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Press Release from Levin's office on introduction of Bill

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Postby Terry_Pepper » Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:24 pm


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2009

Contact: Senator Levin's Office
Phone: 202.224.6221
Senate Floor Statement on Introduction of the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act


Today, with Senators Snowe, Stabenow, Collins and Schumer, I introduce The National Lighthouse Stewardship Act. This legislation creates a three year competitive grant program at the Department of the Interior that will help to pay for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic lighthouses in Michigan and across the country. The grants will help nonprofit organizations, which serve as caretakers for these historic landmarks, to help them preserve and rehabilitate the historic lighthouses and keep them accessible to the public.

This legislation compliments a bill that was enacted in October 2000, the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, which I joined Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) in offering. With the Coast Guard getting out of the light house business, the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act helped facilitate the process of transferring historic lighthouses from the government to non-profit historical organizations who would take over the responsibility for their care. It established an expedited process through the Government Services Agency to help ease lighthouse transfers by helping to cut through the bureaucratic red tape. As a result of the law, 46 lighthouses to date --- nine in Michigan --- have been transferred to custodians who will preserve them and keep them accessible to the public.

Many of these lighthouse structures are in need of significant repair and rehabilitation, which is now the responsibility of their nonprofit custodians. Unfortunately, after obtaining custody of the lighthouses, many of the nonprofit organizations have struggled to raise the funds to adequately restore and maintain the lighthouses. To address this problem our legislation establishes a pilot program that would enable state and nonprofit groups to apply for competitive grants to help with restoration and maintenance efforts. This pilot program would authorize the secretary to distribute $20 million a year for three years.

Funding for Lighthouse restoration is important to Michigan and to the nation’s historic preservation efforts. There are approximately 740 lighthouses in 31 coastal states. Michigan alone has over 120 lighthouses, more than any other state. They draw thousands of visitors to Michigan and other states each year and create jobs throughout our states. Michigan’s and the nation’s lighthouses are national treasures that beautify our shorelines. These historic lighthouses are part of our nation’s rich maritime heritage. The grants are needed to help nonprofit organizations, which serve as caretakers for the historic landmarks, to maintain the beauty of the lighthouses and keep them accessible to the public.

My office worked closely with lighthouse preservation groups in drafting this legislation. The Michigan Lighthouse Fund in my home state was invaluable in providing information on the needs of our nation’s lighthouses. This week in Washington, the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee is meeting to coincide with the introduction of this Act. These funds are desperately needed by these groups who work tirelessly to preserve our Nation’s maritime heritage.

This funding would help ensure our lighthouses remain cultural beacons for generations to come. America’s lighthouses are national treasures that we cannot let deteriorate to the point beyond repair. I hope my colleagues will support the swift enactment of the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to include in the Record the following letters from lighthouse organizations in support of this legislation.
Terry Pepper
GLLKA Executive Director
http://www.gllka.com

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Postby Grover1 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:34 am


A little more ... from Maine Today

http://mainebusiness.mainetoday.com/new ... ml?id=6942

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(Photo/Bob Trapani)
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Doubt those who find it ...
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:44 am


GLLKA's letter of support we mailed to Senator Levin's office last week:

Honorable Carl Levin,
United States Senator

On behalf of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, a registered 501(c)(3) association with membership throughout the nation, I am writing to support Senate Bill S715 - the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act of 2009 as introduced by yourself and Senators Stabinow (MI), and Snowe (ME).

Since passage of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, responsibility for many of our historic lighthouses has been successfully transferred from the Coast Guard to the public sector. While many lighthouses continue to serve as active aids to navigation, the cost of their restoration, preservation and ongoing maintenance is now being borne solely by local government entities and grass-roots nonprofit organizations with extremely limited economic resources. The funds this Act will make available are critical for the continued restoration and preservation efforts of these local entities.

However, the real power and benefit of this Senate Bill S715 - the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act of 2009 is that virtually all awarded funds will be passed directly through to local businesses which will actually undertake the work, thereby serving as a real stimulus to the economies in the area in which the lighthouses are located. Further, with lighthouses serving as time-proven cultural tourism attractions, the continued restoration and opening of yet more of these historic structures to the public will serve to keep tourists and their dollars in these same areas for extended time periods for years to come.

For these reasons, our Association strongly supports the adoption of Senate Bill S715 - the National Lighthouse Stewardship Act of 200.

Respectfully submitted, this 2nd day of April, 2009.


Terry Pepper
Executive Director
Terry Pepper
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Seeing The Light
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Postby LighthouseNews » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:20 am


Just want to mention this bill is still in committee, so contacting your senators as Tim Harrison suggests in his press release is not appropriate at this point. You do need to contact the members of the energy committee that are studying this (as much as they study it) and voice your support at this time.

From Govt. Tracker:
This bill is in the first step in the legislative process. Introduced bills and resolutions first go to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they go to general debate. The majority of bills and resolutions never make it out of committee.
[Last Updated: Apr 6, 2009 8:12PM]


Page with committee members:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/committee.xpd?id=SSEG

Unfortunately, John McCain sits on the committee. And we know he considers lighthouse preservation to be "pork." I sincerely doubt if this will make it out of committee this time around either. It died there last time it was introduced.
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Postby Bill Edwards » Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:02 pm


I have a Senator from my state that is on the Energy Committee. Wrote him at the end of last month about this. Got his personalized-form letter in the mail today. The part of the letter that is germane to this topic reads as follows:

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the National Lighthouse Stewartship Act (S. 715). You may be assured of my interest in this matter, and I appreciate your taking the time to express your views to me. Please be assured that I will give this issue my most careful consideration, keeping your particular comments in mind.


(Draw your own conclusions.)
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Postby island » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:12 pm


This bill is still in committee but has it been assigned to a subcommittee for actual consideration of the bill? If so, which one of the four subcommittees? That is where to strike with letters and emails. This website http://www.lighthousing.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=8495 lists committee and subcommittee members but it does not tell where the bill has been assigned if at all.
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Postby LighthouseNews » Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:41 pm


It seems to have been assigned to the Subcommittee on National Parks, according to this website: http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.c ... 60e0fbe1b9
Subcommittee on National Parks

Phone: (202) 224-4971
Fax: (202) 228-0539

Jurisdiction of the Subcommittee includes oversight and legislative responsibilities for: National Park System; Wild and Scenic Rivers System; National Trails System; national recreation areas; national monuments; historic sites; military parks and battlefields; Land and Water Conservation Fund; historic preservation; outdoor recreation resources; and preservation of prehistoric ruins and objects of interest on the public domain.


SubCommittee Members:

Mark Udall (Chairman)
Byron L. Dorgan
Mary L. Landrieu
Robert Menendez
Blanche Lincoln
Bernard Sanders
Evan Bayh
Debbie Stabenow
Richard Burr
John Barrasso
Sam Brownback
John McCain
Jim Bunning
Bob Corker

Main Committee members:

Chairman Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Byron L. Dorgan (ND)
Ron Wyden (OR)
Tim Johnson (SD)
Mary L. Landrieu (LA)
Maria Cantwell (WA)
Robert Menendez (NJ)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Bernard Sanders (VT)
Evan Bayh (IN)
Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Mark Udall (CO)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Richard Burr (NC)
John Barrasso (WY)
Sam Brownback (KS)
James E. Risch (ID)
John McCain (AZ)
Robert Bennett (UT)
Jim Bunning (KY)
Jeff Sessions (AL)
Bob Corker (TN)
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Postby island » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:48 am


Eleven of twenty-three members of this sub-committee are from states having lighthouses of which one member is a co-sponsor of Levin's bill. I do not know how many members it takes for the subcommittee to vote present this bill for consideration by the entire E&NR Committee but it will require support from those not from lighthouse states.

Senators from each lighthouse state may argue the historical importance of their lighthouses to their states but what is needed is to demonstrate the importance of lighthouses to all states. In this, for example, one might correctly present a compelling argument that lighthouses were a significant part of the successful effort to develop commerce in the early years of this country and that commerce yielded funds to the federal treasury, funds that enabled the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Had this purchase not have been made the 13 states now within that territory might not exist today and instead might well be part of another country. That purchase not have been made 9 states west of that land might also not now exist as part of the U.S.. And further, the Lousianna Purchase gave us the Mississipi River and the port of New Orleans, which was vital to economic development of the states east of that purchase, development that depended almost entirely on this Ohio and Mississippi river systems.

(Correction: The count above is the E&NR Committee, not sub-committee)
Last edited by island on Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby LighthouseNews » Sat Apr 11, 2009 11:58 am


Actually, it's only 6 members of the 14 member subcommittee. And that's counting VT which does have a couple lights on Lake Champlain.

So non-lighthouse states are clearly in the majority, and it also includes some members that are known to be hostile to lighthouse preservation.

However, perhaps using island's arguments might help, but I still feel this bill will go nowhere, unfortunately. This bill seems a little different than last year's which called for funding through shipping charges. The entire text of the bill is as follows:
A BILL

To establish a pilot program to provide for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic lighthouses.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `National Lighthouse Stewardship Act of 2009'.

SEC. 2. FUNDING FOR HISTORIC LIGHTHOUSE PRESERVATION.

Title III of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470w et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

`SEC. 310. NATIONAL LIGHTHOUSE STEWARDSHIP PILOT PROGRAM.

`(a) Definition of Eligible Entity- In this section, the term `eligible entity' means a State, unit of local government, or nonprofit organization that--

`(1) provides financial assistance and grants to local governmental units and nonprofit organizations to preserve and maintain historic lighthouse structures;

`(2) owns a lighthouse that is listed or eligible for listing on the National Register; or

`(3) has a right to maintain and rehabilitate a lighthouse described in paragraph (2) that is owned by the Federal Government.

`(b) Lighthouse Stewardship Pilot Program-

`(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall establish a 3-year pilot program under which the Secretary shall use amounts authorized to be appropriated under subsection (c) to provide grants to eligible entities to preserve and rehabilitate historic lighthouse structures.

`(2) DISTRIBUTION TO ELIGIBLE ENTITIES-

`(A) APPLICATION- To be eligible for a grant under this subsection, an eligible entity shall submit to the Secretary an application at such time, in such form and manner, and including such information as the Secretary may require.

`(B) APPROVAL OR DISAPPROVAL- Based on criteria established by the Secretary, the Secretary shall approve or disapprove an application submitted under subparagraph (A).

`(C) AVAILABILITY OF GRANT FUNDS-

`(i) IN GENERAL- On approval of an application under subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall make the grant funds available to the eligible entity.

`(ii) USE OF EXISTING FUNDS- To the maximum extent practicable, the Secretary shall provide funding through existing lighthouse grant programs administered by State governments.

`(c) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2012, to remain available until expended, without fiscal year limitation, not more than the lesser of--

`(1) $20,000,000; or

`(2) the amount collected as taxes and received in the Treasury during the fiscal year under section 60301 of title 46, United States Code.'.
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Postby island » Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:57 pm


Beyond what I wrote above about the Louisiana Purchase what other national arguments for support of this bill can you think of?

(I wonder :idea: if Sarkozy just might be interested in buying it back? Spain might also be interested in owning Florida once again.)
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Postby LighthouseNews » Sat Apr 11, 2009 1:04 pm


island wrote:Beyond what I wrote above about the Louisiana Purchase what other national arguments for support of this bill can you think of?

(I wonder :idea: if Sarkozy just might be interested in buying it back? Spain might also be interested in owning Florida once again.)

Well, Florida has lots of lighthouses so I'd want to keep it. Arizona, however, is always thinking of ways to get the Great Lakes water, so we can cut them loose with no problem. They don't need to be growing lawns in the desert. And that should help since two from AZ are on the subcommittee. :)

Have to come up with some. Must put thinking cap on. :wink:
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Postby Bill Edwards » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:08 pm


So what is the status of Senate bill 715, the National Lighthouse Stewartship Act? What is the latest?
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:57 pm


According to Govtrack the bill is still in committee, and hearings were held in July.
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-715
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