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E-M:/ MI Congressional votes on Regulatory Reform bill

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Just when you thought the all-Monica show would preempt any Congressional
action on environmental bills, one of the first bad environmental bills of the
session, HR 350, the Mandate Information Act, is being voted on today in
Congress.  At the end of this is an overview from Sierra Club about this
turkey, and a little about amendments proposed to try to fix it.  We have
already learned of the results of a vote on an amendment offered by Rep.
Sherwood Boehlert of NY -- Three Michigan Republican members (Vern Ehlers,
Nick Smith and Fred Upton) voted for the Boehlert amendment and all of the
Michigan Democrats did.  In truth, the initial message we received didn't tell
if the amendment was adopted, it just noted that 34 Republicans voted for it,
30 Democrats voted against it.  When we get more info on other amendments and
the final vote we will post it, but these folks need pats on the back, AND the
Michigan members who voted "no" should hear ASAP.

Anne Woiwode

     * We oppose HR 350, the Mandates Information Act. The bill would delay
     important new public health and environmental protection programs,
     strangling agencies in new red tape.

     *The bill creates a new point of order that could shut down debate on
     a bill if any member claims it would cost the private sector more than
     $100 million.

     *The bill allows an "easy out" for anti-environmental members of
     Congress to sink key programs without having to vote against them
     directly -- and bear the wrath of the voters in their home towns. If
     HR 350 passed into law, any single member of Congress could raise a
     "point of order" against any program that would impose costs greater
     than $100 million on the private sector. And then, members of Congress
     would cast -votes on the "point of order" -- not the program itself,
     allowing them the opportunity to claim they didn't directly oppose the
     environmental program.

     *The bill elevates costs to businesses over benefits to public health.
     This one-sided equation would require an analysis of the costs of
     protection programs like Clean Water, Clean Air and safe food -- but
     ignore their far-reaching benefits. The cost analysis, for example, of
     a bill like a better meat inspection measure would show a burden on
     the beef packing industry, but ignore the widespread benefits to
     public health.

     *The issue here is not whether Congress should impose mandates; the
     issue is whether Congress must have a full, open, democratic debate
     about environmental protection measures. The sponsors of the so-called
     Mandates Information Act seem to believe the answer is "no." What are
     they afraid of?

     *We have pro-environmental members of the House who are planning to
     help. Henry Waxman will offer his Defense of the Environment Amendment
     to this bill, which places a safeguard requiring open debate and an
     independent vote on the House floor when legislative efforts to weaken
     our laws come to the House floor. Sherry Boehlert also plans an
     amendment, which would strike the sneak route of the point of order.

     Tell your Representative to vote "no" on HR 350, and to support the
     Boehlert and Waxman amendments.

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