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July 6, 2000
Volume 6, Issue 27

Senate May Consider Gas Tax Repeal Bill the Week of July 10

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) stated that he would like the Senate to consider a bill to repeal/suspend the 18.4-cent federal gas tax and 24.4-cent diesel tax when the Senate returns from the July 4th recess on July 10. Although it is unclear which bill they would consider (several have been introduced), the options range from a repeal/suspension through Labor Day, to a repeal/suspension through March 31, 2001. AGC is working to defeat any efforts to repeal or suspend the motor fuels tax. However, AGC is advocating that Senators consider Senator Murkowski's bill, S.2799 the "Emergency Fuel Tax Act of 2000." This bill would allow individuals and companies to deduct on their income tax statements next year the cost of all gasoline taxes they pay between July 1 and December 31, 2000. This legislation would guarantee that motorists receive relief from high gas prices. Moreover, the bill would ensure that the funding in the Highway Trust Fund remains intact and consistent with TEA-21. It is imperative that AGC members contact their Senators and Representative NOW! AGC led the effort to defeat similar initiatives in April. If we are to win again, AGC Members need to inundate Congress with calls, letters, faxes, and e-mails - letting them know that funding for state highway and transit programs will be jeopardized along with your businesses if the motor fuels tax is repealed. You can reach your Senators and Representative through the Capitol Hill switchboard, 202-224-3121.

House will Consider American Community Renewal Act Soon: House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), House Conference Chairman J.C. Watts (R-OK), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Small Business Committee Chairman Jim Talent (R-MO) announced today that a major city revitalization bill would be marked up next week. A Ways and Means committee mark-up will hasten consideration of the American Community Renewal Act by the full House. The Majority Leader emphasized that the historic compromise with the White House, achieved last month, has cleared all major hurdles for a bill that Watts, Talent and Davis have been working on for more than five years. The bill, closely watched by contractors, will be combined with the previously passed "New Markets Act" creating 40 Renewal Communities with targeted, pro-growth tax benefits, regulatory relief, savings accounts, brownfields clean-up, and home-ownership opportunities. At least 20 percent of the communities identified must be located in rural areas. Communities must apply for renewal community status, which requires high poverty rates and a local commitment to reduce local regulations, zoning restrictions and tax rates. The Renewal Communities would receive a combination of tax, regulatory, and other targeted programs. The tax benefits of Renewal Communities would address the principal hurdles facing small businesses when they are just getting started-raising capital and maintaining cash flow. "This legislation is unique because it would provide communities with the tools to help reinvigorate their neighborhoods", said House Small Business Committee Chairman Talent. "With this agreement we are closer than ever to passing legislation that will make a real difference in these communities."

Death Tax Elimination Vote Next Week in the Senate: AGC expects votes next week in the Senate on H.R. 8, the Death Tax Elimination Act. As early as Tuesday, there may be several procedural votes to "invoke cloture" (to stop a filibuster) on H.R. 8. 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture. There is also an effort underway between the Republican and Democrat leaders to reach a unanimous consent agreement for consideration of H.R. 8 and thus do away with any cloture votes. Right now, the support of the following Senators is critical for passage of H.R. 8: Bob Kerrey (D-NE), John Breaux (D-LA), Chuck Robb (D-VA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Max Cleland (D-GA), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), George Voinovich (R-OH), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Jim Jeffords (R-VT), Ted Stevens (R-AK). If your Senator is listed, please make every effort to write or call and ask for their support of H.R. 8. For sample letters and more information, go to Hot Topics section of www.agc.org or call Phil Thoden with AGC Congressional Relations at 703-837-5364. 

Managed Care Reform Battles in the Senate: Before adjourning for the 4th of July recess, Senators again battled over managed care reform legislation. Democrats offered an amendment to unrelated legislation requiring that any managed care bill passed by the Senate cover all privately insured Americans. Legislation previously passed by the Senate would only cover patients in self-insured plans. Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) responded by offering a Republican backed amendment allowing a limited right to sue HMOs but only after an independent appeals process is completed, among other provisions. The Nickles amendment passed while the Democrat measure was defeated, both by a vote of 51-47. 




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