End of Session Report From Congress
Dec 15, 2006 -
During the 109th Congressional session, which spanned 2005 and 2006, several legislative priorities were enacted into law – the most significant of these achievements include:
National Energy Plan – This comprehensive energy plan recognizes that no single approach will end our dependence on foreign oil. It encourages domestic development of oil, natural gas and nuclear energy, but also promotes conservation, energy efficiency and renewable resources. The plan represents a balanced approach that modernizes our energy strategy, protects our unique Northwest hydropower system and supports new energy sources here in the United States so that we are more energy independent.
New Trade Opportunities – Opening new markets and lowering trade barriers is vital to our agriculture based economy. We enacted a trade agreement with Central America that drastically reduces or eliminates tariffs on American exports. I’m particularly pleased that provisions I worked for to eliminate Central American tariffs on American apples, pears, and cherries were included in the agreement.
Tax Fairness for Washingtonians – A two-year extension of the state sales tax deduction was approved that ensures the ability of Washington taxpayers to deduct state sales tax from their federal tax responsibility for tax years 2006 and 2007. The measure also extends the Research and Development Tax Credit for job-creating businesses, extends the tax deduction for out-of-pocket teacher classroom expenses, and extends tax deductible medical savings accounts.
Transportation – I worked with local communities to secure funding for Central Washington in the federal highway law. This law allocates money from the Highway Trust Fund which is where federal gas taxes are deposited. From interchange improvements in Union Gap and the Tri-Cities, to bridge enhancements in Wenatchee, White Salmon and Othello this law will help make our communities safer and spur economic growth.
Tools to Combat the Meth Epidemic – This year the broadest anti-meth legislation ever was enacted into law. The law toughens criminal penalties for meth producers and distributors and sets aside nearly $500 million to help local law enforcement officers investigate and lock up meth offenders. A portion of these funds will also be used to help communities clean up meth labs.
Child Safety Act – This law helps protect children against violent crimes and exploitation. It strengthens the sex offender registry and cracks down on criminals who prey on children. Tough mandatory minimum penalties for those who commit crimes against children are imposed and new tools are provided to prevent the exploitation of children through the Internet.
I am proud of the work accomplished in this session of Congress, and I look forward to the coming year when the 110th Congress convenes.