The nation's beekeepers took a beating. So did the pine gum people and diners on Amtrak trains. The National Peace Academy Commission died a suitably peaceful death.
But the National Institute of Building Sciences, another obscure body with just l6 employes, was given a new lease on life. The 4 million people with gaslights in their front yards can keep them burning. And states that don't enforce the 55 mph speed limit won't lose as much federal money as before.
These, and an assortment of other minor items, were buried in the budget reconciliation bill President Reagan signed last week. They did little to alter the thrust of the legislation. But they gave it political flavor, and, in the process, created small-scale winners and losers throughout the federal government.
For example, Rep. James Weaver (D-Ore.), chairman of the House forest subcommittee, used the bill to kill a 12-mile road the U.S. Forest Service planned to cut through the Siskiyou National Forest on Bald Mountain near the Oregon-California border.
Timber interests wanted the road. But environmentalists and fishermen feared the $2 million project would pollute the nearby Illinois River and damage salmon fishing. Weaver sided with them, and claimed he saved $2 million.
Rep. Robert A. Young (D-Mo.) used the bill to become the self-proclaimed champion of a previously unrecognized special interest group, the residential gaslight owners of America.
A measure passed during the height of the energy crisis would have shut down all gaslights by next Jan. 1. Young nullified that with a few sentences in the budget bill.
Other groups didn't fare as well. Amtrak riders, for instance, were clear losers. Rep. James J. Florio (D-N.J.), chairman of the House transportation subcommittee, championed a provision that requires the rail corporation to cut dining car deficits in half this year and eliminate them next year.
But Amtrak feels dining cars help entice people to ride trains, so it has always subsidized them. Now it has come up with a new spartan service on four long-distance trains.
Gone are tablecloths, fancy silverware and most of the dining car crew. Instead of meals prepared on board, passengers are given pre-cooked meals similar to those on airplanes. The initial reaction, according to Amtrak, is negative.
Most full-service dining cars run in the West, Midwest and South, far from Florio's New Jersey district. Later, eastern riders can expect prices in their trains' snackbars to go up.
The bill also cut pine gum producers down to size. Most pine gum, used in turpentine and resin, is produced in Georgia and north Florida. Although the industry has been going downhill for decades, its champion in the Senate, Herman Talmadge of Georgia, had managed to keep its price support program alive through an obscure piece of legislation called the Naval Stores Act.
But Talmadge, longtime head of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was defeated last fall. And the new budget bill killed the price support program and provided that the pine gum folks must bear the cost of grading and inspecting their products.
Beekeepers have also had their wings clipped. Critics have been after an indemnity program that gave money to beekeepers to replace bees killed by legal pesticides.
Bees aren't expensive; Agriculture Department spokesmen say a queen and all her court cost only about $20. But there are 4,081,000 bee colonies in the United States, and in recent years the program cost about $3.5 million annually.
"It didn't make sense to some people to pay people for dead bees," says Jerry Schiermeyer, an Agriculture Department official. "A couple times a year Jack Anderson would write a paragraph about it."
The study commission on a National Academy for Peace and Conflict Resolution died quietly. The academy was first proposed by former Indiana senator Vance Hartke back in 1975. The idea was that if the United States can afford three military academies to teach how to fight wars it can afford one academy to teach how to make peace.
Hartke was defeated in 1976. But the peace academy found a new champion in Sen. Spark M. Matsunaga (D-Hawaii), and in 1979 Congress appropriated $500,000 for a commission to study the idea. This was enough to hire 15 or 20 people, hold hearings around the country and write an impressive report.
With nothing left to do, the commission went out of business last February. The reconciliation bill devoted 24 lines to killing it. The impression this left was incorrect, according to Milton C. Mapes, executive director of the National Peace Academy Campaign. "They just didn't provide any more money to continue a commission that doesn't exist."
Congress, however, came up with $500,000 a year through 1984 for the equally obscure National Institute of Building Sciences, thanks chiefly to the work of Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah), normally a penny-pinching conservative, according to Steven Biegel, the institute's planning director. Garn used to be in the homebuilding business in Salt Lake City.
The budget bill says the institute has to become self-sufficient by 1985. Biegel says the institute won't have much time to spend on its primary job, pushing for uniform building codes, during the next six months because "we'll be in a fund-raising mode."
The case of the 55 mph speed limit is a bit confusing. States previously stood to lose 10 percent of their federal highway money in 1983 unless 70 percent of their drivers traveled at 55 or less, as measured in random speed checks the states must perform. The bill changed that. Now only 50 percent of the drivers have to go 55 or less, and, if they don't, states stand to lose 5 percent of the highway money.