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House clears anti-crime bill for conference.

The House last week overwhelmingly passed the 1991 Omnibus Anti-Crime bill, HR 3371.

The $1.2 billion bill would increase the authorization for law enforcement agencies, make permanent the 75-25 percent federal-local match requirement for the Byrne enforcement formula grant program and call on the Attorney General to study the procedures followed in internal, non-criminal investigations of state and local law enforcement officers.

NLC-supported provisions to ban certain assault weapons have been deleted. The vote on final passage of HR 3371 was 305-118.

The next step will be House-Senate conference that will reconcile differing provisions in the Senate-passed bill, S. 1241 and HR 3371. Conferees have not yet been named.

Provisions impacting cities and towns

Match Requirement: An attempt was made by Rep. Steve Schiff (R-NM) to amend provisions in HR 3371 that would make permanent the 75-25 federal-local match requirement for the Byrne enforcement formula grant program. Schiff sought to retain current law under which the 75-25 percent match would be extended for one year then increased to 50-50. The amendment was soundly defeated by a 286-129.

According to Schiff, the federal government should not be obligated to a specific match but should revisit the issue every year.

However, Congress has, over the last three years, voted to extend the 75-25 percent match rate. Explaining why, Rep. Bob Wise (D-WV), Chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee on Government Information, Justice and Agriculture described the findings of eight hearings held across the country on the issue. Wise said, "Localities simply cannot afford this burden at a time when we are asking them to do even more in the areas of law enforcement."

Pointing to those charged with administering these programs at the State level Wise said, "For those State administrators who are trying to plan programs, even if the amendment were adopted, there are multiyear programs. These do not go one year. They go often 3 years. So it tosses all of this, all of these cads, up in the air to suddenly strike that down and to say it would be 50-50. Would it be for the life of the grant? I do not know."

Speaking in support of the 75-25 match, Rep. Jack Brooks (D-TX), chairman of the Judiciary Committee said, "I would like to point out that we are frequently reminded by our constituents of the drastic economic downturn in many of our communities and localities, and the corresponding drop in revenue, if this amendment would pass, available for law enforcement purposes; it would just drop it down a little bit, and it strikes me that really this is probably the worst time to shift a greater burden to the State and local governments." Senate provision: The Senate-passed bill contains provisions to extend the 75-25 percent match for one year.

Assault Weapons ban:

NLC-supported provisions to ban thirteen specified domestic-made assault semiautomatic weaspons and the use of certain ammunition clips that enable a weapon to fire large numbers of rounds without reloading were removed from the Anti-Crime package by a 247-177 vote. (See The Weekly, October 21.)

Senate provisions: The Senate-passed bill contains provisions that would ban the sale, importantion or transfer of nine classes of assault weapons, establishes procedures for transferring or selling weapons and directs the attorney general to study the effectiveness of such a ban.

New Programs:

Although the House-passed crime bill contains authorizations for several new programs that would bring additional assistance to cities and towns, none of them are funded under the FY 1992 appropriations bill. These new programs include:

[Section] $150 million for direct grants to local police departments to undertake community-oriented policing activites; An additional $25 million was added through an amendment offered by Rep. Larry Smith (D-FL) to be directed to 12 metropolitan areas that have the highest total crime inded as published by the Justice Department;

[Section] $300 million for drug-emergency grants to State and local governments designated as drug emergency areas;

[Section] $200 million for alternatives to incarceration for youth;

[Section] $25 million for grants to assist states in domestic violence intervention.

Rural drug enforcement and control: An amendment was successfully offered by Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) that would establish a Rural Drug Enforcement Task Force, authorize $50 million for rural law enforcement training and increases the base allocation for distribution of antidrug funds to States under the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1968 from $100,000 to $250,000. These provisions are similar to those in the Senate-passed crime bill.

In his remarks, Skelton said, "We must provide rural law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to cut off the production and transportation of drugs to the cities as well as address the increasing drug treatment and prevention needs of rural citizens."

"Drugs and crime have moved into rural areas and rural areas just don't have the resources to effectively combat the problem. Unless we address both the urban and rural aspects of the problem at once, we'll just shift the problem back and forth over the city boundaries. That's no solution.

Speaking in support of the Skelton amendment, Rep. Beverly Byron (D-Md.) said that according to a report released this past summer by the Senate, "violent crime and drug abuse rose faster in Maine and Montana than it did in Los Angeles and New York, and that is that one in every 10 cocaine addicts live in rural States." Byron went on tos ay, "Just two weeks ago in Maryland we almost were forced to cut the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, more formally known as DARE."

Senate provisions for new programs:

[Section] S. 1241 contains provisions similar to the House-passed Drug Emergency Program;

USS. 1241 contains similar provisions to the alternative sentencing provisions;

[Section] The Senate bill does not contain a Community Policing Title nor provisions to address domestic violence.
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Title Annotation:includes related information on needed lobbying efforts; US House of Representatives
Author:Quist, Janet
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Oct 28, 1991
Previous Article:Mobile workshops to spotlight the business side of Las Vegas.
Next Article:Transportation bill to conferees; faces veto.

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