With the help of our talented government relations and public policy team, Van Ness Feldman clients secured several notable legislative victories in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 that was signed into law by President Trump on February 9th.
Loan Forgiveness for Historic Black Colleges
Led by Senior Policy Advisor Senator Mary Landrieu and Stuart Hall, our government relations team secured a provision in the Budget Act that benefits four predominantly African American universities located in south Louisiana and Mississippi –Xavier University of Louisiana, Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans, and Tougaloo College. These historic institutions suffered significant damage to their campuses during Hurricane Katrina for which they were extended capital loans to rebuild from a special fund administered by the U.S. Department of Education. At one point, the total amount of their debt was over $350 million. As a consequence of the Great Recession, reduced enrollment at these institutions made it impossible for them to repay the loans and maintain their institutions.
Senator Landrieu and Senior Director of Governmental Issues, Stuart Hall, worked with Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Pattie Murray (D-WA), to achieve bipartisan support for the measure to relieve the financial burden facing these historic institutions.
Tax Benefits for Energy Efficiency Upgrades
On behalf of firm client, the National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO), Senior Tax Counsel, Michael Platner, secured a one-year retroactive extension of Section 179D of the tax code, which allows a tax deduction for energy efficiency improvements to commercial buildings. The provision was one of several temporary tax provisions that expired at the end of 2016 and one that NAESCO’s member companies viewed as a critical tool in advancing the nation’s energy conservation and security goals. With the retroactive extension in place, the tax incentive will be in effect for 2017. The firm is continuing to work on ensuring an extension through 2018 and beyond.
Advancing Carbon Capture and Storage Technology Research & Development
Through the work of a team led by Shannon Angielski, Principal and Executive Director of the Carbon Utilization Research Council (CURC), the firm achieved the passage of the Furthering Carbon Capture, Utilization, Technology, Underground storage, and Reduced Emissions (FUTURE) Act, as part the Bipartisan Budget Act. Passage of the FUTURE Act provides tax incentives for the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology by industrial facilities, including coal and natural gas facilities, and provides the critical federal government support necessary to bring costs down and spur the development and deployment of CCS programs. CCS has long been regarded as a technological necessity for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels, particularly in a world where fossil fuel use continues to grow.