Weekly Legislative Update
 Week of October 22, 2018 
  
Congressional Outlook

The House and Senate are both in recess until Tuesday, November 13, one week after Election Day.
 
On Monday, President Trump will travel to Houston, Texas for a political rally with Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). On Tuesday, Trump will speak at the "White House State Leadership Day Conference" for Alaskan, Californian and Hawaiian local officials; he will then be briefed by senior military leaders and have dinner with those leaders. On Wednesday, Trump will sign the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) into law and address an event commemorating the signing of the bipartisan opioids legislation; he will then head to Mosinee, Wisconsin for a political rally with Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Senate GOP candidate Leah Vukmir, and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI). On Friday, Trump travels to Charlotte, North Carolina for a political rally with GOP House candidate Mark Harris. On Saturday, Trump will travel to Murphysboro, Illinois for a political rally with Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) and Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL).    
Week in Review

White House OIRA Releases Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions
 
On October 17, the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released its Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The Agenda, released each year in the spring and fall, includes a summary of key regulatory actions and priorities planned or underway by the administration, and identifies whether these actions are regulatory or deregulatory. OIRA Administrator Neomi Rao, in the introduction to the Agenda, referred to President Trump's January 30, 2017 Executive Order 13771 ("Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs"), and stated that, "[f]or the first time in decades, Federal agencies have decreased new regulatory costs, while continuing to pursue important regulatory priorities." Additionally, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its 2018 Regulatory Reform Report on Oct. 17. Read more.
Treasury Department Releases Proposed Rulemaking and Guidance for Opportunity Zones
 
On October 19, the Treasury Department released long-awaited proposed rulemaking and guidance on tax incentives for Opportunity Zones (OZs), a new program in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aimed at spurring investment in economically disposed areas. Trump Administration officials say the goal of the program, established by the new tax law enacted last December, is to create businesses and jobs in low-income areas and lift residents out of poverty. Currently, 8,700 opportunity zones have been set up in all 50 states. Here is a list and a map of the designated opportunity zones as of June 2018. Under the program, businesses may defer taxes on capital gains by investing those gains into Qualified Opportunity Funds. Those funds must hold at least 90 percent of its assets in qualified Opportunity Zone property. Under the rules, the investments are open to individuals, corporations, partnerships and real estate investment trusts. Participants can take their profits from unrelated investments and plow them into an opportunity zone fund, avoiding paying taxes on those gains until the end of 2026. Depending on how many years they hold the investment, they can reduce their eventual tax bill by up to 15 percent. Investments within the zones held for 10 years or more are entirely free of capital gains taxes. Public comments for the new rules will be accepted within 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which will occur later this week. Read more. 
Trump Signs Memorandum on Western Water
 
On October 19, President Trump signed, in Scottsdale, Arizona, a Presidential Memorandum entitled "Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA), and Tom McClintock (R-CA) all attended the event.
 
The memorandum targets three key areas:
  • Reducing regulatory burdens: Among other actions, streamline environmental reviews of water infrastructure projects, including establishing a timeline for completion of compliance requirements; convening water experts to develop an action plan for improving seasonal forecasts of water delivery; and expand use of technology to improve delivery of water and power.
  • Improving Water ReliabilityDirects the administration to expedite completion of biological opinions for the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project in California, the Klamath Irrigation Project in Oregon, and the federal Columbia River System in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Protecting Endangered SpeciesEnsures timely review processes without compromising environmental protections under the Endangered Species Act, allowing the best information to guide conservation of endangered or threatened species.  Agencies will make determinations regarding endangered and threatened species based on the best available scientific and commercial data.
It is anticipated that in the coming days, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will issue a "Secretarial Order" outlining in greater detail, how the Departments of Interior and Commerce will implement the memorandum. Read more.