Legislative Action in Congress
Pyrrhotite Mapping and Financial Regulators Study
I am also working on other initiatives on the federal level to support homeowners impacted by crumbling foundations. During consideration of the House's Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies' spending bill in July of 2018, I joined Rep. John Larson in introducing several crumbling foundations amendments, one which would direct the U.S. Geological Survey to create a nationwide map showing where pyrrhotite can be found, and another which would direct the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study examining the financial impact of pyrrhotite in concrete home foundations and to provide recommendations on regulatory and legislative actions needed to mitigate the impact on banks, mortgage lenders, homeowners, and tax revenue. These amendments passed the House with bipartisan support and are now law.
The U.S. Geological Survey expects the pyrrhotite map to be completed by February 2020, and the Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has begun work on this study. This page will be updated as the studies’ conclusions are distributed to Congress.
Pyrrhotite Research at the National Institute of Standards and TechnologyGiven the far-reaching scope of this issue, it is important to understand the amount of pyrrhotite in concrete that causes degradation. I have heard from many homeowners that live within the region most affected by crumbling foundations due to pyrrhotite who do not have any visible cracking in their foundationsbut have concrete that has tested positive for pyrrhotite. Right now, now standard exists to establish a cut-off point for pyrrhotite, so any amount – no matter how small – is considered a cancer on a property.
To this end, I worked to secure $4 million in the recent government funding bill that passed the House for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct pyrrhotite research. NIST is the leading expert on cement and concrete standards, and if this amendment becomes law, will be required to develop a cost-effective and standard testing method for pyrrhotite, as well as a risk-rating scale to determine what quantity of pyrrhotite presents danger to the property’s structural integrity. I will continue to encourage the Senate and the President to sign this legislation as soon as possible.
Legislation to Restore the Casualty Loss Deduction
I have introduced bipartisan legislation, the Casualty Loss Restoration Act, which would restore the personal casualty loss tax deduction to all victims of theft and disaster, not just those who have been fortunate enough to have received a Presidential disaster declaration. Because of the tax law passed at the end of 2017, the casualty loss deduction was dramatically limited – only permitting taxpayers to claim a casualty loss deduction in future tax years if the loss was due to a Presidentially-declared disaster. Fortunately, homeowners with crumbling foundations were grandfathered in to the previous law, and can still take the casualty loss deduction through April 2021. However, after that date, the law will need to be changed to allow homeowners with crumbling foundations to utilize this important tax relief. My bill would allow all victims of disaster – not just Presidentially-declared disasters – to take advantage of this long-standing tax provision. For more information on the bill, click here.