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:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Healthy Climate and Family Security: Who Would have Thought?

Today Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., MD) introduced the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014. According to a press release the measure: 
caps carbon pollution and reduces CO2 emissions gradually but steadily, auctions carbon pollution permits to the first sellers of oil, coal, and natural gas into the U.S. market, and returns 100 percent of the auction proceeds electronically each quarter to every American with a valid Social Security number in the form of a Healthy Climate Dividend. On an economy-wide level, the price signal placed on carbon pollution will accelerate innovation and incentivize both greater energy efficiency as well as greater use of lower-carbon energy alternatives.
Rep. Van Hollen also has a factsheet and an infographic on the bill, and has written an op-ed for the Huffington Post

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

House Believes 'America Gives More'

Last week the House passed Rep. Tom Reed's (R., NY) America Gives More Act of 2014, which promotes charitable giving through the tax code. The measure is a combination of five previous bills, including the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2014. 

The Obama Administration opposes the measure, and in a statement noted: 

[T]he Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 4719, which would permanently extend three current provisions that offer enhanced tax breaks for certain donations and add another two similar provisions without offsetting the cost. If this same, unprecedented approach of making certain traditional tax extenders permanent without offsets were followed for the other traditional tax extenders, it would add $500 billion or more to deficits over the next ten years, wiping out most of the deficit reduction achieved through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013. Just two months ago, House Republicans themselves passed a budget resolution that required offsetting any tax extenders that were made permanent with other revenue measures.
As with other similar proposals, Republicans are imposing a double standard by adding to the deficit to continue and create tax breaks that primarily benefit higher-income individuals, while insisting on offsetting the proposed extension of emergency unemployment benefits and the discretionary funding increases for defense and non-defense priorities such as research and development in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. House Republicans also are making clear their priorities by rushing to make these tax cuts permanent without offsets even as the House Republican budget resolution calls for raising taxes on 26 million working families and students by letting important improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and education tax credits expire.

Senate Votes to Bring Jobs Home

Today the Senate passed Sen. John Walsh's (D., MT) Bring Jobs Home Act. The bill would provide a 20% credit for businesses that insourced jobs from abroad back into the US, and would close the tax break for businesses that outsourced jobs overseas. 

The Obama Administration released a statement strongly supporting the bill, and noting: 
Senate passage of this bill is consistent with the Administration's commitment to support economic growth, job creation, and business investment in the United States, and serves to discourage outsourcing in all sectors of the economy, but particularly in the Nation's manufacturing sector. Following a decade in which the United States lost over five million manufacturing jobs, the Nation has begun to make progress. Since February 2010, the U.S. manufacturing sector has added more than 650,000 new jobs, the fastest pace of manufacturing job growth since the mid-1990s. Instead of rewarding firms for shifting production and jobs overseas, the tax code should strengthen the domestic manufacturing sector, support job growth and innovation, and encourage companies from all sectors of the economy to invest in the United States.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Royalties for American ART

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., NY) has introduced the ART (American Royalties Too) Act of 2014, which attempts to compensate American artists when their work is sold at public auction both in the US and abroad. A similar measure has been presented in the Senate by Tammy Baldwin (D., WI). 

A partial press release on the measure is located after the jump. 


Rep. Nadler Welcomes Hearing on Artists’ Resale Rights

Jul 14, 2014 Issues: Jobs, Labor and the Economy
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, is pleased to announce that the Subcommittee’s next hearing will be on moral rights, termination rights, resale royalty, and copyright term.  Congressman Nadler introduced the American Royalties Too (ART) Act, which will be discussed at the hearing, earlier this year in order to ensure visual artists are compensated when their original artwork is resold.  His legislation would bring fairness to American artists who, unlike their fellow visual artists in 70 countries, do not receive any compensation when their works are resold at public auction. ...

HUMANE Act to the Rescue!

In light of the recent border crisis, Sen John Cornyn (R., TX) and Rep. Henry Cuellar, (D., TX) introduced the HUMANE (Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency) Act. According to a press release on the measure, the bill would: 
  • Improve the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008—treating all unaccompanied migrant children crossing our border with equality under the law, and allowing for voluntary reunification with family, whether they are from Mexico, Central America, or any other country.
  • Keep current protections for safe repatriation.
  • Allow unaccompanied migrant children who have a claim to remain legally in the United States to make this claim in court before an immigration judge within 7 days of the completion of Health and Human Services screening under the TVPRA of 2008. It authorizes up to 40 new immigration judges for this purpose, and keeps current law in place requiring HHS to make all efforts to secure pro-bono legal counsel for the child.
  • Require immigration judges to make a determination as to whether an unaccompanied migrant child is eligible to remain in the United States within 72 hours of making their claim. Children who succeed in their claim will be allowed to remain in the United States in the custody of a sponsor while they pursue their legal remedies. Children who do not successfully make such a claim will be reunited with family in their home country.
  • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide unaccompanied migrant children with protective shelter while they are awaiting their initial hearing in court before a judge.
  • Allow access to these expedited court hearings for unaccompanied migrant children who have already been released to sponsors with notices to appear in immigration court. 
  • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct FBI fingerprint background checks on any person taking custody of an unaccompanied alien child. Prohibits the Secretary from releasing children to persons convicted of sex offenses and human trafficking.
  • Require a plan and provide for additional resources necessary for operational control of our southern border. 
Also, see the two bill sponsors speaking about the measure on Fox News here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For STELA, It's in the STAR[s]!

Today the House Judiciary Committee approved the STAR (Satellite Television Access Reauthorization) Act, which extends the the expiring provisions of STELA (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act) of 2010. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., VT), sponsored the original STELA law, and has a corresponding measure introduced in the Senate. 

A press release from the House Judiciary is located below. 


House Judiciary Committee Approves Satellite Television Reauthorization

Jul 10, 2014 Issues: Jobs, Labor and the Economy
Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by voice vote theSatellite Television Access Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5036), a bipartisan bill authored by Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-N.C.) to extend, for five years, the expiring provisions of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) of 2010 which governs satellite companies’ ability to retransmit broadcast television.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D- Mich.), Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-N.C.), and Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) praised the Committee’s approval of this legislation in the joint statement below.
“Today’s passage of the Satellite Television Access Reauthorization Act by the House Judiciary Committee ensures that our constituents have full access to network programming no matter where they live for another five years.  Our constituents depend upon this license for entertainment, news, and sports.  We look forward to working with our colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee and in the Senate to ensure that legislation to protect satellite consumers is in place before the December 31, 2014 expiration of STELA.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Hobby Lobby Bill

Democrats have challenged the Supreme Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., by introducing the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014, or the Hobby Lobby Bill. In the House, Reps. Louise Slaughter (D., NY) and Diana DeGette (D., CO), co-chairwomen of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., NY) filed the bill, and in the upper chamber, Senators Patty Murray (D., WA.), Mark Udall (D., CO) and Ben Cardin (D., MD) are pushing the measure. 

Senator Cardin's memo on the bill notes that it: 
Ensures that employers cannot interfere in their employee’s decisions about contraception and other health services through discrimination by:
• Banning employers from refusing to cover any health coverage – including contraceptive coverage -- guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law.
• Stating that all federal laws do not permit employers to refuse to comply with the ACA requirement, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
• Including the exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement for houses of worship and the accommodation for religious non-profits.

A partial press release from the House members is located below the jump. 


Slaughter, DeGette, Nadler Introduce Legislation in Response to Hobby Lobby Decision

Jul 9, 2014 Issues: Health Care
WASHINGTON – Today, Reps. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-CO), co-Chairs of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a veteran member of the House Judiciary Committee and one of the leaders in the fight for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, will introduce legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Burwell. The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 would explicitly prohibit for-profit employers that maintain a group health plan for its employees from using religious beliefs to deny employees coverage of contraception or any other vital health service required by federal law. The bill exempts federally mandated health services from RFRA while keeping in place the existing exemption for religious employers (e.g., houses of worship) and accommodation of religious non-profits who do not wish to provide contraceptives. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are introducing companion legislation in the Senate.
“This bill will ensure that employee access to critical health services is not at the mercy of their bosses’ religious beliefs,” said Reps. Slaughter, DeGette, and Nadler. “Congress never intended to allow corporate employers to block employee access to critical preventive services like birth control. We hope that our colleagues will join us in acting quickly to correct the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Our bill simply protects employees’ rights to all federally mandated health services, including contraception. A woman’s private medical decisions should be between her, her doctor, and whomever else she wishes to consult – they should not be subject to approval by politicians, Supreme Court justices, or bosses.”