The Republican-controlled Do-Nothing House had another successful week — passing “IF Your Insurance Agent Likes You, He May Decide to Keep You” Act … or as the Republicans call it H.R. 3350 The Keep Your Health Plan Act.
The legislation has no chance of being implemented before the end of the year when insurance policies are cancelled, so this was truly a waste of time.
Next week, the House will take up the imperative H.R. 272 – naming a VA outpatient clinic that will be constructed in Marina, California, as the “General William H. Gourley Federal Outpatient Clinic: A Joint VA-DOD Health Care Facility” … yep, it is critical to our citizens that we get the naming of the building defined before pulling out the “gold-placed shovels” for picture taking.
Also on the schedule is H.R. 1900 – Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act … a bill that John Kline has signed on as a sponsor … so you know that when John Kline signs on, it means that the Party Managers and their financial interests are aligned for passage. The legislation may be advertised as a “jobs bill” but heck, it was approved in committee on July 17th, so there must not be an immediate need.
The legislation would :
1. Establish a time limit (12 months) for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision intended to facilitate faster approval of natural gas pipeline projects.
2. Streamline the approval of eminent domain authorization for private corporations to take private property — potentially undermining property owner’s ability to protest their rights.
3. Establish a time limit (90 days) for all other decisions – federal, state, and local – such as Clean Water Act permits, coastal zone management, air quality and construction permits, NPDES permits, wastewater discharge permits, etc.
The only thing surprising about this is that the House has kept this legislation backlogged since July when their stated goal is to be judged by how may laws/regulations that they repeal.
BTW … there is a little danger in what is being proposed as some industry proponents fear that, even if the bill is passed, that the result of the tighter deadlines will be the rejection of more, not fewer projects. For example, projects that might have been approved in 14 or 15 months with the required environment review would be rejected automatically if review is not completed in 12 months. Further, from 2009 to 2012 FERC has approved 69 major natural gas pipeline projects, 90% of all permits were granted within 12 months … today, that number may be different due to government shutdown and sequester.
Will it get through the Senate … well Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) might have some reservations … “We are doing our due diligence and seeing whether legislation is needed or whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can improve the permitting process administratively,” says Robert Dillon, spokesman for Murkowski. “Sometimes legislation leads to unintended consequences.”
But, heck the “goal” is to repeal laws, so mark it as a win for the DoNothing House Republicans.
While Mr. Kline’s pipeline will get a vote, the House still has not resolved its THUD funding.
That THUD is what drivers hear when they their tires hit a pot hole. THUD also represents monies that the Federal Government sends back to the States for infrastructure projects. Even though the GOP Shutdown was resolved with a continuing resolution, monies for projects are still waiting for budget approval.
The Kline-backed House budget for THUD is $44.1 billion, which is $4.4 billion below the Fiscal Year 2013 sequestration level. Yep, Second District Congressman John Kline thinks that we need to cut 10%.
One area that is part of the cut is National Infrastructure Investment (TIGER) program. The U.S. Department of Transportation has already solicited and received 568 applications totaling nearly $9 billion for Fiscal Year 2013 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds. The bill cuts the funding available for this program in half.
The TIGER program recently released to MN-DOT $1,451,450 to install intersection conflict warning systems at 15 rural, stop-controlled intersections.
“Intersection conflict warning systems have the potential to significantly reduce collisions and improve safety at rural intersections,” said Sue Mulvihill, deputy commissioner and chief engineer. “Based on the average daily traffic at these intersections, drivers and passengers in more than 80,000 vehicles will experience the added safety and security offered by these systems on a daily basis. This innovative system provides a safe and affordable alternative to traditional traffic safety improvements”
So, if you are in Rice County … you might see some jobs (Highway 60 County Road 13; Highway 3 County Road 20; Highway 60 County Road 16; Highway 60 County Road 44/County Road 72) as MN-DOT has put those areas on their wish-project-list.
How much Representative Kline will push for this type of funding is unknown … but what is known is that Eighth District Representative Rick Nolan (D-MN-08) was pleased with another TIGER funding award.
TIGER funds will be used to rebuild and expand a 28-acre general cargo dock at the Port of Duluth-Superior and connect the site to existing road and rail infrastructure. The project will transform underutilized Docks C & D, currently in deficient condition, into a fully functional intermodal facility to support existing industries and the growth of new commerce throughout the Midwest.
Representative Nolan said the project is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to renovate and revitalize our essential Port of Duluth-Superior, making the port and the city of Duluth more competitive by expanding the number of shippers, diversity of cargo, and volume of shipments in and out of the harbor.”
Considering that the Duluth Seaway Port Authority has applied for TIGER funding in the past but came up empty in four previous rounds, this $10 Million award will certainly mean JOBS.
So as the House returns for another week of “Doing-Nothing” before taking their Thanksgiving break, one has to wonder what John Kline will be giving Thanks for … now don’t all say at once, “Lobbyist’s Money” because we are Minnesota Nice and the Truth Hurts … but at least the Minnesota can be Thankful for Representative Nolan who is working for JOBS as opposed to Mr. Kline who just wants to cut budgets thereby forestalling investment and curtailing JOBS.