Excerpts from Congressman Hultgren’s weekly Newsletter
February 17, 2018
The following information is provided in Congressman Hultgren’s weekly newsletter:
Reforming Sexual Harassment Policies in Congress
As public awareness of instances and pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the workplace grows, I believe Congress should lead by example. That’s why I was encouraged to see such bipartisan work to reform the sexual harassment rules within the legislative branch. Everyone serving here has dignity and should feel and be safe. Actions that violate that safety are unacceptable, and Members of Congress and staff should be held accountable.
Please click here to learn more about the important legislation we passed.
House Passes My Legislation Supporting Global Science at Fermilab and Argonne
Science is on the move! I was thrilled this week when the House passed my legislation, the Accelerating American Leadership in Science Act, H.R. 4377, which authorizes world-class scientific research at Fermilab in Batavia, Argonne in Lemont and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Our national labs like Fermilab and Argonne are global leaders in groundbreaking scientific research, employing thousands of scientists engaged in vital experiments. My bill ensures America remains the destination for the world’s top researchers to explore the outer reaches of our scientific knowledge. We need to reaffirm American leadership in fields that improve lives and increase domestic jobs—including supporting the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), an international project hosted by Fermilab to probe the fundamental properties of subatomic particles known as neutrinos. Quick facts:
The project already has the support of nearly 1,000 scientists from 30 different countries.
The European physics facility CERN has committed to contributions for the first time going outside of their lab.
The United Kingdom recently pledged $88 million to be a part of the project.
The facility will contribute to nearly 2,000 jobs at Fermilab.
I attended the groundbreaking in South Dakota where the far detector will be held.
Click here to learn more about H.R. 4377.
Fighting for Infrastructure
President Trump has emphasized his desire to pass an infrastructure bill, and I am still looking at the details and costs of his plan. I was, however, encouraged to see the Administration’s proposal to expand the use of private activity bonds, which I fought to ensure were included in the final tax reform legislation (they were). These bonds help Illinois cities and towns build schools, airports, seaports, water infrastructure and more at a time when large infrastructure improvements are at prohibitive cost.
I have introduced bipartisan legislation, the Modernizing American Manufacturing Bonds Act, H.R. 1115, which would make industrial revenue bonds easier to use. Easing the ability of our manufacturers to expand their businesses, invest in new equipment and hire more workers should be at the top of our priority list.
Further, states and local governments need flexibility for managing their finances so they can invest in roads, hospitals, libraries and schools. In recent years, tax-exempt advance refunding bonds have saved Illinois taxpayers $80 million per year on average. Given that interest rates are expected to increase, this tool is especially important to states and local governments responsibly planning for the future.
That’s why I introduced H.R. 5003 (with two Republicans, three Democrats) to restore the tax exemption for advance refunding bonds. This financing tool allows local governments in Illinois to take advantage of favorable interest rates to build essential infrastructure projects. Here’s what our mayors have to say:
Joseph Mancino, Mayor of the Village of Hawthorn Woods: “Utilizing advance refunding bonds has saved my community almost $1 million dollars in the last five years. These savings have been passed on directly to our residents and would not have been possible without the use of tax-exempt bonds.”
Michael Kelly, Mayor of the City of Harvard: “The City of Harvard has taken advantage of the benefits of this tool in years past to provide savings to bond holders when the situation of reduced interest rates has been realized.”
I encourage the President and Congress to include these provisions I have introduced in any final infrastructure legislation.
Jobs for Heroes Act
Speaking of heroes, many of our women and men in the military looking for work have considered applying for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Many active-duty military, reservists and veterans apply for their CDL already have had experience driving similar vehicles while in the armed forces or reserves.
The latest surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish a unique, streamlined set of standards for veterans applying for a CDL. However, the FAST Act did not include active-duty members of the military and reservists in their application of standards for veterans with previous training in military driving.
The Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2017 ensures active-duty service members and reservists receive the same training and testing standards granted to veterans under the FAST Act. I supported its passage in the House and the President signed it into law on January 8, 2018.
Relatedly, here’s a letter to the editor I wrote on legislation I introduced to help our veterans cared for by the VA. Letter: Protecting veterans top priority (Northwest Herald)
Even More Good News on Taxes
U.S. companies continue to add jobs, grow the businesses and deliver bonuses and pay raises to their employees as a direct result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Many others are investing in their employees and businesses to expand and grow. Here’s more good news:
CVS to hike wages, introduce paid parental leave with windfall from new tax law (CNBC)
Starbucks to give raises, offer new benefits due to tax reform (The Hill)
Comcast, ATT, Boeing Announce Bonuses After Tax Bill Passes (TIME)
Allstate has announced it is awarding either $1,000 or $2,000 in “Choice Dollars” for eligible employees to take as a cash bonus, a contribution to their 401(k) or a deposit into a health savings account (HSA). Further, they are expanding investments in technology literacy for employees.
Click here for an ongoing list of companies taking direct action as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: https://www.majoritywhip.gov/taxreformworks
Calculating Your Taxes
Confused about how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will provide you with tax relief? I have cosponsored the Transparency for Taxpayers Act, H.R. 4780, which calls on the IRS to develop an online calculator to be located at https://www.irs.gov by April 1.
Until then, here are some helpful public estimators. Contact your tax professional for firm numbers: