ON THE WASHINGTON SCENE
  1. Senators Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Zell Miller (D-GA) introduced legislation
    that would implement the tax cuts President Bush proposed.  The legislation
    (number not available) would reduce marginal tax rates across the board;
    increase the child tax credit; ease the marriage penalty; make the research
    and development (R&D) tax credit permanent; increase the annual contribution
    limit for tax-favored education savings accounts; and phase out estate, gift
    and generation-skipping taxes.  A package introduced by Senate Minority
    Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) does not include making the R&D tax credit
    permanent, but it would encourage a higher rate of retirement savings.
  2. Senate Committee on Small Business Chair Christopher Bond and Senator
    Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Self-Employed Health Insurance Fairness
    Act (S. 29) that would provide a 100 percent deduction for health insurance
    immediately.  Current law would not make it fully deductible UNTIL 2003.
    NSPE supported a similar measure in last year's tax proposal and will
    support it again in the 107th Congress.
  3. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced S.41, a
    bill to make the research and development (R&D) tax credit permanent and
    increase the alternative incremental research credit (AIRC) rates.  NSPE is
    a member of the R&D Credit Coalition, which urged swift action on this
    bipartisan legislation.  House Ways & Means Committee members
    Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and Robert Matsui (D-CA) introduced the House
    companion bill (H.R. 41) on January 3.   "Senators Hatch and Baucus
    and Representatives Johnson and Matsui have demonstrated exceptional
    leadership on this issue and can count on the enthusiastic support of the
    more than 1000 companies and 87 trade associations represented by
    the R&D Credit Coalition in achieving this vital goal," said a coalition press
    release.  The coalition and NSPE will be working to get the permanent
    credit into the President's tax package.
  4. Baucus and Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley introduced a
    bill (S. 133) that would make permanent the exclusion for employer-provided
    education assistance programs.  The bill would expand the exclusion to cover
    costs associated with graduate, as well as undergraduate courses.  Former
    House Ways & Means Committee Chair Bill Archer (R-TX) had consistently
    opposed the exclusion.  It is expected the new committee chair Bill Thomas
    (R-CA) will be more receptive to making it permanent for both graduate and
    undergraduate courses.  NSPE endorses making the exclusion permanent for
    courses at both levels.
  5. Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), Chair of the Senate Government
    Management Subcommittee on Oversight, will hold hearings in February on the
    government's management of personnel issues affecting federal workers.
    Because of the number of federal employees who will be eligible for
    retirement in a few years, he is concerned that institutional knowledge will
    go with them.  His hearings will explore the development of a comprehensive
    plan to address the problem.  Voinovich also wants to look at whether
    employees are receiving needed training and the proper incentives to do a
    good job.  NSPE will attempt to have the issue of the Office of Personnel
    Management's (OPM) classification of engineers raised at the hearing.

 

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