STATEWIDE A four-year extension of federal timber payments to rural counties was approved in mid-December by the U.S. House of Representatives, tucked inside a major energy bill, then removed from the bill by the Senate days later, despite support from both parties. The extension would have given $1.6 billion to 39 states, including Oregon, to help pay for schools, roads and public safety in 700 rural counties. The energy legislation faced a filibuster from Republican senators and President Bush threatened to veto it. At press time, lawmakers reportedly were working to restore the timber payments in separate legislation.
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