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Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D. NH) has teamed up with Senator Rob Portman (R. OH) to reintroduce their energy efficiency legislation:

Insiders say Shaheen-Portman will largely mirror the comprehensive one the senators co-sponsored last session. That initiative got through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with broad support, but never made it to the floor.

If that’s the case, then the bill will focus on encouraging industrial energy efficiency upgrades through tax credits and state grant programs, research and development funding and more stringent efficiency standards for new building codes.

It also could prove ripe for absorbing President Obama’s proposal for a $200 million competitive state grant program designed to spur energy efficiency upgrades at industrial facilities.

Obama unveiled that plan, based on the “Race to the Top” program for education, during his February State of the Union address. Obama included it in the fiscal 2014 White House budget proposal, and his top climate adviser was shopping the idea to a group of House Democrats last week. - The Hill, 4/15/13

The bill is known as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act:
The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act has already been endorsed by a coalition of more than 200 businesses, trade associations, and advocacy groups.  Shaheen and Portman introduced the bill in 2011.  Here's what the National Resources Defense Council had to say about the legislation:

Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest and quickest resource we have to meet our energy needs. However persistent barriers to implementation leave lots of energy efficiency opportunities on the table. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act would harness some of these opportunities with provisions to make our nation’s buildings, appliances, industries, and Federal government use energy more efficiently. The bipartisan bill includes many provisions modeled off of bills from the previous Congress which already enjoy wide bipartisan support and we urge the Senate to move quickly to pass the bill.

Buildings and the appliances and equipment inside them represent one of the biggest opportunities for energy efficiency improvements. They account for approximately 40 percent of energy use in the US, a large percentage of which is wasted through inefficient use. Energy efficiency in buildings is underutilized due to a variety of barriers – split incentives (the person who chooses the efficiency level isn’t the person who pays the energy bills), lack of financing, and lack of information are all examples. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act addresses some of these barriers with provisions on building energy codes, efficiency finance and energy use information. The building energy codes provision would drive continued efficiency improvements in the national model energy codes while offering incentive funding to states which adopt and comply with the codes. The Rural Energy Savings Program, commonly known as Rural STAR, would provide loans to rural electric cooperatives to make improvements in home energy efficiency.

The Energy Savings Act includes consensus appliance efficiency standards which were also recently reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee as a standalone bill. The appliance standards provision would set new energy efficiency standards for residential heating and cooling products, home appliances, and other miscellaneous products. If enacted, this provision would save a net $43 billion for consumers through 2030 and enough energy annually to meet the needs of 4.6 million typical American households.

There are also significant opportunities for energy efficiency in the manufacturing sector. To harness these opportunities, the Energy Savings Act establishes a competitive grant program which would fund state revolving loan programs to finance investments in efficient manufacturing. It also includes the Supply Star provisions which would establish a DOE program to help companies improve their supply chain efficiency.

Finally, the bill contains provisions to ensure that the Federal government is using energy efficiently. It would require retrofits of federal buildings to meet stringent building energy codes as is already required for new buildings. It would also require improvements in Federal energy management practices. - NRDC, 5/12/11

By the way, Shaheen introduced another bill yesterday that could be helpful for filing your taxes:

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s proposal, according to a draft obtained by The Hill, would call on the Treasury Department and the IRS to offer certain taxpayers a page-long return already filled out with his or her information by 2018.

“A simple return is a smart and simple fix that would help make the federal income tax process easier for millions of Americans and will also help consumers save billions,” Shaheen (N.H.) said in a statement.

Shaheen’s proposal comes as Democrats and Republicans continue to debate how to best overhaul the tax code, even as both parties acknowledge that the 4 million-word tax code needs to be simplified. The National Taxpayer Advocate, an in-house watchdog of the IRS, has also long called on Congress to make the tax code less complex.
People in the U.S. currently spend around 6 billion hours a year trying to wade navigate the tax code, and Nina Olson, the taxpayer advocate, has said that the current system causes honest mistakes of taxpayers overwhelmed by the complexity.

At the same time, IRS officials have also complained that recent budget cuts have hurt the agency's ability to assist taxpayers, and to collect revenue. The IRS has also said that staffers could face furloughs after the completion of the current filing season.

Shaheen says up to 40 percent of people in the U.S. could be helped by her bill – to the tune of up to 225 million fewer hours spent on compliance, and as much as $2 billion in fewer payments for tax preparation. - The Hill, 4/15/13

Also, Shaheen is getting some praise in the press for her Pay as You Earn plan:

The need to educate a populace that has no choice but to compete in a global economy is far too important to be held hostage to the overrated need to reduce the federal deficit. The best way to reduce the deficit in the long run is to make America's workforce the best educated, most creative and productive in the world. Making higher education more affordable will do that. The student loan rate should be set at a level no higher than that needed to covers costs and losses from defaults that would diminish if rates were lowered.

We congratulate Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on her humane Pay as You Earn proposal, which would cap student loan repayments at 10 percent of a borrower's discretionary income. It could cut the default rate and move some graduates into careers that they might not have pursued, given the need to make big loan payments. It would help convince people that pursuing higher education is a gamble worth taking, one that doesn't require living in your parents' basement while your loan is repaid. - Cortez Journal, 4/15/13

Shaheen has long been a staunch advocate in making college more affordable:

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 20:  Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) talks about legislation she sponsored that would extending unemployment benefits during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol October 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats say there is an urgent need to extend unemployment benefits and called for swift passage of legislation they say Republicans have refused to close debate on for nearly two weeks.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
"I know that repaying student loans is a real concern for many recent graduates, especially as our economy continues to recover," said Shaheen. "The Pay as You Earn Program will make it easier for student borrowers to lower their monthly payments. This is especially important for workers in lower-paying public service careers, such as teachers, nurses, or first-responders. Students should be able to pursue a career based on their passions and interests, not by concerns about being able to pay back their loans."

New Hampshire has the highest average student college debt in the nation at $32,440 per student. The Granite State ranks second in the nation when it comes to the number of college students with debt: 75 percent.

Senator Shaheen has long worked to increase college affordability. As Senator, she worked to avoid a doubling of interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans that could have meant more than $30 million in increased student loan costs for New Hampshire students. She also supported education reforms in 2010 that increased the maximum Pell Grant to $5,550 to help low-income students go to college and made student loan debt more manageable for all by capping repayments at 10 percent of discretionary income. As Governor, she launched a tax-free college tuition savings plan for New Hampshire, one of the first of its kind in the nation. -, 1/15/13

And FYI, Shaheen and the New Hampshire delegation aren't entirely sold on President Obama's budget and aren't very thrilled about it:

First District U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter blasted use of the “chained CPI” method of measuring inflation to reduce future Social Security and Medicare spending. “I remain steadfast in my opposition to balancing the budget on the backs of seniors, veterans or the middle class,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen didn’t sound thrilled, either. “While I’m sure I do not agree with everything in this budget, I will review it carefully and consider the proposals that the president has introduced,” she said.

Second District U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster was more conciliatory. “While I don’t agree with all of the president’s proposals, his budget reflects the need for a balanced approach that will reduce the deficit, grow the economy, and help create jobs and economic opportunity for middle class New Hampshire families,” she said. - Concord Monitor, 4/14/13

If you're a New Hampshire native, please be sure to tell Shaheen, Kuster and Shea-Porter that you are heavily against cuts to Social Security:

Shaheen: 202-224-2841

Shea-Porter: 202-225-5456

Kuster: 202-225-5206

Shaheen stated late last year that Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit and the Strengthen Social Security group defended Shaheen's statement:

Despite The Telegraph and PolitiFact’s claim to the contrary, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is right: Social Security “has not contributed to the debt and the deficits.” (Dec. 9: “Shaheen off on Social Security”)

By law, Social Security cannot spend more than it takes in. It can only pay benefits if it has sufficient income to cover the cost. It has no borrowing authority.

According to the most recent report by Social Security’s board of trustees, Social Security had a $69 billion surplus last year alone. Far from increasing the deficit, Social Security loans funds to the federal government that reduce the deficit.

The relationship between Social Security and the debt of the United States is a source of misunderstanding and confusion, but it is not a matter of conjecture or opinion.

By law, when Social Security has a surplus, it invests that surplus in the safest investment on Earth – interest-bearing Treasury obligations backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Including last year’s surplus, Social Security currently has an accumulated reserve of $2.7 trillion. - The Telegraph, 12/6/12

And while former Senator Scott Brown's (R. MA) name has been mentioned a lot lately as a potential challenger for Shaheen, one name that's been floated won't be seeking a third round with Shaheen:

Former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu has made a long-awaited decision about his political future.

He will not run for the Senate, or for any political office, next year.

"I'm not running for anything," the 48-year-old former one-term senator and three-term U.S. House member told in an exclusive interview Friday.

"Campaigns are about timing, and I've got two daughters in high school and I want to spend time with them," he said.

"I enjoyed my time in Congress very, very much and I enjoy working in the private sector," Sununu said. He did not rule out a run for office in the future, however. - New Hampshire Union Leader, 4/12/13

You can also contact Shaheen's office for more details about her legislation.

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 11:48 AM PDT.

Also republished by Take New Hampshire Forward!, Climate Hawks, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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