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S. 3351: Coastal Fellowships Act


The text of the bill below is as of Dec 9, 2021 (Introduced).


II

117th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 3351

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

December 9, 2021

(for himself, Mr. Wicker, Ms. Collins, and Mr. Whitehouse) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

A BILL

To establish the Coastal Management Fellowship and the Digital Coast Fellowship, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Coastal Fellowships Act.

2.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Coastal State

The term coastal State

(A)

means a State of the United States in, or bordering on, the Atlantic, Pacific, or Arctic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Long Island Sound, or one or more of the Great Lakes; and

(B)

includes Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.

(2)

Fellow

The term fellow means an individual awarded a fellowship under section 5.

(3)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of Commerce.

3.

Establishment of Coastal Management Fellowship

(a)

In general

There is established a fellowship program, to be known as the Coastal Management Fellowship.

(b)

Purposes

The purposes of the Coastal Management Fellowship are—

(1)

to provide on-the-job training, professional mentoring, and educational opportunities in coastal management and policy to qualified individuals as described in section 5;

(2)

to direct essential workforce assistance to coastal States to support coastal management efforts, including building local-level capacity to adapt to coastal vulnerabilities; and

(3)

to encourage the next generation of coastal professionals to engage in public service work to help the United States better manage coastal resources and protect coastal communities.

4.

Establishment of Digital Coast Fellowship

(a)

In general

There is established a fellowship program, to be known as the Digital Coast Fellowship.

(b)

Purposes

The purposes of the Digital Coast Fellowship are—

(1)

to provide on-the-job training, professional mentoring, and educational opportunities in coastal management and policy to qualified individuals as described in section 5;

(2)

to provide assistance to coastal States and partner organizations to help advance the goals of the Digital Coast program established under section 4 of the Digital Coast Act (16 U.S.C. 1467); and

(3)

to encourage the next generation of coastal professionals to engage in public service work to help the United States better manage coastal resources and protect coastal communities.

5.

Fellowships

(a)

In general

The Secretary shall award fellowships under the Coastal Management Fellowship and the Digital Coast Fellowship in accordance with this section.

(b)

Qualifications

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall award fellowships under this section to individuals selected from among individuals who—

(A)

have successfully completed a covered degree or will complete a covered degree before the start of the fellowship; and

(B)

have demonstrated—

(i)

an interest in pursuing a career in coastal or marine—

(I)

science;

(II)

policy;

(III)

management; or

(IV)

law;

(ii)

outstanding potential for such a career;

(iii)

leadership potential or experience;

(iv)

a commitment to or significant interest in public service;

(v)

proficient skills in writing and oral communication; and

(vi)

such other attributes as the Secretary determines appropriate.

(2)

Definition of covered degree

In this subsection, the term covered degree means a graduate degree from an accredited United States institution, the curriculum for which covers topics relevant to coastal management, as determined by the Secretary.

(c)

Requirement of geographic balance

The Secretary shall award fellowships under this section in a manner that is geographically balanced.

(d)

Term of fellowship

A fellowship awarded under this section shall be for a term of not more than 2 years.

(e)

Stipend

(1)

In general

Each fellow shall receive an annual stipend of not less than $47,000, which the Secretary shall regularly review and periodically adjust, as determined appropriate by the Secretary—

(A)

to be commensurate with other similar fellowships; and

(B)

to account for changes in cost of living and inflation.

(2)

Locality pay

The Secretary shall include a pay adjustment as part of the stipends described in paragraph (1) that is comparable to the locality pay adjustment for the locality pay area in which the host office of the fellow is located, as determined under section 531.603 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (or any successor regulation).

(f)

Status of fellows

Except as provided in subsection (h)(3), fellows shall not be considered to be Federal employees.

(g)

Direct hire authority

(1)

In general

During fiscal year 2022 and any fiscal year thereafter, the head of any Federal agency may appoint, without regard to the provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of title 5, United States Code, other than sections 3303 and 3328 of that title, a candidate who meets the qualifications described in paragraph (2) directly to a position with the Federal agency for which the candidate meets Office of Personnel Management qualification standards.

(2)

Qualifications

Paragraph (1) applies with respect to a former fellow who has successfully fulfilled the requirements of the fellowship.

(3)

Limitation

The direct hire authority under paragraph (1) shall be exercised with respect to a specific qualified candidate not later than 2 years after the date on which the candidate completed a fellowship awarded under this section.

(h)

Use of funds

Amounts authorized to be appropriated under section 6 shall be used for—

(1)

the award of fellowships under this section, including stipends paid to fellows and other relevant benefits offered to fellows, including health insurance, as identified by the Secretary;

(2)

administrative costs associated with the Coastal Management Fellowship and the Digital Coast Fellowship;

(3)

relocation and travel expenses paid to fellows, who shall be considered to be Federal employees for purposes of section 3375 of title 5, United States Code;

(4)

professional development opportunities for fellows, including costs associated with trainings, certifications, classes, or other opportunities to advance—

(A)

the professional skills of each fellow; or

(B)

the ability of each fellow to support the needs of the host office; and

(5)

such other costs of the Coastal Management Fellowship and the Digital Coast Fellowship as the Secretary may identify.

6.

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary for the uses described in section 5(h) $1,910,000 for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2027.