BRADENTON, Fla. — Federal legislation modeled after the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 that would assist states devastated by tornadoes and floods in early 2011 is pending in Congress.

Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Spencer Bachus, both Republicans, filed identical bills in June called the Southeastern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2011.

The bills provide tax breaks and other measures to help people and businesses with recovery efforts in the affected states, including authorization to issue billions of dollars of additional tax-exempt private-activity bonds. Bond capacity for each qualified state would be based on the population in the affected disaster area, multiplied by $1,000.

In tornado-ravaged Alabama, the bill would provide $3.2 billion of new bond capacity, according to Shelby.

The act also would authorize impacted areas to issue tax-credit bonds to assist issuers unable to meet debt-service requirements as a result of the disasters.

In addition to Alabama, the states that would be eligible for assistance are Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. The act’s costs would be offset by rescinding $12 billion in appropriated, unobligated federal funds, sponsors said.

“The tornado system that devastated the state of Alabama in late April, as well as other recent natural disasters that have plagued the Southeast, were exceptionally tragic events,” Shelby said in June. “It is my hope that this legislation will help people and businesses rebuild and get back on their feet.”

Nine co-sponsors have signed on to support Shelby’s legislation, which is Senate Bill 1205. Nearly 30 co-sponsors support House Resolution 2321 filed by Bachus. Both bills have yet to be heard in committee.

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