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Alaska Sen. Begich looks to bring XTRATUFs back home

Alaska Dispatch

Correction: The report below at first said incorrectly that Honeywell cited high corporate tax rates as "the major motivation" for moving manufacturing of XTRATUF boots overseas. In an email, Bruce Anderson, Honeywell's director of external communication and social media, said tax rates were not to blame, that an old factory was: "The 90-year-old Rock Island facility came to us through an acquisition and could not be brought up to the health and safety, productivity and modern-day lean manufacturing standards that Honeywell has set for all of its global facilities and remain competitive. Our decision was based solely on these considerations and the tax code was not a factor in our decision."

In the summer of 2010, Honeywell, the manufacturer of XTRATUF boots, moved its manufacturing operations overseas from Illinois to China. In a press release issued on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Mark Begich, of Alaska, announced that he agrees with the company he scolded earlier this month. That's why he's joining two other senators in backing an incentive bill aimed at encouraging wayward American businesses to return home.

Begich, along with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sen. Dan Coats (R-Indiana), are pushing the "Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011," according to the release. The bill has three objectives in mind.

First, it aims to eliminate the six corporate tax brackets currently in existence and replace them with a flat corporate tax rate of 24 percent. Second, the bill will allow small businesses to include all equipment and inventory in expense costs. Lastly, the bill will provide incentives for wandering corporations, like Honeywell, to return home from overseas.

Disappointment in Honeywell's move has resulted in mass complaints about the product's quality. In late July, the Cordova Times reported the reaction of local shop owners as the return of XTRATUF boots became somewhat of a routine problem. Vicky Simpson, manager of Redden Marine in Cordova, told the Times:

People keep bringing back their boots from between three days and three months after getting them. You just have to give them a new pair and send those back to the representatives.  

Sen. Begich had also received boot-related complaints, and in early October he decided to contact Honeywell personally. In a letter sent on Oct. 5, the senator scolded the boot maker for its products' disappointing performance since the move to China