Fire bill's lower score may increase chance of passage

Thursday, February 22, 2007

WASHINGTON--The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by a new lead sponsor, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), but the most exciting news, say supporters, is the reduction in the estimated cost of the bill.
The bill (S-582) was introduced Feb. 14. It would give tax breaks to those who retrofit homes or businesses with sprinklers. The estimated cost of the bill, called the "score," was reduced from $2.2 billion over 10 years to $884 million over 10 years. "We always reached an impasse over the score," said Jim Dalton director of public fire protection for the National Fire Sprinkler Association. "Now, with the score down, we have new help to be able to move the bill," he added.
A companion bill will be introduced in the House by Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.) at some point before the end of March. Generally, a bill is introduced and then the sponsors solicit co-sponsors for the bill. In the last session, the House bill had 160 co-sponsors, so Langevin and Cantor "are taking a different tactic, they're sending out a 'Dear Colleague letter'... so then they can [introduce the bill] with a lot of names on it," Dalton explained.
The other sponsors of the Senate bill are Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Lamar Alexandar (R-Tenn.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
"We're continuing with our bipartisan approach," Dalton said.