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GLIN==> Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 6 March 2006






Weekly Update 6 March 2006



  • Skilled Workers Shortage in Manufacturing – Briefing
  • Distributed Energy – Briefing
  • LIHEAP – Senate Action, House Letter and Legislation
  • Environmental Management Program – Letter
  • Energy Efficiency Funding – Letter
  • Tolls on the St. Lawrence Seaway – Letter
  • Smart Growth Awards – Applications Available

Skilled Worker Shortage in Manufacturing – Briefing


The Manufacturing Task Force on Tuesday, March 7, is hosting a briefing on solving the skilled worker shortage in manufacturing.  The session will discuss a survey – completed by the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute/Center for Workforce Success and Deloitte Consulting – that examine how manufacturers plan their human capital strategies and the barriers they encounter in the process.  The March 7 session will run from 1:30 pm until 2:30 pm in 2253 Rayburn House Office Building.  Refreshments will be available.  Contact:  Lisa Mark with the Manufacturing Task Force (202/226-5181).


Distributed Energy – Briefing


Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), co-chairs the of the Distributed Energy Caucus, on Thursday, March 9, are hosting a breakfast briefing on the current state of development of distributed energy resources and the role of the federal government in accelerating their integration into the nation’s energy system.  Distributed energy generation represents a suite of technologies that share the common characteristic of creating electric energy where it is also consumed; this not only provides downstream support and relief for our over-stressed power grid, but also offers higher power quality and reliability.  The March 9 briefing will begin at 8:30 am in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.  Contact:  Lisa Mark with the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition (202/226-5181). 


LIHEAP – Senate Action, House Letter and Legislation


The Senate last Thursday began consideration of S. 2320, a bill introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) that seeks to take the $1 billion in fiscal 2007 funds provided for LIHEAP in the recently-enacted Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (Budget Reconciliation) and make them available in fiscal 2006.  The distribution of funds under the Snowe bill would remain the same -- $250 million to the state block grant formula and $750 million for the contingency emergency fund. The Snowe legislation also prohibits use of the additional funds for LIHEAP’s administrative costs.


A budget point of order was raised on the Snowe bill, asserting that it violated the Budget Act.  That point of order was defeated 66-31.  Following that vote, Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Ensign (R-NV) offered a first degree amendment to the Snowe bill that would direct the entire $1 billion to the state block grant formula, leaving nothing for the contingency emergency fund.  A vote on cloture will occur Tuesday, March 7.  Any further 1st-degree amendments offered to the Snowe bill must be filed by 2:00 PM, Monday, March 6.  Contact:  Ari Strauss with the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition (202/224-0606).


In the House, Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Marty Meehan (D-MA), co-chairs of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, are seeking co-sponsors on legislation (H.R. 4793) that would make $1 billion available immediately for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.  As the Deficit Reduction Act was written, this money is not available until fiscal 2007.  This funding, which is entirely offset in the budget, will help states provide additional assistance to the nation’s working families at a time when energy prices are soaring.  This bill is a companion to legislation recently introduced in the Senate by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).  Contact:  Lisa Mark with the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition (202/225-5731).

Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rob Simmons (R-CT), Marty Meehan (D-MA), and Steven LaTourette (R-OH) are seeking signatures on a letter that asks appropriators to provide full funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Contacts:  Steve Boms with Rep. Ackerman (202/225-2601) or Shauna Hewes with Rep. Simmons (202/225-2076).


Environmental Management Program – Letter


The Upper Mississippi Congressional Task Force is circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter supporting the administration’s request to fund the Environmental Management Program (EMP) at $26.8 million.  The EMP supports habitat restoration projects that mitigate damage to the environment caused by the construction of navigation and flood control projects on the Upper Mississippi River.  The letter also requests restoration of $10 million for the continued operations and maintenance of basin-wide navigation and flood control projects on the lock and dam system.  Contacts:  Mark Lange with Rep. Kind (202/225-5506) or Eric Keber with Rep. Gutknecht (202/225-2472).


Energy Efficiency Funding – Letter


Reps. Michael Castle (R-DE), Mark Udall (D-CO), Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), and Bart Stupak (D-MI) are seeking signatures on a letter that supports critical energy efficiency programs within the Department of Energy.  The DOE initiatives that are endangered by reduced funding include:  Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), State Energy Program (SEP), energy efficiency deployment programs, Industrial Technologies Program, Equipment Standards and Analysis Program, Federal Energy Management Program, and Distributed Energy Program.  Also supported is the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which provides unbiased data that helps the U.S. respond effectively to changes and fluctuations in the energy markets.  These programs reduce energy consumption, dependence on foreign oil, harmful pollution, and energy costs. 


The letter’s signature deadline is March 14.  Contact:  Lisa Mark with the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition (202/226-5181). 


Tolls on the St. Lawrence Seaway – Letter


Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is circulating a letter to the Budget Committee that opposes the creation of a toll on users of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  The new toll was proposed for the second year in a row in the administration’s budget.  The letter’s signature deadline is Monday, March 6.  Contact: Noushin Jahanian with Sen. Stabenow (202/224-4822).


Smart Growth Awards – Applications Available


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking applications for the fifth annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.  This competition is open to local or state governments and other public sector entities that have used the principles of smart growth to create better places and improve the environment.  Applications are due on 1 May 2006.  An application packet is available at www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/awards.htm.



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