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READER SURVEY: Listening Post by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Today marks the start of Senator Hutchison’s annual Listening Post survey of our readers. The first of three survey columns, this Capitol Comment is about domestic priorities. Respondents can answer using the email or postal mail information below.

In Washington I’m always speaking out on behalf of the Lone Star State – whether it’s delivering a speech on the Senate floor, asking questions at a committee hearing, or casting a roll call vote on legislation.

Now it’s the time for you to speak out. Every August I distribute an annual “Listening Post” to ask Texans about a variety of issues facing our nation. In this first of three surveys, I focus on key domestic agenda items. In the following weeks, surveys will concentrate on international affairs and homeland security. Last year I was overwhelmed by the response, and I hope to hear from even more of you this year. To submit your answers, use the contact information listed at the end of this column.

Later this year, I will distribute the results of the survey in Capitol Comment columns. I appreciate your participation and look forward to your views.

Survey Part I – Domestic Agenda

1. Unfortunately Congress has yet to adopt a comprehensive national energy policy. However, I am still hopeful we can pass one this year.

In your opinion, what should be our top energy priorities? (Choose all that apply.)

____ Allow for more domestic oil and gas exploration to reduce our dependence on the Middle East and other foreign countries
____ Lower gasoline consumption by raising mandatory standards for fuel efficiency in cars, trucks and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs)
____ Provide tax incentives for renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power Additional comments:
_____________________________________________________

2. Congress is attempting to reconcile the House and Senate passed versions of the six-year transportation reauthorization legislation. Texas always has been the single largest “donor state,” sending more than five billion dollars in gasoline taxes to build roads in other states since 1956. Which of the following do you think Congress should do to better meet Texas transportation needs? (Choose all that apply.)

___ Ensure Texas a higher rate of return on gasoline taxes sent to Washington for highway construction. Currently our state receives 90.5 cents on every dollar in taxes paid, with the rest going to pay for roads in other states
___ Raise gasoline taxes, which currently stand at 18.5 cents per gallon
___ Increase federal funding for light-rail and other mass transit options
___ Encourage alternative financing, such as new highway tolls
Additional comments:
_____________________________________________________

3. At the end of this year, key provisions of the tax relief enacted in 2003 will expire and, in 2011, all tax cuts enacted in recent years will disappear unless Congress acts. Which of the following would you like to see Congress pass this year to prevent a tax increase? (Choose all that apply.)

___ Extend marriage penalty relief into next year (double standard deduction and 10% bracket for married couples)
___ Maintain lower marginal rates for all brackets next year
___ Ensure increased child tax credit remains in effect next year
___ Eliminate the death tax
Additional comments:
_____________________________________________________

4. Over the past 18 months, a minority group of Senators have obstructed action on several common sense liability reform bills. Which of the following proposals would you like to see Congress approve? (Choose all that apply.)

___ In medical liability cases limit attorneys’ fees, limit non-economic damages to $250,000, and cap punitive damages at twice the economic damages (or $250,000, whichever is greater) to alleviate skyrocketing insurance premiums that are forcing doctors to avoid fields such as Obstetrics-Gynecology (OB -GYN) or close practices altogether.
___ Prohibit lawsuits against firearms manufacturers or dealers for a user’s unlawful use of weapons or ammunition.
___ Establish an industry-financed Asbestos Injury Claims Resolution Fund to compensate asbestos victims on a no-fault basis to ensure the truly sick receive adequate compensation, and bring a close to asbestos related lawsuits that cause bankruptcies and loss of jobs.
Additional comments:
_____________________________________________________

Please visit my website and submit your answers online at
hutchison.senate.gov/survey1.htm

Or send via email at:
capitolcomments@hutchison.senate.gov

Or submit via mail to:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
SURVEY
961 Federal Building
300 East Eighth Street
Austin, TX 78701