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March 3, 2006 E-Newslsetter: Udall Opposes Bill To Trump States On Food Safety Laws

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March 3, 2006 E-Newslsetter: Udall Opposes Bill To Trump States On Food Safety Laws

On March 2, I gave a floor speech in opposition to H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act. The National Food Uniformity Act would preempt virtually every state and local law that does not mirror Federal law, and it would require Colorado and other states to navigate a bureaucratic and costly morass if they want to act to protect the public.

It would make it much harder for Colorado and other states to protect public health andto respond to bioterrorist attacks. In Colorado specifically, the bill would erase laws dealing with the safety of restaurants, packaged food, wholesale foods and milk. Further it would prohibit Colorado and other states from passing laws or regulations on animal feeds, feed additives, and drugs used on animals. The Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture opposes the bill.

Additionally, states could not respond quickly to extreme public heath risks like Avian flu, Mad Cow Disease or Chronic Wasting Disease, without first seeking the guidance of the Federal Government.

It is shocking in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that we would further hamstring our state and local officials from being able to respond to threats quickly. The National Food Uniformity Act would undermine states' ability to protect consumers and the public health. This is a bad bill. It should be rejected when the House votes on it next week.

Legislation Would End Omnibus Spending Bills

This week I joined Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) in introducing the Stop The Omnibus Pork (STOP) Resolution to end the practice of combining individual appropriations bills into one massive omnibus spending bill. Omnibus bills are usually considered at the end of the legislative session when they are brought to the House floor with little debate and no opportunity for amendments to be offered.

A pig in a poke is bad enough, but these omnibus bills are a herd of hogs. These massive bills often package hundreds of billions of dollars in spending into thousands of pages of legislation, and are rushed to the floor for consideration with little or no debate. This is neither an effective nor fiscally responsible way to govern our nation.

The Stop The Omnibus Pork (STOP) Resolution would amend House rules to prohibit the use of omnibus appropriations bills. First introduced in 1950, the Omnibus Appropriation Act was introduced as a one-time experiment aimed at streamlining the appropriations process. Since that time, omnibus bills have grown much larger in their size, now often comprised of thousands of pages of text and hundreds of billions of dollars in spending.

The STOP Resolution was introduced with 34 co-sponsors and is supported by non-partisan groups including the National Taxpayers Union and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.

Reps. Udall, Salazar Introduce Bill To Address Beetle Epidemic In National Forests.

Rep. John Salazar and I this week introduced legislation to help protect Rocky Mountain communities from the increased risks of severe wildfire caused by large-scale infestations of bark beetles and other insects in national forests. The Rocky Mountain Forest Insects Response Enhancement and Support (FIRES) Act reflects recommendations from local elected officials, representatives of the Forest Service, the timber and ski industries, and homeowners.

Colorado's forests are experiencing a major infestation of bark beetles. Large stands of beetle-killed trees pose a threat of severe wildfires, putting lives and property at risk in many communities. This bill provides additional tools and streamlines the processes so that the Forest Service, Interior Department and others can rapidly respond to the beetle problem plaguing our forests.

The bill does the following:
. allows bark beetle projects-as well as projects under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act -to move forward under streamlined procedures, and the most urgent ones to move under a "categorical exclusion" from normal environmental review;

. amends the Healthy Forests Restoration Act to authorize the Forest Service, on its own initiative or in response to a request from any State or local government agency, to identify "emergency areas" in order to conduct forest thinning projects and community protection projects under a streamlined environmental review process;

. provides economic incentives and tax exemptions for cutters and haulers who derive income from the removal of beetle-killed trees or other fuel reduction projects;

. directs the Forest Service to give a preference to anyone seeking a federal grant to convert removed biomass (e.g. beetle-kil! led trees) from emergency areas into fuel or other products;

. directs that $5 million annually for 5 years produced from the royalties from on-shore oil and gas development be applied to grants to help communities develop a community wildlife protection plan; and

. authorizes the Forest Service to redirect existing personnel from other regions to help respond to a beetle emergency in the Rocky Mountain Region.

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