FY 2007 Advocacy Program: Supporting Great Lakes Restoration
The Regional Coordination Program has revised the format for developing the Commissionís federal legislative priorities and communicating these to Congress each spring. A key feature to both parts of this format is closer coordination and communication with the Council of Great Lakes Governors along with the
Commissionís other long-standing partners. The timing and elements of the revised format include:
- November: Solicit input from program managers, Council of Great Lakes Governors and regional stakeholders.
- December: Present recommendations to the Commission Board for review, recommendations and revision.
- January: Present revised recommendations to the entire Commission delegation of commissioners for review and comment.
- February: Present the Commissionís legislative program to Congress.
- March: Present the Commissionís appropriations requests to Congress.
The Great Lakes Commission program of regional priorities for FY 2007 is entitled: Supporting Great Lakes Restoration. These priorities consist of requests for appropriations, new authorizing legislation and legislation to reauthorize existing programs.
The format for appropriations requests has also been revised consistent with guidelines recommended by congressional offices. The new approach presents each Commission request in a concise and consistent format, and includes an assessment of the benefits expected from the requested federal funding, the performance and progress of the currently funded program(s) and a recent history of appropriations received for the program(s). An example is included with this report.
Advocacy for the Commissionís priorities are being enhanced through new information management tools for communicating with key members of Congress and committee staff. The first tool in the suite is completed and consists of a relational database of essential congressional information, such as committee assignments, staffing, office contact information and strategic relationships that identify key members of Congress with specific Commission legislative and appropriations priorities. Also, key to the success of this relational database is timely and relevant information now available through subscribed access to databases provided by Congressional Quarterly and updated throughout the day, even when Congress is not in session.
The second enhancement now under development is a search tool which will allow for easy web-based searches of the congressional and legislative database. This search tool will operate on the Commissionís internet server on a proprietary internal basis and assist with communications from Commission staff to Congress.
Future enhancements are being planned that will incorporate policy relevant information on Great Lakes stakeholders, member state contacts within agencies and legislatures (commissioners and non-commissioners), and create an archival architecture which will allow for longitudinal and cross-policy studies, principally at the federal level.
Great Lakes Day in Washington: Committing to the Vision
This event was held on March 16 and the day began with a Great Lakes Congressional Reception in the historic Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building. Remarks were delivered by Congressman Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Congressman Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) to encourage their colleagues and event participants to support the recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC). Support was very evident with planned activities on three fronts. The Great Lakes Commission released the FY 2007 program: Supporting Great Lakes Restoration which highlighted many GLRC recommendations for Congress to act on. The Council of Great Lakes Governors proffered these same legislative and appropriations requests in a widely publicized letter to the President. Finally, over 150 representatives of the Healing Our Waters: Great Lakes Coalition were active in Washington on March 15 and 16 to communicate these same priorities to members of Congress.
Continuing to focus attention on the GLRC priorities, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing that featured testimony from Great Lakes senators and regional stakeholders. The consensus of these messages was that Congress needs to act soon.
Also part of the dayís events, the Great Lakes Commission and Council of Great Lakes Governors organized office visits with members of Congress which provided further opportunities to press for the GLRC priorities. Advocacy on three fronts simultaneously was considered very helpful and will be considered for Great Lakes Day next year.
Related Program Support
The Regional Coordination Program has also supported the following Commission projects and initiatives:
- Aquatic Nuisance Species State Management Plan Project
- Policy and Legislation Committee - Great Lakes Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel
- Coordination on Legislation - Great Lakes Observation System Regional Association
- Great Lakes Commission Priorities for all other Program areas: Resource Management, Environmental Quality, Transportation and Sustainable Development, Communications and Internet Technology, Data and Information Management