A Message from Senator Enzi
With Memorial Day just around the corner, the Senate will be wrapping up eight straight weeks of session on Friday. Next week I'll be back in the state for a Wyoming work week. I'm looking forward to seeing many of you and spending time with my family, especially my daughter Emily. She is due to give birth to our third grandchild at the end of the month, and I am excited to be a 'grampa' yet again. The miracle of life is truly amazing. As we approach Memorial Day, remembering how precious life is helps us to be thankful to those who gave their lives in service to our country.
In this newsletter, my staff and I have summarized some of the most noteworthy issues I've been working on for Wyoming. Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. More information is available on my Web site. I look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions or comments.
Headlines & Highlights
Both the Senate and House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill last week after months of both houses debating the bill in conference. Enzi was pleased that a number of provisions he has been working on for Wyoming were included in the final bill.
Since arriving in the Senate 11 years ago, Enzi has been working to implement mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) on all meat products. The COOL provision will ensure that consumers know the source of food and allow them to choose the origin of their meat, a provision which will enable Wyoming livestock producers to remain competitive in a growing global market. COOL was included in the bill.
The Farm Bill also contains a livestock title to promote competition and fairness in agricultural markets. Specifically, the livestock title includes provisions that will improve the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act by making market prices of each livestock sale easily accessible online. Additionally, a disaster trust fund is included in the bill, which will provide Wyoming producers payment for grazing losses due to drought and covers losses on federal grazing allotments. A newly created Livestock Indemnity Program in the bill would also cover up to 75 percent of the fair market value of animals lost to disasters.
Abandoned Mine Land money
The Department of Interior released $51 million of Wyoming's abandoned mine land (AML) money back to the state, thanks to continued efforts by Enzi and the Wyoming delegation. The funds will only be available for state projects approved by the Wyoming State Legislature, however. Enzi will continue to push the department so that next time Wyoming gets its money back with no strings attached and no bureaucratic red tape.
With energy costs sky high, Enzi and his Senate colleagues are working to implement both short- and long-term solutions to help reduce gas and food prices, as well as alleviate the nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources. Enzi co-sponsored the Domestic Energy Production Act of 2008, a bill aimed at expanding the nation's domestic energy production.
The bill includes important provisions for Wyoming. In addition to repealing the federal theft of Wyoming's share of mineral royalties, the bill also supports the development coal-to-gas technology, requiring six billion gallons of coal-derived fuels be produced by 2022, starting at 750 million gallons in 2015 and gradually increasing from there.
On the Horizon
This week, the Senate is debating a supplemental appropriations bill focused on additional funding for the Iraq war. When senators return from the Memorial Day work week on June 2, the next legislative agenda item is expected to be a climate change bill by Senators Joe Lieberman, I-Conn, and John Warner, R-Va.
Local Office Hours
For Wyoming residents wanting to meet on an individual basis with one of Enzi's state representatives to discuss issues, questions or concerns about the federal government, the following office hours are scheduled for the upcoming month:
- Guernsey – Guernsey Town Hall, May 23, 1 to 1:30 p.m.
- Wheatland – Wheatland Town Hall, May 23, 2 to 3 p.m.
- Chugwater – Chugwater Senior Center, May 23, 3:30 to 4 p.m.
- Gillette – City Hall conference room, June 5, 9 to 10 a.m.
- Sheridan – YMCA, June 10, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Dayton – Dayton Town Hall, June 10, 2 to 3 p.m.
- Pine Haven – Pine Haven Town Hall, June 11, 9 to 10 a.m.
- Hulett – Hulett Town Hall, June 11, 1 to 2 p.m.
- Sundance – Sundance Town Hall, June 11, 4 to 5 p.m.
Additional office hours are scheduled for June 9 and 10 in Medicine Bow, Hanna, Elk Mountain and Rawlins. For more information about times and locations, contact Enzi's Casper office at 261-6572.
*President signs four Enzi bills
The President signed four of Enzi’s bills from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee into law over the past month. As the top Republican on the committee, Enzi sponsored the Safety of Seniors Act, Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act, the Ensuring Access to Student Loans Act of 2008, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, and has worked to get all four bills passed by Congress. While many committees only send three bills to the President for his signature over the course of a two-year Congress, Enzi's committee passed more pieces of legislation than that in only four weeks. Currently, Enzi is working with his HELP Committee colleagues to finalize the Higher Education Act and his health information technology bill.
*Guns in national parks
Enzi is encouraging Wyoming residents who believe in preserving the Second Amendment to comment on the Department of Interior’s new proposed rule to allow law abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons in national parks. The department’s public comment period runs until June 30. To make a comment, click here and click on the yellow “Add Comments” icon.
*Veterans-To Paramedics Transition Act
Enzi co-sponsored a bill to help returning troops make the transition to civilian employment after returning from war. The Veterans-To-Paramedics Transition Act would speed up paramedic training for veterans who have already received medical training from the military. Not only would the bill provide veterans with an opportunity to use their medical skills to make a living once home, it would also help to address shortages of health care workers in Wyoming and rural communities around the country.
Enzi is working to keep more money in the pockets of Wyoming residents through a number of tax relief provisions. Last month, he sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee asking that the committee implement the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) "patch" for 2008, as well as a number of expiring tax provisions. Enzi is also supporting efforts to make permanent the 2001 $10,000 adoption tax credit.