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POLICY WATCH

Ethanol Incentive Bill Advances

A Nebraska Farm Bureau supported bill to help make ethanol more available across the state advanced to Select File this week.  LB562 (Dorn) will ensure that consumers can access E15 at gas stations across the state. Only about 100 gas stations currently sell E15. It also requires newly constructed gas stations in 2024 and beyond to sell E15 at half of their qualifying pumps. E15 is approved for use in all cars made after 2001 and is cheaper for the consumer, cleaner burning, and benefits Nebraska farmers. LB562 sets a goal for Nebraska to have a 14 percent ethanol blend rate (the average amount of ethanol sold per gallon of motor fuel) by the end of 2027. If the target blend rate is not reached, all gas stations would be required to sell E15 at one pump beginning in 2028. Each year, roughly 30 percent of field corn goes into fuel ethanol. Ethanol is the second-largest customer for U.S. corn.

House Republicans Pass Debt-Ceiling Bill

On April 26, 2023, House Republicans passed legislation – H.R. 2811, the Limit, Save and Grow Act – that would cut future spending in exchange for a limited debt ceiling raise. By a vote of 217 – 215, the bill advanced out of the House and now awaits action by the Senate and engagement from the White House. On January 19th, 2023 Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen sent a letter to Congress notifying them that the federal government had reached its statutory debt limit and that the Department of the Treasury had begun taking what are known as “extraordinary measures” to avoid defaulting on its spending obligations. This is the first attempt by Congress to begin negotiations with the White House.

The Limit, Save and Grow Act saves $4.8 trillion dollars over the next decade in exchange for a limited debt ceiling raise. The debt ceiling would be raised to the first of either March 31, 2024 or $1.5 trillion in debt. The $4.8 trillion comes from:

  • Capping FY24 spending levels at FY22 levels. ($129 billion in immediate savings)
  • Limits future growth of spending to one percent annually. ($3.2 trillion savings over ten years)
  • Claws back unobligated COVID funds. ($29.5 billion in immediate savings)
  • Defunds the expansion of the IRS. ($71.5 billion in immediate savings)
  • Repeals federal spending on tax credits that were in the Inflation Reduction Act. ($569.5 billion in savings)
    • At the insistence of some Midwestern Republicans, the sections repealing credits for biofuels and carbon oxide sequestration were removed via an amendment in the Rules Committee.
  • Prohibits the student loan bailout ($460 billion in savings)
  • These fiscal reforms also save $547 billion in interest payments on the national debt.

The bill also:

  • Includes the REINS Act to require Congressional approval of any federal regulation that has an economic effect of at least $100 million.
  • Institutes Clinton-era work requirements on SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid to reduce federal entitlement spending ($120.1 billion in savings)
    • Adjusts the age of existing SNAP work requirements from 18-49 (current law) to 18-55. (maintaining current law exemptions for parents, pregnant women, students, and those with disabilities)
    • A 19–55 year-old on Medicaid will be required to work, volunteer, or enroll in a work training program for at least 80 hours per month (with the same SNAP exemptions)
    • Eliminates gimmicks that states exploit to exempt TANF recipients from work requirements under current law.
  • Includes the Lower Energy Costs Act to increase domestic energy production and exportation, reduce regulatory burdens, and reform permitting across all sectors of the economy. ($3.4 billion in savings)

It’s Always Time for Policy Development!

While NEFB’s annual Policy Forum and Annual Delegate Session are still months away, it is never too early to start thinking about making additions or changes to NEFB’s state or federal policy. Our annual policy development process is one of the best ways that you, as a member, can have an impact on the issues Farm Bureau engages on at the capitol in Lincoln or Washington, DC. If you have an idea for a policy resolution or if there’s an issue/idea you’d like our policy team to dig into, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any member of our Public Policy Team. Their contact information can be found here.

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