New to the art form? This Wall Street Journal article will get you orientated. Also, for more information on how some of these titles mislead lawmakers and the citizenry, find some academic commentary from Brian Christopher Jones here:

Friday, December 11, 2015

Every Student Succeeds ≠ No Child Left Behind

Although they may sound the same, Lamar Alexander's (R., TN) Every Student Succeeds Act is vastly different than the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. According to a White House fact sheet, the bill changes educational policies by: 
  • Holding all students to high academic standards that prepare them for success in college and careers.
  • Ensuring accountability by guaranteeing that when students fall behind, states redirect resources into what works to help them and their schools improve, with a particular focus on the very lowest-performing schools, high schools with high dropout rates, and schools with achievement gaps.
  • Empowering state and local decision-makers to develop their own strong systems for school improvement based upon evidence, rather than imposing cookie-cutter federal solutions like the No Child Left Behind Act did.
  • Reducing the often onerous burden of testing on students and teachers, making sure that tests don’t crowd out teaching and learning, without sacrificing clear, annual information parents and educators need to make sure our children are learning.
  • Providing more children access to high-quality preschool.
  • Establishing new resources for proven strategies that will spur reform and drive opportunity and better outcomes for America’s students.
President Obama described the bipartisan legislation as "a Christmas miracle". 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

SAFE[ly] through the House...

Over a veto threat by President Obama, the House passed Rep. Michael T. McCaul's (R., TX) American SAFE (Security Against Foreign Enemies) Act of 2015. The bill now heads to the Senate. According the White House's Statement of Administration policy, the measure would: 
This legislation would introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many of whom are victims of terrorism, and would undermine our partners in the Middle East and Europe in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis. ...
The certification requirement at the core of H.R. 4038 is untenable and would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people, instead serving only to create significant delays and obstacles in the fulfillment of a vital program that satisfies both humanitarian and national security objectives. No refugee is approved for travel to the United States under the current system until the full array of required security vetting measures have been completed. Thus, the substantive result sought through this draft legislation is already embedded into the program. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

DRIVE(ing) America's Transportation Infrastructure

Senators James Inhofe (R., OK) and Barbara Boxer (D., CA) have introduced the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. The measure seeks to modernize America's transportation infrastructure and according to a press release, would provide states and local governments "the certainty, flexibility and stability to better develop the country’s transportation and public transit infrastructure, while improving railroad and highway safety."

A partial press release is provided below. The text of the legislation can be found here


Bipartisan Legislation Provides State, Local Governments Certainty For Multi-Year Transportation Investments
WASHINGTON – The bipartisan, multi-year Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act would help modernize the nation’s infrastructure and transportation systems to better allow America to compete in the 21st century. 
The DRIVE Act gives state and local government the certainty, flexibility and stability to better develop the country’s transportation and public transit infrastructure, while improving railroad and highway safety.
The bill reverses the trend of short-term, temporary fixes to fund the nation’s transportation network.  These “patches” have left states and localities without the certainty they need to plan and build long-term infrastructure projects.
The DRIVE Act is a six-year highway authorization that will allow planning for important long-term projects around the country, and provides three years of guaranteed funding for the highway trust fund.
The bill is fully offset with spending reductions or changes to federal programs. It does not increase the deficit or raise taxes. 
This bipartisan legislation is comprised of four main components that were principally negotiated by the four committees of jurisdiction, including the Environment & Public Works, Commerce, Banking, Homeland Security/Governmental Affairs and Finance committees. 
The text of the legislation can be found HERE. ...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The CBO's Potential 'Long-Term SCORE'

Congressman Reid J. Ribble (R., WI) has introduced the Long-Term Studies of Comprehensive Outcomes and Returns for the Economy Act (Long-Term SCORE Act). According to a summary of the measure, the bill "amends the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to prepare long-term cost estimates for legislation reported by congressional committees. It also establishes a long-term budget scoring division within CBO. The bill requires the long-term estimates to cover at least each of the next four ten-year periods. CBO currently provides cost estimates over a 5- or10-year period." 

An abbreviated "Dear Colleague" letter from Rep. Ribble is provided below. 


From: The Honorable Reid J. Ribble
Bill: H.R. 282
Date: 7/15/2015
Long-Term Studies of Comprehensive Outcomes and Returns for the Economy “SCORE” Act, H.R. 282
Health care spending on chronic disease threatens the viability of our economy. Today, more than three out of every four Medicare dollars are spent on treating chronic diseases.
Cosponsors (25): Blumenauer, Collins (NY), Esty, Harper, Hastings, Higgins, Hultgren, Huffman, Jenkins (KS), Katko, Lance, Lawrence, Lujan Grisham, McKinley, Moulton, Paulsen, Peters, Pocan, Rigell, Schakowsky, Scott (Austin), Sensenbrenner, Takano, Webster, Wittman
Supported by: Campaign to End Obesity, Medical College of Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American College of Preventive Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, American Society of Bariatric Physicians, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare Leadership Council, Johnson and Johnson, National Center for Weight and Wellness, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Transitions of Care Coalition, Obesity Action Coalition, Orexigen Therapeutics, Sports and Fitness Industry Association, The Obesity Society, United States Soccer Foundation, Weight Watchers International, YMCA of the USA
Dear Colleague:
We hope you will join with us in our nation’s fight against skyrocketing health care costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 133 million Americans live with at least one chronic condition, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. Each year, these conditions account for 75 percent of all U.S. health care spending, and if we do not reduce these costs we may threaten the viability of our health care system. Alzheimer’s disease alone is estimated to cost Medicare and Medicaid $153 billion in 2015, and increase to 31 percent of all Medicare costs in 2050.
There is a real opportunity for cost savings by making modest reductions in the prevalence of chronic disease. For example, we know that a five percent reduction in population-wide body mass index (BMI) could save nearly $30 billion over just five years. If you extrapolate the same reduction over 20 years, the savings could amount to as much as $611 billion. ...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Getting Smart on CORRECTIONS

Senator John Cornyn (R., TX) recently testified before a House Committee on his and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's (D., RI) CORRECTIONS (Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers In Our National System) Act of 2015. Among other things, the bill seeks to lower the nation's prison population and save taxpayer money by "allowing lower-risk prisoners to participate in recidivism-reduction programs in exchange for earned-time credits". The measure also seeks to identify products currently manufactured outside the US that can potentially be manufactured by prisoners. 

A partial press release is provided below. 


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Cornyn Highlights CORRECTIONS Act At House Oversight Hearing On Criminal Justice Reform

‘The CORRECTIONS Act will help restore an important part of our criminal justice system, something that we’ve almost forgotten, and that is rehabilitation.’

Jul 14 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the bipartisan CORRECTIONS Act, a bill he introduced earlier this year with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The CORRECTIONS Act would improve public safety, help end the cycle of incarceration for prisoners, and save taxpayer money by allowing lower-risk prisoners to participate in recidivism-reduction programs in exchange for earned-time credits.
Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s testimony are below.
“Right now, the federal government … spends billions of dollars incarcerating individuals while doing little or nothing to address the underlying cause, or to better prepare them for their eventual release into civil society. We can, and we must, do better.”
“We’ve always been tough on crime in Texas, but in 2007 the state leaders decided to get smart on crime. Instead of just building more prisons and hoping that would somehow fix the problem, they decided to try a different approach: scrapping construction plans and instead funding recidivism-reduction programs aimed at helping lower-risk offenders turn their lives around and become productive members of society.” ...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

RECOVER Act (not to be confused with the Recovery Act)

Senators Ben Cardin (D., MD), Barbara A. Mikulski (D., MD), Mark Warner (D., VA) and Tim Kaine (D., VA) have introduced the RECOVER Act (Reducing the Effects of the Cyberattack on OPM Victims Emergency Response) Act of 2015. The bill looks to protect federal workers and others that have been exposed from the recent Office of Personnel Management hacks. 

A partial press release, along with the text of the bill, is located below. 


Cardin, Mikulski, Warner, Kaine Call for Stronger Protections for the Millions Affected by the Recent OPM Data Breaches

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) with Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have introduced legislation to better protect federal workers and all those potentially affected by the recent cyberattacks on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data system. Outraged by the expanse of the breach, the senators found the response by OPM to be severely lacking in the duration and extent of coverage for those who had their most sensitive information stolen off the government system.

The RECOVER Act (Reducing the Effects of the Cyberattack on OPM Victims Emergency Response Act of 2015) mandates expanded identity theft coverage for federal workers, contractors and other individuals affected, including lifetime coverage and not less than $5 million of identity theft insurance. This adjustment to what OPM has previously offered more adequately addresses the egregious nature of this federal cyberattack.

“Private-sector cyberhacks and cyberattacks have become too commonplace, but when the federal government’s own computer system shows its vulnerabilities to the world, we have a responsibility to protect the people who have been put at risk,” said Senator Cardin.“Off-the-shelf solutions are not good enough. We need to plug the holes in the federal network and make sure our workers, their families and all those who have been violated are held harmless from any damage that may be done.” ...

The full text of the RECOVER Act follows: 
Title: To require the Office of Personnel Management to provide complimentary, comprehensive identity protection coverage to all individuals whose personally identifiable information was compromised during recent data breaches at Federal agencies.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the “Reducing the Effects of the Cyberattack on OPM Victims Emergency Response Act of 2015” or the “RECOVER Act”.
(a) Definition.—In this section, the term “affected individual” means any individual whose personally identifiable information was compromised during—
(1) the data breach of personnel records of current and former Federal employees, at a network maintained by the Department of the Interior, that was announced by the Office of Personnel Management on June 4, 2015; or
(2) the data breach of systems of the Office of Personnel Management containing information related to the background investigations of current, former, and prospective Federal employees, and of other individuals 
(b) Identity Protection Coverage.—The Office of Personnel Management shall provide to each affected individual complimentary identity protection coverage that—
(1) is not less comprehensive than the complimentary identify protection coverage that the Office provided to affected individuals before the date of enactment of this Act;
(2) is effective for the remainder of the life of the individual; and
(3) includes not less than $5,000,000 in identity theft insurance.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

EACH Woman's Right to Choose

Today Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D., CA), Jan Schakowsky (D., IL) and Diana DeGette (D., CO), introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act. According to a press release, the "bill would ensure health coverage of abortion for every woman regardless of her income, how she is insured or where she lives. In essence the bill would end the harmful Hyde Amendment policies that restrict a woman’s ability to make the best healthcare decisions for herself and her family."

Readers of this blog will probably note the contorted style of the bill's acronym. Without being selective as far as letters, the acronym would be: EAACHI. Additionally, the "Woman" part appears to be added into the acronym title even though it doesn't appear in the complete short title, which makes the acronym title quite a stretch. 

A partial press release is provided below. 



Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Congresswoman Diana DeGette, led a group of 70 Democrats in introducing the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act or the EACH Woman Act.
The bill would ensure health coverage of abortion for every woman regardless of her income, how she is insured or where she lives. In essence the bill would end the harmful Hyde Amendment policies that restrict a woman’s ability to make the best healthcare decisions for herself and her family.
“Each and every day, the rights of women are under attack in America – today, we push back because every person has a right to healthcare. The EACH Woman Act is a bold and groundbreaking step forward. This legislation would ensure that every woman can access ALL of her healthcare options, regardless of how much money she earns or where she lives,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13). “Regardless of how someone personally feels about abortion, none of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions just because she is poor.” ...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

(Doubly) SAFE Justice Bill to Reduce Prison Population

Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R., WI) and Bobby Scott (D., VA) have introduced the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act of 2015 to reform the federal criminal code and the bloated federal prison population. The sponsors really want to promote the issue of safety, given that it's not only the acronym spelled for the bill, but also what the "S" stands for in the acronym as well. When it comes to evocatively titled acronyms, there's probably not a member of Congress better at getting their legislation passed than Mr. Sensenbrenner, who's authored a number of such measures

Below is a partial press release regarding the measure. 



Sensenbrenner, Scott Introduce Bipartisan, State-tested Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

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Washington, Jun 25 0 comments
Two years after beginning an intensive, comprehensive review of the federal criminal justice system as the leaders of the Over-Criminalization Task Force, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) today introduced bipartisan, state-tested legislation aimed at safely reining in the size and associated costs of the federal criminal code and prison system.

The Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act of 2015 takes a broad-based approach to improving the federal sentencing and corrections system, from front-end sentencing reform to back-end release policies.  It is also the first bill that addresses the federal supervision system – ensuring that probation does a better job stopping the revolving door at federal prisons.  The legislation, which is inspired by the successes of states across the country, will reduce recidivism, concentrate prison space on violent and career criminals, increase the use of evidence-based alternatives to incarceration, curtail over-criminalization, reduce crime, and save money. 

“We cannot allow our criminal justice system to remain on its current trajectory,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).  “It’s not only fiscally unsustainable, but morally irresponsible. The states have been outperforming Congress on criminal justice reform for years, so today’s introduction of the SAFE Justice Act is a major step forward in implementing effective, meaningful reform on the federal level that will enact fairness in sentencing, reduce the taxpayer burden, and ensure the increased safety and prosperity of communities across the country.” 
Similar to the successful reform packages enacted in many states, the SAFE Justice Act aligns the federal prison system with the science about what works to reform criminal behavior. It reflects the growing consensus among researchers that, for many offenders, tacking more months and years onto long prison terms is a high-cost, low-return approach to public safety.  It also looks to the growing number of practices in correctional supervision that are shown to reduce recidivism. ...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Restoring Trust in BALTIMORE

Maryland Senators Ben Cardin (D.) and Barbara Mikulski (D.) have introduced the Building And Lifting Trust In order to Multiply Opportunities and Racial Equality” (BALTIMORE) Act. The bill includes Law Enforcement Reform (that also includes subtitles such as the End Racial Profiling Act and the Police Camera Act), Voting Rights Reform and Civil Rights Restoration, Sentencing Law Reform, and Re-Entry and Employment Law Reform. 

A partial press release is located after the jump. 


Cardin, Mikulski Introduce Legislative Package to Restore Community Trust in Baltimore and Nationwide

The “BALTIMORE Act” reinforces civil liberties, promotes best practices in policing, encourages training and provides a second chance to those re-entering society

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-Md.) have announced the introduction of legislation designed to address many of the core issues that have led to an erosion of trust among communities and law enforcement. S. 1610, officially named the “BALTIMORE Act,” would help communities nationwide by Building And Lifting Trust In order to Multiply Opportunities and Racial Equality” (BALTIMORE).

“It’s finally time that we took comprehensive steps to restore hope and trust in our neighborhoods. We need to ensure that all our citizens’ rights are preserved while giving police the tools they need to re-engage with the families and individuals they are there to protect,” said Senator Cardin. “I thank my colleagues who have contacted Senator Mikulski and me offering their help and willingness to work together to deal with the issues that have been raised in Baltimore and other cities around the country. The components of the BALTIMORE Act are powerful antidotes to many of the long-term ills facing our city and others. We must simultaneously promote more economic development and opportunities for our cities, but this bill gives individuals and law enforcement a second chance to do the right thing and contribute in a positive way for their families, their neighborhoods and the larger community.”

“Though the recent riots in Baltimore happened in my hometown, it easily could have happened in any of America’s hometowns,” Senator Mikulski said. “We must fix the frayed trust between our police and the communities they’re sworn to protect with more than a band-aid. That’s what this legislation does. Ending racial profiling, increasing accountability, collecting critical crime data like officer related shootings, and providing real strategies and resources to strengthen police-community relations will help protect the rights of every American, on every side of our justice system.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SPACE Politics

Representative Kevin McCarthy (R., CA) has introduced Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015. While the White House agrees with many aspects of the legislation, it released an official statement regarding what could be improved. 

The full statement is located below the jump. 


H.R. 2262 - Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and
Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015
(Rep. McCarthy, R-CA, and 12 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports the development of a commercial space sector that pushes the boundaries of space exploration while creating jobs and strengthening the American economy.  The American commercial launch industry is the most competitive in the world.  Over the past several years, the industry has rapidly increased its share of the global market for sending satellites and other payloads into space.  The Administration agrees with the goal of H.R. 2262 to bring more stability and certainty to this growing market.  While the Administration does not oppose House passage of the bill, it has serious concerns with certain provisions of the bill.  

For example, the Administration believes that the “learning period” restricting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation of spacecraft should be extended for a shorter period than the ten-year extension through 2025 included in the bill.  Over the next few years, several American companies are expected to bring commercial orbital and sub-orbital vehicles into service.  A safety framework that relies on performance-based regulations which could be satisfied by voluntary industry consensus standards would provide for a flexible approach that enhances the overall safety of the industry.  FAA rulemaking activity prior to 2025 may promote, rather than hinder, the development of the commercial spaceflight industry, depending on the pace at which the market for private spaceflight services grows.

With respect to space resource utilization, the Administration recognizes that steps have been taken to ensure that the bill itself is consistent with the United States' international obligations. While the Administration strongly supports the bill's efforts to facilitate innovative new space activities by U.S. companies, such as the commercial exploration and utilization of space resources to meet national needs, the Administration is concerned about the ability of U.S. companies to move forward with these initiatives absent additional authority to ensure continuing supervision of these initiatives by the U.S. Government as required by the Outer Space Treaty.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address these and other concerns as the bill moves through the legislative process.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

EMPOWERing Presidential Campaign Public Finance

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D., MD) and David Price (D., NC), along with Senator Tom Udall (D., NM) have introduced the Empowering Mass Participation to Offset the Wealthy's Electoral Role (EMPOWER) Act. The press release notes that "With mega-donors exerting increasing influence on elections and increasing public disgust for out-of-control special interest electioneering," the act "would modernize the presidential public financing system to help publicly funded candidates compete."

The full press release is provided below. 


Maryland’s 8th District

For Immediate Release
May 7, 2015

CONTACT:     Bridgett Frey – 202-225-5384
                        Ian Jannetta – 202-225-1527
Van Hollen, Price, Udall Introduce EMPOWER Act to Modernize Presidential Campaign Public Financing System
Much-needed reform increases federal match to 6:1, restores power to small donors, ensures candidates can compete despite Citizens United
Washington, DC –  Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, along with U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Congressman David Price (D-N.C.), announced that they have introduced legislation to reduce the influence of money in presidential elections by empowering candidates who decline support from wealthy special interests. With mega-donors exerting increasing influence on elections and increasing public disgust for out-of-control special interest electioneering, the Empowering Mass Participation to Offset the Wealthy's Electoral Role (EMPOWER) Act would modernize the presidential public financing system to help publicly funded candidates compete. By increasing the government's match for small donations to 6:1, increasing the ability of political parties to financially support candidates and taking other important steps, the bill would help restore the public's trust that they - not a few wealthy donors - can affect the outcome of our presidential elections.

The presidential public financing system is one of the country's most significant post-Watergate campaign finance reforms. It offers public matching funds to candidates who demonstrate their viability by raising small contributions. In exchange, participating candidates must abide by voluntary limits on private fundraising. Public financing has helped level the playing field for lesser-known presidential candidates, funding almost every presidential campaign for more than two decades. One of the original champions in Congress of public financing legislation was former U.S. Rep. Mo Udall (D-Ariz.), who ran for president in 1976. Several candidates have benefited, including President Ronald Reagan. But the program has not been updated since 1974, and it has become increasingly inadequate for modern, post-Citizens United presidential campaigns.

"With secret special interest spending reaching epic proportions in our electoral process, it is more important than ever to have a system that gives individual voters a voice," Congressman Van Hollen said. "We will keep fighting to make our democracy more accountable to the American people, not well-heeled special interests."

"With the 2016 campaign already getting started, we urgently need a comprehensive plan to roll back big money in politics, which is why I'm leading the push to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United. But meanwhile, Congress must act to fix the presidential campaign financing system so it works for today's candidates and grassroots donors," Senator Udall said. "Our democracy should be built on the power of ordinary citizens, not a few billionaires with huge checkbooks. But when it comes to presidential elections, one look at recent headlines shows that's no longer the case. By empowering voters to impact elections, we can restore faith in our democracy and encourage even more people to participate. My uncle Mo Udall was a champion for public campaign financing in the wake of the Watergate scandal, and I'm proud to follow in his footsteps by pushing for this reform."
"Presidential public financing was a landmark post-Watergate reform, but the system needs modernizing for the Super PAC era, when a few wealthy donors outspend millions of ordinary citizens," Congressman Price said. "Empowering small-dollar donations with a matching system would be an important first step in taking our elections back from billionaires and corporations."

The EMPOWER Act would modernize the public financing system by increasing public matching funds available to candidates and enhancing the role of donors who contribute $250 or less by increasing the match to 6:1 (from 1:1). The bill would also eliminate spending limits on participating candidates, require publicly funded candidates to agree to accept contributions of no more than $1,000, empower national parties to compete alongside Super PACs by allowing them to make unlimited expenditures for publicly funded candidates, ensure candidates have broad support to qualify for public financing by requiring them to first raise a minimum amount to qualify for the program, and increase funding for the program through the voluntary income tax "check-off."

Several leading campaign finance reform organizations support the legislation, including Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Issue One, League of Women Voters, People For the American Way, and Public Citizen. The New York Times editorial board has endorsed several ideas to reform the presidential public financing system, many of which are incorporated into the bill.

Core Provisions of the Empowering Mass Participation to Offset the Wealthy's Electoral Role (EMPOWER) Act

- Eliminates spending limits on participating candidates: Candidate spending limits are no longer viable in the wake of Citizens United since outside groups can now make unlimited expenditures funded by unlimited contributions to oppose candidates. There would be a limit on the total amount of matching contributions available to a presidential candidate, to avoid draining public funds.

- Increases the amount of matching funds for participating candidates: The first $250 of contributions by individuals to presidential candidates would be matched with public funds at a 6:1 ratio, increased from the current 1:1 match. For example, a candidate participating in the system would receive $1,500 in public funds for a $250 contribution, and would end up with a total of $1,750. This would provide important new incentives for citizens to give and for candidates to seek small donations from supporters.

- Requires participating candidates to agree to accept contributions of no more than $1,000: The current individual contribution limit of $2,700 per donor, per election, would be reduced to $1,000 per donor, per election, for candidates who participate in the system. The present contribution limit would remain unchanged for candidates who do not participate in the system.

- Empowers national parties to compete alongside Super PAC dollars: In order to allow candidates to respond to a deluge of Super PAC dollars, national parties could make unlimited expenditures in coordination with candidates participating in the system, provided the unlimited expenditures were made from a pool of contributions raised by the party that was limited to $1,000 per donor, per year.

- Ensures candidates have broad support to qualify for public financing: To qualify for public financing, a presidential candidate would have to raise a threshold amount of individual contributions - totaling $25,000 in each of 20 states - counting only the first $250 of any individual contribution toward the threshold.

- Increases funding for the presidential campaign financing system: The bill would increase the current voluntary income tax "check-off" amount from $3 to $20 per individual and from $6 to $40 for a married couple, and index these amounts for inflation. Additionally, the bill would allow Americans, through their taxes, to donate to the public financing system fund.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

FASTR Access to Federal Research Funds

A bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives has introduced the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act, which seeks to enhance access to federally funded research. The coalition is composed of Senators John Cornyn (R., TX), Ron Wyden (D., OR) and Representatives Mike Doyle (D., PA), Kevin Yoder (R., KS), and Zoe Lofgren (D., CA). 

A partial press release is provided below.



March 18, 2015
Sen. Cornyn: Drew Brandewie, 202-224-0704 Sen. Wyden: Sam Offerdahl, 202-224-5039 Rep. Doyle: Matt Dinkel, 202-225-2135
Rep. Yoder: CJ Grover, 202-225-2865
Rep. Lofgren: Peter Whippy, 202-225-3072

Bipartisan Coalition Introduces FASTR Act To Improve Access To Federally-Funded Research

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan coalition of members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives today introduced the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act, a bill to improve public access to federally-funded research.

The FASTR Act’s introduction coincides with “Sunshine Week,” a movement to highlight the need for transparency and openness from the federal government. ...

The FASTR Act would:

-          Require each publicly-funded researcher to submit an electronic copy of the final text of peer-reviewed research and ensure that manuscript is available for free online access within six months.
-          Spur innovation and encourage job creation by allowing faster access to research that can help individuals and businesses turn ideas and concepts into goods and services.
-          Encourage private investment in information technology to capitalize on government research.
-          Ensure a higher return on taxpayer investment that could be worth around $1.6 billion.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bipartisan Weed Act

Sens. Cory Booker (D., NJ), Rand Paul (R., KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D., NY) have released their long awaited medical marijuana bill, which contains an exceedingly tortured acronym title: the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act

According to the press release, the bill hopes to accomplish six major goals: 
1) Recognize States' Responsibility to Set Medical Marijuana Policy & Eliminate Potential Federal Prosecution
The CARERS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act so that states can set their own medical marijuana policies. The patients, providers and businesses participating in state medical marijuana programs will no longer be in violation of federal law and vulnerable to federal prosecution.
(2) Reschedule Marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, Recognizing "Accepted Medical Use"
Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I drug, meaning it does not currently have accepted medical use in the United States. The CARERS Act moves it to Schedule II, recognizing what Americans already know: marijuana has a legitimate medical purpose.
(3) Allow States to Import Cannbidiol (CBD), Recognized Treatment for Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
The CARERS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to remove specific strains of CBD oil from the federal of definition of marijuana. This will allow youth suffering from intractable epilepsy to gain access to the medicine they need to control their seizures.
(4) Provide Veterans Access
Doctors in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities are currently prohibited prescribing medical marijuana. The CARERS Act would allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans.
(5) Permit Financial Services and Banking for Marijuana Dispensaries
Right now, medical marijuana business is a cash business. The CARERS Act provides a safe harbor to banks and credit unions, their officers and employees that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that engage in activities pursuant to state law.
 (6) Expand Opportunities for Research
The CARERS Act removes unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for researchers to gain government approval to undertake important research on marijuana.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Congress LEADS Global Data Storage Solution?

Representatives Tom Marino (R., PA) and Suzan DelBene (D., WA) have introduced the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act). A press release calls it "a simple solution to the all too common and complicated problem of international data storage and governmental access," further noting that it "balances the critical needs of law enforcement and sovereignty of foreign nations with the importance of respecting privacy and personal information."

The bill is supported by a number of organizations and businesses, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Microsoft. The full press release is below the jump. 


Reps. Marino, DelBene Introduce LEADS Act

Feb 27, 2015 Issues: Defense and National Security
February 27, 2015
Reps. Marino, DelBene Introduce LEADS Act
Washington D.C.—Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act) today. The LEADS Act is a simple solution to the all too common and complicated problem of international data storage and governmental access. The legislation balances the critical needs of law enforcement and sovereignty of foreign nations with the importance of respecting privacy and personal information.
This legislation also strengthens the framework of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) by resisting the trend of storing data within each and protection efforts in an era of cloud storage and computing where information exchanges increasingly ignore the confines of traditional international boundaries.
Congressman Marino, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform said the following:
“I am proud to join Congresswoman DelBene in this effort and have great confidence that with her help, our colleagues on both sides of the aisle can join in supporting the LEADS Act. It is an important piece of legislation which has significant and positive implications for law enforcement and private citizens. If we cannot accomplish the act of passing this reasonable legislation, U.S. companies will find it increasingly difficult to compete overseas and online user privacy will diminish.”
Congresswoman DelBene said the following:
“U.S. companies need clear guidelines on when they have to turn over electronic communications to law enforcement if that information is stored abroad. The current uncertainty harms U.S. businesses and their customers, and does not well-serve our foreign relationships,” DelBene said. “The LEADS Act is an important step in solving one of the most challenging issues in the electronic information age, and I look forward to working with stakeholders to pass productive legislation that will give U.S. companies a workable legal framework.”
The following organizations are supporters of the LEADS Act:
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), AT&T, App Association, Apple, Brittenford Systems, The Software Alliance, Carter-McGowan Services Alliance, TechNet, Cisco, Cogent Company, Verizon, Focal Technology, Gruene Technology Group, Hewlett-Packer Company, IBM, Interknowlogy, KDM Consulting, Kumo Technology, ManyWorlds, Inc., Microsoft, National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation, National Association of Manufacturers, Rackspace, Tech Cumulus, Telecommunications Industry Association and Verizon support the legislation.