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 West Alabama 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.
Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Teaching and Research Corridor - $30 Million
The University of Alabama will use this funding to complete a Science and Engineering Corridor. One of the four buildings planned has already been constructed. Construction on the second building, which will house portions of the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Computer Science, has already begun. Two additional interdisciplinary science and engineering buildings will also be constructed to complete the corridor.
“We must attract young students to math, science and engineering to effectively compete in the global economy,” said Shelby. “To remain at the cutting edge of innovation, we need to act now to reach the untapped potential within our own borders in the ever-increasingly important fields of math, science and engineering. If we do not make the right investments now, it will later cost us much more later, both fiscally and strategically.”
Cooperative Institute and Research Center for Southeast Weather and Hydrology - $5.5 Million
Under the direction of the National Weather Service, an institute will be established in cooperation with southeastern universities to coordinate a joint research effort to study southeast weather and hydrology. Located at the University of Alabama, the institute will serve as a means of linking southeastern universities, government and industry capabilities and assets into an operational, systematic program to address issues related to weather unique to the southeast. The Cooperative Institute and Research Center for Southeast Weather and Hydrology will focus on the characterization of weather in the southeastern states and on the impact weather has on the physical systems and socioeconomic setting of the region.
“While the Southeastern United States experiences some of the most severe weather in the nation, unlike other regions, the Southeast does not possess the surveillance, research and forecasting assets to study and predict these events,” said Shelby. “The Cooperative Institute and Research Center for Southeast Weather and Hydrology will begin to develop and acquire technology and equipment needed to study storms, improve rainfall estimates and provide citizens with state-of-the-art weather research and prediction capabilities.”
Traffic Safety Program for the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission - $400,000
The ten counties that make up the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission – Wilcox, Dallas, Perry, Sumter, Marengo, Choctaw, Washington, Clarke, Conecuh and Monroe – will use this funding to purchase specialized equipment and vehicles for the local police and sheriff’s departments to combat the growing methamphetamine epidemic in west Alabama.
“When I traveled through Alabama earlier this year, the district attorneys made it clear to me just how serious the methamphetamine problem has become in our state,” said Shelby. “This project will arm local law enforcement with the tools they need to fight this terrible drug in West Alabama.”
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:
University of Alabama Juvenile Justice Program - $125,000
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 following programs in Alabama are 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 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:
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
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 and advance the practice of community policing nationwide. The following grant will assist state and local law enforcement in their ability to protect and serve their communities.
Mobile Data Systems to Enhance Law Enforcement Capability for the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center - $500,000
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.”