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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Short-line tax credit extension bill racks up majority of House supporters


The Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2011 (H.R. 721) recently reached a critical milestone by attracting 226 co-sponsors, a majority of supporters in the House, according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA).

The bill would extend the Section 45G short-line tax credit for six years through Dec. 31, 2017; the latest extension to the tax credit provision expires Dec. 31. The measure also would make qualified infrastructure expenditures by regionals and short lines created after 2005 (for taxable years 2005 through 2011) and before 2011’s end (for taxable years after 2011) eligible for the tax credit.

A majority of House members as co-sponsors doesn’t guarantee the bill will be included in whatever tax measure moves through the legislative process, but “it gets us in the pole position,” said Jeff Van Schaick, an associate at ASLRRA lobbying firm Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell L.L.C., in the association’s latest “Views & News” newsletter.

“The House leadership now knows 45G enjoys majority support, and that means it will be part of any legislative negotiation over what should be included in a larger tax bill,” he said.

So far, 788 bills have been introduced in Congress’ current session and only eight have attracted a majority of House members as co-sponsors, said Van Schaick. H.R. 721 has the seventh-highest number of co-sponsors and is one of the most bipartisan, landing 141 Republican and 85 Democrat supporters, he said.

In addition, H.R. 721 now has 46 freshman Republican co-sponsors, more than half the freshman class in the House. Landing a majority of that class sends “a strong signal to House leadership” because freshman Republicans are driving much of the agenda in the House, said Van Schaick.

Meanwhile, efforts to attract more supporters for the Senate version of the bill, S. 672, continue. So far, the bill has landed 41 co-sponsors, 10 short of a majority, said Van Schaick.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/9/2011