Jun 19 2008

Shelby Announces Funding for Birmingham Area Commerce, Justice and Science Projects

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), today announced committee approval of a number of important projects in the Birmingham area included in the fiscal year 2009 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill.  Following today’s action by the committee, the bill will now go to the Senate floor for consideration.

“This legislation includes a number of important projects in Alabama and across the nation,” said Shelby.  “The committee’s action on this bill reiterates our commitment to funding these projects and advancing important nationwide initiatives.”
The Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Justice (DOJ), among others.        
Nanotoxicology: Exposure, Delivery and Safety of Nanoparticles - $700,000

With this funding, the University of Alabama at Birmingham will work with researchers at NIST to develop the multidisciplinary capacity to assess the biological effects and disposition of nanoparticles in both in vitro and vivo systems as well as to establish ways to characterize the physicochemical and pathophysiological impact of nanoparticles. 

“UAB has long been on the forefront of emerging scientific research,” said Shelby.  “Researchers at UAB believe that nanoparticles hold substantial promise for pharmaceutical delivery and probes of cell function.  This funding will help them to learn more about nanoparticles and continue this exciting research.”

Development of Characterization Techniques for Advanced High Temperature Materials in Space Launch Applications - $750,000

Materials and technology are tremendously challenged in the extreme environments they encounter, both when they are launched into space and when they reenter the Earth’s orbit.  This funding will allow for the further research surrounding modeling, testing and characterization techniques for advanced composite materials in extreme environments.

“The severe environments that will be encountered in planned launch systems and other aerospace applications require the use of advanced composites in both structural and thermal protection systems,” said Shelby.  “The successful utilization of these materials in these environments requires testing and evaluations to keep pace with the increasingly severe settings in which they are used.  This funding will identify gaps in current technology and develop applications to solve these challenges, reducing the overall risk to the programs.”

McWane Science Center Science Literacy Program - $400,000

This program will focus on increasing interest and aptitude in the science fields in K-12 students through hands-on activities that will serve as an extension of the classrooms. Teacher training will also play a major role in the program.

“The McWane Science Center is one of the premier science centers in the country,” said Shelby.  “Each day it provides students throughout the region with interesting and intriguing programs to help them better understand the way things work and interact in today’s world. This program will allow the Center to continue to expand its efforts to not only teach students about science, but to raise their interest level to the point of pursuing the study of science at the college level.”

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) - $600 Million

The bill includes critical funding for the law enforcement community to upgrade technology, including in-car computers, cameras and communications systems. The funding bolsters forensic capabilities.  The following grants will assist state and local law enforcement in their ability to protect and serve their communities. 

Northeast Alabama Regional Mobile Data System - $350,000
Law Enforcement Technology Improvements, Calera Police Department - $250,000
4.9 GHz MESH Networking Equipment for Police Mobile Data Connectivity, Talladega - $100,000
Law Enforcement/Forensic Science Technology and Equipment, Gadsden - $250,000
Mobile Data Systems to Enhance Law Enforcement Capability for the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center - $500,000 

“Local law enforcement is vital to adequately responding to crime, gang activity and homeland security,” said Shelby.  “The COPS grant program aims to implement and enhance community policing.  COPS funding assists law enforcement agencies across the country meet an ever-increasing range of challenges. The $600 million provided in the bill will allow police and sheriffs’ departments throughout Alabama to take advantage of these grants and increase their enforcement efforts to become more efficient and effective.”       

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Programs - $400 Million

The following grants will provide youth programs the resources necessary to respond to juvenile delinquency and support communities in their efforts to develop and implement prevention and intervention programs. The following area projects were included in the Senate bill:

Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind At-Risk Youth Mentoring Program - $150,000
Alabama 4-H Environmental Science Education Center - $500,000
American Village – Building Good Citizens through Character/Civic Education and Outreach for At-Risk Kids - $450,000
Girl Scouts Beyond Bars - $1 Million
Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation - $1 Million
“We must continue to work with our nation’s young people to provide them with the tools and training they need to become contributing members of society,” said Shelby.  “These programs provide our youth with alternative activities to juvenile delinquency.”

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program - $580 Million

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) provides funding for law enforcement to implement programs that prevent and control crime based on their own needs.  The following area projects were included in the Senate bill:

Integrated Law Enforcement Records Management System for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office - $200,000
Alabama Department of Public Safety Mobile Data Computer Expansion - $500,000
Alabama Department of Forensic Science - $1 Million
Simon Wiesenthal Center - $1 Million
National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) - $500,000
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) - $500,000

“In many of my 67 county visits this year, district attorneys and law enforcement officers expressed the importance of the Byrne grants,” said Shelby. “This reiterates my strong belief that the individuals serving on the front lines of our communities each day know best what their departments need to successfully do their jobs.  Providing funds directly to our law enforcement officers allow them to control crime based on their own needs and is one of the best ways we can support our crime fighters.”

The following program in Alabama is slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2009:

Zerometh-Alabama’s Methamphetamine Campaign - $1.1 Million

Nationwide, methamphetamine usage is on the rise.  Its use continues to poison our nation and the drug knows no boundaries of age, gender, class or race.  The production of methamphetamine is particularly detrimental to communities, as the materials used to create the drugs are extremely dangerous.

“Launched earlier this year, Alabama’s Zerometh Campaign works to inform the public about the dangers of using meth,” said Shelby.  “Our local law enforcement officers are working overtime to target drug hot spots and to remove and dispose of hazardous materials at clandestine methamphetamine labs. We must do all we can to eliminate this horrific drug from our communities.”

The following nationwide projects and programs are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2009:

DEA Development of Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems - $17.8 Million

The Drug Enforcement Administration will develop tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to provide narcotics and border surveillance and interdiction. 

“The DEA will use UASs to detect and apprehend those engaged in illegal drug trafficking,” said Shelby.   “The UASs will equip the DEA with capabilities beyond what is currently available through manned aircraft.  The DEA will coordinate with the U.S. Army to increase technological and research capabilities and limit duplication of resources within federal entities.”

Economic Development Administration - $232.8 Million

The Economic Development Administration works to empower communities recovering from economic distress by assisting them in developing their own revitalization strategies.  Many communities benefiting from EDA assistance have endured economic distress as a result of natural disasters, the closure of military installations and other federal facilities, and the depletion of natural resources.

“The Economic Development Administration provides grants to local governments and non-profit agencies for public works, planning and other projects designed to facilitate economic development,” said Shelby.  “Within these funds, $15 million is included for the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.”

Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) - $133.28 Million

EPSCoR works with targeted states to help them become more competitive and improve the level of science education.    

“The bill provides EPSCoR with $133.28 million to assist states, including Alabama, with establishing partnerships with government, higher education and industry that will provide lasting improvements in their research infrastructure,” said Shelby.  “Science is rapidly expanding our understanding of the world around us and will lead to more technology and well paying jobs.  Our students must be armed with a solid science education to succeed later in life.”           

Missing and Exploited Children Programs - $70 Million

The following missing children programs will receive funding:

$30 million for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

         $5 million for Jimmy Ryce Law Enforcement Training Center

         $30 million to combat internet crimes against children

         $3 million for Missing Children Office within the Department of Justice

         $5 million for the AMBER alert program

         $2 million for management and administration

“Statistics show that nearly 2000 children are reported missing each day,” said Shelby.  “It is my hope that this funding will help to continue the important work being done to locate these children and return them to their loved ones.  Crimes against children are a plague on our society and we must continue to work to eradicate them.  Continued investment of substantial resources in these programs is critical to ensure the safety of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens-- children.”

DNA Initiative and Forensic Sciences Funding - $221 Million

$181 million for DNA initiative

$40 million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants

Our nation’s forensic labs have a critical need to reduce backlogs in all areas, particularly in DNA.  This funding will help meet that need while providing the flexibility required for the men and women in the labs to determine their own priorities.

“Significant funding for forensic sciences as a whole is included in our bill, with $181 million specifically designated for the DNA initiative,” said Shelby.  “Also included is $40 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants. State and local forensics labs use Coverdell grants to address a variety of needs within the forensic sciences, including DNA analysis.  The bill provides significant flexibility to allow state lab directors to use Coverdell dollars to address the pressing needs of their individual labs and make important decisions regarding the best use of federal resources, including DNA backlog reduction.”

Southeast Border Prosecution Initiative - $10 Million

The Southeast Border Prosecution Initiative compensates law enforcement agencies in the southeast for the costs of handling prosecutions in lieu of federal authorities.  Modeled after a similar program in southwest border states, this new program will assist localities with the costs for prosecution and pre-trial detention for federally initiated and referred criminal cases.  This funding can be used for the costs associated with prosecuting drug and related criminal cases and for law and justice activities in cases prosecuted by a state or county prosecutor.

Play by the Rules National Project - $400,000

Play by the Rules has provided students in Alabama with a better understanding of the laws that govern society each day for several years. Phase III of the program will be an effort to expand the project to five additional states and to provide for the publication of more than 35,000 student books, teacher guides, and on-site technical support and training to ten jurisdictions.

“Research shows that law-related education can have a direct impact on a youth’s decisions when he or she is put in at-risk situations,” said Shelby. “The Play by the Rules project has been successful in Alabama and I am hopeful that it will have the same impact in other states across the country.”