Congressional Digest: Crowdfunding bill filed, Clean Line draws debate

by Michael Wilkey (mwilkey@talkbusiness.net) 101 views 

Federal lawmakers had a quiet yet busy week with most of the action happening in the House. A key energy project in the state received a go-ahead from federal regulators, while a bill to help smaller companies with building capital was introduced.

CLEAN LINE PROJECT APPROVAL RECEIVES DIRTY LOOK FROM DELEGATION
A nearly 700-mile long energy project got approval from the U.S. Department of Energy on Friday (March 25) with House and Senate lawmakers condemning the approval.

The $2 billion wind energy project starts in Oklahoma and travels through Arkansas, Tennessee and other states. The Arkansas line starts in Crawford County and goes through north central and Northeast Arkansas, ending in Mississippi County before picking up in Tennessee.

In a statement, Arkansas’ congressional delegation – U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, French Hill, R-Little Rock, Steve Womack, R-Rogers and Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs – attacked the federal cabinet department’s decision.

“Today marks a new page in an era of unprecedented executive overreach as the Department of Energy seeks to usurp the will of Arkansans and form a partnership with a private company – the same private company previously denied rights to operate in our state by the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Despite years of pushback on the local level and continuous communications between our delegation and Secretary Moniz, DOE has decided to forgo the will of the Natural State and hand over the historic ability of state-level transmission control through this announcement,” the statement noted.

“We now will begin the process of careful review over DOE’s decision and will continue to address our concerns through any avenue necessary. Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 establishes specific conditions that must be met before this authority is used, and we expect the Department to release all details of their review so that our staff and Congressional investigators will be able to continue the process of oversight. It is our firm belief that the DOE has overstepped its bounds and reversing this decision through the passage of the APPROVAL Act remains a top priority.”

HILL FILES S CORPORATION CROWDFUNDING LEGISLATION
U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, said this week that restrictions on so-called “S” Corporations have hindered their ability to raise capital, with a new bill seeking to remedy it.

The bill, H.R. 4831, would change the federal tax code to allow for an exception to the 100-shareholder limitation involving shares acquired through crowdfunding or small public offerings, Hill said.

“The successes of businesses of all sizes controls the health of our entire economy. As someone who has helped small businesses and worked in banking for more than two decades, I know first-hand how those successes can be directly affected by a company’s ability to efficiently raise capital,” Hill said in a statement. “Reg A+ and crowdfunding provide new avenues for small businesses to raise the money needed to grow their operations. However, entrepreneurs who have elected an S-corp structure cannot utilize these methods without potentially endangering their tax exemption. My bill will offer a simple correction allowing S corps to remain S corps while utilizing these new, cost-effective methods of raising capital.”

VETERAN TALKS ABOUT EASTER INVASION OF OKINAWA
An Arkansas World War II veteran who grew up in Van Buren County recently spoke about his life and the 1945 invasion of Okinawa.

Audie Lynch was featured in an interview series conducted by U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., honoring veterans in the state.

Lynch was assigned to the U.S.S. Charles Carroll, an assault transport used mainly for invasions, in the Pacific fleet. His duties as a commissioned officer included decoding messages and censoring the mail sent by the men aboard the ship.

Lynch said Easter aboard the ship in 1945 was different from other Easters because it was the day of the Okinawa invasion, the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific during World War II.

“We had marines for the Okinawa invasion and we took the marines to the beach. We had to watch out for suicide planes because they were after the transports. Some of them were trying to get through. Luckily none of them did get through to our ship, but they did get through to some other ships,” Lynch said.

The video of Lynch’s interview can be seen here.

ROLL CALL VOTES
Courtesy of the website, www.govtrack.us, the following is a look at votes this week in the House of Representatives.

House
H.R. 658: Condemning in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016, which murdered more than 30 innocent people, and severely wounded many more.

This was a vote to agree to H.Res. 658 in the House. This vote was taken under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.

Yes: 232 Republicans and 177 Democrats

No: 0 Republicans and 0 Democrats

Not Voting: 13 Republicans and 11 Democrats

H.R. 4336: Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act

To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the burial in Arlington National Cemetery of the cremated remains of certain persons whose service has been determined to be active service.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 4336 in the House. This vote was taken under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.

Yes: 232 Republicans and 153 Democrats

No: 0 Republicans and 0 Democrats

Not Voting: 13 Republicans and 35 Democrats

The Senate was off this week.

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