(Senate - February 06, 1995)

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[Pages S2213-S2214]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


      By Mr. AKAKA:
  S. 357. A bill to amend the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978 
to establish the Friends of Kaloko-Honokohau, an advisory commission 
for the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, and for other 
purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

           reestablishment of the friends of Kaloko-Honokohau

  Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, I rise today to reintroduce legislation to 
reestablish the Friends of Kaloko-Honokohau, an advisory Commission for 
the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park located on the big island 
of Hawaii. Identical legislation passed both Houses during the 103d 
Congress, but failed to reach the President's desk before adjournment.
  The advisory Commission was originally authorized for a 10-year 
period under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978, the bill 
which established the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. 
Unfortunately, since the National Park Service did not acquire a 
sufficient land base for park operations until October 1990, the 10-
year period expired without the Commission being established.
  My bill simply reauthorizes the Friends of Kaloko-Honokohau to 
complete its original mandate. The Commission will advise the Director 
of the National Park Service on historical, archaeological, cultural, 
and interpretive programs for the park. Particular emphasis will be 
given to the demonstration of traditional native Hawaiian culture.
  Mr. President, Congress intended Kaloko-Honokohau Historical Park to 
be dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of traditional native 
Hawaiian culture and activities. The reestablishment of Friends of 
Kaloko-Honokohau is a necessary step in achieving this goal.

      By Mr. HEFLIN (for himself and Mr. Lott):
  S. 358. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide 
for an excise tax exemption for certain emergency medical 
transportation by air ambulance; to the Committee on Finance.

        tax treatment of air ambulance flights clarification act

  Mr. HEFLIN. Mr. President, today I introduce S. 358, a bill which 
will clarify the tax treatment of air ambulance flights.
  The purpose of an air ambulance is to transport critically ill or 
injured patients quickly and with the appropriate level of care between 
hospitals or from roadside accidents to emergency rooms. Nearly 70 
percent of all air medical transports originate in rural locations. 
Since air ambulances are reimbursed for providing their services, 
though, they are considered charter operators, and therefore, must pay 
the Federal aviation excise tax.
  The need for this legislation is evident when you consider that 
nearly half of all air medical flights are reimbursed from Government 
programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Champus, or State programs. In 
effect, this means that the tax revenue generated is simply one 
Government agency paying a tax to another with an air ambulance program 
acting as tax collector. Commercial airlines can pass this tax on to 
its paying customers, but for transportation on an air ambulance, this 
tax is passed on to the payor even if that payor is another Government 
program such as Medicare.
  Furthermore, even though the total portion of tax revenue generated 
by air ambulances is small compared to airlines, approximately 45,000 
covered air medical transports compared to 500 million commercial and 
charter passengers, the financial and administrative burden on air 
ambulance administrators is significant.
  I do not believe that it was the intention of Congress, when this tax 
was drafted, for critically ill or injured patients, or those paying 
their health costs, to support the aviation trust fund. My bill will 
correct this obvious oversight by reducing the administrative burden on 
air medical programs. Its impact on Federal revenues is only slight. 
Its impact on access to rural health care however is significant. 
Therefore I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I am pleased to join as a cosponsor of 
Senator Heflin's legislation that would clarify the tax treatment of 
air ambulances transporting the critically ill and injured.
  The role of air medical services continues to grow as the number of 
rural and community hospitals continue to close. Air ambulances provide 
the vital service of transporting patients needing a higher level of 
trauma or emergency care to the appropriate medical facility. This is 
particularly important in rural areas where the availability of 
appropriate medical care is always a concern.
  Air ambulances transport approximately 45,000 patients annually that 
must pay the Federal aviation excise tax. Nearly half of these patients 
are covered by Federal or State health care plans, such as Medicare. 
Therefore, approximately 50 percent of the time, this tax results in 
one Government program paying a tax to another.
  Not only do I support the role of air medical services in my State, 
but I also question the logic of the Federal Government paying a tax to 
itself. Preliminary estimates indicate that the cost to the aviation 
trust fund would be approximately $10 million, with nearly half that 
amount coming from other government health care programs.
  I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation. It makes 
no sense to charge an excise tax on those that are critically ill or 

      By Mr. BYRD (for himself and Mr. Rockefeller):
  S. 359. A bill to provide for the extension of certain hydroelectric 
projects located in the State of West Virginia; to the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources.

                new martinsville ferc license extension

  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I introduce, on behalf of Senator 
Rockefeller and myself, a bill to grant the city of New Martinsville, 
WV, a 4-year extension to its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 
[FERC] licenses to begin construction of two hydroelectric power 
projects at New Cumberland and Willow Island on the Ohio River. These 
projects are to be financed by the city of New Martinsville through the 
sale of municipal bonds. This extension is necessary because the city 
has already invested over $4 million in these projects. The 
hydroelectric projects take advantage of existing Army Corps navigation 
dams on the Ohio River in order to generate power, and also will 
include the 
[[Page S2214]] development of recreational facilities. Without any 
contribution from the Federal Government, the city of New Martinsville 
will finance projects that will include fishing piers, underwater 
reefs, walkways, picnic facilities, and parking areas.
  The city anticipates that the two projects would employ 500 workers 
during the peak of construction, with a $1.5 million monthly payroll. 
The total construction payroll for both projects is expected to be $25 
million. The New Martinsville hydropower projects will also pay 
substantial taxes and other payments to various governmental entities 
during construction and operation. The Federal Government will benefit 
from these projects, since it will receive annual payments of $800,000 
from the hydroelectric projects, even though the projects will be 
financed by the city of New Martinsville. The license extensions made 
possible by this bill will bring significant economic development to 
the northern Panhandle region of West Virginia.