Friday, May 7, 2010

Home Star Passes House, But Raises More Questions

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a 264-161 vote a significantly altered H.R. 5019, Home Star Retrofit Act of 2010. The bill was on-course to be passed with an important amendment proposed by South Dakota Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin in close coordination with HARDI that would make it significantly easier and faster for experienced, qualified contractors to offer Gold Star home performance retrofit rebates. The bill did pass with this important amendment, however through a procedural move called a Motion to Recommit, Republicans were able to introduce substantial changes to the bill that won massive support because they included a funding mandate, a prohibition on the use of contractors who hire sex offenders, and restrictions on the use of administrative funds for travel to gambling institutions.

Two other important changes were first a cap on homeowners who can claim Home Star rebates at households making less than $250,000/yr and a redirecting of Home Star rebates directly to homeowners, rather to contractors and retailers as originally designed. This is perhaps the most substantive change because it raises new questions about how Home Star may be deployed. The Senate already has a bill, S.3177, which looks very similar to the original House Home Star bill, but it's fate seems even more uncertain now after what took place in the House yesterday.

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