Press Release

September 26, 2011

Given the national crisis of unemployment, we welcome Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin’s announcement this past week in Frederick of bipartisan legislation to spur job creation, as narrowly tailored as it is.

Cardin’s bill, the Energy-Efficient Cool Roof Jobs Act, is co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo, a Republican from Indiana. The legislation targets roofs, specifically those on commercial buildings.

Key to the plan is a reduction in the amount of time businesses are required under the tax code to pay for depreciation of environmentally sound roofs from 39 to 20 years — in essence, a tax cut. Essentially, businesses will be spurred to replace their roofs with greener versions, rather than patching old roofs together to last 39 years. Given the average commercial roof lasts closer to 17 years, Cardin’s proposal also corrects parts of the tax code that just don’t make sense.

The legislation also intends to provide a boost to a beleaguered construction industry. Cardin told attendees that one in three jobs lost in the recession was in construction and manufacturing.

Another bonus of this legislation is it will spur companies to consider more energy-efficient roofing.

A July report by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation found that 14.1 percent of 2010’s unemployment insurance claims came from the construction industry, making the industry the largest source of unemployment insurance claims in the state.

Nationwide, the construction industry lost 2.2 million jobs because of the economic downturn, according to the report.

Of course, with close to 14 million out of work nationwide (220,000 of them in Maryland), 40,000 jobs seems like a drop in the bucket. But it’s something, and these are jobs that will stay in the U.S.

It may be piecemeal approaches, such as the Cardin-Crapo bill, that chip us out of this economic downturn by tackling one sector at a time with a laserlike focus on a case-by-case basis.

Every little bit counts, and any legislation that takes as its lead this bill would be kind of cool.