Friday, December 15, 2006

Sign The Bill Now!

An email that you can send to the President follows:


Please promptly sign H.R. 6429 into law.

In October, five federal firefighters were killed in the Esperanza arson fire that raged through Riverside County, California. Following that tragedy, the local United Way chapter and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and other non-profits, raised over $1 million for the families of the deceased firefighters.

Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Times reported last Thursday that IRS rules typically prevent 501(c)(3) organizations from raising money for specified individuals - and that the non-profits might even risk losing their tax-exempt status if they released these funds.

Faced with the prospect of having to return the contributions it had raised, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and United Way then asked the California and Idaho Congressional delegations for help.

Upon learning of this problem, the California delegation immediately introduced corrective legislation (S. 4112 and H.R. 6429), which was introduced Friday, 12/8/06. These bills were drafted to treat the Esperanza fire victims in the same way as 9/11 victims for whom contributions had been individually raised. In an act of prompt bipartisanship, H.R. 6429 passed both the House and Senate by unanimous consent before our adjournment sine die. Final passage took place in the Senate at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, 12/9/06.

This bill is now on your desk for consideration. Although Congress acted with unusual dispatch, the non-profit organizations still cannot release these funds to the families of the fallen firefighters until this bill becomes law. With the holidays approaching - the families' first without their loved ones - we ask to you to sign this bill into law promptly, so that the outpouring of support from various donors can finally flow to the families of these heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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