[Edit -- since this post, this bill did indeed stall, and has now been reintroduced, click here for the details on the new, more ambitious bill]
Both you regular readers are probably wondering, "What's that gobbledy-gook feed you plunked into your already ugly blog?" It's a status update on the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008, which passed in the House, and is coming up for Senate vote soon.
Who cares? Bike commuters should, because buried within the bill, is an extension of the transportation fringe benefit allowance (the reason nearly every Federal employee in the area gets those $100 in Metro cards every month that occasionally end up on eBay) to bicycle commuting. Rep. Blumenauer of Oregon (of course) has been quixotically championing this issue for years.
Obviously, it would be a great thing for the larger "us" of cycling. But for the small business "us" that pays me every two weeks, allowing companies and Government agencies (there's a few of those around here) to give a non-taxable commuting subsidy for bike commuting would probably bring quite a few people through the store doors.
What are the chances? Well, this bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Legislative Purgatory in the past. This time round, it is tucked it into a bill that would repeal oil company tax credits, and use the savings to fund alternative fuel research. So nobody will oppose it, and it should fly right through the Senate. Yes.
By the by, Tom Davis of Virginia's 11th (Fairfax, Springfield, Potomac Millsville), Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland's 6th (northern Maryland), Frank Wolf of Virginia's (Herndon, Winchester, Sterling), and rural Virginia's voice-of-tolerance, Virgil Goode of the Charlottesville area, are among the local-ish reps who voted against it.
I'm not going to get my hopes up, but I'm also going to write a letter to my senators. Hope you'll do the same. Unless, of course, you're in DC. Like City Bikes. Disenfranchised and it feels so good.