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[eNewsletter]November 29, 2012: Lame Duck Congress focus on Economy
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November 29, 2012

Lame Duck Congress focus on Economy

Yes, Congress is back in Washington, DC for a lame duck session. What if anything does this mean for private forest landowners and legislation supported by the FLA? All discussions are focused on the fiscal cliff and the budget. Facing a long to-do list that includes preventing the American economy from falling into a tailspin, it highly unlikely that any action on legislation supported by FLA will occur before the end of the 112th Congress. Click here for status of FLA supported legislation.

The pressing issues are a combination of tax cuts set to expire on December 31 and automatic budget cuts to go into effect on January 1. The combined actions are estimated to cost taxpayers $500 billion next year alone.

Newly Elected Members and Committee Chairmanships

FLA PAC contributions to candidates totaled $22,700, with a 78% success rate of candidates winning their election, including freshman Derek Kilmer (D-WA).

Newly elected members will also be traversing the halls of Congress this week for orientation. Members of the freshman class, which includes about 80 new members in the U.S. House of Representatives, will navigate their way through the winding corridors and receive a thick stack of House rules and procedures. Many new members were elected in southeast states where private forestry has a large constituency. Click here to see the list.

Senate In the Senate, we will have the opportunity to work with a number of new Senators from Maine (former Governor Angus King - I), Wisconsin (Rep. Tammy Baldwin-D), Texas (Ted Cruz-R) and Virginia (former Governor Tim Kaine-D).

In This Issue

Lame Duck Congress focus on Economy
Newly Elected Members and Committee Chairmanships
FLA 112th Congressional Legislative Agenda



Not a FLA Member?

In addition to Jon Tester (D-MT), voters reelected a number of Senators important to forestry issues. On the Democratic side, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) won re-election. On the Republican side, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bob Corker (R-TN) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) won their campaigns.

In terms of Committee assignments, the two likely changes of greatest significance will be Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) becoming chair the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) becoming ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. We anticipate seeing several new members on the Senate Finance Committee, which will be led by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The Senate leadership is scheduled to release the final committee assignments early next year. Overall, senators important to forestry issues will gain seniority next Congress.

House Returning House members who have lead on forestry issues include Republicans Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA), Rep. Glen Thompson (R-PA) and Democrats Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN).

Yesterday, the House GOP leadership announced their recommendations for committee chairs, with many chairmanships remaining the same, with Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) chairing Agriculture Committee (has jurisdiction over several forestry issues and the Farm Bill) Rep. Mike Simpson chairing Interior Appropriations (which funds the EPA), Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) chairing House Ways and Means and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) chairing Energy and Commerce (which has jurisdiction over air issues). Taking over as chairman of Natural Resources will likely be Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) for Transportation and Infrastructure (which has jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act).

As reported by NAFO

Status Update

FLA 112TH Congressional Legislative Agenda

S. 2346/H.R. 5873 Forest Products Fairness Act
Both bills open new opportunities for American forestry producers by allowing their products to qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture BioPreferred Program.

The USDA BioPreferred Program was created to provide new markets for farm commodities and encourage consumers to purchase environmentally-friendly biobased products. Despite the sustainability of wood, pulp and paper products, the USDA has not designated such products as a USDA Certified Biobased Product. The Forest Products Fairness Act would allow domestic forestry products to be labeled as biobased so they could receive increased consumer attention as well as federal government procurement preference. This bill effectively drops the arbitrary "mature market” exclusion of wood from participating in the USDA Biobased

Senate Sponsor: Sen. Mark Pryor [D-AR] Cosponsors: 5 Committee Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry – no action taken

House Sponsor: Rep. Glenn Thompson [R-PA5] Cosponsors: 48 Committee Jurisdiction: Agriculture – no action taken

S. 1392/H.R. 225: EPA Regulatory Relief Act
To provide additional time for the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to issue achievable standards for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers, process heaters, and incinerators, and for other purposes.

Senate Sponsor: Sen. Susan Collins [R-ME] Cosponsors: 41 Committee Jurisdiction: Environment and Public Works – no action taken

House Sponsor: Rep. Morgan Griffith [R-VA9] Cosponsors: 126 Committee Jurisdiction: Energy and Commerce – passed House 10/13/11

EPA Final Ruling Status
In an October 29, 2012 status report to the U.S. Court of Appeals – D.C. Circuit, the EPA stated that the agency is "still in the process of analyzing the data and information" submitted in response to its December 2011 proposed amendments. EPA's status report did not indicate when it would finalize the amendments to the regulations. So, Boiler MACT is still up in the air with no definitive decision in sight before the end of the year. More background and details on the EPA Boiler MACT Ruling.

H.R. 1433: Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012
The Private Property Rights Protection act, H.R. 1443, would prevent states from using eminent domain over property to be used for economic development, and establish a private right of action for property owners if a state or local government violates the new rule. It would also limit federal funds to states in which property is taken in violation of the law.

House Sponsor: Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. [R-WI5] Cosponsors: 28 Committee Jurisdiction: Judiciary Action: Passed the House 2/28/2012 and referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. No action was taken in the Senate.

S. 1369/H.R. 2541: Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act
Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to exempt the conduct of silvicultural activities from national pollutant discharge elimination system permitting requirements.

Senate Sponsor: Sen. Michael Crapo [R-ID] Cosponsors: 28 Committee Jurisdiction: Environment and Public Works Action: No action has been taken

House Sponsor: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler [R-WA3] Cosponsors: 62 Committee Jurisdiction: Transportation and Infrastructure Action: Passed by the Committee on 08/01/12 for consideration by the House as a whole. No further action has been taken.

S. 2242/H.R. 1259: Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2011
The Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2011 repeals estate and generation skipping transfer taxes and protects families from paying high capital gains taxes on inherited estates. This bill has over 200 bi-partisan cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and its mirror bill introduced by Senator John Thune has over 35 in the U.S. Senate.

Senate Sponsor: Sen. John Thune [R-SD] Cosponsors: 37 Committee Jurisdiction: Finance Action: No action has been taken

House Sponsor: Rep. Kevin Brady [R-TX8] Cosponsors: 222 Committee Jurisdiction: Ways and Means Action: No action has been taken

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