Following the many requests you received for grassroots support, that we made this past winter and spring, we felt giving everyone a break was okay. Getting legislative change during this very challenging time requires a long term commitment from us all. This modest break in the action however, did not mean that the Cabin Coalition 2 has been resting on their laurels.
Since the Natural Resources committee hearing in late April, we have gained many new bill sponsors. You can follow the bill at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-4888. We now have a total of 24 co-sponsors, in addition to our champion Rep. Doc Hastings. The Cabin Fee Act (CFA) is a truly bi-partisan bill as 12 Democrats and 13 Republicans have signed on. Recent grassroots efforts in California have been very successful, with the addition of Reps. Woolsey, Eshoo, Farr, Lofgren, McNerney, Speier and Thompson (all Democrats). Special thanks to all of those folks in the Bay Area that have been engaged!
C2 is working with Mr. Jim Streeter, Minority staff for Natural Resources, and their legal counsel, developing a letter to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) requesting a preliminary evaluation (or scoring) of the revenue impact of the CFA. We seek a neutral scoring that implies no revenue loss to the Treasury from the legislation. We have explained that the FS projections fail to include several market realities, i.e., the decline in the real estate market, the potential loss of cabins (and fee revenue) due to inability to sell given high fees, the 30% lower valuations in second appraisals and the cost savings of eliminating the appraisal process and its inherent headaches. Several documents have been developed and will be attached to the CBO letter supporting our positions. A CBO response may take another few weeks. A July report is expected or hoped for.
We have made a few clarifying recommendations to House Natural Resources that address the transition from CUFFA to the CFA and expanded the review and appeal section of the act. These recommendations could be considered at mark-up. A mark-up session for H.R.4888 (which is held by the full committee, rather than the sub-committee) has not been scheduled, but we are hoping for a July date. The Natural Resources committee may wait for the CBO opinion before committing to a date. So we are in a waiting pattern, with the CBO scoring and the mark-up session both in play.
We have also been active on the Senate side. A draft companion bill has been developed. Key Senators are being approached in hopes of finding a potential bill sponsor, while also further expanding our lobbying and educational efforts. Please anticipate a request from C2 for you to call, email and write your Senators concerning this potential companion bill. Once again, we will need grassroots support from all states and cabin owners everywhere. Our success to date is clearly due to previous support. More will be needed!
Our progress gives us hope of success, however, a moratorium for 2011 fees remains on the table. We expect to more aggressively pursue this possibility early in the fall if any delays in the passage of H.R.4888 occur. Our best bet is for the CFA to be attached to an appropriations bill or omnibus Lands’ bill in the lame duck session late in the fall. So we will remain vigilant concerning the moratorium timing and need.
Remember The National Forest Homeowners website is a great source for information and Cabin Fee Act updates, too. We are found at http://www.nationalforesthomeowners.org/.