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Tax breaks for beer, unborn children and lawmakers are among goodies in Republican bill

Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

Bonds and stadiums

The House bill repeals the interest deduction on various types of bonds, including private activity bonds often used by municipalities to finance hospitals, housing and other projects.

It also specifically ends the deduction for sports stadium financing and repeals rules for using tax credits in lieu of bond payments.

Local governments worry the change will impede their ability to finance major infrastructure projects, particularly affordable housing.

The Senate does not include the changes and the outlook for keeping them in the final product is uncertain.

Alaska drilling

Tacked onto the Senate bill is a section, Title II, which opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling for the first time in a generation.

It does so by imposing a 16.67 percent royalty on new land leases, a measure included to help win the vote of Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski. She has fought for years to open the area to what she believes is responsible drilling, despite protests of environmental groups who warn that industrial extraction will destroy the habitat.

The measure calls for multiple lease sales, at no less than 400,000 acres each, on "areas that have the highest potential for the discovery of hydrocarbons."

The five-page provision is very likely to remain in the final product.

Cruise lines

 

The Senate bill initially included a new tax on cruise line operations, which opponents argued would hit tourism in the U.S., including in Alaska.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, offered an amendment that stripped the provision.

The cruise line tax was not included in the House bill and is not expected to be in the final version.

Living expenses

The Senate bill does away with a $3,000 deduction for living expenses that can be taken by members of Congress, who often keep two homes -- one in Washington and another in their home states.

Work-releated deductions are repealed in the House bill for various other professions, though a late revision reinstated write-offs for teachers who buy school supplies.

It seems politically tough for lawmakers to reinstate their deduction, if others related to work are repealed. Ending the living expense writeoff will probably stay in the final bill.

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