In both houses of Congress, there have been several recent positive developments regarding the Cabin Fee Act.
House of Representatives
In the House, the full Committee on Natural Resources, under Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), has added H.R. 3397, The Cabin Fee Act of 2012, onto H.R. 4019, The Federal Forests County Revenue, Schools, and Jobs Act of 2012. H.R. 4019 was then favorably reported by the NR Committee on February 16th. Although the Cabin Fee Act is unrelated to the other provisions in H.R. 4019, since the bigger bill is expected to pass the full House, this will enhance CFA prospects for eventual passage into law.
In another encouraging development, the Congressional Budget Office has lowered by nearly 50 percent its previous estimate of revenue shortfall to the Federal budget of H.R. 3397. While the CBO still projects there will be a net negative impact on the budget from the CFA over the next ten years, its reduced cost estimate means it may be easier either to find substitute revenue or cost savings that will “offset” CFA costs or to modify the bill to meet the necessary budget target.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has become a cosponsor of the Senate CFA, S.1906, The Cabin Fee Act of 2012. Senator Feinstein is one of the most respected and influential members of the Senate and as senior senator from the state with the greatest number of cabins, her endorsement is significant. She joins Senators Baucus (D-MT), Barrasso (R-WY), Enzi (R-WY), Risch (R-ID) and Grassley (R-IA) as cosponsors of the bill introduced by Senator Tester (D-MT), making it clearly a bipartisan effort.
When the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests begins to schedule hearings on new legislation, expected to happen in March, supporters of S. 1906 have been assured that the bill will be one of the first to receive an early hearing. (NOTE: Although similar conceptually, H.R. 3397 and S. 1906 are not identical and will have to be reconciled and passed as the same legislation by both Houses of Congress before becoming law.)
A meeting has been scheduled on February 29th at Forest Service National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., between Doug Gann, a cabin owner at Lake Wenatchee, WA, who has been a leader in efforts to enact the Cabin Fee Act, Aubrey King, NFH Washington Representative, and top FS leadership to discuss this cabin fee legislation. This will be the latest in a series of meetings between the FS and cabin owners since the problem of escalating cabin fees became apparent several years ago. The goal of this meeting is to reach as much understanding as possible on key elements of the Cabin Fee Act to expedite and facilitate its eventual final enactment by Congress.
C2 Coordinator – Oregon