per employee (shared between the employer and employee) with a maximum benefit of $1,000 a week. The cost of the leave program will be shared with employee premiums accounting for about 63 percent and employers contributing 37 percent. Considerations have been made for small businesses, including opt-in only premium contributions for employers with 50 or fewer employees. Employees of businesses with fewer than 50 workers are still covered by the benefit. Businesses with 150 or fewer employees would also be eligible for a grant for the cost to cover the duties of employees taking leave.
“We want to give employees a paid family leave option without penalizing our small businesses. It is a completely voluntary program for our small employers and they would not be required to pay the premiums. A training grant is also available to help them hire a temporary worker if needed,” said Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg. “This is a good compromise plan that protects small business by providing many benefits that a paid family leave plan enacted outside of the Legislature would likely not provide. At the same time, it gives employees the opportunity to take paid leave to care for a new child or a loved one who may have health issues.”
Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, and Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma also played key roles aiding negotiations.
The program will be managed by the Employment Security Department, which will begin collecting premiums on Jan. 1, 2019, and start benefit payments on Jan. 1, 2020.
The Legislature approved legislation authorizing paid family leave in 2007 but never identified a funding source to implement the program.
Opinion research conducted through a federal grant secured by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2016 showed that support for paid family leave was high across all demographics, including gender, age, income, political affiliation, marital status and employment status.
Washington will be just the fifth state with a comprehensive paid family and medical leave insurance program in the country, joining California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, as well as New York where the program will begin in 2018.
The bill passed the Senate on a 37-12 vote and the House of Representatives on a 65-29 vote. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
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OLYMPIA – Responding to ever-dwindling options in the state’s individual health insurance market, as well as uncertainty around the future of the federal Affordable Care Act, Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, has introduced legislation allowing people in communities where no individual health plans are offered in the commercial market to buy into Medicaid.
Called the Apple Health Plus program, it would enable eligible individuals to purchase health insurance coverage through the program in counties with no available commercial options.
“People deserve access to affordable, quality health coverage, regardless of where in the state they live,” Riccelli said. “Uncertainty at the federal level creates uncertainty in the health insurance marketplace. This bill would ensure people in underserved areas can still buy coverage if private insurers exit the market.”
Earlier this month, Grays Harbor and Klickitat counties were temporarily left without any health insurers offering plans in the individual market for 2018. After several weeks of discussions with the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, individual plans will be sold in both counties next year after all. But the predicament underscored the precarious situation in Washington’s individual market for some counties. Eight counties in the state have only one insurer.
Under Riccelli’s bill, Apple Health Plus would operate within Apple Health – the state’s Medicaid program – but it wouldn’t be Medicaid. Subscriber premiums would be deposited into a separate account, and anyone could buy into the plan regardless of income level. Benefits would be identical to what Medicaid recipients in the state receive.
Over 113,000 Washingtonians purchase health insurance through the state exchange and receive cost sharing deductions and tax credits for doing so. Changes at the federal level could affect access to coverage.
“The structure for this already exists,” Riccelli said of his proposal. “Apple Health is already working well in 39 counties. Let’s use that same model to help people who would otherwise be left with no comprehensive plan to cover themselves and their families.”
The bill number is HB 2232.