American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program UPDATE


January 1998


This monthly update goes out to members of the AGI Government Affairs Program (GAP) Advisory Committee as well as the leadership of AGI's member societies and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort to improve communications betw een GAP and the geoscience community that it serves.

The days between the President's State of the Union address and the release of his budget request are a time of near-infinite possibility just before fiscal reality intrudes. Science and tech nology fared well in the President's speech, most notably his proposal to build a bridge to a Twenty-first Century Research Fund that would provide the largest funding increase in history for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Scienc e Foundation (NSF). The inclusion of NSF is a positive sign, but most of the attention was given to biomedical research, and NIH Director Harold Varmus was conspicuously seated between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tipper Gore.

This monthly update includes:

Still Time To Sign Up For Visits Day, Write Senators
House Science Policy Study Seeks Feedback
Input Sought for Eisenhower Program Reauthorization
Education Tops Senate and White House Agendas
President Announces Clean Water Initiative
CTBT Prospects Dim
Third Forum Held on Natural Disaster Reduction
Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
New Material on Web Site

********************

Still Time To Sign Up For Visits Day, Write Senators
In two special updates this month, we encouraged member society membership to participate in a science-community-wide Congressional Visits Day this February and to write their senators urging co-sponsorship of bi-partisan legislation to double civilian re search in the next decade. There is still time to join the Visits Day event, which takes place Feb. 25-26 in Washington. If a trip to Washington is not in the cards, however, letters are still needed to encourage senators to co-sponsor S. 1305, The Natio nal Research Investment Act of 1998, and to further encourage the inclusion of the Department of the Interior (and with it the U.S. Geological Survey) among the list of agencies covered in the bill. Companion legislation to be introduced in the House wil l include Interior, and the Senate bill will be similarly amended if enough support is shown. For more information, visit this web site or give us a call.

House Science Policy Study Seeks Feedback
In an editorial in the January 16th issue of Science, House Science Committee Vice-Chair and former physics professor Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) encouraged members of the scientific community to share their thoughts about the future of science and technology policy. The feedback is part of a comprehensive review of national science and technology policy that Ehlers is conducting at the request of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA). Although feedback on all aspects of science policy is encouraged, seve n questions have been provided to help focus comments. For a list of questions and other information, please visit the Science Policy Study website.

Input Sought for Eisenhower Program Reauthorization
Congress will be reauthorizing the often-threatened Eisenhower Professional Development Program for science and math teachers in January 1999. In a meeting with scientific society representatives, Audrey Smith, an Eisenhower Program Specialist with the De partment of Education, called on the scientific community to forward their recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of the program to her within the next few months, to allow time for suggestions to be reviewed and considered for incorporation in DoEd's reauthorization proposal to Congress. Her contact information is: Audrey M. Smith; Eisenhower Program Specialist; OESE/DoEd; Portals #4500; 1250 Maryland Avenue, S.W.; Washington, DC 20202; phone: 202-260-2465; email: audrey_smith@ed.gov.

Education Tops Senate and White House Agendas
Senate Republican leaders have declared education to be a top priority of the second session of the 105th Congress, unveiling a series of proposals that include increasing state and local control over federal education funds, tax breaks, support for chart er schools and a pilot program of vouchers for low-income students. Democrats are expected to oppose the voucher program, which they claim would cause damage to the country's system of public education, and resist efforts to bundle federal aid into so-cal led "block grants.''

In his State of the Union address, President Clinton also signalled his intention to make educational measures a key goal for 1997: "we must make our public elementary and secondary schools the world's best by raising standards, raising expectations, and raising accountability." He proposed hiring 100,000 new teachers who have passed a state competency test in an effort to reduce class size in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades to an average of 18 students a class. To accommodate the accompanying increase in c lass size, Clinton proposed a school construction tax cut to help communities modernize or build 5,000 schools. Clinton also spoke about accountability and ending "social promotion" of students who haven't mastered skills for their grade level, and suppor ting efforts of colleges and universities to reach out to disadvantaged children.

President Announces Clean Water Initiative
Although global climate change was the principal environmental issue discussed in the State of the Union address, the President also announced a new Clean Water Initiative: "a far-reaching effort to clean our rivers, our lakes, our coastal waters for our children." According to Environment and Energy Weekly, the initiative grows from an October 1997 directive from Vice President Al Gore to federal agencies to develop a comprehensive action plan to improve and strengthen water pollution control efforts acr oss the country. Gore listed several specific goals of the program, including enhanced protection of public health, more effective control of polluted runoff, and increased community participation in local watershed management. Clinton's FY 1999 budget -- when released in February -- should include "substantial new resources" for the initiative. More information on the Clean Water Initiatives is available on the EPA website.

CTBT Prospects Dim
In the State of the Union address, President Clinton asked the Senate for its approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), noting that four former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had endorsed it. But by the time the President spoke, he had already received a letter from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Jesse Helms (R-NC) bluntly informing him that any efforts to press the Senate for CTBT ratification would be "exceedingly unwise" and that it would only be considered after the Kyoto treaty and NATO expansion. With no plans for bringing up the Kyoto treaty until after the November elections and the White House distracted by other matters, the Administration is not likely to put up a fight, and the treaty must wait until next year. Th e treaty, signed in September 1996, relies on physicists' ability to verify the readiness of the nation's nuclear arsenal and on geophysicists to verify the testing ban itself. Those two scientific issues were expected to be at the heart of a ratification debate.

Third Forum Held on Natural Disaster Reduction
On January 21st, Public Private Partnerships 2000 (PPP2000) -- a cooperative effort of the 19 agencies comprising the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction, the insurance sector, and nonprofit organizations - - held the third forum in a year-long series. The forum was entitled "Cities and Megacities at Risk" and featured keynote presentations by Ben Wisner, California State University of Long Beach; Bob Volland, FEMA; and Stuart Mustow, World Federation of En gineering Organizations; as well as panel discussions on "Mitigation and Planning -- Reducing Risk in the City" and "Post-Disaster Response and Recovery in Cities and Megacities." The next forum, "Reduction of Earthquake Vulnerability in California: 1998- 2003," will be held on February 25, 1998 in Washington DC. In addition, the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee held a hearing on January 28 on Disaster Mitigation to discuss FEMA procedures as well as mitigation legislation before the comm ittee. More information on those bills and a full write-up of the PPP2000 forum is available on AGI's website.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
The next GAP Advisory Committee meeting will take place on February 27-28, 1998 at AGI headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

February 8-9 AAPG Day Tulsa OK
February 13 AAAS Annual Meeting Philadelphia PA
February 25-26Science & Technology Congressional Visits DayWashington DC
February 27-28 GAP Advisory Committee Meeting Alexandria VA
March 16-18 AASG Spring Meeting Washington DC
March 19-21 AGI Foundation Meeting Sedona AZ

New Material on Web Site
The following updates and reports were added to the Government Affairs portion of AGI's web site since the last monthly update:


(Contributed by David Applegate and Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs)

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Uploaded January 29, 1998


  Information Services |Geoscience Education |Public Policy |Environmental
Geoscience
 |
Publications |Workforce |AGI Events


agi logo

© 2014. All rights reserved.
American Geosciences Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302-1502.
Please send any comments or problems with this site to: webmaster@agiweb.org.
Privacy Policy