New Bills Drop in Washington
Several new pieces of legislation have been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House over the past couple of weeks. These measures are of interest to Farm Bureau because many of them deal with limiting pending regulatory actions by the EPA and other rule making bodies.
The Preserve the Waters of the U.S. Act would stop the Environmental Protection Agency and Corp of Engineers from issuing final guidance that would significantly expand the regulatory reach of the two agencies.
“The final guidance proposed by EPA and the Corps would, in effect, eliminate the term ‘navigable’ from the Clean Water Act,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “This would dramatically expand the scope of federal jurisdiction by eliminating a provision of the law that reserves jurisdiction over certain waters to the states,” he said.
Stallman also noted that by issuing a guidance document as opposed to going through the rulemaking process, EPA and the Corps are bypassing the necessary public outreach required under the Administrative Procedures Act.
The Preserving Rural Resources Act will strengthen agricultural exemptions granted to farmers and ranchers by Congress in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
“Without these exemptions, farmers, ranchers and the forestry community will face increased federal regulatory and compliance costs, as well as constraints on land used for the production of food, fiber and fuel,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “We’ve seen a concerted effort by regulators to narrow the scope and usefulness of the CWA exemption Congress explicitly intended for agriculture. This legislation is intended to reaffirm congressional intent,” he added.
Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) and Robert Hurt (R-Va.) introduced the bill.
Finally, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) on Wednesday introduced the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) introduced identical legislation in the House; the bill has more than 200 bipartisan co-sponsors.
“The death of a loved one should not be a taxable event,” said Thune. “The federal government has no place being in the business of forcing grieving families to pay a tax on their loved one’s life savings that has been built from income already taxed when originally earned. Sadly, this tax is often paid by selling the family farm or life-long business. Other times, employees of the family business must be laid off and payrolls are slashed in order to pay the burdensome death tax. Let’s permanently repeal this punitive tax once and for all.”
Not only would Thune’s bill repeal the federal estate tax, but it would also repeal the generation skipping transfer tax, make permanent the maximum 35 percent gift tax rate and a $5 million lifetime gift tax exemption, and maintain the stepped-up basis provisions important to family farms and businesses.
According to a recent study by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, repealing the death tax would create 1.5 million additional small business jobs and would decrease the national unemployment rate by nearly 1 percent.