Posts Tagged legislation

Jul 16 2013

Huffman introduces bill to refinance decade-old fishing industry loan

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Legislation aimed at alleviating the financial hardship of a federal loan that has been weighing on Pacific Coast groundfish fisherman for nearly a decade has moved one step closer to passing, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman’s office announced on Thursday.

Introduced into Congress this week, Huffman’s “Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries in the Pacific Act” picks up where a bipartisan bill introduced in September 2012 by former North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson left off, and would allow for the refinancing of a $35.7 million buyback loan authorized by Congress in 2003.

In a press release, Huffman called the bill — his second piece of legislation to be introduced since he took office in January — “… a win-win for small businesses and the environment.”

The opportunity to refinance the loan at a lower interest rate would give local groundfish fishermen the same opportunities as any homeowner or business, and would not require the federal government to spend any new money.

“The success of our local fishermen is essential to the health of the North Coast’s economy, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to repay the debt on a decade-old federal loan,” Huffman said in the release. “The combination of interest payments, new fees, and rising fuel costs are putting small businesses in our coastal communities at risk.”

Read the full story here.

Jun 9 2012

Fosmark: Ocean Policy Respite Is Step in Right Direction

By Kathy Fosmark
Special to Roll Call

Recent House passage of an amendment providing for a pause in implementation of the new National Ocean Policy is a welcome development for those seeking to maintain and enhance the productivity of our nation’s marine and inland areas.

This action was supported by groups as varied as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Fisheries Institute and the National Ocean Policy Coalition, among many others.

Because it is being implemented by executive order rather than statute, the policy has not been subject to the scrutiny that accompanies the legislative process. In turn, significant questions about this initiative, and its potential effects on citizens, businesses and existing laws and processes, have still not been adequately addressed.

For example, how will regional fishery management councils effectively carry out their responsibilities under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act when the National Ocean Policy requires federal implementation of potentially inconsistent regional zoning plans developed by regional planning bodies?

In addition, the National Ocean Council has disclosed that federal agencies have been directed to prioritize the National Ocean Policy in their budgets and asked how existing resources can be repurposed. With resources already scarce, how will this affect the continuation and improvement of existing authorized activities such as fishery stock assessments that directly affect recreational anglers and commercial fishermen across the country as well as the communities they support?

Concerns about potentially repurposing funds across the federal government in support of an initiative that has not been authorized by Congress are underscored by recent headlines surrounding the disclosure that tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds were reprogrammed within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration without Congressional notification.

Ocean Conservancy’s May 24 Roll Call op-ed referred to a “gross overreaction” among those who support a time-out and suggested that concerns about prohibitions on fishing activity are unfounded. Concerns about the potential for the policy to lead to new and unnecessary marine access and use restrictions, however, are real and based in part on past experience.

Read the full article on Roll Call

Feb 27 2012

KION Radio: Monterey’s Harbormaster on Protecting Fishing in California

Steve Scheiblauer, Harbormaster of Monterey 

Steve Scheiblauer, Monterey’s harbormaster, discusses environmental groups efforts to stop a lawsuit that aims to massively curtail sport and commercial fishing in California on KION 1460 AM in Monterey, CA.


Listen to the interview online.

Jul 19 2011

The (Nonsensical) Politics of Fisheries Funding

Fisherman Larry Collins stands next to his boat the Autumn Gale at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. SOURCE: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

By Michael Conathan

All eyes in Washington are focused up these days. They’re peering cautiously at that ever-encroaching debt ceiling and the economic ruin pundits and politicians are forecasting if we allow ourselves to bump into it. Meanwhile, spending-phobia has gripped the less headline-grabbing, more mundane aspects of congressional operations as well. So we’re going to spend a bit of time today in one of Capitol Hill’s metaphorical windowless rooms crunching numbers to find out what Congress is doing to fund (or not fund) fisheries management.

Let’s start with a quick note about the congressional appropriations process. Per the Constitution, Congress holds the “power of the purse.” The president asks for money by submitting a budget but the legislature dictates how much will actually be spent.

Like all pieces of legislation—recall your “Schoolhouse Rock”—spending (also known as appropriations) bills originate in committee. In this case, that’s the Appropriations Committee, which passes them on, accompanied by an explanatory report, for consideration of the full body. Ultimately, both House and Senate must pass identical versions of legislation that are then sent to the president to be signed into law. The bill that contains funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and thus for fisheries management, is the Commerce, Justice, and Science, or CJS, Appropriations Act.

House appropriators talked a good game this year in the CJS bill’s report, stating “healthy levels of investment in scientific research are the key to long-term economic growth.” One would think that in these days of anemic job growth9.2 percent unemployment, and an angry electorate, if Congress held “the key to long-term economic growth,” they might use that key to unlock America’s potential. Instead, line-in-the-sand politics rose up and trumped common sense. In short, the “cut spending now” mantra seems to have all but obliterated the more reasoned and storied catchphrase of entrepreneurs everywhere: “You have to spend money to make money.”

Read the rest of the story here.