U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday proposed an economic recovery bill that’s aimed at easing the effects of runaway energy prices and a downturn in the housing market.

The Maine Republican’s wide-ranging bill calls for expanded funding for weatherization and tax credits for other energy-saving programs, and $50 billion in bonds for roads, bridges and other transportation projects.

Collins’ bill also seeks a $500 million increase in funding for dislocated worker programs and $250 million more for youth and adult work-training programs. Among the housing provisions are one to help eligible homeowners with refinancing so they can avoid foreclosures.

Collins, who is seeking election to a third Senate term in November, said her bill would help to Americans who are struggling with high energy costs and the weak housing market.

Other provisions in Collins’ bill include relief for independent truckers, such as two-year pilot program allowing trucks carrying up to 100,000 pounds to travel on interstate highways when diesel prices are at least $3.50 a gallon. Current regulations prohibit trucks carrying more than 80,000 pounds from traveling on the interstates.

It calls permanent tax incentives to encourage small business investments, extension of the tax law allowing restaurants to depreciate equipment over 15 years, and $500 tax credits for homeowners who switch from old wood stoves to clean-burning wood and wood-pellet stoves.

Collins’ re-election challenger, Rep. Tom Allen, cited rising costs of health care, housing, energy and education in introducing legislation that calls for an increase child tax credits, consolidation of education tax credits and relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. Allen, a Democrat, is completing his sixth term representing House District 1.


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