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Where your tax dollars go! Talmudic Study??


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Wednesday 17 December 1997

Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies Act, 1997, Bill Pr95, Mr Cordiano

Mr Joseph Cordiano

Mr Ed Wells

Rabbi Jakob Hirschman

Rabbi Nathan Hofman

Jamaican Canadian Association Act, 1997, Bill Pr94, Mr Sergio

Mr Mario Sergio

Mr Herman Stewart

Mr Vincent Conville

Mr Alvin Curling


Chair / Président

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk PC)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président

Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia PC)

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk PC)

Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia PC)

Mr David Caplan (Oriole L)

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford PC)

Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot PC)

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie ND)

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale L)

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea PC)

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln PC)

Substitutions / Membres remplaçants

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview L)

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West / -Ouest PC)

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)

Clerk / Greffier

Mr Tom Prins

Staff / Personnel

Ms Laura Hopkins, legislative counsel

The committee met at 1008 in committee room 1.

The Chair (Mr Toby Barrett): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to this regular meeting of the standing committee on regulations and private bills for today, Wednesday, December 17, 1997. We're meeting for the consideration of three bills: Bill Pr95, An Act respecting Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies; Bill Pr94, An Act respecting The Jamaican Canadian Association; and Bill Pr96, An Act respecting The Tamil Eelam Society of Canada.

Before we go to our first order of business, I wish to mention that with respect to the third item on our agenda, Bill Pr96, An Act respecting The Tamil Eelam Society of Canada, I understand that the applicants have requested a deferral of this order of business until a future meeting.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Did you say that the Tamil Eelam Society has postponed this? Just this morning I had a phone call and there's a gentleman sitting right here who's expecting this bill to be passed. I'm somewhat puzzled by this.

The Chair: Yes. I received this information just now. I could ask the clerk to confirm that.

Mr Ruprecht: Would you, please?

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Do we have a deputation or not?

Mr Ruprecht: He's right here.

Mr Shea: Is that what you're asking for? Do you want a deputation on the matter whether he wants --

Mr Ruprecht: No, I want to have clarification.

Mr Shea: The Chair has just said he wants to withdraw it.

Mr Ruprecht: If you don't mind, Mr Shea, I'll let the Chair respond.

Mr Shea: I'm trying to help you, Mr Ruprecht, to expedite matters of the committee.

Mr Ruprecht: I appreciate that, but I think the question was asked of the Chair and suddenly I get you coming in from left field answering the question.

The Chair: I'll repeat that. I understand the applicant for Bill Pr96 has requested to defer to a future meeting. I don't have the reason, but I understand they do not wish to have this considered today.

Mr Ruprecht: Thank you, Mr Chair.

The Chair: All right. Subsequent to that, I would ask us to turn to page 1 of the agenda and we will deal with our first order of business.


Consideration of Bill Pr95, An Act respecting Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies.

The Chair: This is agenda item number one. We are considering Bill Pr95. I would ask the sponsor and the applicant to please approach the witness table. Our sponsor is Joe Cordiano, MPP for Lawrence. Mr Cordiano, I would ask you for some brief introductory remarks and to have the applicants introduce themselves to the standing committee.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): Thank you. I'm very happy to be here this morning to support this private bill for the Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies. I am in full support of the institute. I am joined by Rabbi Hofman and Rabbi Hirschman, and their legal counsel, Mr Ed Wells.

The institute has been in operation since 1970, serving Metro Toronto since that time, located in my riding at Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue. They're seeking legislative authority to grant theological degrees. As I say, they have my full support. I have a letter from the former minister supporting their application, this piece of legislation. I will turn it over to their legal counsel.

Mr Ed Wells: I believe that Rabbi Hirschman would like to address the committee to explain what the institute does. Perhaps I could ask him to say a few words to the committee.

Rabbi Jakob Hirschman: I would first like to thank the committee for giving us this opportunity to briefly describe the institute and what we do. It was founded in 1970. Basically we teach from the Bible codes, the Jewish codes, Talmud. Over the years we've earned a reputation for academic excellence. Our graduates are respected in the community. We have a number of pulpit rabbis in the community whose students have studied at the institute. A large percentage of the graduates go into all levels of Jewish education -- primary, secondary, post-secondary, principals -- and they're respected for their erudition and for their competence. I should add that a number of these rabbis who are in education and pulpit rabbis continue to study at the institute upgrading their skills, expanding their knowledge. That's two groups of people.

The third group the institute caters to are university-age students who are going to university and majoring in their particular choice and at the same time would like to pursue a course of Jewish studies too. We offer them courses and lectures. That's one aspect of the school. Second, it's a community resource if a rabbi has to research a problem in Jewish law. If a layman, being old or young, wants to come in and find out something about his religion, a particular question he wants to study, we've got the competent personnel and the resources there to help people.

As I mentioned privately, the building is basically in use from 6 am to 12 pm. You have to remember that aside from the academic studies, to Jews there's a religious aspect to studying too, so we really combine two functions, the academic studying which produces the rabbis and the scholars and the teachers, and then we have people who come to study in the institute as it is. Many people in the community use it and, like I said, the resources are there both in the personnel and the libraries and the people to help them with the studies.

In conclusion, the reputation we have earned, and the graduates, is not only in Toronto and Canada but has gone as far as the USA and Israel too. Many of the members have published scholastic works and the institute itself has printed journals which were very well accepted. Given the academic function that we do in the community, it would behoove us to have the standing of a degree-giving university, which is not only a question of prestige but it would help some of the students in their ongoing studies.

The Chair: Rabbi Hofman, any further comments? No.

Rabbi Hirschman: If anybody has questions, that's fine.

The Chair: Are there any interested parties in the audience who wish to speak to this bill? I see none. We now ask the parliamentary assistant for municipal affairs, MPP Ernie Hardeman, for comments on behalf of the government.

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Thank you for the presentation. I would just point out that the issue in the bill does not relate to the affairs of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing but relates to the Ministry of Education and Training. We have been in contact with the ministry through their legal advisers and they have registered no objection to the bill, so we will not be recommending that any legal hurdles be put in the way of this bill being passed.

The Chair: We now go to questions from the committee, beginning with Mr Sergio.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Not necessarily questions; I have heard the presentations both from the presenter of the bill, Mr Cordiano, and the applicant and I am quite satisfied to support the passage of the bill, which I move.

I would also move that the committee recommend that the fees and the actual costs of printing at both stages be remitted on Bill Pr95, An Act respecting Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies.

The Chair: We'll consider that motion once we've voted on the bill. Thank you for the heads up. Any further comments?

Mr Shea: I have one question of the applicant and a comment. Rabbi, are the laity entitled to register in the programs or is it for those in the rabbinic?

Rabbi Hirschman: There are two levels. Basically it's those who are interested in pursuing a course of practice in rabbinic education who are the ones who register. Our convention on the second level, we register university students who want to study and follow a prescribed course of study. When the laity comes in, he doesn't necessarily have to follow a prescribed course of study. Theoretically, if he'd want to come in and spend a few hours a day and take a course that would eventually lead him to a degree, we'd consider that, but factually that really doesn't happen.

Mr Shea: So it's not likely you would find any laity in, say, the doctor of philosophy in Judaics, for example. They would be in pulpit or in education.

Chairman, I want to thank Mr Cordiano for bringing this bill before us and for any contribution he has made to help expedite the matter, because I think it should be approved and approved quickly. Mr Sergio having given heads up, I will be supporting his motion as well; it's an appropriate one. I would commend this bill to the attention of all parties here today and I wish you well.

Mr Ruprecht: Just a comment. I had a chance to discuss with the deputants some of the items in this legislation. It obviously has merit, as everyone has indicated. What's really important to me also is that Mr Cordiano has given not only his consent, but he studied this in detail, and that's what really makes us happy about this, so congratulations.

The Chair: Comments?

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): Mine is more technical. Subsection 2(2) says, "The letters patent and supplementary letters patent of the Institute for Advanced Talmudic Study are revoked," and then you go down to 2(3) and it says, "The institute shall be deemed to be a corporation incorporated by a special act." What's going on? Am I missing something?

Mr Wells: Perhaps I could answer that. The corporation right now exists under the Corporations Act and has letters patent in the corporation. In order to become a degree-granting institution, the Degree Granting Act requires that it be incorporated by a special act. This bill has been drafted so that the letters patent are gone and replaced by this act. For greater certainty, so there's no misunderstanding, when one looks at the Degree Granting Act it's stated that it is deemed to be incorporated by a special act.

Mr Sheehan: Thank you.

The Chair: Do the committee members have any other questions or comments? Seeing none, I would ask the committee, are the members ready to vote?

Mr Ruprecht: Yes, we're ready to vote.

The Chair: We are voting on Bill Pr95, An Act respecting Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies; the sponsor, Mr Cordiano, MPP. There are 13 sections, no amendments.

Mr Shea: Collapse them.

The Chair: Keeping with tradition, we would collapse the 13 sections.

Shall sections 1 through 13 carry? Carried.

Shall the preamble carry? Carried.

Shall the title carry? Carried.

Shall the bill carry? Carried.

Shall I report the bill to the House? Agreed. I will do so.

We have an indication of a motion. Could I ask you to read the motion.

Mr Sergio: Yes. I move that the committee recommend that the fees and the actual cost of printing at all stages be remitted on Bill Pr95.

The Chair: Shall we vote on the motion and then have discussion?

Mr Shea: Discussion first.

The Chair: Okay, discussion first.

Mr Hardeman: I'm not sure I understand the motion, "that the committee recommend that the fees and the actual cost of printing at all stages be remitted...." That would mean -- if this motion becomes irrelevant, who is remitting what to whom? "To be omitted" or " to be forgiven" or something or that nature, but "to be remitted," I'm not sure who --

Mr Sergio: I would refer that to the attorney for the applicant.

Mr Wells: The rules require that an application fee be paid before we can proceed with the application before this committee and first reading or anything, so the applicant has paid the application fee; it's $150. The motion would in effect allow a refund of that application fee to the applicant.

As for the printing cost, normally the applicant for legislation is required to pay the cost of printing the bill in the annual statutes and at first, second and third reading. We're asking in this case that the cost be waived because this is an educational institution, it's a charity, and we feel it would be nice if the moneys that might be used could be used on behalf of the institute rather than Her Majesty.


Mr Hardeman: I support the issue of having the money reimbursed that has been so far expended by the applicant. In reading the motion, I have trouble understanding who is doing the remitting and whom it's being remitted to.

Mr Sergio: To the applicant.

The Chair: I would like to ask this committee's legislative counsel for comment on that.

Ms Laura Hopkins: I understand Mr Hardeman's confusion about the wording because I share it, but this is standard wording for this sort of motion. This doesn't depart at all from past practice.

Mr Sergio: Our clerk is so efficient.

The Chair: Further discussion?

Mr Hardeman: To the legal counsel, then, it's to assume that the legalese does not always say what it's supposed to say, but we're supposed to know what it does?

The Chair: Any further discussion on this motion?

Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): Just a quick question. Would I be correct to assume that this is the first institute for Judaic studies in Ontario?

Rabbi Nathan Hofman: There is one other school, not in the same field. That's called Maimonides.

Rabbi Hirschman: I don't think the Maimonides institute exists at this point. It was taken over by the school in Hamilton. But that was basically given specifically to university students to take courses in Judaic studies and get credit for that so they could finish their university studies faster. This was a Maimonides institute. But I don't think they ever had anything at the level and purpose of our institute that I know of.

Mr Leadston: With respect to this bill, it's a rather historic document and a historic moment for the citizens of Ontario to have a prestigious institute in their midst, with very learned gentlemen. I would support the motion.

The Chair: We are continuing discussion of Mr Sergio's motion. Mr Shea, did you have a comment?

Mr Shea: Maybe we can just request that legal counsel change the wording that's handed out when we go through these things. I share the parliamentary assistant's confusion. Traditions change and we create new traditions. In this case, we're really saying that we recommend that any fees that have currently been paid be returned, and that if there are any costs incurred with printing, that they be waived.

But I want to pick up beyond that and make sure we're very clear in response to a question I raised a week or two ago. I look at the clerk now. The up-set price on that was, according to the clerk, something in the order of about $400 or $500. I want to be very clear on that and I want a clear answer for Hansard. Is that still his understanding?

Clerk of the Committee (Mr Tom Prins): Yes. It depends on the size of the bill, but this bill is very much the size of the bill we dealt with last week.

Mr Shea: In doing that, I have a clear sense then of the kind of money I'm dealing with?

Clerk of the Committee: Yes, $400 or $500 in addition to the $150 filing fee.

Mr Shea: That's fine. I want to make it very clear I'm not prepared to give blank cheques. I operate a charity too and I'd be very pleased to have a blank cheque. But I understand it, and I'm quite prepared to endorse and support this motion. I would ask that in future we find a way to rephrase these so they give a little more clarity.

Clerk of the Committee: I will look into reclarifying that motion. But just to let you know, Legislative counsel didn't draft those. Those have been a historical --

Mr Shea: Anything we can do to eliminate the need of a lawyer will always be welcome. Thank you. We have enough clergy here today to take care of the misunderstandings.

The Chair: Does that satisfy both your requests?

Mr Shea: Absolutely. I'm more than satisfied.

Mr Cordiano: I have your blessing, do I?

Mr Hardeman: I appreciate the comments from Mr Shea, but I wanted to clarify it was not my confusion, it was my lack of understanding that was in question.

Mr Shea: I'm prepared to debate that, Chair.

The Chair: We have a motion before us. All in favour? Those opposed? Carried. I declare this order of business closed and I thank the applicants and sponsor.



Consideration of Bill Pr94, An Act respecting The Jamaican Canadian Association.

The Chair: Our next order of business: We are considering Bill Pr94. The sponsor is Mario Sergio, MPP for Yorkview. I would ask Mr Sergio for some introductory remarks, and we also wish introductions of the applicants at the witness table.

Mr Sergio: Thank you very much, Mr Chair. I am quite pleased to be the sponsor of this bill. I do it for many reasons, of course, not only because I have known the community for many years but a very large part of the Jamaican community resides and does business in my riding as well. I was more particularly pleased when I learned that the Jamaican Canadian Association had acquired a facility in my riding, so I was doubly pleased because of that.

In support of the bill, because I don't want to keep it too long, let me say that since the incorporation of the association they have come a long way as a community, as an organized group, let alone all the work they have done over the years among the general community.

I can attest to the fact that they have been extremely busy and active in working with the seniors in their community, and working especially to alleviate problems for the youth. Last year and the year before I know they had some wonderful programs of exchange between students from here and also from Jamaica. They have been very active in working with the young people in their community, women's issues and problems, sex abuse and whatever have you. So they have taken a very active role in working with their community.

As many other groups have done before, now they are moving ahead even though the travelling, if you will, has been slow, as for many other ethnic groups, but finally they are making excellent inroads. As I said, I'm very pleased that now they have acquired a property in my riding where they are conducting programs to assist the general community on a daily basis. It's wonderful to see that they are continuing this work.

In support of their request, I will be asking the committee to support their request, and I would ask the president, Mr Stewart, to say something on behalf of the bill and the community itself. Also, I have Mr Curling here, who is a pillar in the Jamaican community, not that we need his support, but it's always nice to see him here.

Mr Herman Stewart: Good morning. My name is Herman Stewart. I'm the president of the Jamaican Canadian Association. I have with me my colleague, a board member, Vincent Conville. I'm glad I have the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of our bill today.

The Jamaican Canadian Association was established in 1962 by 12 individuals who wanted to do something to commemorate Jamaica's independence on August 6, 1962. Since then, the association has grown to be the largest and most active within the Caribbean and Afro-Canadian community.

We do numerous programs with a full-time staff of 14. We have programs operating from Lawrence Heights, from Jane and Finch, from our head office on Arrow Road and from Parkdale and Scarborough. We have an active membership of about 1,500, and we have a number of standing committees that do the volunteer side of things. We have a very active seniors' group that meets at the centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon until 4. They do numerous activities. That club is constantly expanding, because we have an aging membership. We also do tutorial programs on Saturday mornings for youngsters between the ages of 6 and 12. We do several cultural programs, especially commemorating Black History Month in February.

Our centre is being renovated now and it is hoped that we will be able to expand the number of services and programs we provide for our citizens. During 1996, through the various services and programs, we were able to assist 28,000 people in the GTA. Some of our most popular programs are the Caribbean youth and family services programs. That program assists young people who are in detention centres. We work with them so when they come out they can get back into society. We help them with résumé preparation, we help them with job interviews and we do referrals in terms of job interviews.

We also have a women's program. That's a very successful program. We have clients who come from as far away as Hamilton and Oshawa to attend counselling sessions. That program was recognized recently for its outstanding work.

We are quite pleased with what we are doing on behalf of not only the Jamaican community but the African-Canadian community and the entire community. We see ourselves as an asset. I encourage you to support our bill today.

The Chair: Any further comments from the applicants?

Mr Vincent Conville: I'd just like to add that we have been a very inclusive organization from our very inception. Although our name is the Jamaican Canadian Association, we have always catered to other groups within the community. I'd also like to point out that Eva's Place in North York is an offshoot of the Jamaican Canadian Association. The John Brooks Community Foundation and Scholarship Fund is also an offshoot of the Jamaican Canadian Association. We have been a very inclusive organization.

We have also worked for over 25 years with the North York Board of Education. Their booster program was originally started by the Jamaican Canadian Association, from which North York was able to take it over and use it in their summer programs. We also have what we call the LEAP program, language enrichment academic program, which was started to assist youth in the Jane-Finch area. This also was incorporated in board policy in North York. We have been very active.

To add a little further, we are a self-help program. Most of the things we have done over the years we do through our own fund-raising, although these days we do get some assistance from private groups. Thank you very much.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I'll be very brief. My appreciation of the Jamaican Canadian Association comes from observing and seeing their involvement in community work, working very strongly with governments over the years and organizations, the police, especially helping new immigrants adjust. I find an organization like this extremely important to our society. As you all know, organizations like these do many of the things that government cannot do, and sometimes much more effectively.

I think their proposal today is one that tells you that whatever support can be given to extend that kind of work within that community will not only help government but help people at large. It's an organization I'm extremely proud of. Over the years, with all the difficulties of funding, they've continued to serve the community very well.

I too lend my support very strongly to this organization. Many of our colleagues sitting here are quite familiar with their work, and I know their support will be forthcoming without any difficulty at all.


The Chair: Are there any interested parties? I see none. Before we go to questions from the committee, I would ask for comments from the parliamentary assistant.

Mr Hardeman: In review of the bill -- and the ministry has suggested that the bill meets all the criteria set out for bills of such purpose -- there are a couple of items I would like to point out. First of all, the ability to get the tax exempted from the local municipalities exists presently by municipalities giving that back in grants to the organization. As opposed to forgiving the taxes, they could give it back in a grant. In the past, the reason that has not happened a lot is that municipalities would then have to also reimburse the education portion of the tax bill, so none of the taxes were paid. With these bills, this enabled the school boards to also forgive the education portion of the tax bill.

I would point out that with Bill 160, the new Education Act, the ability to forgo those taxes will be the responsibility of the Minister of Education as opposed to the local municipality. When Bill 160 is enacted, the ability to forgo that portion of the taxes will no longer exist at the local level. It would not require this type of legislation to deal with that.

Bill 149, which is the Fair Municipal Finance Act, gives the municipalities the ability, without this type of bill, to give the tax exemption of their local taxes to charitable organizations such as yourself. With that, as we fast approach January 1, 1998, I would point out that the bill will not be as functional as was originally anticipated by the applicants when the bill was introduced. The ability to get all the taxes exempted may no longer exist on January 1. I just want to make sure that we point that out to the applicants, that the benefits may not be as advantageous as was envisioned when the bill was proposed.

Dealing with the local taxes, in Bill 149 they will be able to deal directly with the municipality and ask them to forgo those taxes. That could be done if, as the resolutions that were put forward in support of this bill by the municipality would indicate, they would also be prepared to pass that same resolution and forgive those taxes in the future.

Having said that, the Ministry of Finance has suggested that, pending the review of what we should be doing with the education portion of the taxation, we should not pass a lot more of this type of exemption bill. As the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, we have approved many such bills, and we're not recommending that we not pass this one, but I want to make sure we understand that the issue as it relates to the total tax bill you're referring to in the bill may not be the end result of the application in the bill.

The Chair: We now go to questions from the committee.

Mr Ruprecht: With respect to the parliamentary assistant's comments, I would like to point out that these are essentially internal government problems that have little to do with the Jamaican Canadian Association.

I have a couple of points to make. One is that I'm still somewhat surprised -- I keep repeating this -- that the Jamaican Canadian Association is here today to make this kind of deputation. That was my first point. With cutting through red tape and streamlining the process on this type of item, as we've talked about on many occasions, especially myself and Mr Shea, I would have thought that by this time we would have come up with a process that would facilitate these kinds of requests in terms of exemption of taxes.

I would only hope that in the new year this committee sits down and either creates a subcommittee or another structure so that some of these deputants do not have to come from far away, waste their time, and request these kinds of exemptions. The process should have been in place, and I hope it will be done in the future.

My second point is that I'm very familiar with the Jamaican Canadian Association. In fact it was 19 years ago -- I was a city councillor at the time -- when Rupert James and myself were happy to raise the Jamaican flag at city council. As Alvin will recall, there were thousands of people present not only to celebrate Jamaican Independence Day but to celebrate what Canadians of Jamaican background's contribution has been to this country.

Not only do I wish to congratulate them, but I'd like to point out that it's a worthy organization. I'm delighted that Mr Sergio has lent his support to this -- he has studied this bill carefully -- and that Mr Curling is here as well to lend his support. With all that firepower that the Jamaican Canadian Association has been able to muster, we will certainly, on this side of the House, support the exemption of these taxes.

I will later move, at the appropriate time, that the costs be exempted.

The Chair: I'll just mention that the meeting of the subcommittee is being slated to discuss options around these kinds of bills, the tax exemption bills and other bills. There is a subcommittee meeting slated for the new year.

Mr Ruprecht: Thank you very much.

The Chair: Mr Hardeman, do you have a further comment?

Mr Hardeman: As Mr Ruprecht mentioned, the issues I spoke to are internal government issues, but I think they are directly related to the comments Mr Ruprecht made. The municipalities, under Bill 149, will have the ability to give back all the charges they charge, so they will no longer need this type of legislation to give tax exemptions. Where charitable organizations occupy space in other properties that are taxed at the full rate, Bill 149 also allows the opportunity for the municipality to reduce the taxation on those properties to deal with the charity occupant.

As the legislation is implemented, we will see very little need for these types of bills to have to come through the legislative process, as municipalities will have the ability to deal with them directly.

The Chair: Are there any further questions from the committee? Are members of the committee ready to vote? We are voting on Bill Pr94, An Act respecting the Jamaican Canadian Association, sponsored by Mr Sergio, MPP. In keeping with tradition, I'll collapse sections 1 through to 11.

Shall sections 1 through 11 carry? Carried.

Shall the preamble carry? Carried.

Shall the title carry? Carried.

Shall the bill carry? Carried.

Shall I report the bill to the House? Thank you.

I will now entertain Mr Ruprecht's motion.

Mr Ruprecht: I move that the committee recommend that the fees and the actual cost of printing at all stages be remitted on Bill Pr94, An Act respecting the Jamaican Canadian Association.

The Chair: Any discussion on this motion? All in favour of this motion? Those opposed? I declare that motion passed.

I wish to thank the applicants and the sponsor. I declare this order of business closed.

This committee now stands adjourned at the call of the Chair.

The committee adjourned at 1049.


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