Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Congressional Schedule

Congress remains in recess.  The Senate will return on Monday, September 13, and the House on Tuesday, September 14.

Department of Energy Seeks Public Input on Energy Education/Technical Training Efforts
The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public input on its energy education and technical training efforts.  The Department is not looking for specific project proposals. The information, according to the RFI, "is intended to assist DOE in further defining the scope and priorities of its education and workforce development activities."  The information "may be used for internal DOE planning and decision-making purposes to align future education and workforce development activities with the Administration's goals for leading the world in science, technology and engineering; building a competitive, low-carbon economy; securing America's energy future; and creating domestic jobs."

The original deadline for responding to the RFI has been extended to September 17.  The RFI can be accessed here. If you are interested in responding, please contact the UW System Office of Federal Relations.

Report Issues on Tax Reform Options

This week, The President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) issued a report on tax reform options.  The comprehensive report, entitled The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation, does not evaluate proposals or make recommendations for overarching tax reform. Rather, the report includes "options" for policymakers to consider.   PERAB is an advisory body of experts that was created by a Presidential Executive Order issued in February 2009.

Among numerous areas of tax policy, the report includes options for consolidation, simplification, repeal, and reduction of existing education tax credits and deductions, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, the student loan interest deduction, the tuition deduction, and others.

For example, according to CQ Today Online, one simplification proposal would consolidate the child tax credit, the dependent exemption, the child and dependent care tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and tax breaks for education expenses into a more streamlined system that featured a "work credit" and a "family credit" based on similar rules. CQ notes that the report says the proposal would make tax filing simpler but also reduce the ability of the government to target certain groups for resources.

Also among the proposals is "harmonizing the definitions of qualified educational expenses" that are used in different sections of the tax code.  In addition, the report includes options related to itemized tax deductions, such as charitable contributions.

Similar to the "options" documents the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation routinely publish, the PERAB report is a resource for the Administration and Members of Congress to identify areas of tax policy that could be addressed in legislation.

In addition to submitting the report to the President, PERAB will submit it to the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Injunction on Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Monday's ruling by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth, of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, was a temporary injunction on the Obama Administration's policy expanding federal funding for stem cell research beyond the 21 lines approved during the Bush Administration.  Background information from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) that further clarifies the ruling and provides an analysis of its impact on Wisconsin now and what may happen next can be accessed here:
Congress has already expressed an interest in the ruling.  Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin has stated he will hold a hearing on this issue the week of September 16.  The Department of Justice, meanwhile, announced that the Administration would file an appeal to lift the injunction by the end of the week.

2010 Research and Public Service Report

The 2010 Research and Public Service Report was submitted today to Governor Doyle and the Joint Committee on Finance.  The report includes research and public service projects for which the UW System is expending general purpose revenues.  The report can be accessed here:

(AAU and the UW System Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)