WASHINGTON REPORT TAX CORRECTION BILL TO SURFACE

A TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS BILL, designed to clean up errors or oversights in the complex tax reform law passed last year could be on its way by late spring. Expectations are for such a measure to be introduced in May.

And a new bill may be much more important than the name implies. A long list of industries and interest groups see it as a vehicle to improve their tax positions, with some saying such changes are crucial to their financial health.But introduction could be a far cry from final passage. One congressional aide said it's anybody's guess how long it would take a bill to actually go to a vote.

Since one lawmaker's technical correction may be another's loophole, and vice versa, there is some concern that any bill might become embroiled in fights to make big changes to the reforms passed just last year.

The administration and the principal tax writers in Congress have made clear their opposition to substantive changes in tax reform.

One substantial, if not substantive, change already has been proposed as a separate bill - the correction to an estate tax loophole that could cost billions if not closed.

It is not clear when or if that measure will come to a separate vote, but it formally states congressional intent and the same language will be included in technical corrections.

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IN THE AIRLINE BUSINESS, there's no escaping the eyes of Congress. The lawmakers are among the nation's most frequent flyers, and the poor service many say they're encountering these days when they fly to and from their districts is causing an uproar that could spell trouble for the industry.

The top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Jack Danforth, Mo., is among those fashioning legislation to deal with delays in air travel and deteriorating service. He an nounced his proposal Thursday, and it was apparent that part of the impetus for it was his own bad experiences with air travel.

The senator explained that he had a funeral to attend in St. Louis at 5 p.m. (EST) the following day. Normally, he would book a flight from Washington around 1 p.m., but decided to reserve a 9 a.m. flight, scheduled to arrive at 11:30, so he could be reasonably sure of making the church by 5 p.m.

I've been burned so many times I decided I couldn't take a chance, the senator said.

One of the provisions of the senator's bill would force the airlines to disclose to customers that number of time the flight they've reserved has been late in recent weeks. Such disclosures, said the senator, should give carriers an incentives to compete on service as well as price.

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THE PRODUCT LIABILITY DILEMMA ultimately may be resolved on the football fields of the United States.

There is currently no consensus on a national law to let manufacturers know when they would be responsible for injuries caused while their products are being used.

But there is a threat of equipment problems for football at virtually all levels that could produce a consensus develop as quickly as you can say, Superbowl Sunday.

Richard W. Kazmaier Jr., the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner from Princeton, announced that because he could not obtain sufficient product liability coverage, he will sell his company's Athletic Helmet Inc. division that markets under the Bike label.

The Bike operation, which could be sold to an overseas concern, is one of the two remaining U.S. manufacturers of high school, college and professional football helmets.

The Tigers' former tailback says the product liability problem is an issue that threatens the very existence of the sport of football.

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THE AMERICAN BANKERS ASSOCIATION says that the number and assets of banks losing money increased during the first three quarters of 1986 for all size categories over $5 million.

According to the bankers group, from January through September, 17.5 percent of banks with 9.6 percent of assets were unprofitable. That compares with 13.0 percent holding 8.8 percent of assets in 1985.

The ABA added that at the end of September 1986 almost 5 percent of all banks had more loans 90 or more days over due or non-accruing than they had capital. In 1985 under 3 percent were in this position.

The industry has been boosting capital to provide for loan losses, the ABA study showed. Total equity capital grew at a 7.6 percent rate, boosting the capital ratio to 6.4 percent compared with 6.3 percent a year earlier.

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OIL VS. CARIBOU, exploitation vs. preservation are not the issues, Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in kicking off the Senate debate this year on opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.

The senator, who supports exploration on the land, said the Senate will be making what will probably be the most important energy related decision of the twentieth century. He compared opposition to oil exploration in the refuge with the opposition to the construction of the Alaska pipeline less than 20 years ago. And he reported there are more than 14,000 caribou in the Prudhoe Bay pipeline area today, compared with 3,000 in 1972.

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THE MARITIME INDUSTRY'S CONDITION can be the source of more than mild disagreement on Capitol Hill. Take these two assessments, given the House Merchant Marine Subcommittee within minutes of each other last week:

We are making progress toward achieving an economically viable merchant fleet.

The nation is on the verge of a total collapse of the private maritime industry.

The first came, not surprisingly, from Maritime Administrator John Gaughan, but the second was offered by Rep. Norman Lent, N.Y., the ranking Republican on the parent House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee.

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