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Bobby Jindal's First sponsored bill cleared by House

Washington, March 15, 2005

Freshman Congressman Bobby Jindal is already making a difference on the Hill as he has promised. The House of Representatives has passed a bill co-sponsored by him to stop the taxing of disaster assistance grants.

The House Monday passed the bill (H.R. 1134) by a voice vote.
Now the bill moves to the Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Representatives Mark Foley (Republican from Florida) and Bobby Jindal (Republican from Louisiana), would prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from taxing Americans who receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants to take preventive measures against natural disasters.

Last week in his update, Jindal told constituents he had not forgotten the bill and that it was on its way to passage. "I have some good news to report on the bill I introduced to prevent grants given to disaster victims from being taxed as income - it is alive!

"Sorry to steal the old pun, but I am excited to announce that there has been much support for it," the Indian American said.

The bill had garnered 78 co-sponsors and Jindal said he hoped to "move it quickly through the House and into the Senate".

The bill has to become law before April 15 and Jindal said: "I promise I will fight hard to get some resolution before that date."

"I am grateful for the leadership of Chairman Thomas in getting this important bill to the House floor," said Ways and Means Member Mark Foley, whose district suffered direct hits from three back-to-back hurricanes last summer.

"These grants are intended to save lives as well as future taxpayer dollars. Taxing victims of natural disasters is 'penny-wise, pound-foolish'."

Currently, FEMA provides grants to businesses and individuals to encourage pre-emptive protective measures against natural disasters - called mitigation grants. Last year, the IRS defined these grants as taxable income. H.R. 1134 would make mitigation grants tax-exempt - removing a disincentive for Americans to participate in preventive disaster programmes.

"Encouraging individuals to take precautions against disaster damage benefits all taxpayers by reducing claims against federal, state and local emergency management programmes," concluded Foley.

In the last 15 years, there have been more than 2,500 preventive disaster projects which resulted in saving an estimated $2.9 billion in property losses. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates H.R. 1134 would cost $105 million over 10 years.


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