D.C. Watch

September 16, 2022

Legislative News

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Inflation Reduction Act

The largest federal clean-energy investment in U.S. history offers Texas counties the opportunity to pursue clean-energy initiatives and reduce emissions through new competitive grant programs, local resiliency investments and clean-energy tax credits.

Signed into law Aug. 16, the Inflation Reduction Act aims to reduce the federal deficit, cut greenhouse gas emissions and lower health insurance-related costs while increasing health insurance coverage for vulnerable Americans.

Major provisions for counties:

  • Allows counties to elect for direct pay in lieu of certain clean-energy tax credits.
  • Does not provide relief from the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction implemented in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • Extends Affordable Care Act premium subsidies to 2025.
  • Caps the annual out-of-pocket cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries each year at $2,000.
  • Does not enact the Medicaid Reentry Act.
  • Provides $5.95 billion to support the nation’s farmers, ranchers and foresters.
  • Provides $4 billion to the Bureau of Reclamation to award grants to counties and others responsible for water conservation to mitigate the impacts of drought in the West.
  • Establishes a $3 billion Environmental Justice Block Grant Program within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Invests $27 billion in a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund at EPA to provide financial assistance to counties to support projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Provides $350 million to the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council’s environment review improvement fund to streamline and expedite the federal permitting process.

The National Association of Counties has provided a detailed overview of the major provisions of the bill important for counties.

PACT Act

The PACT Act, the biggest expansion of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care in more than 30 years, will provide for millions of veterans who were subject to toxic smoke from burn pits and other noxious substances during their service.

The act adds 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to the VAs list of service presumptions and expands presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure, allowing the VA to assume certain medical conditions are the result of military service during a given period in a specific location. The new law also expands VA health care eligibility for 10 years to certain post-9/11 combat veterans, and it creates a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure.

The VA has a website that explains what is in the PACT Act, how it affects VA benefits and care, how to file a claim for act-related disability compensation and how to apply for VA health care.

CHIPS Act

Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, a $52.7 billion bill that promotes domestic production of semiconductor chips, which are used in much of modern technology, including cars, phones, computers and medical equipment.

Texas is the leading state in semiconductor chip production with over $50 billion worth of investment in the pipeline, said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business.

This includes the recent wins of securing Samsung’s $17 billion investment — and possibly a $191 billion investment — for several semiconductor manufacturing plants outside of Austin; a Texas Instruments potential $30 billion expansion in Sherman; and a GlobalWafers $5 billion chip plant bid, also in Sherman.

Overall, Texas manufacturing and economic experts say the CHIPS Act can only benefit the state and its residents. It will bring more high-paying jobs, which will allow communities to flourish as they are able to bring in more taxes and resources to their residents.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has launched a website that will list timelines, requirements and other information about applying for funding from the bill as they become available.

For more information, please contact Megan Molleur at (800) 456-5974.