Congressman Kilmer touts economic development initiative

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

Private meetings planned
PORT ANGELES — U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor is holding a “state of the district” tour through Jan. 27.

Kilmer, whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, will be meeting mostly with by-invitation-only organizations in the district and is not releasing an itinerary, spokesman Stephen Carter said Friday.

“We prefer not to have those published,” he said of the meeting dates.

Organizations will make it known Kilmer will be present to discuss legislative issues “if they want to,” Carter said.

“There will be no town hall meetings.”
Kilmer, a Port Angeles native, will be the keynote speaker at the Clallam County Economic Development Council's annual dinner Jan. 31 at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles.

It is open to the public. Cost is $37.50 per person. To make reservations, phone the EDC at 360-457-7793 or email jlinde@clallam.org.

Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Wild Olympics legislation submitted for congressional consideration Friday is part of a broadly based “Olympic Peninsula Economic Development Initiative” that U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer is promoting.

While Kilmer introduced a new version of the Wild Olympics proposal in concert with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Bothell, the rest of the economic development initiative is from Kilmer only.

Kilmer said he is responding to high unemployment on the Peninsula.

He intends to introduce new legislation proposed in the initiative within the next month or so, Kilmer's spokesman, Stephen Carter, said Friday.

“Not all of the bills would necessarily cost money,” Carter said in an email in response to a query on the cost of the legislation.

“In fact, most federal programs are first authorized in order to set up a framework for a program, but this does not guarantee local funding.

“Congress still has to pass its annual appropriations bills, which fund the government.

“Those bills break down funding levels for specific programs and activities.”

Jobs hard to determine

It's hard to determine how many jobs would be created by legislation included in the initiative, Carter said.

“Many of these specific programs came from ideas that folks have suggested would help address some of the region's needs,” he said.

“It would be difficult at this stage to give you an accurate prediction of how many jobs these bills would create or maintain if they were all passed.”

Along with the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014, the 12-page initiative includes new and expanded legislative efforts by Kilmer, a Gig Harbor Democrat and Port Angeles native whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Kilmer bills

They are:

■ The America Recruits Act is bipartisan legislation that Kilmer has worked on with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rep. Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican.

Its goal is to generate jobs in rural regions where jobs have been moved to other countries.

It would create a competitive grant program for states, providing up to $5,000 in forgivable loans for every new manufacturing job created and maintained for at least five years.

It would include training and education programs, and expedite federal financing to allow companies to increase export capacity.

Kilmer, Warner and Wolf are still working on the final details of the bill.

The cost of the legislation will be offset by cuts to government printing costs, Carter said.

■ In the Coastal Resiliency Act of 2014, Kilmer would have the federal government provide financial and technical assistance to coastal states to protect communities from natural hazards, protect coastal habitats and maintain working waterfronts.

It would put forward policy objectives to help guide federal funding decisions, Carter said.

■ Congress should do more to promote mobility needs of disabled and transit-dependent populations in rural communities, according to Kilmer's initiative.

The efforts would be part of the reauthorization of surface transportation legislation known as MAP-21.

■ Kilmer will introduce the Promoting Rural Broadband Act to help businesses, improve education and enhance public safety.

The Federal Communications Commission would promote expansion of services such as broadband to populations in unserved and underserved areas.

“If passed into law, this would require the FCC to use its own resources, which it receives from annual funding bills passed by Congress, to boost its outreach,” Carter said.

■ In the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, Kilmer is working with 10th District U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia.

It would contain new measures to monitor the environmental health of coastal waters and study the causes and impacts of acidification on fisheries.

Stakeholders would participate in competitions “to stimulate innovation and advance our ability to understand, research and monitor ocean acidification and its impacts,” according to the initiative.

Federal agencies would be authorized to use existing resources for prizes.

■ Kilmer will introduce the Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship Enhancement Act to ensure that the federal Regional Innovation Program continues to have regional firms and industries address common needs for talent, technology or infrastructure.

The Department of Commerce would boost its focus on bringing programs to rural areas.

“My goal is to encourage local industries out on the Olympic Peninsula to take advantage of this program to help develop new markets, attract new investment or train a highly skilled workforce,” according to the initiative.

It also would intend to strengthen the ability of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to facilitate federal loan guarantees for technological advancements in manufacturing.

“This bill authorizes the program but would not directly spend any money,” Carter said.

■ The Skills Investment Act — HR 1939 — which Kilmer already has introduced, would create “lifelong learning accounts” to help workers stay competitive in the workforce.

Workers and employers would receive tax credits for their contributions to the accounts.

The legislation would provide grants to states to design, establish and implement the accounts, with the federal government covering 80 percent of the cost and states providing the remainder from state, local or private sources.

It would create a tax credit for employers with 250 or fewer employees for 25 percent of their contributions to their employees' accounts.

Employers would receive an additional credit of up to $500 for as many as three years to cover administrative costs.

Career counseling also would be provided to employees with lifelong learning accounts.

The accounts “would have to be funded through the normal appropriations process,” Carter said.

“Rep. Kilmer recognizes that if the legislation moves forward, he would need to work with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to identify an appropriate offset for the bill.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 18. 2014 6:06PM
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