Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Amendments to CSJ Bill Seem Harmful to Cities

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Amendments to CSJ Bill Seem Harmful to Cities

Article excerpt

The Senate approved the FY 1999 Commerce-State-Justice Appropriations Bill (S. 2260) in a 99 to 0 vote last week. The outcome of this key funding bill will eventually determine the fate of both the NLC-supported public safety block grants and the year 2000 census. While debating the appropriations legislation for next year, several amendments were debated with impact on municipal interests.

Sen. Bob Graham (R-Fla.) offered an amendment to aid local law enforcement that was adopted by the full Senate by a vote of 56-44. The measure allows local agencies to use surplus military aircraft in law enforcement roles without being charged by the federal government. For operations such as overhead search and rescue and drug control missions, these aircraft, particularly helicopters, would be especially beneficial to the law enforcement ability of local governments.

Juvenile Block Grants

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) cosponsored an unsuccessful amendment to the spending legislation that would have shifted funds between two programs intended to fight juvenile crime. It was tabled by the Senate, and effectively killed, by a vote of 64-36.

The cosponsors intended funding for the Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grants (JAIBG) to increase from $100 million to $150 million for the coming fiscal year. Last year, the program was funded at $250 million. As a result of the recent incidents of gun violence at schools, increased funding was sought to remedy the high profile incidents. These grants help state and local law enforcement by funding the construction of detention facilities for violent and serious juvenile offenders and the creation of a national criminal history database. Also a program of drug testing for juvenile offenders would have been implemented by the amendment's increase in funding.

To offset this increase, the cosponsors proposed a reduction in the spending for the JJDPA prevention programs from $95 million to $45 million. These prevention initiatives are strongly supported by President Clinton as a proper remedy for youth crime. Opponents claim that the programs waste federal money on unsuccessful programs. The full Senate decided against the funding shift to JAIBG grants, however, by tabling the amendment.

Local Law Enforcement Block Grant

Included in the FY 1999 Commerce-State-Justice Appropriations bill is the funding for the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) program. …

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