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Kutak Rock Government Relations Team Integral to Iowa Flood Risk Management Grant

News - Press Release | July 16, 2018

Thanks in part to the lobbying efforts of Kutak Rock “of counsel” attorney and former Senator David Karnes and the firm’s Government Relations Group, the City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has received $117 million in federal funding for its flood control system. The grant is the result of a special provision included in the February Congressional Emergency Supplemental Appropriations legislation.

“Ten years ago, a devastating flood hit Iowa’s second-largest city, Cedar Rapids, doing more than $5 billion in damages. In the following years, City leadership aggressively pursued flood-risk management funding from Congress and the Administration,” explained Sen. Karnes. He said that despite their efforts, federal funding eluded them.

In 2010, Jeff Pomeranz became the city manager of Cedar Rapids. Having worked with Sen. Karnes on previous projects, he said, “The first person I thought of to challenge the federal system was Dave.” He recommended engaging Kutak Rock’s Government Relations team to develop a plan to secure funding for the project, which competed annually with all other flood-related projects in the country for Army Corps and Congressional funding.

Pomeranz noted that even though the flood management project got through the qualification stage, it never received any money. “It’s one thing to qualify, another to make sure your project is on the list.” Karnes agreed, stating that for many years, securing funding “was deemed impossible even by the Iowa Congressional delegation.”

With the odds against them, Pomeranz said Sen. Karnes remained diligent, forging relationships and looking for alternative ways to get the project on the funding list. He said over a span of seven years, Sen. Karnes “kept communication going, kept the need top-of-mind for our representatives. Dave was a rock and the person we relied on to make sure we were doing everything right.”

Working with key House and Senate leaders and the current administration, Sen. Karnes and the Government Relations group strategized ways to make sure the project was funded this time. Finally, they drafted special appropriations and authorizing bill language.

As a result, February’s Congressional Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill included language that facilitated the awarding of project funding for the City. Then on July 5, the Corps released its flood mitigation award to the City for $117 million for flood risk management—much more than the City was expecting.

“The project requires more funding from the State and elsewhere, but this is a huge part of it,” said Pomeranz. “We’ve come back very strong and this is important to us. Good work by Kutak Rock.”