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ALC Washington Report - January 30, 2015

Members of the newly elected 114th Congress have wasted no time in picking up where they left off following the adjournment of the 113th Congress in December.  Already, we are seeing the reintroduction of legislation that stalled during the last session, as well as legislation that will prove to be controversial with the threat of a Presidential veto such as the Keystone Pipeline debate.

Committees taking shape
Several House and Senate committees and subcommittees have selected those members that will serve during the first session of the 114th Congress.  With the majority switching from Democrat to Republican in the Senate, and the significant gains the Republican Party picked up in the House of Representatives, there have been several changes made on both sides of the Hill.

Of special significance is that Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will be the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as well as Cahir of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, where much of the pro-forestry legislation introduced during the 113th Congress faded into the sunset.

Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) will Chair the Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry while Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA) will Chair the House Interior Appropriation Subcommittee.  Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA) will serve as the Chair of the Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee.    

Secure Rural Schools
Committee sources indicate that the House will focus initially on Secure Rural Schools Reauthorization, since the program expired last year and counties just learned that they will divvy up only $50 million in revenue sharing, a drastic drop from the over $300 million they received from the guaranteed payment program of SRS.

Wyden O&C Bill reemerges
In early January, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2015, S. 132, a carbon copy of legislation introduced in the waning days of the 113th session.  The American Loggers Council, working with the Associated Oregon Loggers, The American Forest Resource Council and Douglas Timber Operators sent a letter opposing the legislation which passed in the Senate Committee yet died trying to work its way attached to a Defense Appropriations Bill passed in late December.

Wildfire Funding
Both the House and The Senate have once again introduced the Wildfire Funding Disaster Act to serve as a way to fund wildfire suppression costs from a “FEMA-like” fund without continuing the “fire-borrowing” still currently practiced that oftentimes  uses funds from other Forest Service line items such as forest products and hazardous fuels reduction projects.  Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will be reintroducing his FLAME Act Amendment as an alternative to the Wildfire Funding Disaster Act.  

Youth Careers in Logging
Staff of the American Loggers Council met with Congressman Larbrador (R_ID) in mid-December and were assured that the Youth Careers in Logging Act would be reintroduced in 2015.  Members of the American Loggers Council will be working with Congressman Labrador’s staff on both support for and timing of the reintroduction.

 
Right to Haul Act
The Right to Haul Act of 2014 died in Committee at the end of 2014.  Congressman Steve Southerland (R-FL) who introduced the Bill in July of 2014, was unsuccessful in his re-election bid in November to retain his seat in the House.  Members of the ALC are currently seeking help on the hill to reintroduce the Bill in 2015.

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