August 1, 2012
A Flurry of Activity Takes Place As Congress Prepares for Summer Recess
With Congress scheduled to adjourn this week for August recess, a flurry of activity has taken place and FLA has been busy tracking and making sure private forest issues and constituents were being represented.
A summary of recent key votes and actions includes:
Senate Tax Vote
We were tracking this closely and while there was much news leading up to the vote and despite the action taken in the Senate, it was apparent that the bill would not be taken up for a vote in the House.
We are staying in close contact with several key House offices and other contacts on the Hill, who are saying that the likely action on the Bush tax incentives, set to expire at the end of 2012, is that Congress will extend them for one year and the “fiscal cliff” will be dealt with by the new Congress in 2013.
A personalized email under FLA CEO Scott Jones’ signature was sent to every forestry legislative aide of the House requesting Members of Congress to sign-on to two key letters in support of their forestry constituents as described below. The email received very good response and resulted in numerous additional co-signers for each letter.
Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act - HR 2541 Hearing
This bill is scheduled for a vote in the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee this morning, August 1 and is expected to pass out of the committee, where the next step will be a vote on the floor of the House when Congress reconvenes in September.
H.R. 2541 currently has 61 Cosponsors. FLA sent an action alert to members in May asking them to contact their Member of Congress for support of H.R. 2541.
Softwood Lumber Trade Issue
The Softwood Lumber Coalition requested FLA’s help in garnering support from House Members to sign onto a letter to President Obama. The letter urged his Administration to ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement yields improvements on application of the U.S. trade laws against Canada's unfair trade practices in softwood lumber. Canada’s unfair trade practice definitely impacts private forest landowners nation-wide by depressing timber prices. The staff is working to gain additional signatures for key Representatives by contacting FLA members in those districts.
2012 Advocacy Day Postponed
After thoughtful consideration about the 2012 Advocacy Day, it was decided to postpone the full Advocacy Day event for the membership and focus the time on Executive Committee meetings and Board meetings. The 2 main issues that led to this decision are: 1) It is a tossup if Congress will be in session. The current calendars have them in session but the calendars keep changing and our staff contacts are all at a loss on what could happen. 2) There are some important efforts being taken on now to try and attach markers to bills that will be moving, but it is unlikely that any of our priority issues will be in play during our visits.
We do not want to waste our members' valuable time or money on visits that are questionable in effectiveness but we will call on you in 2013 to advocate on issues that will be of vital importance to the future of all private forest landowners.