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A message from Senator Enzi

During this Christmas season I hope you can take time to enjoy the company of your family and loved ones and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Diana and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

Wyoming’s stocking is a little bigger this Christmas thanks to federal legislation that passed last week. Language was included in a tax relief bill that would pay Wyoming more than half a billion dollars owed to the state by the federal government. For decades this money has been hijacked by the federal government. I have been working with my colleagues to get the money back in the bank for Wyoming since I became a senator 10 years ago. If the President signs the bill into law it will ensure that Wyoming will get back payments from the Abandoned Mine Land fund as well as future payments based on the amount of coal mined in the state.

My staff and I have summarized a few interesting pieces of information and news about what Congress accomplished before adjourning the 109th Congress. Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter and do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns you have.

Headlines and Highlights

Wyoming to receive ‘no strings attached’ mine land money from feds 

In the final hours of the 109th Congress something very important happened for Wyoming. If President Bush signs H.R. 6111 into law Wyoming and other coal states will be repaid money the federal government has owed for decades. The funds through the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) trust fund will be disbursed to Wyoming through the Office of Surface Mining. Wyoming’s legislature will receive the $550 million owed to the state in seven equal installments beginning in fiscal year 2008 which starts Oct. 1. In addition to the money owed previously, Wyoming will receive the full yearly amount owed to the state because of the collection of the AML fee on each ton of coal mined in Wyoming. This is estimated to be more than $60 million every year.

HIV/AIDS funding increased for Wyoming

The President is expected to soon sign the "Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act" reauthorization that was unanimously approved by the House and Senate on Dec. 9. The program reauthorization would increase Wyoming’s funding level from the current $372,000 per fiscal year up to nearly $675,000 per year for three years.

The reauthorization bill will save lives by increasing overall investment in Ryan White programs and revising flawed funding formulas, which currently favor states with urban areas and a longer history of AIDS infections over states where the disease is now spreading most rampantly. It better targets funding so that infected persons have better access to high quality health care, improves accountability for health outcomes, and ensures more equitable treatment opportunities for not only persons with AIDS but those who are HIV positive.  

Key Vote Summary

Last week Enzi was successful in getting the Senate to pass several bills that previously passed through his HELP Committee. The "Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Early (PREEMIE) Act," the "Combating Autism Act", and the "Gynecologic Cancer Education Awareness Act", commonly known as "Johanna’s Law". The PREEMIE Act is designed to expand research into causes of and prevention of premature births and to increase education and support services related to prematurity. The Autism Act will expand research at the National Institutes of Health with regard to the possible causes and potential interventions for people living with autism, increase autism awareness and coordinate health, education and disability programs for persons diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities. "Johanna’s Law" is geared to raise awareness about the symptoms and risk factors of gynecologic cancers.These bills are now awaiting signature by the President. 

On the Horizon

The Senate is scheduled to reconvene on Jan. 4 and kick off the 110th Congress by swearing in new members. The State of the Union address by President Bush is expected to be delivered at the end of January. In 2007 Enzi will host the fifth Wyoming Procurement Conference in Casper in February as well as the fourth annual Inventors Conference in Rock Springs in April.  

News Nuggets

* On Dec. 6 Enzi addressed the Wyoming Stock Growers joint winter convention in a recorded statement. He shared his thoughts about the November elections, current legislation and the 2007 farm bill.

*Enzi became a member of the Senate 4-H Caucus on Nov. 15. There are around 7,000 students in Wyoming that participate in 4-H.  

* Enzi signed a Nov. 13 letter to Senate colleagues urging them to sign onto S. 3828, the National Language Act of 2006 which he co-sponsors that would make English the official language of the United States.  

* S. 3546, the "Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act" was ushered by Enzi through his HELP Committee earlier this year and recently passed both houses of Congress. The bill will help the FDA better understand the adverse affects of dietary supplements and non-prescription drugs to report all serious adverse events associated with use of their products to the FDA. The bill now awaits a signature by the President before it becomes law.  

* Enzi was an original co-sponsor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 119 regarding farmer cooperatives. The resolution indicated that it is the Sense of Congress that public policy should continue to protect and strengthen the ability of farmers and ranchers to join together in cooperatives. The resolution is co-sponsored by 21 other senators. 

* On Dec. 5 Enzi co-sponsored legislation to designate a postal facility in Laramie as the Gale W. McGee Post Office. McGee served Wyoming as a U.S. Senator from 1959-1977 and served as chairman of the Senate Post Office and Civil Service Committee. McGee, who died in 1992, was also a professor at the University of Wyoming. The McGee family requested the designation and the Laramie City Council supported the naming in an Aug. 1 resolution.