POPVOX Gavel Down_Closing Out the Week in Congress_Apr_4_8_2016

GAVEL DOWN: Closing out the week in Congress

Senate returned from recess; House is out until April 12. Senate passed trade secrets bill and began considering FAA reauthorization bill. Senate HELP committee advanced medical innovation bills, lining up floor votes for companion legislation to House-passed bill. Obama Administration released final "fiduciary rule" for investment advisors, with several lawmakers commenting on current legislation and pledging to introduce related legislation. 

Top Search on POPVOX this week: "HR 25"


Most active bill on POPVOX this week:
Confirmation of Supreme Court Nominee Merrick B. Garland


Senate passed trade secrets bill

The Senate unanimously passed trade secrets bill, allowing companies to pursue civil remedies for trade secrets theft in federal court. Examples of trade secrets include plans, designs, negative information, customer lists, and nonpublic financial information. This bill also creates federal standards for what can be defined as a trade secret misappropriation. 


S. 1890 DEFEND TRADE SECRETS ACT OF 2016
SponsorSen. Orrin Hatch [R, UT]

A similar measure in the House has 127 co-sponsors. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced this week that the committee will move forward with the bill soon.


H.R. 3326 DEFEND TRADE SECRETS ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Doug Collins [R, GA-9]


Senate took up FAA reauthorization bill

Senate spent the rest of the week debating reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, which runs out of funding on July 15. Senate voted unanimously to call up the bill and adopted two amendments aimed at strengthening airport security.
 

S. 2658 FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Sen. John Thune [R, SD]

The first adopted amendment combined three bipartisan bills, with provisions to revise TSA's PreCheck program, strengthen security at foreign airports that have direct flights to the U.S., and prevent airport workers from carrying out terrorist attacks.

The second adopted amendment would increase the number of bomb-sniffing dog teams in non-secure areas, such as check-in counters and baggage claim. Many lawmakers referenced the Brussels attacks and the need for increased security in waiting areas.

The final amendment addressed seat sizes on airplanes and failed 42-54. Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] introduced the amendment, saying "The public really cares about this. They don't want to be treated like sardines as the fares go up and up." Bill sponsor Sen. John Thune [R, SD] said "At 6'4", I experience firsthand leg-space issues on a weekly basis, but I just honestly think that it's not the FAA's place to decide how to define comfort."

Check out how your Senators voted on the following amendments:

  • Adopted Thune Amendment 85-10 vote to tighten vetting process for airport employees
  • Adopted Heinrich Amendment 91-5 vote to increase security in non-secure areas 
  • Rejected Schumer Amendment 42-54 vote to regulate seat sizes on airplanes

Catch up on all the Senate floor action here!


Obama Administration released "Fiduciary Rule"

This week the Obama administration unveiled long-awaited "fiduciary rule." This rule requires brokers to act in the “best interest” of their clients when handling retirement accounts instead of "acting suitably."

This rule is meant to protect workers from conflicting investment advice and improve disclosures. Opponents of the rule say that it would discourage financial firms from lower-income clients.

Sens. Cory Booker [D, NJ] and Elizabeth Warren [D, MA] joined Labor Secretary Tom Perez to answer questions about the new rule using #SaveYourSavings.

Sen. Warren called the fiduciary rule “the kind of change people want and expect in Washington.”

Speaker Paul Ryan said to expect congressional action in response. Sen. Johnny Isakson [R, GA] will introduce a disapproval resolution, referencing a bill he introduced earlier this year that would preempt the rule and outline "best interest" standard for retirement advisers. Rep. Peter Roskam [R, IL-6] introduced a similar bill in the House.


POPVOX #CongressGoesHome

Last week we asked you to submit pictures of your Member working back home. Shoutout to Kitsap MOAA for being the first to respond with this picture from their luncheon!

Rep. Derek Kilmer [D, WA-6] attended luncheon of the Kitsap Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Rep. Kilmer delivered a brief address and introduced the luncheon's speaker.

Rep. Derek Kilmer - Kitsap Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)Pictured: Kitsap MOAA member Barbara Beagle, Kitsap MOAA President Darlene Iskra, and Congressman Derek Kilmer


Senate HELP advanced medical innovation bills

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its third and final markup on a series of medical innovations bills, designed to complement House-passed 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6). These bills are focused on getting new medicine and treatments to patients more quickly.

The committee passed five bipartisan bills:

  • S. 185 — Shortens development of new treatments to help people infected with superbugs
  • S. 2713 — Maps genomes and makes genomes more readily available for researchers
  • S. 2745 — Promotes inclusion of minorities in clinical research
  • S. 2700 — Helps FDA and NIH attract and retain top talent 
  • S. 2742 — Decreases time spent by NIH researchers on administrative tasks

In total, Senate HELP has advanced 19 medical innovation bills. Previously passed bills address rare diseases, research for neurological diseases, voucher program for rare pediatric diseases, and medical devices. This package of bills contains more than 50 bipartisan proposals.

The biggest item of debate, additional funding for the National Institute of Health, has not reached a deal. 

According to Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander, “The House has done its work. The president has proposed his initiatives. I am hopeful we can take this to the Senate floor soon and ensure the president’s Precision Medicine and cancer ‘moonshot’ initiatives and ideas in the ‘Cures’ bill can become reality this year.”

The House version, 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6), passed with overwhelming approval last July


New Bills on the Block

  • Sens. Kirk and Rubio introduced bill that would prevent Iran from gaining access to U.S. financial system or using U.S. dollars in business transactions.
  • Sens. Cornyn, Blumenthal, Schumer, and Cruz introduced a bill to return art stolen by the Nazis during WWII.

#ICYMI


#DataDrop


Legislative Lowdown: States Edition

  • New York and San Francisco advanced record-setting parental leave laws.
  • New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan [D] signed Medicaid expansion extension bill.
  • Tennessee House passed a bill allowing mental health counselors to refuse service based on religious grounds. 
  • California Assembly delayed action on a bill to end sales tax on tampons and sanitary napkins.
  • Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant [R] signed legislation allowing businesses to refuse service based on religious objections.
  • Salaries of state legislators vary greatly across states — in California legislators make nearly $100,000/year, whereas in New Hampshire, compensation is $100 annually and no per diem. Staff levels vary too, with some states having about 12 staffers per lawmaker and others having only 2 staffers per lawmaker.
  • Arizona media was blocked from the House floor, following new House rules requiring background checks for media.
  • Alaska lawmakers are considering bill that would place all of Alaska in Pacific time zone.

Weekend Reads

"Need to Address the Government's Remaining Financial Management Challenges and Long-Term Fiscal Path" from the U.S. Government Accountability Office


"Supporting the Child Care and Workforce Development Needs of TANF Families" by Heather Hahn et al., The Urban Institute

"DOD Needs to Clarify Its Roles and Responsibilities for Defense Support of Civil Authorities during Cyber Incidents"  from the U.S. Government Accountability Office  


 

POPVOX Weekly Update_The Week Ahead in Congress_April_4_8_2016

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress

The Senate returns from recess; the House is still out until April 12. The Senate will vote on a bill to allow companies to sue for theft of trade secrets. It may also vote on reauthorizing the FAA through 2017. On Wednesday, the Administration will release the final "Fiduciary Rule" for investment advisors.


New Protections for "Trade Secrets"


S. 1890 DEFEND TRADE SECRETS ACT (DTSA) OF 2016
Sponsor: Sen. Orrin Hatch [R, UT]

The bill would allow companies to bring a civil suit against parties they suspect have stolen "trade secrets." Right now, only the Department of Justice can pursue trade secret theft in federal court, though several states have laws allowing private action. The bill would "create a new private right of action by modifying the Economic Espionage Act (EEA)" and create a federal standard for what constitutes a trade secret misappropriation, while leaving state standards intact. (source: Bloomberg BNA). Read legal analysis from Jones Day.

What is a "trade secret"?  (1) information; (2) that someone has taken reasonable measures to protect; (3) which derives independent economic value from not being generally known. 

Examples: plans, designs, negative information, computer software, customer lists, non-public financial information, cost and pricing information, manufacturing information, confidential information about business opportunities, and certain personnel information.


"Fiduciary Rule" coming this week


On Wednesday, the Obama Administration will release the final "Fiduciary Rule," requiring brokers to take the best interests of their clients into account when recommending investments and to disclose fees or incentives that could influence their recommendations (Source: Bloomberg). 

As we shared in March, opponents say the rule would increase regulatory costs and discourage financial firms from serving lower-income clients. The House has passed a bill from Rep. Ann Wagner [R, MO-2] to delay implementation of the rule (H.R. 1090), and is expected to take additional action once the rule is released. Speaker Paul Ryan has already issued a statement expressing his opposition, and even hinted: "Stay tuned for more Congressional action."


Senate FAA Reauthorization


President Obama is expected to soon sign a short-term extension of the FAA that recently passed Congress, allowing three months for the House and Senate to work on a compromise between their two approaches.

The Senate may move as soon as this week to its two-year reauthorization bill, which includes provisions to:

  • Reauthorize FAA appropriations through the 2017 fiscal year
  • Examine and refining policies for unmanned aircraft, including requiring commercial UAS operators to have a privacy policy, and giving the FTC authority to enforce.
  • Updating general aviation certification and offering the opportunity to appeal medical disqualifications
  • Preserving the Essential Air Service (EAS)
  • Providing for several policy changes for commercial aircraft, including: requirement to refund baggage fees if bags are lost; clarifying charges for preferred seats and policies for allowing children to be seated with parents; calling for a study on wheelchair access
  • Calling for a cost-benefit update on the implementation of the NextGen air traffic and communications system.

Read Section-by-section summary

Some senators may look to attach stronger screening requirements in the wake of the Brussels attacks.

S. 2658 FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Sen. John Thune [R, SD]



Did the Senate just get a SERIOUS tech upgrade?


Actually, no. That's the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston, which has a full-scale replica of the Senate Floor and Gallery — with a few extra gadgets, screens and electronic voting that the real Senate lacks). Visitors and students become "senators" during their tour; they debate and vote on bills, with a new (real) pending bill featured each month. This month, the Commercial UAS Modernization Act (S. 1318) is featured.
 


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

 

 

POPVOX Gavel Down_Closing Out the Week in Congress_Mar_28_Apr_1_2016

GAVEL DOWN: Closing out the week in Congress

Both the House and Senate were out on recess this week. (No, it's not THAT kind of "recess.") A few Senators came back to DC to meet with SCOTUS nominee, Merrick B. Garland. The House floated a draft bill to address the Puerto Rico debt crisis. And it turned out that the FBI didn't need Apple's help after all.

Happy April Fool's from POPVOX!

 


Top Search on POPVOX this week: "gun"

 

Most active bill on POPVOX this week:
Confirmation of Supreme Court Nominee Merrick B. Garland


Lawmakers back home for the week

Both chambers were out on recess this week. While "recess" conjures up playground images, it's not all fun and games. Lawmakers have to split time between Washington and their home state or district — balancing the work of votes and committee hearings with the equally important work of being available to — and hearing from — constituents. In fact, one of the best ways to advocate for issues you care about is to attend a town hall meeting or meet in person with your lawmaker while he or she is in the district.

Here's how your lawmakers are spending their recess:

Subscribe to our Twitter lists for House and Senate to see what lawmakers are up to while away from Capitol Hill.


Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland spent the week meeting with lawmakers

At least five senators returned to Capitol Hill for private meetings with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. 

Monday:  Met with Democratic Sens. Cardin and Donnelly
Tuesday:  Met with Republican Sen. Kirk (the first GOP Senator to meet with the nominee)
Wednesday:  Met with Democratic Sens. Gillibrand and Franken

Republican Sens. Collins and Boozman have scheduled meetings for next week.  Following a protest back home, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey agreed to meet with Garland as well.

Many lawmakers are waiting for the first step of the appointment process: a hearing, before committing to a vote.

Tell your lawmakers what you think about confirming President Obama's Supreme Court nominee!


Puerto Rico

The House Natural Resources Committee officially released a discussion draft and legislative summary for a bill to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Puerto Rico currently faces over $70 billion in debt, 12 percent unemployment, and a 45 percent poverty rating. The bill would create a 5-member fiscal control board, independent of the Puerto Rican Governor and legislature, and establish a Revitalization Coordinator to fast-track infrastructure projects.

According to House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop, “This discussion draft will change. We are releasing it now to encourage feedback, so people can respond to the draft proposal, not a supposition of its content.”

The bill does not allow Puerto Rico to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcyHouse Natural Resources will hold a hearing and markup following Easter recess, and the House is expected to take up the bill shortly after.


Encryption Debate Continues

The Justice Department ended its legal battle with Apple over unlocking a phone used in the San Bernardino shooting. The FBI was able to unlock the iPhone without Apple's assistance. 

Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR] spoke out against a bill proposed by Senate Intelligence Chairman and Ranking Member Sens. Burr and Feinstein that would limit encryption protection on technology products. The Burr-Feinstein bill would require companies to follow court orders seeking locked communications.

Senator Wyden plans to reintroduce a bill he proposed in the 113th Congress that would prevent court attempts to undermine current encryption laws. Last week, Rep. Matt Salmon [R, AZ-5] introduced legislation that would prohibit the federal government from using the All Writs Act to to compel tech companies to break encryption.

H.R. 4839 PROTECT OUR DEVICES ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep Rep. Matt Salmon [R, AZ-5]
 


#DataDrop


Legislative Lowdown: States Edition

  • California, New York, and DC consider legislation to raise minimum wage to $15.
  • Maryland Appeals Court decided it is unlawful for police to use covert cellphone tracking devices without a warrant.
  • Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal [R] vetoed controversial "religious liberty" bill.
  • New York legislature passed new bill that mandates paid family-leave policy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo [D] also barred certain state travel to North Carolina after NC passed bill that would restrict bathroom use to the sex listed on birth certificates, rather than gender identity.
  • Colorado House advanced a three-bill package addressing the gap in average pay between male and female workers.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker [R] signed 56 bills into law, including a ban on cellphones in construction zones and a ban on flying drones over prisons.
  • Obama administration sent letters to U.S. governors highlighting state legislation to combat opioid epidemic.
  • With states working to implement ESSA, here’s an early look at trends in state K-12 legislation.
  •  

#ICYMI


Weekend Reads

"Department of Homeland Security has Strengthened Management, but Execution and Affordability Concerns Endure"  from U.S. Government Accountability Office

"An Analysis of the President's 2017 Budget"  from Congressional Budget Office

"Observations on Lobbyists' Compliance with Disclosure Requirements"  from U.S. Government Accountability Office


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

POPVOX Introduces Filter Bubble Wrap: A Partisan Filter for Legislative Information

 Today POPVOX, the neutral nonpartisan platform for legislative information and civic engagement introduced its newest feature, the “Filter Bubble Wrap” to help users get a familiar partisan spin even when viewing neutral information available on POPVOX.

Filter Bubble Wrap allows a user to select “Democrat” or “Republican” to trigger a series of site changes designed to align with the experience of most Americans' news consumption. “A person selecting ‘Democrat’ will see a blue-themed site with Democratic legislators framed in a soft light,” POPVOX Lead Designtist, William Donnell said. "Those selecting 'Republican' will get a Red theme and more conservative design."

“A proprietary algorithm changes politically-charged words to fit the user’s worldview,” explained lead developer, Bryan Dease. “So whether you see ‘death tax’ or ‘inheritance tax’ in a bill description depends on your party selection.”

POPVOX co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Rachna Choudhry, noted that independent research has shown overwhelmingly that people want to be silo-ed and microtargeted. (Otherwise, why would Presidential candidates do it, amirite?) “Given the strength of election year messaging, people get information about public issues in very different ways. Think of Filter Bubble Wrap as a Google Translate for politics.”

POPVOX sees the potential for Filter Bubble Wrap to be applied not just to legislative information but to all kinds of communication.

POPVOX COO, Ben Harris, imagines a day in which a conservative mass email could be run through Filter Bubble Wrap and emerge “suitable for MSNBC.” “Imagine Fox News repurposing DailyKos content with just one click of a mouse. That's the potenital of FBW."

POPVOX co-founder and CEO, Marci Harris, thinks Filter Bubble Wrap could alleviate partisan gridlock: “'Compromise' in the traditional sense," she says, "will soon be disrupted by technology. Filter Bubble Wrap will make it possible for Members of Congress to speak the same language without actually speaking the same language.” 

POPVOX April Fools

POPVOX Gavel Down_Closing Out the Week in Congress_Mar_21_24_2016

Gavel Down Closing Out the Week in Congress

Top Search on POPVOX this week: "gun"

Most Active on POPVOX this week:
Confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland

 

House passed resolution condemning terrorist attacks in Brussels

The House unanimously passed a resolution condemning the terrorist attacks in Brussels, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility. More than 30 people were killed and over 200 injured in the airport and metro attacks.

H.RES. 658 CONDEMNING IN THE STRONGEST TERMS THE TERRORIST ATTACKS IN BRUSSELS ON MARCH 22, 2016, WHICH MURDERED MORE THAN 30 INNOCENT PEOPLE, AND SEVERELY WOUNDED MANY MORE.
Sponsor: Rep. Ted Poe [R, TX-2]

In response to the Brussels attacks, capitals around the world tightened security by halting international trains and increasing police presence in the streets and airports. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Our nation stands in solidarity with the people of Belgium and we will renew our determination to prevent more senseless violence against the innocent.” 


 

Speaker Paul Ryan remarked on state of American politics


Speaker Paul Ryan addressed group of bipartisan House interns on the state of American politics, calling for civility in political discourse.  The "remarkably candid speech" highlighted the importance of differing opinions and how to disagree respectfully. He recounted his days as an intern and how he worked his way up from being a waiter at Tortilla Coast. Speaker Ryan referenced America's history, our founding fathers, and the need for politics based on policy rather than personality.

Here are five top quotes, as well as the full speech:

1. "We treated each other with respect. We disagreed — often fiercely so — but we disagreed without being disagreeable…It almost sounds like I'm speaking of another time, doesn't it? It sounds like a scene unfamiliar to your generation."

2. "In a confident America, we also have a basic faith in one another. We question each other's ideas — vigorously — but we don't question each other's motives… People with different ideas are not traitors. They are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our coworkers, our fellow citizens."

3. "Ideas, passionately promoted and put to the test — that's what politics can be." 

4. "Governing ourselves was never meant to be easy… When passions flair, ugliness is sometimes inevitable. But we shouldn't accept ugliness as the norm. We should demand better from ourselves and from one another."

5. "Our political discourse — both the kind we see on TV and the kind we experience among each other — did not use to be this bad and it does not have to be this way."

Following the speech, he answered questions and reaffirmed his commitment to bring criminal justice reform legislation to the House floor. He mentioned the detrimental effects of "mandatory minimums" and "three strikes" laws and the need for redemption. 

Here are some related bills:

H.R. 3713 SENTENCING REFORM ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Bob Goodlatte [R, VA-6]

S. 2123 SENTENCING REFORM AND CORRECTIONS ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Sen. Chuck Grassley [R, IA]

H.R. 759 THE FEDERAL PRISON REFORM ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Jason Chaffetz [R, UT-3]


 

POPVOX Women's Airforce Service Pilots

These women pilots were some of the first to ferry B-17 "Flying Fortress" bombers.
More than 1,000 WASP provided essential military air support in the United States during World War II.

Photo: Air Force, Caption: Military Times

 

House passed bill to grant Women's Airforce Service Pilots Inurnment Eligibility in Arlington National Cemetery 

House unanimously passed bill that would ensure cremated remains of Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) be eligible for interment in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.


H.R. 4336 WOMEN AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOT ARLINGTON INURNMENT RESTORATION ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Martha McSally [R, AZ-2]


During World War II, over one thousand women served as airforce service pilots — "ferrying airplanes, training combat pilots and towing airborne targets."

As WWII drew to a close, the Army disbanded the program so men could return to flight training positions. Women were denied veterans benefits and services until 1977 when Congress passed retroactive legislation. In 2002, WASPs became eligible for inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery, but in 2015, eligibility was revoked, with Army officials saying the women were civilians at time of service. 

There is similar legislation in the Senate, but no timeline for a possible vote. Last week during a Senate Armed Services hearing on the Department of Defense budget, Sen. Joni Ernst [R, IA] pressed Defense Secretary Ash Carter on the need to restore WASP inurnment eligibility. 

S. 2437 WOMEN AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOT ARLINGTON INURNMENT RESTORATION ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Sen. Barbara Mikulski [D, MD]

Acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy called on Congress to reverse the 2015 decision, saying the fastest way to fix this is an act of Congress.

 


House Passed Foster Care Bill

The House approved a bill that requires states to adopt a centralized electronic system to expedite the placement of children in foster care or guardianship, or for adoption, across state lines. The bill incentivizes states to implement the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE). It also provides grant money to develop such systems.

H.R. 4472 MODERNIZING THE INTERSTATE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Todd Young [R, IN-9]

On average, children spend five months in temporary care waiting for paper-based processes to be completed. According to 2014 Ways and Means committee report, six pilot states launched NEICE and saw placement time decrease by 30 percent for interstate foster care placements.

The Senate companion bill (S. 2574) was introduced in February and waits to be considered by a congressional committee. 

 


Housed passed bill that would alter antitrust procedures

House passed bill that would change how the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission implement antitrust laws.

H.R. 2745 STANDARD MERGER AND ACQUISITION REVIEWS THROUGH EQUAL RULES (SMARTER) ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Blake Farenthold [R, TX-27]

The bill, known as the SMARTER Act, eliminates the differences in the FTC and DOJ review processes when examining mergers and acquisitions. The bill passed in largely party-line 235-171 vote, with 5 Democrats voting in support of the bill.

The Obama Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy in opposition of the bill, saying the bill would eliminate important administrative and procedural tools of the Federal Trade Commission to "challenge anticompetitive mergers and protect consumers."


Congress sent FAA extension bill to President Obama

Congress passed bill extending Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) powers and programs through mid-July. The extension gives lawmakers more time to work on a longer-term aviation bill, with FAA funding expiring on March 31.

H.R. 4721 AIRPORT AND AIRWAY EXTENSION ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster [R, PA-9]

The Senate approved the bill last week, and the House passed the amended version this week by voice vote. Now it's off to President Obama's desk.

 


House to address Puerto Rico debt crisis 

Speaker Paul Ryan's March 31 deadline to address Puerto Rico's debt crisis is fast approaching. Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop [R, UT-1] is spearheading a bill that would establish a federal board to oversee Puerto Rico's deficit-cutting, as well as considering granting the board the ability to restructure Puerto Rico's debt. According to Speaker Ryan, the committee is on track to take up the bill, with a hearing and markup scheduled following Easter recess.

This week Puerto Rico turned to a seven-member Supreme Court, looking for legal rights to restructure what it owes to creditors. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself due to financial conflicts, altering the dynamics of the Court.

 


New Bills on the Block

 


#ICYMI

 


COMING SOON
POPVOX/States

popvox states coming soon

Anonymous Survey:

Tell us about your state and what you want to see out of POPVOX/States!

 


#DataDrop

 

 


Legislative Lowdown: States Edition

  • Georgia bill awaits approval from Gov. Nathan Deal [R] that would allow faith-based organizations to refuse to perform a marriage for groups, including LGBT couples. Major corporations came out against the bill.
  • Maryland General Assembly considered bill to ban guns on public university and college campuses.
  • North Carolina passed legislation that would restrict restroom use to the sex listed on birth certificates, rather than that of gender identity.
  • Idaho legislature advanced bill that allows people 21+ without a permit to carry concealed gun. Gov. Butch Otter [R] has not acted on this bill yet. 
  • Kansas House supported bill to fix juvenile justice system.

 


Weekend Reads

"VA Improved Its Verification Program but Lacks an Effective Operational Plan for Ongoing Efforts"  from U.S. Government Accountability Office


"The Labor Supply of Undocumented Immigrants"  by George J. Borjas, The National Bureau of Economic Research

"Who Gets Time for Federal Drug Offenses? Data Trends and Opportunities for Reform" from The Urban Institute 

 

POPVOX Weekly Update_The Week Ahead in Congress_March_21_25_2016

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress

It's another short week. The Senate is out. The House will vote to align standards for the review of mergers and acquisitions and a bill to prevent travel by foreign combatants. Also up: Encouraging NSF investments in projects for women in STEM and bill to encourage women to pursue careers in aerospace, space science and exploration, POPW/MIA recognition at the Capitol, and improving the process for foster care placement and adoption across state lines.


Mergers and Acquisition Challenges


H.R. 2745 STANDARD MERGER AND ACQUISITION REVIEWS THROUGH EQUAL RULES (SMARTER) ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Blake Farenthold [R, TX-27]

The bill would eliminate differences in the procedures used by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division in challenging pending acquisitions and mergers, addressing concerns that a proposed M&A transaction is subject to different processes, depending upon which federal antitrust agency reviews the transaction (the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission). 


Women in Entrepreneurship and STEM 

The House will vote on two bills to promote women in entrepreneurship and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
 

H.R. 4742 PROMOTING WOMEN IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Elizabeth Esty [D, CT-5]

 The bill calls for the National Science Foundation to support entrepreneurial programs for women in STEM.


H.R. 4755 INSPIRING THE NEXT SPACE PIONEERS, INNOVATORS, RESEARCHERS, AND EXPLORERS (INSPIRE) WOMEN ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Comstock [R, VA-10]

The bill directs the NASA Administrator to encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and pursue aerospace careers by supporting three existing initiatives: NASA GIRLS and NASA BOYS, Aspire to Inspire, and Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering and Research. It also calls for a plan for how NASA can facilitate and support current and retired astronauts, scientists, engineers and innovators to engage with K-12 female STEM students.


September 11, 2010: NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Expedition 24 flight engineer, looks through a window in the Cupola of the International Space Station.


POW/MIA Remembrance


The House will vote on a bill instructing the Architect of the Capitol to obtain a chair featuring the logo of the National League of POW/MIA Families to be placed in the U.S. Capitol.

H.R. 1670: NATIONAL POW/MIA REMEMBRANCE ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Stephen Lynch  [D, MA-8]     
  BIPARTISAN  
 


Veteran-related bills this week:


H.R. 4336 WOMEN AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOT ARLINGTON INURNMENT RESTORATION ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Martha McSally  [R, AZ-2]

This bill directs the Department of the Army to ensure that the cremated remains of persons who served as Women's Air Forces Service Pilots are eligible for interment in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

S. 2393 FORECLOSURE RELIEF AND EXTENSION FOR SERVICEMEMBERS ACT OF 2015
Sponsor: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse  [D, RI]

The bill extends a provision of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) that prohibits foreclosing on a servicemember’s house for one year following the servicemember’s return from active duty. (The proivision expired December 31, 2015).


Foster Care Placement Across State Lines


H.R. 4472 MODERNIZING THE INTERSTATE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Todd Young [R, IN-9]

The number of children in foster care nationwide as of September 2014 rose 3.5% from a year earlier. The Indiana Department of Child Services estimates 2,600 children had to be removed from homes due to parental drug abuse in a six-month period that ended last March, a 71% jump from two years earlier. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

States currently use a paper-based administrative process to safely place children across state lines, keeping children waiting while caseworkers make copies of case files and mail them to the potential receiving state. A six-state pilot project, the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE) standardized how cases are processed across jurisdictions and  saw substantial reductions in the time it took to move children into homes across state lines and in administrative costs. H.R. 4472 would incentivize more state to adopt NEICE.


Temporary FAA Reauthorization


The House will vote to concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 4721 – sending the temporary FAA extension to the President's desk. The bill extends FAA authorization (set to expire on March 21, 2016) to July 15, 2016.

H.R. 4721 AIRPORT AND AIRWAY EXTENSION ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster [R, PA-9]

 


Updates to the Older Americans Act (OAA)


The House will vote on a bill (S. 192) to continue the programs of the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965, which provides funding through the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor for services to the elderly, including state and local community programs on aging (such as congregate nutrition services and caregiver support), community service employment, and services to help prevent elder abuse. The authorization for most of the OAA programs expired in 2011, but those programs continue to receive appropriations each year since that time, including $1.9 billion for 2015. (source: CBO)

S. 192 OLDER AMERICANS ACT REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2015 
Sponsor: Sen. Lamar Alexander [R, TN]     BIPARTISAN   
This bill passed in the Senate on Jul 16, 2015 .


Also in the House this Week:

S. 1180 – Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015

Sponsor: Sen. Ron Johnson [R, WI]   BIPARTISAN  
Directs FEMA to modernize the integrated U.S. public alert and warning system to help ensure that under all conditions the President, federal agencies, and state, tribal, and local governments can alert and warn the civilian population in areas endangered by natural disasters .


H.R. 4314 COUNTERTERRORISM SCREENING AND ASSISTANCE ACT OF 2016

Sponsor: Rep.Lee Zeldin [R, NY-1]    BIPARTISAN  

The bill encourages foreign partner engagement for capacity-building initiatives abroad to combat travel by terrorists and foreign fighters and identifies areas for adjustment to align efforts with risk-based priorities.It calls for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the State Department to accelerate the provision of the following systems to foreign governments: U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Automated Targeting System–Global, and the State Department's Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System. DHS may provide, with specified exceptions, excess DHS nonlethal equipment and supplies (as well as related training).


Public Lands


H.R. 482 THE OCMULGEE MOUNDS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK BOUNDARY REVISION ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Sanford Bishop [D, GA-2]   BIPARTISAN  

H.R. 2857 TO FACILITATE THE ADDITION OF PARK ADMINISTRATION AT THE COLTSVILLE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Sponsor: Rep. John Larson [D, CT-1]   BIPARTISAN  

H.R. 4119 GULF ISLANDS NATIONAL SEASHORE LAND EXCHANGE ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Steven Palazzo [R, MS-4]   BIPARTISAN  


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

POPVOX Gavel Down_Closing Out the Week in Congress_Mar_14_18_2016

GAVEL DOWN: Closing out the week in Congress

The President announced a Supreme Court nominee and found common ground with the House in calling actions by ISIS "genocide." The House Budget Committee approved a proposal. The Senate failed to advance an GMO labeling bill.


Top Search on POPVOX this week: "HUMAN TRAFFICKING"

 


H.R. 3381 CHILDHOOD CANCER STAR ACT


President Obama nominated Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court

 


This week, President Obama announced that the Honorable Merrick Brian Garland is his pick to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, a lifetime appointment requiring confirmation by the Senate. The President noted Judge Garland's career as a federal prosecutor, in which he notably led the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing. President Obama also reference the bipartisan praise Judge Garland received during the confirmation process for his current position on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (often called the nation's "second highest court") where Judge Garland is Chief Judge.

On Thursday, Judge Garland visited Capitol Hill to talk with Senators, despite the fact that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley have indicated that there would be no hearings or votes on the President's choice. Senate Leadership also sought to tamp down rumors that a confirmation vote could come in a post-election "lame duck" session of Congress. Several Senate Republicans broke with GOP leadership and said they'd be willing to meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and take a confirmation vote.
 

  Tell your senators what you think about the nomination  
 


House, President agree: ISIS actions "genocide." 

House calls for U.N. War Crimes Tribunal for atrocities in Syria

This week the House and the Obama Administration both officially determined that actions by ISIS/ISIL/Daesh are "genocide." The determination by the State Department was prompted by a Congressionally-set deadline in last year's Omnibus bill. The House resolution (H.Con.Res. 75) passed unanimously.

In addition, the House passed a resolution (H.Con.Res.121) calling the actions of the government of Syria and other parties to the Syrian conflict "gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity," and calling on the Administration to encourage the United Nations to set up an international tribunal to prosecute these crimes.

A "war crime" is an act that violates the international law of war, for which and individual can be held criminally responsible. These crimes are defined in the statute that established the International Criminal Court, such as: willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, torture or inhumane treatment.

The United States is not a participant in the International Criminal Court (ICC), limited by the 2002 American Service-Members’ Protection Act  President Bill Clinton signed the Treaty of Rome establishing the ICC, but the treaty has not been ratified by Congress.

 

Senate did not take up GMO labeling bill

The Senate voted 48-49, deciding not to take up a bill that would establish nationwide labeling standards for genetically modified foods. The procedural vote required 60 votes in order to proceed with the bill. The bill was in response to states recently passing their own GMO labeling laws, in particular that of Vermont. If passed, this bill would have supplanted state and local GMO labeling standards.

Lawmakers laid out two separate reasons for voting to see the bill pass or fail:
1. Whether genetically modified foods should be labeled 
2. Whether states should be able to make those decisions

 

 

Share how your Senators voted!

 

Catch up: Legislation related to GMOs has surfaced at the state and federal level. House passed its own GMO labeling bill last July in 275-150 vote. The bill would create voluntary federal labeling standards, pre-empting states from passing their own mandatory labeling laws for genetically modified foods. In 2014, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law that would make Vermont the first state to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The state has spent two years implementing the law, and it's set to go into effect on July 1. Connecticut and Maine have passed similar labeling laws, but the provisions do not go into effect unless bordering states adopt similar labeling requirements. Last year lawmakers in 27 states introduced 101 bills related to genetically modified organisms. 

 

Budget News

House Budget passed 2017 budget proposal

House Budget Committee released and approved fiscal year 2017 budget proposal. The plan aims to balance the budget within 10 years without raising taxes. It provides $1.07T in discretionary spending and proposes cuts to non-discretionary spending and entitlement programs — cutting $7T from the national deficit over the next decade, the sharpest cuts ever proposed by the committee. The resolution also includes provisions related to defense, healthcare, and taxes.

House Budget Committee held 9 hour markup, with several lawmakers going hoarse and one losing her voiceDemocrats offered up 29 amendments, involving immigration reform, prescription drug prices, and equal pay. Every amendment failed, including one proposed by Rep. Debbie Dingell [D, MI-12] that would have designated $457.5M in emergency funding for Flint and required Michigan to match the federal funds. The budget advanced 20-16, with Democrats voting against and all but one Republican voting for the measure.

The budget could see the floor next week, but passage is difficult. Members of the House Freedom Caucus oppose the budget, and some Republicans voted to advance the budget but said they would oppose it on the floor.

House passed bill to extend FAA funding

The House passed a short-term bill to extend funding for the FAA until July 15 (with some provisions extended until March 2017). With FAA funding set to expire on March 31, the bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

The short-term extension will allow the House and Senate to work on a larger compromise. The Senate Commerce Committee passed its FAA reauthorization bill unanimously, with provision for enhanced screening of pilots with possible mental health issues. The committee moved through dozens of proposed amendments and passed more than 50 en bloc at the beginning of the markup. 


 

#ViewFromTheHill – March 17, 2016

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley [R, IA] and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy [D, VT] chat before their scheduled business meeting concerning four bills and four nominations. However, the committee’s conversations mainly focused on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. (Photo/Melinda Heim)

Check out our POPVOX View From the Hill on Tumblr

Moving Bills


New Bills on the Block

  • House GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced bill that would gradually cut federal funding for unauthorized programs.
  • Senate Democrats plan to introduce two bills that would give Puerto Rico the power to restructure all of its bond debt.
  • House Republicans introduced a resolution to recognize magic as "a rare and magical art form and national treasure."
  • Sens. Baldwin and Merkley introduced a bill that would tighten transparency requirements on hedge funds.

#ICYMI 


#DataDrop


Weekend Reads

"Budgetary and Economic Outcomes Under Paths for Federal Revenues and Noninterest Spending Specified by Chairman Price" from Congressional Budget Office

"State Legislation Addressing Genetically Modified Organisms" from National Conference of State Legislatures

"FAA Should Implement Additional Risk-Management Practices in Forecasting Aviation Activity" from U.S. Government Accountability Office


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

POPVOX Weekly Update_The Week Ahead in Congress_March_14_18_2016

WEEKLY UPDATE: The Week Ahead in Congress

The House returns and will take up bills to officially call violence by ISIS "genocide", to grant observer status to Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization, and to address several technical issues related to regulated utilities and broadband. 


Condemning violence by ISIS as "genocide," calling for war crimes tribunal


A provision in last year's Omnibus bill requires Secretary of State John Kerry to make a determination by March 17th on whether ISIS atrocities against religious minorities, including Christians, constitute "genocide."  The term carries responsibilities under international law, including possible war crimes tribunals and increased pressure for action.

In February, the European Parliament passed a resolution declaring "strong condemnation of the so-called "ISIS/Daesh" and its egregious human rights abuses, which amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, within the meaning of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and that action should be taken for it to be recognized as genocide by the UN Security Council…"

HConRes 75

The House will vote this week on two resolutions expressing the "sense of Congress" that the actions by ISIS are genocide, and calling for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal.

H. Con. Res. 75: Expressing the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide

The bipartisan resolution (H.Con.Res. 75) has 203 co-sponsors.

   BIPARTISAN  

A second resolution sponsored by Rep.
Christopher Smith [R, NJ-4]
 (H. Con. Res. 121), expresses "the sense of the Congress condemning the gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict in Syria, and asking the President to direct his Ambassador at the United Nations to promote the establishment of a war crimes tribunal where these crimes could be addressed"

   BIPARTISAN    

 


 

INTERPOL Observer Status for Taiwan 

The House will vote on a bill (S. 2426) directing the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)

S. 2426     BIPARTISAN  
Sponsor: Sen. Cory Gardner [R, CO]
This bill passed in the Senate on Mar 8, 2016.

 


Regulated Utilities, Gov Energy Efficiency, and Broadband


The House will also work on several bills related to utilities and broadband:

H.R. 2984: FAIR RATEPAYER ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY, AND EFFICIENCY STANDARDS ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Joseph Kennedy [D, MA-4]    BIPARTISAN  

In New England, a portion of energy prices are set several years in advance via an auction process known as ‘forward capacity markets,’ to guarantee there will be enough supply to meet projected demand. The results of these auctions require approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In the past two years, ‘capacity payments’ have quadrupled… The bill provides a technical fix to the Federal Power Act to increase transparency and allow customers to legally challenge proposed rate increases (according to the sponsor.)

H.R. 1268 ENERGY EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Anna Eshoo [D, CA-18]    BIPARTISAN  

H.R. 1268 would require federal agencies, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environmental Protection Agency, to implement strategies to acquire, use, and maintain information technologies expected to increase energy efficiency. The bill also would direct agencies to pursue activities aimed at enhancing the energy efficiency of data centers and would specify certain administrative and reporting requirements (according to CBO).

H.R. 4596 SMALL BUSINESS BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Greg Walden [R, OR-2]

The bill would  provide a temporary exemption to the FCC's Open Internet Order for broadband providers with fewer than 1,500 employees or 250,000 subscribers.

H.R. 4427: TO AMEND SECTION 203 OF THE FEDERAL POWER ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Pompeo [R, KS-4]

Section 203 of the Federal Power Act requires pre-approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for all direct and indirect changes of control over public utilities and their parent holding companies. H.R. 4427 narrows this section to apply only to “such facilities, or any part thereof, of a value in excess of $10,000,000.”

H.R. 3797: SATISFYING ENERGY NEEDS AND SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT (SENSE) ACT
Sponsor: Rep. Keith Rothfus [R, PA-12]

The bill limits the applicability of environmental regulations to "coal refuse," left behind by mining activities, which is used in refuse-to-energy plants to produce electricity, according to the sponsor.

Extending deadlines for hydroelectric dam commencement

Several hydroelectric dams were not started within the two-year timeframe contained in their original licenses. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can issue one extension, but after that, the licenses expire and cannot be reinstated without an act of Congress. This week the House will vote to reinstate these licenses:

  • H.R. 2080:   Clark Canyon Dam on the Beaverhead River in Beaverhead County, Montana
  • H.R. 2081:   Gibson Dam on the Sun River in Lewis and Clark County and Teton County, Montana
  • H.R. 3447: W. Kerr Scott Dam on the Yadkin River in Wilkes County, North Carolina
  • H.R. 4416:  Jennings Randolph Hydroelectric Project in Garrett County, Maryland, and Mineral County, West Virginia
  • H.R. 4434:  Cannonsville Hydroelectric Project, New York City
  • H.R. 4411: Gathright Hydroelectric Project, Alleghany County, Virginia
  • H.R. 4412:  Flannagan Hydroelectric Project, Dickinson County, Virginia

 

Source: http://www.ncgreenpower.org/


Temporary FAA Reauthorization


H.R. 4721 AIRPORT AND AIRWAY EXTENSION ACT OF 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster [R, PA-9]

The bill extends FAA authorization (set to expire on March 21, 2016) to July 15, 2016.

Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee will mark up a bill (S. 2658) to reauthorize the FAA through the end of fiscal year 2017 (September 30, 2017). The legislation updates the safety and privacy framework to further drone development, offers reforms to help our aerospace industry better compete in a global economy, improves aviation safety, and expands consumer protections for airline passengers, according to the Senate Commerce Committee. Read the Section-by-Section summary.


Congressional Participation in the Immigration Executive Order Case


The House will vote on a bill this week to authorize Speaker Ryan "to appear as amicus curiae on behalf of the House of Representatives in the matter of United States, et al. v. Texas, et al." before the U.S. Supreme Court (No bill number or bill text yet). The case, to determine questions related to the President's executive actions on immigration, has been set for oral argument on Monday, April 18, 2016.

At issue in the case:
(1) Whether a state that voluntarily provides a subsidy to all aliens with deferred action has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge the Secretary of Homeland Security’s guidance seeking to establish a process for considering deferred action for certain aliens because it will lead to more aliens having deferred action; (2) whether the guidance is arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law; (3) whether the guidance was subject to the APA’s notice-and-comment procedures; and (4) whether the guidance violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, Article II, section 3 (source: SCOTUS Blog).

(POPVOX will post the link on our Bill Highlights page and on our Facebook page, when available.)


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

POPVOX Gavel Down_Closing Out the Week in Congress_Mar_7_11_2016

GAVEL DOWN: Closing out the Week in Congress

The House was on recess and electoral politics ruled the headlines. Meanwhile in the Senate, a sweeping bill to combat opioid abuse passed 94-1, and an FAA reauthorization bill was introduced.


Top Search on POPVOX this week: "Gun"

 

Most active bill on POPVOX this week:
[US] H.R. 3929 OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL ACT
 


Senate passes opioid and addiction bill

Senate passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524) 94-1, with Sen. Ben Sasse [R, NE] in opposition saying he's "not convincing fighting addiction…is best addressed at the federal level."  The broad drug treatment and prevention bill is the largest of its kind in nearly a decade. 

S. 524 COMPREHENSIVE ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ACT OF 2015
SponsorSen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D, RI]
BILL TEXT   |  SECTION-BY-SECTION

CARA includes provisions to:

  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other responders to help in the reversal of overdoses
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medicines
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to promote best practices throughout the country
  • Increase resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders 
  • Launch medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs

So what's next?
Now the bill heads to the House.



FAA Reauthorization plan emerges



 

FAA authorization expires on March 31. A long-term bill from the House (AIRR Act) has stalled, prompting House members to introduce a short-term extension (until July 15, 2016) to allow for consideration of other approaches. This week, Senate Commerce will mark up its bill that would authorize the FAA until the end of FY 2017.

Short-term FAA Extension introduced in the House:
After a broader FAA reauthorization bill hit turbulence in the Senate over a proposal to privatize the air traffic controller system, House members this week introduced a short-term reauthorization (current authority expires on March 31). The bill (H.R. 4271) from Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady extends FAA authorization through July 15, 2016 (but would allow the agency to continue collecting excise taxes until the spring of next year.)

Senate Commerce to mark up FAA Reauthorization through 2017
"The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658) reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration and related programs through the end of fiscal year 2017 (September 30, 2017). The legislation updates the safety and privacy framework to further drone development, offers reforms to help our aerospace industry better compete in a global economy, improves aviation safety, and expands consumer protections for airline passengers. " according to the Senate Commerce Committee. Read the Section-by-Section summary.
 


Senate passed presidential transition bill

Senate unanimously approved House passed Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 (S. 1172). The bill is aimed at smoothing the presidential transition process by directing federal agencies to begin high-level preparations six months before the November election. The bill is in response to 15 year effort to improve the presidential transition process and would appoint a federal transition coordinator to work with candidates. The bill lengthens the amount of time for which transition services can be provided by the federal government from 30 days to 180 days after the president's inauguration. The bill is now headed for President Obama's desk.


Bill Updates

  • Senate HELP held second of three planned markups of medical innovation bills, designed to be companion legislation to House's 21st Century Cures Act. Several bills advanced: 

     

     

     

     

     

    • Warren bill to expand priority review voucher program for rare pediatric diseases
    • Burr bill to expedite the development and review of designated medical devices
    • Bennet bill re: medical device classifications 
    • Burr bill to amend the Public Health Service Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to national health security
    • Isakson bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to combination products
    • Wicker bill to require documentation of patient engagement to accompany approval of new drugs
    • Franken bill to add Zika virus to list of tropical disease under the priority review voucher program
  • Sen. Raul Paul [R, KY] is looking to force a vote on the State Department's approval of $700M worth of fighter jets to Pakistan, using an obscure Senate rule that allows any Senator to secure a floor vote to disapprove an arms sales. See the resolution, as well as companion resolution in the House.
  • Sen. Bill Nelson [D, FL] placed a hold on energy reform legislation and aid bill for Flint, Michigan, saying he supports the energy bill but "no negotiation part" is the possibility of drilling off of Florida.

New Bills on the Block


#ICYMI 


#DataDrop


Legislative Lowdown: States Edition

  • PA Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for state employees from $7.25 to $10.15.
  • After 39-hour filibuster, Missouri Senate passed bill aimed at protecting faith-based groups from having to condone same-sex marriage.
  • California legislature approved a measure that would make CA the second state to raise the legal age to smoke tobacco from 18 to 21. Now it's off to Gov. Jerry Brown [D].
  • West Virginia legislature approved bill that would screen welfare applicants for drug use. If Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin [D] signs the bill into law, West Virginia would become the fourteenth state to pass a welfare drug testing bill in the last five years.
  • Georgia Senate panel advanced campus carry gun bill.

Weekend Reads

"Income Inequality, Social Mobility, and the Decision to Drop Our of High School" by Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine, Brookings
"The Amicus Machine" by Alli Orr Larsen and Neal Devins, The Virginia Law Review
 


Please keep in mind that highlighting a bill does not imply POPVOX endorsement in any way. As always, our goal is to offer one more way to help you stay informed about the complex U.S. legislative system.

POPVOX International Women's Day

Issue Spotlight: International Women’s Day

Today is International Women's Day, a day to celebrate women's social, economic, cultural and political achievements. The day began in 1911 when 15,000 women marched through New York City to "demand voting rights and better working conditions." 

We've highlighted a variety of bills specifically related to women in the United States and abroad. Here's a quick look at bills related to women's veterans, health care, workplace rights, and international affairs. Learn more about bills that interest you, and weigh in on bills you support and oppose.

Workplace

  • Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1439 / S. 786) would create a national insurance program for paid family medical leave, housed under the Social Security Administration. The bill would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income (66% of monthly wages, up to a capped amount) when they take time for medical reasons related to themselves or those of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner. The program includes coverage for workers who are self-employeed, work part time, or work for small businesses. Employers and employees would contribute to the fund, paying 0.2 percent of the employee's wages.
  • Healthy Families Act (S. 497 / H.R. 932) would allow businesses with 15+ employees to earn up to 7 job protected paid sick days each year (businesses with <15 employees would earn the same amount of unpaid sick days). The bill would allow victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault to use paid sick days to recover or seek assistance. Workers would earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked (up to 56 hours per year). Employers would have flexibility as to how a "year" is defined (for the purposes of sick time accrual) and could require certification if an employee uses three consecutive paid sick days.
  • Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S. 1512 / H.R. 2654) would provide process for employer and pregnant worker to determine appropriate accomodations and protect pregnant workers from retaliation, coercion, intimidation or interference if pregnant workers request or use such accomodations. Provisions would apply to employers with 15+ employees and to both job applicants and employees. The bill provides an exemption for businesses if an accomodation imposes undue hardship on the employer.
  • Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 862 / H.R. 1619) requires employers to demonstrate that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons.
  • H.R. 1787 Fair Pay Act of 2015 would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin. 
  • Women's Pension Protection Act of 2015 (S. 2110 / H.R. 4235) would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to extend spousal consent requirements and allow certain long-term part-time workers to participate in particular pension plans. The bill would also grant awards to community-based organizations working to improve the financial literacy of women who are working age or in retirement.
  • H.R. 4027 The Women's Small Business Ownership Act amends the Small Business Act to direct the Small Business Administration Office of Women's Business Ownership to address issues concerning specified disciplines required for starting, operating, and increasing a small business.
  • H.R. 2773 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act authorizes the Department of Education to provide grants to local educational agencies to encourage the ongoing development of programs and curricula for girls and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and prepare those students to pursue degrees and careers in such fields.

 

International Affairs

 

Health

  • Women's Health Protection Act (S. 217 / H.R. 448) would prohibit any government from imposing on abortion services, such as requiring a medical profession to perform specific tests, implementing a limitation on an abortion provider's ability to prescribe or dispense drugs or services via telemedicine, and limiting the physical plant or facilities where abortions are performed.
  • S.Res. 37 A Resolution supporting Women's Reproductive Health Care Decisions expresses support for efforts to ensure that women have access to the best available health care and information, including comprehensive, affordable insurance coverage and health care that fosters safe childbearing. This bill prohibits employers or government entities from interfering with reproductive health care services guaranteed by law and guarantees the constitutionally protected right to safe, legal abortions.
  • S. 674 21st Century Women's Health Act of 2015 amends the Public Health Service Act to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants for family planning service projects, expansion of family planning preventive health services, and training of nurse practitioners specializing in women's health care. This bill would amend the Social Security Act to require state Medicaid programs to offer free preventive care, including contraceptives. 
  • S. 78 Pregnant Women Health and Safety Act requires a person who performs an abortion to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Exempt from this requirement is a person who performs an abortion that is necessaary to save the life of a other whose life is endangered by a physical condition. This bill would require each abortion clinic that receives federal funds or assistance to be licensed by the state and be in compliance with the requirements for ambulatory surgery centers (under XVII of Social Security Act).
  • H.Res. 47 Supporting Women's Reproductive Health Care Decisions expresses support for efforts to ensure that women have access to the best available health care and information, including comprehensive, affordable insurance coverage and health care that fosters safe childbearing. This bill prohibits employers or government entities from interfering with reproductive health care services guaranteed by law and guarantees the constitutionally protected right to safe, legal abortions.
  • Ensuring Access to Primary Care for Women & Children Act (S. 737H.R. 2253) would amend title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act to require primary care services furnished in the two years after the Act's enactment by a physician with a primary specialty designation of family medicine, general internal medicine, or pediatric medicine be paid at a rate that is not less than 100% of the payment rate that applies under Medicare Part B, but only if the physician self-attests as being Board certified in those areas. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office to examine the use of alternative payment models in state Medicaid programs and identify opportunities for disseminating successful payment models.
  • H.R. 2355 Women's Preventive Health Awareness Campaign amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Department of Health and Human Services to provide for a national public outreach and educational campaign, including a website, to raise awareness of women's preventive health.
  • S. 2226 Improving Treatment for Pregnant And Postpartum Women Act of 2015 amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize the residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women and to establish a pilot program to provide grants to State substance abuse agencies to promote innovative service delivery models for such women. 

 

Military

  • Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2015 (S. 358 / H.R. 742) expands the TRICARE health care program managed by the Department of Defense to entitle additional female beneficiaries and dependents to care related to the prevention of pregnancy. The bill would provide for pregnancy prevention care to include all methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling. The bill would also require military treatment facilities to provide emergency contraception (or information about FDA-approved methods of emergency contraception) to any women who states she is a victim of sexual assault or is accompanied by another individual who states that the woman is a victim of sexual assault or is reasonably believed to be a survivor of sexual assault
  • S. 469 Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015 directs the Department of Defense to furnish fertility treatment and counseling, including through the use of assisted reproductive technology to a spouse, partner, or gestational surrogate of a severely wounded, ill, or injured member of the Armed Forces who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces. The bill would also authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay adoption expenses (for up to three adoptions) for a severely wounded, ill, or injured veteran who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated in the line of duty and who is enrolled in the VA health care system.
  • S. 471 Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act of 2015 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish standards to ensure that all VA medical facilities have the structural characteristics necessary to adequately meet the gender-specific health care needs of veterans. The bill would direct the Government Accountability Office to conduct examinations of whether VA medical centers are able to meet the health care needs of women veterans.
  • S. 2437 Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act of 2016 directs the Department of Army to ensure that the cremated remains of persons who served as Women's Air Force Service Pilots are eligible for inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.

 

Commemorative

 

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