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AGs Seek to Further Interests of Corporations, Trial Lawyers
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Press Release

AGs Seek to Further Interests of Corporations, Trial Lawyers

Yogi Berra famously said of the 1961 home run race between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Those attending today’s court proceedings should be forgiven if, for a moment, they think it is October of 1998. That is what the nine non-settling state attorneys general would have America believe. They want to try the case all over again and are competing amongst themselves to see who can knock Microsoft further out of the ballpark. Microsoft’s rivals and greedy trial lawyers are in the stands cheering them on.

03/18/2002
GROUP TO RALLY AGAINST GAS TAX INCREASE , COUNTY TO DISCUSS 4-CENT HIKE TUESDAY
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GROUP TO RALLY AGAINST GAS TAX INCREASE , COUNTY TO DISCUSS 4-CENT HIKE TUESDAY

BY Jim Turner

STUART - A new citizens group plans a demonstration Tuesday to draw attention - and stir opposition - to a proposal to raise Martin County's gas tax by 4 cents a gallon. Members will have their work cut out for them. Despite media coverage, many people, even those whose livelihoods are directly affected by the price of gas, appear unaware of the plan to raise the tax from 8 cents to 12 cents a gallon. The extra revenue would be used to pay for road construction and maintenance.

03/18/2002
U.S. Consumers 'Outraged' Over New Bush Plan to Tax Homebuyers
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U.S. Consumers 'Outraged' Over New Bush Plan to Tax Homebuyers

U.S. consumer representatives expressed their "total outrage" over the Bush administration proposal asking Canada to put a 32 percent export tax on all softwood lumber imports to the U.S.  The U.S. Census Bureau calculations show that such a tax would mostly impact first time and lower income families seeking affordable housing, making as many as 450,000 of them ineligible for mortgages.  "This is totally outrageous," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for a 17-member consumer alliance representing more than 95 percent of U.S. lumber consumption.  The alliance, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) has been working to get free trade in lumber between the U.S. and Canada, ending decades of taxes and import quotas that penalize consumers and affect housing affordability. More than 100 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have expressed their bipartisan support of ending trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber in sense of the congress resolutions and letters to President George W. Bush over the last two years.  Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) issued a floor statement in which he said: "I urge the administration to base its decision on existing U.S. and international trade law, and I implore the administration to exclude from any settlement provisions that would impose a de facto, foreign country-imposed sales tax on U.S. homebuyers."  Kyl also said that export taxes or artificially set floor prices for lumber provide settlements that "will cause volatility in lumber markets without adequately considering the disadvantages for U.S. consumers."  A handful of U.S. producers, including International Paper, Sierra Pacific, Potlach, and Temple-Inland filed countervail and antidumping petitions with the U.S. Commerce Department last April.  In those cases they sought a protection through duties on all softwood lumber.  Preliminary determinations by Commerce last fall set those preliminary duties at 32 percent.  Consumer groups have vigorously protested these actions.  "Canada has been cleared of U.S. producer allegations of unfair trade several times in the past," Petniunas said.  "Canada has never had a better legal case than it does now, and we urge the Canadian government not to give in to U.S. pressure to avoid litigation of the case before NAFTA and the WTO. "From what we have been told, the U.S. wants to set floor prices and a sliding scale of tax levels on pricing of Canadian softwood imports," Petniunas said. "If two companies got together and agreed to fix prices the U.S. Justice Department would not be very happy.  Our consumer groups are not pleased with this proposal, either."  "With Commerce to issue final determination numbers next Thursday, and even if they are to be the same 32 percent, we hope Canada will resist any temptation to settle before they are known, and before a final determination is made by the International Trade Commission in May.  We feel that, with all of the holes in the U.S. case against Canada, the ITC will be more objective. We also hope they will consider consumer issues as well."  Petniunas also noted that statements made after meetings this week between President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien  "do not reflect the Administrations stated support of free trade, and specifically penalizes our best trading partner to the north.  And, it ignores the need for more affordable housing in the U.S."  The U.S. industry has argued that it is injured by the Canadian lumber. During hearings last fall before the International Trade Commission, representatives of homebuilders and lumber yard dealers from every state in the U.S. testified that "a stick is not a stick," and demonstrated that the predominant wood in the U.S., southern yellow pine, is not substitutable for Canadian softwood lumber in framing homes.  Sen. Kyl, in his floor statement addressed the substitutability claim: "Quite simply, Canadian softwood lumber is needed here.  It has different qualities than the lumber produced in the U.S. and is used for different purposes.  The southern yellow pine produced in the U.S. cannot replace Canadian spruce-pine-fir, which is used by American home builders for interior walls. These homebuilders use U.S. southern yellow pine for decks and flooring because of its strength and ability to accept hard treatment.  But if southern yellow pine were used in interior walls, unlike Canadian spruce-pine-fir, it could twist, warp and shrink causing nails to 'pop.' Obviously, this would result in problems for home builders and consumers."  The housing industry, lumberyards, bed frame and other manufacturers employ more than seven million people.  ACAH members include American Grassroots Homeowners Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Home Builders, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, The Home Depot, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

03/16/2002
U.S. Consumers 'Outraged' Over New Bush Plan to Tax Homebuyers
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U.S. Consumers 'Outraged' Over New Bush Plan to Tax Homebuyers

U.S. consumer representatives expressed their "total outrage" over the Bush administration proposal asking Canada to put a 32 percent export tax on all softwood lumber imports to the U.S.  The U.S. Census Bureau calculations show that such a tax would mostly impact first time and lower income families seeking affordable housing, making as many as 450,000 of them ineligible for mortgages.  "This is totally outrageous," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for a 17-member consumer alliance representing more than 95 percent of U.S. lumber consumption.  The alliance, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) has been working to get free trade in lumber between the U.S. and Canada, ending decades of taxes and import quotas that penalize consumers and affect housing affordability. More than 100 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have expressed their bipartisan support of ending trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber in sense of the congress resolutions and letters to President George W. Bush over the last two years.  Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) issued a floor statement in which he said: "I urge the administration to base its decision on existing U.S. and international trade law, and I implore the administration to exclude from any settlement provisions that would impose a de facto, foreign country-imposed sales tax on U.S. homebuyers."  Kyl also said that export taxes or artificially set floor prices for lumber provide settlements that "will cause volatility in lumber markets without adequately considering the disadvantages for U.S. consumers."  A handful of U.S. producers, including International Paper, Sierra Pacific, Potlach, and Temple-Inland filed countervail and antidumping petitions with the U.S. Commerce Department last April.  In those cases they sought a protection through duties on all softwood lumber.  Preliminary determinations by Commerce last fall set those preliminary duties at 32 percent.  Consumer groups have vigorously protested these actions.  "Canada has been cleared of U.S. producer allegations of unfair trade several times in the past," Petniunas said.  "Canada has never had a better legal case than it does now, and we urge the Canadian government not to give in to U.S. pressure to avoid litigation of the case before NAFTA and the WTO. "From what we have been told, the U.S. wants to set floor prices and a sliding scale of tax levels on pricing of Canadian softwood imports," Petniunas said. "If two companies got together and agreed to fix prices the U.S. Justice Department would not be very happy.  Our consumer groups are not pleased with this proposal, either."  "With Commerce to issue final determination numbers next Thursday, and even if they are to be the same 32 percent, we hope Canada will resist any temptation to settle before they are known, and before a final determination is made by the International Trade Commission in May.  We feel that, with all of the holes in the U.S. case against Canada, the ITC will be more objective. We also hope they will consider consumer issues as well."  Petniunas also noted that statements made after meetings this week between President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien  "do not reflect the Administrations stated support of free trade, and specifically penalizes our best trading partner to the north.  And, it ignores the need for more affordable housing in the U.S."  The U.S. industry has argued that it is injured by the Canadian lumber. During hearings last fall before the International Trade Commission, representatives of homebuilders and lumber yard dealers from every state in the U.S. testified that "a stick is not a stick," and demonstrated that the predominant wood in the U.S., southern yellow pine, is not substitutable for Canadian softwood lumber in framing homes.  Sen. Kyl, in his floor statement addressed the substitutability claim: "Quite simply, Canadian softwood lumber is needed here.  It has different qualities than the lumber produced in the U.S. and is used for different purposes.  The southern yellow pine produced in the U.S. cannot replace Canadian spruce-pine-fir, which is used by American home builders for interior walls. These homebuilders use U.S. southern yellow pine for decks and flooring because of its strength and ability to accept hard treatment.  But if southern yellow pine were used in interior walls, unlike Canadian spruce-pine-fir, it could twist, warp and shrink causing nails to 'pop.' Obviously, this would result in problems for home builders and consumers."  The housing industry, lumberyards, bed frame and other manufacturers employ more than seven million people.  ACAH members include American Grassroots Homeowners Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Home Builders, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, The Home Depot, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

03/16/2002
North Carolina CSE to Hold River Buffer Summit March 16th
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Press Release

North Carolina CSE to Hold River Buffer Summit March 16th

North Carolina CSE Foundation will host a River Buffer Summit with invited guests Congressmen Charles Taylor and Cass Ballenger, State Senator Ken Moore, State Representatives Mark Hilton, Mitch Gillespie, Wilma Sherrill, Trudi Walend, and Joe Kiser, as well as representatives from the Environmental Management Commission and the North Carolina Division of Water Quality. Representatives from the NC Realtors Association, Homebuilders Assoc., Citizens for Change, Upper Catawba River Landowners Alliance, Cattleman's Assoc., and the Multiple Use Council will speak on buffer rules and regulations as well.

03/15/2002
Governor wraps up budget hearings
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Governor wraps up budget hearings

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Friday ended two days of public hearings that mostly drew people pleading that funding for their programs not be cut as lawmakers wrestle with $815 million budget shortfall. The hearings were a conspicuous warm-up as the governor prepares to release a new budget plan Tuesday and call a second special legislative session to close the gap. The session is expected to be held the following week.

03/15/2002
Telecom Woes Grow
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Telecom Woes Grow

BY Jube Shriver Jr.

 Making good on a promise to expand its probe of business misconduct beyond the Enron Corp. scandal, a congressional panel Tuesday asked telecommunications carrier Global Crossing Ltd. to turn over information concerning its accounting practices and executive compensation. The letter from leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee made 22 specific requests, including seeking the names of outside accountants and lawyers that worked for Global Crossing, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

03/13/2002
Regulatory Budget Congressional Testimony
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Press Release

Regulatory Budget Congressional Testimony

EXCERPT: (Get full testimony in Word format) The notion that people make better decisions when they are accurately informed is a well-established principle of public policy. We have laws against deception, some of which I helped to enforce during the Reagan Administration (as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, 1981-1985). The public’s outrage over the Enron debacle is driven in major part over the lack of truthfulness and candor about what was going on. Likewise, campaign finance reform is supported, at least in part, because many believe that reporting is slow, inaccurate, and incomplete. There’s no less need for accurate information and transparency when it comes to deliberations over ways in which the people’s representatives acquire command over individual citizens’ resources for public use.

03/12/2002
This Week on the Hill
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Press Release

This Week on the Hill

This week begins the annual government kabuki dance known as the budget process. Every year Congress develops a budgetary framework that is incorporated into a budget resolution. This budget resolution dictates how much of our hard earned money is to be spent on government programs and how much we may receive back in the form of tax relief.

03/12/2002
On the Fritz
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Press Release

On the Fritz

Few Senators or members of Congress are more pleased that no commercial activity or human action is outside the sphere of government control than Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-S.C.). As Chairman of both the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies, Sen. Hollings holds unrivaled power over American industry. Enjoying the perch from which he operates, Hollings fiercely opposes any action that would take authority away from government or do anything to undermine his considerable influence.

03/12/2002

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