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Consumers File Amicus Brief With NAFTA Opposing Canadian Softwood Lumber Duties
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Consumers File Amicus Brief With NAFTA Opposing Canadian Softwood Lumber Duties

* Brief asks NAFTA to remand U.S. International Trade Commission decision on threat of injury to U.S. producers from Canadian imports * 27 percent countervail and antidumping duties unfairly price potential homeowners out of the housing market WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- A friend-of-the-court brief was filed yesterday on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association urging a North American Free Trade Agreement bi-national panel to reject 27 percent duties resulting from a U.S. International Trade Commissions (ITC) finding of "threat of material injury" to U.S. lumber producers from Canadian softwood lumber imports. Last May, the ITC found that a potential threat existed, even though it found no evidence of an actual injury to U.S. industry. It approved 27 percent Commerce Department duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports, which went into effect later that month. Yesterday's brief, filed on behalf of two members of the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an 18 member Alliance of U.S. lumber consumers and free trade advocates who comprise more than 95 percent of domestic and imported lumber consumption, is the only way consumers can be heard on this trade issue, according to an ACAH spokesperson. "The brief represents lumber dealers, home builders and other industries that rely on Canadian lumber -- from all regions of the country -- representing the broad cross section of Americans who are being harmed by what amounts to a 27 percent federal sales tax imposed on lumber," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the ACAH. "It is unfortunate that trade laws do not allow consumers direct participation on an equal basis with industry in disputes like this. After all, consumers are the ones who end up paying the cost in higher prices, just to benefit a few U.S. companies." The brief includes extensive documentation that there is little overlapping among U.S. produced timber species and those imported from Canada, and that Canadian softwood lumber is not an adequate substitute for U. S. southern yellow pine in most of its uses. Each type of lumber has distinct properties, functions and applications that can make it a poor substitute for other species, homebuilders and lumber dealers testified before the ITC. Most lumber produced in the U.S. is southern yellow pine. In Canada, most timber harvested is spruce pine fir. The U.S. relies on imported lumber to meet about 30 percent of its needs. "If the entire 27 percent duties are passed on to U.S. consumers, they could add as much as $1,000 to the cost of a new home, and price as many as 300,000 families out of the housing market," Petniunas said. "These potential home buyers would not able to qualify for mortgages," she added. "And while $1,000 may not sound like much to some people, for many first-time homeowners and seniors seeking to reduce their housing costs in retirement, it can make the difference between being able to buy a home or not," she said. The Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland, and southern landowners, filed petitions alleging that they have been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asking for countervailing and antidumping duties. More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President George W. Bush over the past year, indicating their support for free trade in lumber, and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers. Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber- consuming businesses, including homebuilders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and such industries as window and bed makers. U.S. workers for lumber-consuming industries outnumber lumber-producing workers by 30 to 1. ACAH members include American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, Fremont Forest Group Corporation, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association. http://www.acah.org

10/08/2002
Consumers File Amicus Brief With NAFTA Opposing Canadian Softwood Lumber Duties
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Consumers File Amicus Brief With NAFTA Opposing Canadian Softwood Lumber Duties

A friend-of-the-court brief was filed yesterday on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association urging a North American Free Trade Agreement bi-national panel to reject 27 percent duties resulting from a U.S. International Trade Commissions (ITC) finding of "threat of material injury" to U.S. lumber producers from Canadian softwood lumber imports. Last May, the ITC found that a potential threat existed, even though it found no evidence of an actual injury to U.S. industry. It approved 27 percent Commerce Department duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports, which went into effect later that month. Yesterday's brief, filed on behalf of two members of the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an 18 member Alliance of U.S. lumber consumers and free trade advocates who comprise more than 95 percent of domestic and imported lumber consumption, is the only way consumers can be heard on this trade issue, according to an ACAH spokesperson. "The brief represents lumber dealers, home builders and other industries that rely on Canadian lumber -- from all regions of the country -- representing the broad cross section of Americans who are being harmed by what amounts to a 27 percent federal sales tax imposed on lumber," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the ACAH. "It is unfortunate that trade laws do not allow consumers direct participation on an equal basis with industry in disputes like this. After all, consumers are the ones who end up paying the cost in higher prices, just to benefit a few U.S. companies." The brief includes extensive documentation that there is little overlapping among U.S. produced timber species and those imported from Canada, and that Canadian softwood lumber is not an adequate substitute for U. S. southern yellow pine in most of its uses. Each type of lumber has distinct properties, functions and applications that can make it a poor substitute for other species, homebuilders and lumber dealers testified before the ITC. Most lumber produced in the U.S. is southern yellow pine. In Canada, most timber harvested is spruce pine fir. The U.S. relies on imported lumber to meet about 30 percent of its needs. "If the entire 27 percent duties are passed on to U.S. consumers, they could add as much as $1,000 to the cost of a new home, and price as many as 300,000 families out of the housing market," Petniunas said. "These potential home buyers would not able to qualify for mortgages," she added. "And while $1,000 may not sound like much to some people, for many first-time homeowners and seniors seeking to reduce their housing costs in retirement, it can make the difference between being able to buy a home or not," she said. The Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland, and southern landowners, filed petitions alleging that they have been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asking for countervailing and antidumping duties. More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President George W. Bush over the past year, indicating their support for free trade in lumber, and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers. Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber- consuming businesses, including homebuilders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and such industries as window and bed makers. U.S. workers for lumber-consuming industries outnumber lumber-producing workers by 30 to 1. ACAH members include American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, Fremont Forest Group Corporation, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association. http://www.acah.org

10/08/2002
Letter to Conferees Regarding the Comprehensive Energy Bill
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Press Release

Letter to Conferees Regarding the Comprehensive Energy Bill

Dear Member of Congress:

10/07/2002
Letter to Secretary Paul O'Neill Regarding Tax Reform
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Press Release

Letter to Secretary Paul O'Neill Regarding Tax Reform

The Honorable Paul O’Neill Secretary of Treasury U.S. Treasury Department 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, DC 20220 Dear Mr. Secretary:

10/07/2002
New Report Card on State Governors
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Press Release

New Report Card on State Governors

Against the backdrop of the worst state budget crunch in years, this report presents the findings of Cato Institute’s sixth biennial fiscal policy report card on the nation’s governors. The report card’s grading is based on 17 objective measures of each governor’s fiscal performance. Governors who have cut taxes and spending the most receive the highest grades. Those who have increased spending and taxes the most receive the lowest grades.

10/07/2002
Campaign Notebook: Keough Campaign Director
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Campaign Notebook: Keough Campaign Director

One of the key figures behind state Sen. Bruce Keough's rise from relative political obscurity to a second-place finish in the Republican gubernatorial primary has found a new job. Keough campaign director Rich Killion has been named director of Franklin Pierce College's new Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication. The center, dedicated in May, is named in honor of the press secretary to President Reagan and former President Bush. Before joining Keough's campaign, Killion was executive director of New Hampshire Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group that helped defeat a proposed home rule amendment to the state constitution. The group also supported U.S. Sen. John McCain's bill exempting Internet retail sales from state sales taxes. Killion previously worked at Franklin Pierce as head of public relations and director of the capital campaign. He also helped start the college's Center for Applied Public Opinion Research, a public opinion polling institute.

10/07/2002
Raleigh's Tangled Web Site
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Raleigh's Tangled Web Site

BY J. Andrew Curliss

After a decade of winning dozens of those "Best of" awards, Raleigh has come up a big loser. Brown University researchers ranked Raleigh's city Web site (www.raleigh-nc.org) as one of the worst among those of the 70 biggest cities nationwide. Raleigh's "e-government" efforts were in the same crowd as those in New Orleans, Norfolk, Va., and Detroit. "Good lord!" city spokeswoman Jayne Kirkpatrick said. "That's some tacky company." The Brown University study evaluated Web sites based on a 100-point scale, measuring the availability of information and services and the quality of citizen access, privacy, security, disability access and foreign language translation, among other features. Raleigh ranked 68th out of 70, down from 47th a year ago. Worst was New Orleans, then Norfolk. Best were Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver and San Diego. Kirkpatrick said the rankings don't tell the city something it doesn't already know. The city plans to revamp its Web site, she said, and meetings are already scheduled to talk about it. Until now, the Web site operation has been "fragmented" and the pages need to be redesigned, she said. "It is something that we need to address," she said. POLITICAL TRAIL - THE CONSERVATION COUNCIL OF NORTH CAROLINA will hold its annual conference from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in the old House chamber of the state Capitol in downtown Raleigh. The theme is "Politics and the Environment: Who We Elect Matters!" - THE RALEIGH JAYCEES will hold a voter registration drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today in the food court at Triangle Town Center. - DONNIE HARRISON, the Republican candidate for Wake sheriff, will hold a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Heather Hills clubhouse, 901 Claymore Drive in Garner. He will also appear at a coffee from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at 4824 Fox Branch Court in Raleigh, at an event from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at 805 Hemingway Drive in Raleigh and at a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at 2700 Hazelwood Drive in Raleigh. - REBECCA LIEBERMAN, president and CEO of Vote for America, will speak at 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Brickyard at N.C. State University and at 8 p.m. Monday in Room 100 of Hamilton Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill. Vote for America is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit group that is trying to increase voter participation, especially among young people. - PRECINCT 07-07 will hold a candidates' forum from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Abbotswood at Stonehenge retirement community, 7900 Creedmoor Road. - WAKE SHERIFF JOHN BAKER and Gerry Bowles, a Democrat running in N.C. Senate District 15, will attend a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the home of Jim and Sara Liles, 11504 Black Horse Run in Raleigh. - THE JOHN LOCKE FOUNDATION and Citizens for a Sound Economy will be hosts of a speech on Social Security from Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute in Washington at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the North Raleigh Hilton, 3415 Wake Forest Road. - STATE REP. JENNIFER WEISS, a Democrat seeking re-election in N.C. House District 35, will hold a fund-raiser from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the home of Bett and Bill Padgett, 1213 Dixie Trail in Raleigh.

10/05/2002
People
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People

BY Erin Heath

Image-Makers Boeing has lured Maureen P. Cragin away from the Veterans Affairs Department to serve as vice president of communications in its Washington office. Cragin, 39, is now in charge of coordinating Boeing's communications with Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, and many others. She spent the past year and a half as assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at Veterans Affairs, managing a staff of about 85. She also spent nearly six years with the House Armed Services Committee, ultimately becoming communications director. She got her start in public affairs during seven years of active duty in the Navy (she's still in the Reserves). Cragin caught the attention of the Naval Academy with her prowess as a swimmer, and went on to graduate in 1985. How did she survive her plebe year? She recalls that her father, a former Navy basketball coach and Marine, told her, " 'Remember, it's a game. You just need to play the game.' Whenever I was down, I remembered those words."

10/05/2002
Latest Update from Capitol Hill
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Press Release

Latest Update from Capitol Hill

Just a quick note to provide everyone with a Congressional update. I would say legislative update but that would be a misnomer since there really is not that much legitimate legislation going on up on Capitol Hill.

10/04/2002
Social Security Investment Ads to Run in Allentown
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Social Security Investment Ads to Run in Allentown

BY Jeff Miller

A business-backed coalition promoting private investment accounts for Social Security will begin running TV ads this week in Allentown and 18 other markets with close congressional races. The Coalition for Moderinzation and Protection of America's Social Security, or COMPASS, is spending between $6 million and $8 million on the campaign, which will also include print ads and direct mail. Executive Director Derrick Max said the campaign is aimed at reassuring senior voters that retirement benefits won't be cut if younger workers are allowed to invest part of their Social Security taxes in accounts they own. The coalition includes the Business Roundtable, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the National Association of Manufacturers, the United Seniors Association, the Hispanic Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Although Mark McKinnon, who consulted on President Bush's 2000 campaign, created the ads, coalition leaders said they are not intended to help either party in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 5 election. "This is not a Democratic or Republican issue," said Sam Beard, the coalition's Democratic chairman who served on President Bush's Social Security commission. "It's really those who are for reform against those who are not." According to The Associated Press, the ads will run for two weeks in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. The coalition declined to provide a full list of specific markets. The ads state that after "years of debate, bipartisan principles have been agreed upon that will save the [Social Security] system." They include protecting current benefits for retirees, no tax increases and allowing younger workers "the option to invest a small portion of their Social Security money in accounts they own." Some Democrats do support the accounts. But most are opposed to them, including Ed O'Brien, who is running for the 15th District congressional seat. The district covers all of Lehigh and Northampton counties and part of Montgomery. O'Brien calls the proposal a "risky privatization scheme" that could cause retirees to lose their retirement savings in a stock market downturn. His opponent, Republican incumbent Pat Toomey, is a staunch supporter of investment accounts for Social Security. Toomey says the accounts will give younger workers a far better return than the government provides and will enable them to build savings they can pass on to their children. Social Security is running a surplus. But that will change dramatically as the baby boom generation begins to retire in large numbers, leaving fewer workers to support them in the pay-as-you-go system. Beard said the system faces a $20 trillion debt that, without private accounts, will need either a 50 percent increase in taxes or a 30 percent cut in benefits. Bush's commission recommended three plans to move toward investment accounts. But critics of the commission's work say the plans would reduce the overall retirement income for most workers and don't account for the transition costs of moving to private accounts. "We've always said the devil is in the details -- how you structure the benefits and how the accounts would work," said Lee Goldberg, spokesman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Democrats have accused Republicans of avoiding the issue until after the election. But Jack Iannantuono, a Lehigh Valley COMPASS member who ran for U.S. Senate in 1998 on the Libertarian ticket, said neither party is taking seriously Social Security's long-term financial problems. "It could be that people just don't want to deal with difficult issues, and this is a difficult issue to understand, let alone solve," Iannantuono said.

10/03/2002

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