Bill Tracker – July 2018

jessica_santinaCongressional Delegation Legislation Update
Bills From The Hill That Matter To Nevadans
Compiled by Jessica Santina


H.R. 6274 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend certain tax credits related to electric cars, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)

Co-Sponsors: Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)

Synopsis: A bill to extend the electric vehicle tax credit by:
  • Eliminating the per-manufacturer cap, allowing an unlimited number of consumers access to the tax credit for the next 10 years, regardless of manufacturer from which they purchase their car.
  • Allowing consumers who buy electric cars to earn the financial benefits of the tax credit immediately at the point of sale, rather than wait until they file their annual income tax return, as is the case under current law.
  • Extending tax credit for 10 years to purchasers of electric vehicle charging stations to incentivize the buildout of this infrastructure around the country.

Actions: Introduced in House on 6/28/2018 and referred to House Committee on Ways and Means.Sponsor Comments: “Incentivizing consumers to use electric vehicles is one of the best ways we can transition towards a cleaner, more environmentally friendly economy,” said Congresswoman Rosen. “By extending this federal tax credit, we will help Nevada consumers and take important steps to reduce carbon emissions. This legislation will help us keep moving Nevada’s economy forward.”“Transportation is the single largest contributor to greenhouse emissions in the United States,” said Congressman Welch. “It is urgent that we transition to cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation. My legislation will make electric vehicles and their charging stations more affordable, while saving Vermonters money at the gas pump and reducing their environmental footprint.”

Jessica’s Take: The current tax credit for electric vehicles is for $2,500 to $7,500 per new electric vehicle purchased for use in the U.S. (credit depends on size of vehicle and battery capacity). The credit was created to be available until 200,000 qualified EVs were sold in the U.S. by each manufacturer, at which point it would phase out. Currently no manufacturers have been phased out, says the U.S. Dept. of Energy. This new measure would eliminate that 200,000 cap on manufacturer sales, so that an unlimited number of consumers could access the credit for 10 more years. It also makes the credit available immediately, not just at tax time, and it extends the life of tax incentives for those who actually purchase charging stations.

Rosen clearly is going straight for a bone of contention between herself and her competitor for the senatorial race in Nevada, Dean Heller. Heller, who typically has aligned his policies with those of President Trump, is being cast alongside the president as an anti-renewable energy lawmaker, as Rosen has rolled out a couple of pro-renewables bills at a time when it’s a “heated subject.” Clearly a political move, the legislation would nonetheless have benefits in Nevada, in particular, as Tesla, which calls Northern Nevada home, is on track to hit its 200,000 sales mark this summer. Expanding the credit incentivizes more Tesla sales.However, thought it would appear to be a win for renewable energy, critics argue that the incentive rewards the rich — the only folks who can afford to purchase EVs outright — while taxing the middle class. Meanwhile, it seemed to do little to minimize carbon dioxide emissions. In Rosen’s rush to push pro-renewables legislation, she may be overlooking who actually benefits from such a measure.

H.R. 6166 – Solar VETS Act

Sponsor: Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

Co-sponsors: Reps. Stephen Knight (R-CA), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), and Thomas MacArthur (R-NJ)

Synopsis: The Solar Vocational Education and Training for our Service members Act would direct the U.S. Department of Energy to implement a workforce training program to help prepare our nation’s transitioning military personnel for careers in the solar energy industry. Under the bill, training will be made available at military installations and to eligible members of the Armed Forces and administered by institutions of higher education. Training shall include hands-on, in-person instruction with respect to solar-related occupations, assistance with resume preparation, assistance with job interview preparation and an examination that results in entry-level certification in solar installation. Training will be administered at no cost to the service member and course or exam fees will be reimbursed.

Action: On 6/20/2018, introduced in House, referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Armed Services.

Sponsor Comments: “Ensuring Nevada’s veterans have access to long-term, good-paying job opportunities is a critical aspect of helping them transition back to civilian life, and the booming solar industry is a perfect way to harness their talents,” said Rep. Rosen. “Our bipartisan bill will provide solar-focused workforce training to our transitioning military service members and support a pipeline of skilled workers to support our clean energy future.”

Jessica’s Take: In a month when President Trump’s solar tariffs imposed on manufacturers overseas are reported to be taking a toll on solar installation projects, senatorial hopeful Jacky Rosen of Nevada is going right for the throat, supporting solar and the military in one fell swoop. Her opponent, Dean Heller, noted for policies supporting the military, and Rosen seems to be going for a one-up on Heller with this measure, which would take on a popular problem: unemployed veterans. Why not train them for work in an industry that clear ought to be growing? It’s clearly a way to mobilize the pro-renewables left in time for midterm elections, and it’s a good one: Pew Research says that more than four out of five Americans support expanding deployment of clean energy, cutting across every political group. And the fact that this is a bipartisan measure doesn’t hurt. The bill appears to be a win-win, but could face a challenge in being passed as Trump continues a steady march toward propping up coal and nuclear plants.

S. 14 – No Budget, No Pay Act

Sponsor: Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Co-sponsors: Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Capito (R-WV), Margaret Hassan (D-NH), David Perdue (R-GA),Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Synopsis: This bill prohibits the payment of any pay to any Member of Congress (excluding the Vice President): (1) if both houses of Congress have not approved a concurrent resolution on the budget for a fiscal year before October 1 of that fiscal year and have not passed all the regular appropriations bills for the next fiscal year by such date, or (2) until both houses of Congress approve such a budget resolution and pass all such appropriations bills. Retroactive pay is prohibited for such a period.Action: Introduced in Senate on 1/3/2017

Sponsor Comments: “If Congress does not complete its core obligations, then its Members will not be paid. It’s just that simple. I’ve been fighting for the No Budget, No Pay Act my entire career in the U.S. Senate and I believe that through the Joint Select Committee’s effort we have a unique opportunity to finally push the No Budget, No Pay Act across the goal line and fix one of Washington’s biggest problems,” Heller wrote.

Jessica’s Take: It’s an oldie but a goodie: Dean Heller has managed to build a career around this legislation, though it hasn’t passed yet. First introduced when he campaigned back in 2012, it made the rounds again in 2015, and a related House bill was introduced in 2017. It would require senators and House members to complete work on Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, or their pay will be withheld. It’s an attempt to hold legislators’ feet to the fire, and why not? In recent years, Congress has floundered, unable to pass a budget or complete appropriations in a timely fashion. But then again, perhaps it’s like the old saying, “Good, fast, cheap: Pick any two.” Rushing the lawmaking process may not be the best idea to reach good conclusions, though Heller is clearly attempting to appear hawkish about getting real business done on the Hill.

S. 2913 – Better Military Housing Act of 2018

Sponsor: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

Co-sponsors: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Synopsis: A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to improve the monitoring and oversight of and reporting regarding projects carried out under the Military Housing Privatization Initiative.

Action: On 5/22/2018, introduced in Senate.Sponsor Comments: “Service members and their families in Nevada, and across the country, all deserve have access to quality, affordable housing. This legislation would direct the Department of Defense to increase oversight on privately owned military housing projects, like those on Nellis Air Force Base, that have been deemed to be in poor financial health, and that have not been adequately maintained as a result,” said Cortez Masto. “No service member or veteran should be forced to live in subpar or unsafe housing because of poor financial management. I am determined to seek every avenue possible to honor the sacrifice and service of our military personnel by providing much needed support to them and their families.”

Jessica’s Take: In 2016, the Defense Department’s Inspector General issued a report stating thatthere were an average of two to three electrical and fire prevention deficiencies per building in surveyed military bases. Inspectors found high levels of radon, excessive mold, exposed wiring, faulty smoke detectors and ventilation issues, as well as an endemic lack of periodic building inspections. Reports dating back to the 90s and earlier indicate similar problems; it’s an ongoing issue that little has been done to address. This bipartisan bill would increase the DoD’s financial oversight of privatized military housing projects to ensure that they’re being operated in a fiscally responsible manner and completing the necessary housing maintenance and upkeep. As Republicans continue to see drops in support from key military communities and the VA receives less-than-positive favorability ratings, issues surrounding quality of life for the military are increasingly being brought to the fore by politicians seeking their favor. In short, it’s a good time to pass a bill like this.