eNews - June 27, 2008
1. Frelinghuysen opposes $61 Billion Tax Increase
2. Targeting Speculation in Energy Markets
3. Supporting Public Transportation
4. Restoring the Americans with Disability Act
5. Welcomes Passaic River Cleanup
6. Speaks at American Cancer Society Event in Morristown
Frelinghuysen opposes $61 Billion Tax Increase
The House this week voted on a huge tax increase, $61 billion, hidden inside a bill to temporarily "patch" the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Rep. Frelinghuysen supports permanently repealing the AMT but opposed the bill because of the massive tax increase.
"I want the Alternative Minimum Tax repealed. The recent bill considered by the House plays politics with taxpayers' wallets," said Frelinghuysen. "New Jersey residents already bear a heavy tax burden. It makes no sense to permanently raise other taxes by $61 billion in order "to patch" the AMT for a single year!"
The Senate will now consider the House passed legislation.
Targeting Speculation in Energy Markets
Earlier this month, Rep. Frelinghuysen sent a letter to Chairman Walter Lukken of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) endorsing the Commission's recent investigation of the energy futures market. This week, Rep. Frelinghuysen received a response thanking him for his leadership in the legislative effort to increase transparency and oversight of oil commodities.
In April, Rep. Frelinghuysen introduced H.R. 5768, the CFTC Improvement Act. The legislation would expand the CFTC's oversight into electronic energy trades. Electronic energy markets are currently exempt from their oversight. H.R. 5768 would close a legal loophole by allowing electronic energy commodities to be regulated the same way as other commodities.
Chairman Lukken's letter discussed a new CFTC led interagency task force to evaluate developments in the commodity markets. The Federal Reserve, Department of Treasury, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Energy, and Department of Agriculture are joining the CFTC in the effort. The task force will bring together experts from across the government to address investor practices, supply and demand f actors, and the role of speculators in energy prices.
In addition to this recent effort, the CFTC announced in May an initiative to expand the surveillance of international crude oil trades; increase reporting requirements and examinations of energy trades; and the continuation of its investigation into the practices surrounding energy futures trading and speculation.
"Every American has been affected by the rapidly rising energy costs for gasoline and home heating oil." said Frelinghuysen. "I commend the efforts of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for ensuring that energy prices are not being illegally or unethically manipulated for financial gain."
Supporting Public Transportation
With soaring gasoline prices, New Jersey residents are increasingly leaving their cars at home in favor of mass transit. On Thursday, Rep. Frelinghuysen voted to increase public transportation options for New Jersey families. H.R. 6052, the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act, passed the House of Representatives with considerable bipartisan support.
The legislation authorizes $1.7 billion in grants for transit agencies in fiscal years 2008 and 2009. It also authorizes $750 million each year under the urbanized area formula grants program, which provide assistance to areas with more than 50,000 people. This grant program is the primary federal funding source for New Jersey transit programs. The legislation passed by the House directs funds to reducing fairs and increasing access to services.
"As a long-time advocate of mass transit, I am pleased the House has increased its investment in valuable public transportation systems," said Frelinghuysen. "The use of trains and buses reduces congestion and is better for the environment. With the rise in gas prices, it is important that Americans have additional public transportation options."
Restoring the Americans with Disability Act
The House passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Restoration Act, a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Frelinghuysen, this week.
"The House has acted again to protect Americans with disabilities and to uphold the rights given to them under the original legislation in 1990," said Frelinghuysen. "I am proud to have been a co-sponsor of this bill and hope the Senate moves quickly to pass it."
H.R. 3195 seeks to amend the ADA to require courts to focus on whether a person has experienced discrimination "on the basis of disability," rather than requiring individuals with disabilities to first demonstrate that they are substantially limited in some major life activity.
Welcomes Passaic River Cleanup
On Monday, Rep. Frelinghuysen welcomed an agreement to remove 200,000 cubic yards of contaminated material from the Passaic River in northern New Jersey. He was joined by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region II Administrator Alan Steinberg, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., and Rep. Donald Payne.
"Today the Passaic River is one of the most toxic waterways in America," said Frelinghuysen. "Hundreds of polluters have abused this river for over a hundred years. I have been working to undo this damage for nearly a decade. Today, the Passaic River is taking a major step forward."
The agreement is the result of negotiations between the EPA and Occidental Chemical. Under the plan, dioxin contaminated material will be removed from a section of the Passaic River adjacent to the Diamond Alkali Superfund site in Newark.
Speaks at American Cancer Society Event in Morristown
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen spoke to the American Cancer Society's Morristown Cancer Initiative forum on access to health care. He was joined by Betty Gallo of the Dean & Betty Gallo Prostate Cancer Center; Councilwoman Raline Smith-Reid of Morristown; Katherine Soto of Morristown Memorial Hospital; Dr. Ana Natale-Periera of UMDNJ; and Natasha Coleman, Senior Director for Health Collaborations.
"In the richest nation in the history of civilization, we should be able to find a way to provide effective health care coverage for all Americans," said Frelinghuysen. "The question before policymakers today is: how do we do that effectively and build on the strengths of our private sector health care system."
Frelinghuysen focused his remarks on the challenge of improving health care access and promoting coverage to more Americans without doing harm to the work being done today. As a leader in medical innovation, New Jersey's brilliant scientists, technicians, and researchers - our family, friends and neighbors - work each day in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries on life-saving cures and the treatments and therapies that vastly improve the quality of life for patients around the world.
One step Rep. Frelinghuysen discussed was the creation of Association Health Plans -plans, which allow small businesses to band together in order to purchase health insurance. These plans would provide small businesses and their employees with better rates and improved, effective health insurance options. It's a common sense solution to improving access.