Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is celebrating the President’s signing today of the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund Reauthorization bill , which was included as part of H.R. 6111, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006.
Enzi said this "makes the payback official."
"I'm delighted that President Bush signed this important legislation, but I'm not surprised. We lost only nine votes on final passage in the Senate. This bill gives back to Wyoming what we have been promised for years. It took decades of struggle, but through this legislation we were actually able to go in and take our money back from the lion’s den. Not only that, in the future the money will not have to make the same dangerous trip through the appropriations process, where it was trapped for so long. It will be coming on a direct path to the states," Enzi said. "Another benefit of receiving this money is that it can be used at the state’s discretion. We won’t need approval for how Wyoming spends this money and we shouldn’t."
The AML legislation ensures Wyoming and other coal states receive money the federal government has owed for decades. The funds through the 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 October 2007. 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.
The legislation also corrects future funding problems by removing the AML fee distribution from the annual appropriations process. This ensures Wyoming will receive full funding for the future collections of the AML fee.
The bill also allows Wyoming residents to deduct state and local general sales taxes on their federal tax returns for an additional two years.
"Both of the AML reauthorization and the state sales tax deduction are huge for the people of Wyoming. My staff and I are pleased that the sleepless nights have paid off," Enzi said.