Timber Innovation Act (H.R. 1380/S. 538)
On March 7, 2017, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced S. 538 and on March 23, 2017, Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) introduced H.R. 1380, bills to promote the use of wood in tall construction projects. The bills would establish a research program and grant money to study and encourage the use of wood for tall building construction, defined as projects more than 85 feet in height. Additionally, it would require the Secretary of Agriculture to work with the “wood products industry” to improve the “commercialization of tall wood building materials.”
Since October 2012, the softwood timber industry has operated an industry-wide check-off program according to the Binational Softwood Lumber Council “to fund a unified softwood lumber promotion program”. Let us be clear, the Mason Contractors Association of America does not oppose check-off programs, and we are in fact working with industry partners to pass legislation providing us with the legal authority to establish a check-off program for the concrete block industry. What we find egregious is that it appears that H.R. 1380/S. 538 is providing federal grant funds to ONE specific industry at the expense of others and to an industry that already has a huge amount of industry backed funding to conduct the studies and promotion that are outlined in the legislation.
The MCAA believes that Congress should not be providing federal funds to support an industry, especially an industry that has the resources to do this research on their own using their industry backed check-off program, to the detriment of other construction industries. The federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers and it is with this in mind that the MCAA OPPOSES H.R. 1380 and S. 538 and would ask Members of Congress to oppose this legislation as well.