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S. 528 (is) To amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to modify the requirements for voter mail registration and for other purposes. [Introduced in Senate] ...


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108th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 S. 527

   To establish the Southern Regional Commission for the purpose of 
breaking the cycle of persistent poverty among the southeastern States.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             March 5, 2003

  Mr. Miller introduced the following bill; which was read twice and 
       referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
   To establish the Southern Regional Commission for the purpose of 
breaking the cycle of persistent poverty among the southeastern States.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Southern Regional Commission Act of 
2003''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that--
            (1) the rural southeast has been historically marked by 
        high poverty rates, low education levels, poor economic 
        conditions, and poor quality of life, for individuals of all 
        ages;
            (2) recent studies--
                    (A) have documented the social costs of persistent 
                poverty;
                    (B) have documented that the rural southeast--
                            (i) experiences greater levels of overall 
                        poverty than the Appalachian region or the 
                        Delta region; but
                            (ii) has not been made the subject of a 
                        focused Federal program to address poverty; and
                    (C) argue for the need for a governmental 
                commission to build on the efforts of States, local 
                governments, and community-based entities to focus on 
                ending persistent poverty and building wealth;
            (3) the structure of the Appalachian Regional Commission 
        serves as a successful model for building wealth and improving 
        the conditions of communities that suffer from persistent 
        poverty; and
            (4) a commission for the rural southeast established on the 
        model of the Appalachian Regional Commission is critical--
                    (A) to address the gaps in education, health, 
                housing, transportation, technology, and infrastructure 
                in the southeastern poverty belt; and
                    (B) to break the cycle of persistent poverty in the 
                region.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Commission.--The term ``Commission'' means the Southern 
        Regional Commission established by section 4(a).
            (2) Federal grant program.--The term ``Federal grant 
        program'' means a Federal grant program to provide assistance 
        in carrying out economic and community development activities.
            (3) Local development district.--The term ``local 
        development district'' means an entity that--
                    (A) is designated by the State and is--
                            (i) a planning district in existence on the 
                        date of enactment of this Act that is 
                        recognized by the Economic Development 
                        Administration of the Department of Commerce; 
                        or
                            (ii) a special district that is--
                                    (I) designated after consultation 
                                with each appropriate State agency and 
                                the Governor; and
                                    (II) responsible for addressing the 
                                causes and effects of persistent 
                                poverty; and
                    (B) has not, as certified by the Federal 
                cochairperson--
                            (i) inappropriately used Federal grant 
                        funds from any Federal source; or
                            (ii) appointed an officer who, during the 
                        period in which another entity inappropriately 
                        used Federal grant funds from any Federal 
                        source, was an officer of the other entity.
            (4) Nonprofit entity.--The term ``nonprofit entity'' means 
        any entity with tax-exempt or nonprofit status (as determined 
        by the Internal Revenue Service) that--
                    (A) has been formed for the purpose of economic 
                development; or
                    (B) has a proven record of economic development 
                experience.
            (5) Region.--The term ``region'' means the area consisting 
        of--
                    (A) in the State of Alabama, the counties of 
                Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Coffee, 
                Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Escambia, 
                Geneva, Greene, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Marengo, 
                Monroe, Perry, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Washington, and 
                Wilcox;
                    (B) in the State of Florida, the counties of 
                Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Calhoun, Columbia, 
                Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, 
                Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, 
                Liberty, Madison, Putnam, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, 
                Walton, and Washington;
                    (C) in the State of Georgia, the counties of 
                Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Baker, Baldwin, Ben Hill, 
                Berrien, Bleckley, Brantley, Brooks, Bulloch, Burke, 
                Calhoun, Candler, Charlton, Clarke, Clay, Clinch, 
                Coffee, Colquit, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, 
                Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Emanuel, Evans, 
                Glascock, Glynn, Grady, Greene, Hancock, Irwin, Jasper, 
                Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Lanier, 
                Laurens, Liberty, Lincoln, Long, Lowndes, Macon, 
                Marion, McDuffie, McIntosh, Meriwether, Miller, 
                Mitchell, Montgomery, Oglethorpe, Peach, Pierce, 
                Pulaski, Putnam, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Screven, 
                Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taliaferro, 
                Tattnall, Taylor, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, 
                Toombs, Treutlen, Troup, Turner, Twiggs, Ware, Warren, 
                Washington, Wayne, Webster, Wheeler, Wilcox, Wilkes, 
                Wilkinson, and Worth;
                    (D) in the State of Mississippi, the counties of 
                Clarke, Forrest, George, Greene, Hancock, Jasper, 
                Jones, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leake, Neshoba, Newton, Pearl 
                River, Perry, Scott, Smith, Stone, and Wayne;
                    (E) in the State of North Carolina, the counties of 
                Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Caswell, Chowan, 
                Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, 
                Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, 
                Martin, Montgomery, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, 
                Pamilco, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, 
                Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Vance, 
                Warren, Washington, Wayne, and Wilson;
                    (F) in the State of South Carolina, the counties of 
                Abbeville, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, 
                Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, 
                Dillon, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, 
                Greenwood, Hampton, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, 
                McCormick, Newberry, Orangeburg, Saluda, Sumter, Union, 
                and Williamsburg; and
                    (G) in the State of Virginia, the counties of 
                Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Danville, 
                Emporia, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, 
                Nottoway, Prince Edward, Southampton, and Sussex.

SEC. 4. SOUTHERN REGIONAL COMMISSION.

    (a) Establishment.--
            (1) In general.--There is established the Southern Regional 
        Commission.
            (2) Composition.--The Commission shall be composed of--
                    (A) a Federal member, to be appointed by the 
                President, by and with the advice and consent of the 
                Senate; and
                    (B) State members, who shall consist of the 
                Governor of each State in the region that elects to 
                participate in the Commission.
            (3) Cochairpersons.--The Commission shall be headed by--
                    (A) the Federal member, who shall serve--
                            (i) as the Federal cochairperson; and
                            (ii) as a liaison between the Federal 
                        Government and the Commission; and
                    (B) a State cochairperson, who shall be--
                            (i) a Governor of a State described in 
                        paragraph (2)(B); and
                            (ii) elected by the State members for a 
                        term of not less than 1 year.
    (b) Alternate Members.--
            (1) Alternate federal cochairperson.--The President shall 
        appoint an alternate Federal cochairperson.
            (2) State alternate members.--
                    (A) Appointment.--The State member of a State 
                described in subsection (a)(2)(B) may have a single 
                alternate member, who shall be appointed by the 
                Governor of the State from among the cabinet or 
                personal staff of the Governor.
                    (B) Voting.--An alternate member shall vote in the 
                event of the absence, death, disability, removal, or 
                resignation of the member for whom the individual is an 
                alternate member.
            (3) Quorum.--
                    (A) In general.--Subject to subparagraphs (B) and 
                (C), the Commission shall determine what constitutes a 
                quorum of the Commission.
                    (B) Federal cochairperson.--To establish a quorum 
                of the Commission, the Federal cochairperson or a 
                designee of the Federal cochairperson shall be present.
                    (C) State alternate members.--A State alternate 
                member shall not be counted toward the establishment of 
                a quorum of the Commission.
            (4) Delegation of power.--No power or responsibility of the 
        Commission specified in paragraph (3) or (4) of subsection (c), 
        and no voting right of any member of the Commission, shall be 
        delegated to any individual who--
                    (A) is not a Commission member; or
                    (B) is not entitled to vote in Commission meetings.
    (c) Decisions.--
            (1) Requirements for approval.--Except as provided in 
        subsection (g), each decision by the Commission shall require 
        the affirmative vote of the Federal cochairperson and a 
        majority of the State members, excluding members representing 
States delinquent under subsection (g)(2)(C).
            (2) Consultation.--In any matter coming before the 
        Commission, the Federal cochairperson, to the maximum extent 
        practicable, shall consult with Federal agencies having an 
        interest in the matter.
            (3) Decisions requiring quorum of state members.--The 
        following decisions may not be made without a quorum of State 
        members:
                    (A) A decision involving Commission policy.
                    (B) Approval of a State, regional, or subregional 
                development plan or strategy statement.
                    (C) Modification or revision of the code of the 
                Commission.
                    (D) Allocation among the States of amounts made 
                available under this Act.
            (4) Project and grant proposals.--The approval of project 
        and grant proposals shall be--
                    (A) a responsibility of the Commission; and
                    (B) carried out in accordance with section 10.
    (d) Duties.--The Commission shall--
            (1) develop, on a continuing basis, giving due 
        consideration to other Federal, State, and local planning and 
        development activities in the region, comprehensive and 
        coordinated plans and programs to establish priorities and 
        approve grants aimed at breaking the cycle of persistent 
        poverty by increasing the capacity of individuals--
                    (A) to participate in the economy; and
                    (B) to build wealth;
            (2) not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of 
        this Act, establish priorities in a targeted strategy for the 
        region (including 5-year outcome targets for the region);
            (3)(A) use the findings of Phase I of the Study on 
        Persistent Poverty in the South, prepared by the University of 
        Georgia and dated 2002; and
            (B) assess any needs and capital assets of the region that 
        are not addressed by the study referred to in subparagraph (A) 
        based on available research, demonstration projects, 
        assessments, and evaluations of the region prepared by--
                    (i) Federal, State, or local agencies;
                    (ii) private nonprofit entities focused on 
                development of the region, such as the Southern Growth 
                Policies Board;
                    (iii) local development districts;
                    (iv) local community-based entities and 
                collaboratives;
                    (v) institutions of higher education; or
                    (vi) any other relevant source;
            (4) enhance the capacity of, and provide support for, local 
        development districts in the region;
            (5) support and enhance State resources and activities 
        designed to address persistent poverty;
            (6) promote multijurisdictional efforts at the local level 
        intended to maximize local resources;
            (7) support community-based efforts designed to address 
        persistent poverty;
            (8) encourage private investment in industrial, commercial, 
        and other economic development projects in the region; and
            (9) engage land-grant colleges and universities (as defined 
        in section 1404 of the National Agricultural Research, 
        Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 3103)) to 
        provide research support for each State included in the region.
    (e) Administration.--In carrying out subsection (d), the Commission 
may--
            (1) hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and 
        places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and print 
        or otherwise reproduce and distribute a description of the 
        proceedings of, and reports on actions by, the Commission as 
        the Commission considers appropriate;
            (2) authorize, through the Federal or State cochairperson 
        or any other member of the Commission designated by the 
        Commission, the administration of oaths, if the Commission 
        determines that testimony should be taken or evidence received 
        under oath;
            (3) request from any Federal, State, or local agency such 
        information as is available to or procurable by the agency and 
        may be of use to the Commission in carrying out the duties of 
        the Commission;

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