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GLIN==> Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 29 March 2004

Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update – 29 March 2004


·        LIHEAP

·        Organic Agriculture

·        Sea Grant

·        Brownfields

·        Defense Supply Chains

·        Clean Water

·        Trade Adjustment Assistance

·        Great Lakes Legislation

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI), co-chairs of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition, are circulating a dear colleague requesting for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) $3 billion in fiscal 2005 and $3 billion in advance funding for fiscal 2006.  Reps. Jack Quinn (R-NY) and Marty Meehan (D-MA), co-chairs of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, are circulating a similar letter in the House.  The signature deadline is March 31 for the House and April 6 for the Senate.  Contacts:  Kris Sarri with the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition (202/224-0606) and Michael Beckerman with the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition (202/226-9496).

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are seeking signatures on a letter requesting organic agriculture appropriations. Organics continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors of American agriculture, with retail sales increasing more than 20 percent each year over the past decade.  The signature deadline is April 1.  Contacts:  Brian Baenig with Senator Leahy (202/224-5239) or Garrett Murch with Senator Snowe (202/224-5344).



Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and John Kerry (D-MA) are collecting signatures on a letter seeking appropriations for the National Sea Grant College Program.  The letter requests $68.4 million, a $6 million increase from fiscal 2004.  Sea Grant provides high-quality research responsive to the concerns of coastal constituents. The signature deadline is April 2. 


Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA) is seeking co-sponsors for two bills that help provide access to the funds needed to clean up brownfield sites.  H.R. 3891 would permit the use of certain private activity bonds for environmental remediation at brownfield sites.  H.R. 3892 would create tax-advantage accounts allowing business to expense the cost of environmental remediation.  Contact:  Bill Rys with Rep. Hart (202/225-2565).

Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and James McGovern (D-MA) are seeking signatures on a letter requesting $9 million in fiscal 2005 for the New England Manufacturing Supply Chain.  The program helps meet defense procurement shortages while bolstering the region’s small manufacturers.  Contacts:  Doug Lathrop with Rep. Johnson (202/225-4476) and Cindy Buhl with Rep. McGovern (202/225-6101).

Senators Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and James Jeffords (I-VT) are circulating a letter asking Budget Committee conferees to sustain the Senate provision of $5.2 billion for the Clean Water/Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.  Contact:  Charlie Stek with Senator Sarbanes (202/224-4524).



The Senate Manufacturing Task Force is circulating a letter supporting appropriations for the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAA) program administered by the Department of Commerce.  The modest increase to $16 million will directly assist small and medium-sized manufacturers and, as a result, thousands of American jobs will be created and saved.  Signature deadline is March 30.  Contact:  Kris Sarri at the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition (202/224-0606). 



The House recently passed the Hydrographic Services Amendments of 2004 (H.R. 958), which authorizes $2.0 million per year for the Great Lakes Water Level Observation Network.  NOAA operates the network in order to provide real-time water level information, which is especially needed during low water years.  NOAA’s annual budget has not provided enough funding because there is no authorizing language for appropriations to the Great Lakes in the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act. The House Great Lakes Task Force and Representative Dale Kildee (D-MI) supported this authorization.


The Senate approved the Oceans and Human Health Act (S. 1218), which authorizes the establishment of a coordinated federal research program to help understand the role of oceans and the Great Lakes in human health.  Such an understanding is particularly important for the Great Lakes where there are greater numbers of invasive species changing the ecosystem, harmful algal blooms, and contaminated fish.  The Senate Great Lakes Task Force co-chairs encouraged the Senate Commerce Committee to include the Great Lakes in this legislation.