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Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 5 October 1998

Posted on behalf of Glenn Starnes <gstarnes@nemw.org>

     The Northeast-Midwest Institute on Monday, October 5, will
organize a conference in Albany, New York, to introduce the Northeast
Regional Resource Center for Innovations and to further
commercialization of efficient and productive technologies.  The
conference is being held in cooperation with the U.S. Department of
Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development

     The session is part of an effort in the Northeast to help
inventors move through the commercialization process.  The
technologies developed by these innovators can help fuel economic
expansion and solve energy and environmental challenges.

     Additional information is available via Internet at:

     Senate and House conferees last week agreed to maintain the five-
year reauthorization cycle for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance
Program (LIHEAP).  With leadership by Senators Jim Jeffords (R-VT),
Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Christopher Dodd (D-CT), the Human Services
Reauthorization Act of 1998 also provides "such sums" as are necessary
for fiscal years 2000-2001, and $2 billion for each fiscal year from
2002-2004.  The House bill had provided only a two-year, $1.1-billion

     CONTACT:  Cameron Taylor at the Northeast-Midwest Senate
Coalition (224-0606).

     The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee recently advanced a
measure to consolidate federal statistical activities and, at the
urging of Northeast-Midwest officials, ensured that the Federal
Statistical System Act (S. 1404) would not supercede existing state
laws protecting the confidentiality of data.  In a small victory for
federalism, the panel recognized that state confidentiality
protections ensure employers' willingness to voluntarily submit data
on employment, earnings, and other labor market matters.

     Although the bill is unlikely to pass in this Congress, states
can anticipate that this recognition of federalism principles will be
part of the bill next year.  For a more detailed discussion of this
legislation, see "The Muddled State of Federalism" in the
January/February 1998 issue of the NORTHEAST-MIDWEST ECONOMIC REVIEW.

     CONTACT:  Paula Duggan at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-

     Congress last week decided to drop a $70 million appropriation to
the Tennessee Valley Authority, but TVA this week will be seeking
another $1 billion subsidy in the omnibus spending bill.

     TVA pays no taxes, enjoys access to low-cost capital, and avoids
scores of federal laws and state regulations.  Analysts estimate these
taxpayer subsidies total more than $1.2 billion annually.  Congress
last week rejected future appropriations for TVA's economic
development and other non-power programs, a proposal first advanced,
ironically, by TVA's own chairman.  TVA supporters this week plan to
insert a proposal to refinance the giant utility's debt to the Federal
Financing Bank -- but without paying the contractual prepayment
penalties.  Such a proposal would cost U.S. taxpayers almost $1

     CONTACT:  Dick Munson at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-

     The House Science Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee
continue to negotiate the reauthorization of the Manufacturing
Extension Partnership program (MEP) and the Advanced Technology
Program (ATP).  The House panel approved $111.3 million for MEP and
$150.0 million for ATP, while the Senate committee offered $114.7
million for MEP and $204.0 million for ATP.

     Several MEP centers favor the Senate bill's allowance for centers
to receive funding after their sixth year at no higher than a third of
their total funding level.  The House version of the authorization
sets the center's sixth-year appropriation at a level approximately
one-third lower.  If the reauthorization is not approved, the
Commerce, Justice, State Appropriation bill would continue funding for
expiring centers.

     CONTACT:  Tim Daniels at the Northeast-Midwest Congressional
Coalition (225-5361).