Rep. Huffman Advances Key North Coast Priorities in Natural Resources and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees
Washington, D.C.- Rep. Huffman (D-San Rafael) secured wins in Congress today on several key North Coast priorities: broadband deployment, improving rural air service in Humboldt, and increasing the equitable treatment of forestry and fire protection pilots. Huffman was able to obtain approval of his proposals in the House Committee on Natural Resources and in the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
“In today’s difficult political climate, it’s not always easy to get Congress to respond to local concerns,” said Rep. Huffman. “Today, however, we were able to make gains on behalf of the North Coast in two congressional committees. The Natural Resources committee has approved my bill to increase broadband access in rural areas by speeding and expanding infrastructure investment on public lands, and in the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee my colleagues agreed to recognize and reward the contributions of forestry and fire protection pilots, and to allow increased travel options from Humboldt County. I will keep fighting for the North Coast and work with my colleagues to bring these much-needed initiatives over the finish line in Congress.”
Huffman’s Public Lands Telecommunications Act, an innovative proposal to help connect rural communities to high-speed internet, passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Today’s vote was the last step in the committee review process before the full House of Representatives begins review of the bill. Specifically, this legislation would ensure that public land management agencies have the resources, authority, and incentives necessary to partner with local communities and private industry to unlock new opportunities for responsible broadband infrastructure deployment on and near federal public lands.
In the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Huffman was able to get two amendments included in the markup of the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act. One of his amendments would update the Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA) regulations to address an inequity with how FAA regulations treat government operators who seek to log flight time spent piloting Forestry and Fire Protection public aircraft. Huffman’s other amendment would allow Humboldt County and other small and rural communities to use federal grant funding to reinitiate a route to a previously served destination after a reasonable period of time. Specifically, this would allow the Arcata-Eureka Airport to leverage federal investments towards the goal of once again offering flights to Los Angeles International Airport, which would be barred under current law.