E-Newsletter December 2006
The 109th Congress has come to an end and I am eager to start my second term in Congress. Even though I will now be representing Eastern Washington as part of the minority party, my focus remains the same: to actively promote those projects and priorities that are important to Eastern Washington. Together we will continue to grow our economy and create jobs; expand access to quality, affordable health care, and help keep our nation and communities safe. Over the past two years, I have worked hard to build relationships with other members of the Washington delegation. I hope those relationships will help me over the next two years, and allow us to put partisan politics aside and move forward for the good of our region and state.
Next year, some of the specific areas we must focus on include: expanding Eastern Washington's health care influence, enhancing our region's transportation and broadband infrastructure, creating a competitive and skilled workforce, saving our dams, and protecting Eastern Washington's interests in the 2007 Farm Bill. On the national level, we must do more to reduce our deficit and get our spending under control, continue to work towards energy independence, secure our borders, and come together to find a responsible conclusion to the war in Iraq.
As always, I encourage you to contact my office to share your thoughts and opinions, or let us know if we can be of any assistance.
Congress Passes States Sales Tax Deduction
Congress recently passed an extension of the state sales tax deduction, which could save the average family in Washington state $550 a year. The sales tax deduction provision creates parity among states by allowing all taxpayers the option to deduct their state sales tax in lieu of their state income tax. The President is expected to sign the bill into law this week. In 2004, the deduction was utilized by over 925,000 Washington taxpayer.
Other important tax extenders that were passed include:
· the Research and Development tax credit so our region's high tech companies can use more money to invest in new technologies and remain competitive
· above-the-line deduction for higher education expenses so those seeking a higher education degree can deduct a portion of those costs from their taxes
· treating combat pay as earned income for purposes of the earned income credit calculation in order to reduce the tax burdern for soldiers
· above-the-line deduction for out-of-pocket teacher classroom expenses, which allows teachers to be compensated for the personal money they spend on teaching materials
· a number of tax credits for the production and use of renewable energy products and for having energy efficient buildings and homes
Eastern Washington Farmers will Benefit from Outer Continental Shelf Exploration
McMorris supported legislation to increase the amount of American-made energy by allowing for oil and natural gas exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Exploration in the OCS will help decrease our dependence on foreign oil and will also specifically benefit Eastern Washington farmers who currently suffer from high fuel and fertilizer costs, as natural gas is a key component in the production of fertilizer.
The United States is currently the only developed nation in the world that does not allow energy production off its shores. According to the U.S. Minerals Management Service, America's deep seas on the OCS contain 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 86 billion barrels of oil. To put those numbers in context, the U.S. consumer 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and imports 4.5 billion barrels of oil a year.
McMorris Awards Purple Heart to Local Soldier
Last Thursday, McMorris presented a Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal to Specialist Alex Love for the injuries he sustained while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On January 4th, 2005, a vehicle borne explosive device detonated close to the barracks that (then) Private First Class Alex Love was in. This powerful explosion destroyed a nearby Iraqi National Guard checkpoint and the shockwaves from the explosion imploded all the windows of the barracks. Love was treated for injuries to his upper body and back and later returned to active duty.
McMorris' office worked with the Veterans Outreach Center to help secure the award for Love, who did not realize that he was eligible for a Purple Heart until he returned to the United States.
2-1-1 Now Available Throughout Eastern Washington
Do you ever find yourself needing help, but don't know where to turn? Beginning in January, every resident in Eastern Washington will be able to GET CONNECTED and GET ANSWERS simply by calling 2-1-1. An easy to remember number, 2-1-1 offers a "front door" to health and human services resource information, whether someone is looking for help, or hoping to give help.
Calls to 2-1-1 are confidential and free from your land line phone. From 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, trained, local specialists can help you find a number of services using a comprehensive database filled with wide-ranging community resources, including:
Services for Teens
McMorris recognizes the importance of making it easier for people to access needed services and is a proud supporter of this program. Call 2-1-1 to GET CONNECTED and GET ANSWERS.