April 10, 2008
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ENVIRONMENT
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Wetlands Permitting Expansion Bill
MUNICIPAL
Clean Water Trust Fund Concept Gaining Momentum on Capitol Hill
TAXES
House Tax Panel Votes to Delay 3% Withholding for One Year
Housing
Senate Passes Bill to Stimulate Housing Market, Business; House Begins Work

  Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Wetlands Permitting Expansion Bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday conducted a legislative hearing on S. 1870, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007, a bill that would expand the federal jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act. 

If enacted, construction activities impacting virtually all wet areas in the United States, however remote or intermittent, would be required to obtain and comply with federal Clean Water Act permits, including, but not limited to, section 404 wetlands permits.  AGC submitted a written statement for the hearing record detailing concerns with the bill. 

S. 1870 was introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and is a companion bill to H.R. 2421 introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.).  Proponents of the legislation contend that the bill “restores” federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction prior to decisions in two Supreme Court cases over the last decade.  However, AGC and a coalition of agricultural, development, energy, and local government stakeholders believe that the bill expands federal jurisdiction beyond what Congress intended in the Clean Water Act. 

While AGC and the Waters Advocacy Coalition has been successful in stalling further consideration of the bill in both the House and the Senate, champions of the bill may attempt to move the bill in the upcoming weeks.  AGC urges members to contact their members of Congress in opposition to the bill.  To contact your members directly from AGC’s Legislative Action Center, click here. 

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at bachmank@agc.org or (202) 548-4733. [ return to top ]

  Clean Water Trust Fund Concept Gaining Momentum on Capitol Hill

Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) recently met with AGC and other stakeholder groups to discuss plans for introduction of a bill to establish a Clean Water Trust Fund. 

Johnson reported that a bill is expected to be introduced shortly and confirmed that a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study outlining potential funding sources was expected to be completed and released this fall.  AGC has endorsed the creation of a trust fund and has worked in coalition with a number of other associations to encourage Congress to assist states and municipalities to fund our failing wastewater infrastructure. 

For more information, contact Stu Megaw at (703) 837-5321 or megaws@agc.org.
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  House Tax Panel Votes to Delay 3% Withholding for One Year

The House Ways and Means Committee voted this week to delay the implementation of the 3% withholding for one year, until 2012.  The new law requires 3% of every payment be withheld from all contracts with federal, state and some local governments and is scheduled to begin on payments starting in 2011.

While the legislation to delay the implementation of the 3% withholding until 2012 passed through the committee and will soon be considered by the full House, an amendment offered by Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.) to fully repeal the withholding failed on a party-line vote, with Democrats complaining the amendment wasn’t paid for under the House rules.

AGC will continue to work for permanent repeal by urging the House to vote on H.R. 1023. H.R. 1023 is bipartisan legislation with 243 co-sponsors that would simply repeal the law. A one-year or other delay of implementation doesn’t fix the problem; it only temporarily relieves some of the pressure.  AGC believes that with many significant deadlines looming, Congress must focus sooner rather than later on the repeal of the 3% withholding.

For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at blumenthalh@agc.org or (202) 547-8892. [ return to top ]

  Senate Passes Bill to Stimulate Housing Market, Business; House Begins Work

The Senate this week passed legislation to help stimulate the struggling housing market, while providing some relief to businesses that are also suffering in the current economy.  Included among the provisions is net operating loss carryback expansion, which will help those companies suffering losses in 2008 and 2009 by allowing them to apply their losses against their taxes for the last four years, rather than just two. Ultimately this allows them to keep more of their money and use that to weather the current storm.

The legislation also creates an additional standard deduction for property taxes for homeowners who do not itemize their federal taxes, increases funding for mortgage revenue bonds, which will help homeowners and buyers obtain affordable loans, as well as a substantial credit to buyers of foreclosed homes that will help stabilize local housing markets and property values.
 
Separately, the House tax writing committee voted on legislation this week that would provide tax credits to first-time homebuyers, improve access to low-income housing, and allow families to deduct property taxes.  After consideration by the full House, the two housing stimulus bills will move to a Conference Committee to find a compromise.

For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at blumenthalh@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.
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