June 2016 (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) At its 47th Annual National Convention, Hall of Fame Gala, the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) awarded Lisa Colon Heron, Esq. with the Ray Dones Service Award. The Ray Down Service Award, named in honor of NAMC’s founder, recognizes a NAMC member who has provided significant contributions to NAMC.
Lisa is a Partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Smith Currie & Hancock. Lisa is Board Certified in Construction Law by the Florida Bar. Lisa represents owners, contractors, and subcontractors, , design professionals, and sureties in public and private real estate and construction matters and has experience with federal, state and local government contracting issues.
Good afternoon, and thank you, Senator Cruz, for calling this hearing. I greatly appreciate our coming together to work toward a bill that will keep NASA moving forward in an exciting and productive manner.
It’s notable that July 20th, one week from today, marks the 40th anniversary of the first landing on Mars by NASA’s Viking 1. And the legacy of that mission, and subsequent missions to the Red Planet, is that we now know that Mars was once warm and wet and may very well have supported life. There’s even evidence of flowing water at the surface of Mars today.
In 2010, we passed a bipartisan NASA Authorization Act calling on the agency to explore beyond the Earth’s orbit, with the long term goal of a human mission to Mars.
I recently visited Stennis Space Center and the Michoud Assembly Facility on the Gulf Coast, as well as the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, and I can tell that progress toward that goal is real. We also have Orion at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida being prepared for its first journey beyond the moon. We are going to Mars, and the rockets and engines and spacecraft that are the building blocks of that mission are being assembled and tested right now!
And if all continues to go well, by the end of next year, we will once again have American astronauts launching to space from Florida soil on American rockets, thanks to the partnerships NASA has forged with SpaceX and Boeing.
It is truly an exciting time for our space program.
This committee has always worked in a non-partisan manner, and I am pleased to be a part of continuing that tradition in this Congress as we work toward advancing and passing a NASA reauthorization.
Thank you all for being here, and I look forward to your testimony.
GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth Connects Silicon Valley StartUps to the Federal Cybersecurity Conversation in GSA’s Cyber Industry Day
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education programs for more than 30 years. H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, updates the law to reflect today’s economic needs and the challenges that students and workers currently face.
In particular, I’m pleased that the bill streamlines the number of performance measures for postsecondary programs and aligns them with the performance measures in WIOA, retaining that law’s precedent-setting accountability standards that let taxpayers and lawmakers see clearly which programs work—and which programs don’t.
This bipartisan bill goes a long way toward ensuring that individuals who pursue a technical education have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
However, I believe it’s time we acknowledge that all education is career education and stop dividing the path to a high school degree into two tracks.
Students pursue education to develop the necessary skills to find a job, preferably a career, in a chosen field. It’s the same objective whether the student is pursuing a medical degree at an Ivy League university or taking automotive performance courses at the local community college.
Unfortunately, there is an unnecessary stigma attached to career and technical education. It’s too often referred to as the “other” track, with the incorrect implication that it’s the path individuals take if they won’t be able to handle the rigors of college. In reality, students who pursue CTE complete a diverse curriculum where they learn important skills for succeeding in the workplace, such as problem-solving, research, time management, and critical thinking. They are more engaged, perform better and graduate at higher rates than their college-bound counterparts. We should be celebrating that success and studying how we translate it across the board.
But as long as we have two educational tracks, we have a problem in the way people perceive those who choose career and technical education. We need to shift our perspective away from the idea that every student must attend an expansive and expensive four-year program to succeed in the workforce. Educational success is about more than just a degree. It’s about quantifiable skills that employers need in their employees.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.
In our constantly connected world, where everything from shopping to health research to job applications take place online, companies are collecting unprecedented amounts of personal information and creating ever more sophisticated individualized profiles of consumers usually without their knowledge.
As a result, the question about how best to protect consumer privacy and give consumers more power over the collection and use of their personal information has never been more important.
My track record in support of strong consumer privacy protections is clear.
Along with Senator Blumenthal, I introduced legislation this Congress to establish national data security and breach notification standards and provide additional authority to enforce these new standards.
I also have publicly called on the FCC to investigate specific practices or products that threaten consumer privacy. I have called on CEOs of communications companies to provide assurances that they are protecting consumer privacy.
We all share the same goal – how best to protect consumer online privacy.
But it strikes me in looking at the FCC’s proposed privacy rules that both sides of the debate come at these questions with preconceived notions about how best to achieve this goal.
On one side, we are told that the FCC should not be adopting any rules for broadband providers because we are not also applying those same rules to every online player.
On the other side, we are told that the FCC should adopt the most stringent rules possible in order to prohibit broadband provides from using any consumer data.
For me, the question is ultimately how to preserve the benefits of online commerce but in a way that takes into account consumers’ right to know about, and when appropriate, control the collection and use of their personal information.
Putting aside claims of regulatory overreach or power grabs, let’s be clear: the FCC IS the expert agency for regulating communications networks, including broadband networks.
It is an expert oversight agency with flexible, forward-looking authority to protect consumers. In fact, I have pushed the FCC over the past several years to use that authority to protect privacy.
We need regulators who are not afraid to use their authority when necessary – including to protect consumer privacy – but also know when to exercise that authority with humility.
This is a difficult balance, but that does not mean that an agency should defer or otherwise be reluctant to do what it believes is best to protect consumers.
The FCC is still in the middle of a rulemaking to sort all of this out. I look forward to hearing about the FCC’s proposals and alternative approaches, but make no doubt, at the end of the day, I’m going to side with consumers and whichever approach that I think best protects the privacy of broadband subscribers.
The hearing will explore stakeholder perspectives on implementation of the recently-enacted FAST Act and its role in improving our nation’s infrastructure, increasing safety, and enhancing economic growth. The hearing will also cover emerging economic and policy opportunities and challenges for transportation providers, shippers, planners, and state officials.
• Mr. Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, Chief Executive Officer, Kansas City Southern Railway Company
• Major Jay Thompson, Arkansas Highway Police; President, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
• Mr. David Eggermann, Supply Chain Manager, BASF
• Mr. Stephen J. Gardner, Executive Vice President and Chief of NEC Business Development, Amtrak
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
2:30 p.m. ET
Senate Russell Building 253
Witness testimony, opening statements, and a livestream will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Curbelo Hearing Spotlights Importance of Small Companies to NASA
WASHINGTON – Today small business owners told a key Congressional subcommittee that their companies and others like them play a vital role in meeting the needs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).Witnesses and lawmakers also discussed ways to strengthen and improve the critical partnership between small companies and NASA as the agency prepares to celebrate its 58th anniversary later this month.
“Designing next generation spacecraft takes time and in recent years, thankfully, there has been bipartisan consensus on the path forward for human exploration of deep space,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), the Chairman of the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade which convened today’s hearing. “With a new Administration taking office in January, we must build upon that commitment and provide the certainty the industry needs to continue growing, innovating, and building our economy to ensure our nation continues its preeminence in human space flight.”
SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER
“One thing is clear: We must not allow the uncertainties of the past to prevail again. We must advance – and accelerate – into the next administration,” said Chris Carberry, the Co-Founder of Explore Mars, Inc.“There is strong bi-partisan support for the goal of sending humans to Mars, and there is clear excitement about that goal from the general public. We must harness that strong consensus.”
“We are approaching another major hurdle, and that is the uncertainty that traditionally accompanies a change in Administrations. Will we once again shift directions and throw our space program – and the small business community upon which its success depends - into turmoil, or will we fully embrace our current policy of sending humans to Mars? We have come so far in recent years, and it benefits no one if we radically change course again,” added Carberry.
“I am today – at a crossroads of how to keep the manufacturing side afloat while waiting for delayed payments, extended NASA contract decisions and lack of access to working capital because of stringent banking regulations imposed by the Federal Government. I’ve effectively robbed Peter to grow Paul,” explained Carol Craig, President and CEO of Craig Technologies, a small business based in Cape Canaveral, FL. “I did so because it was the right thing to do – for our business, for our employees and for our community. I believe in our free market system and always strive to offer the very best product and/or service for the price agreed upon. Unfortunately, the cards remain stacked against a small business entrepreneur - even one who overcomes the odds and makes it to the next level.”
“Creating valuable employment opportunities in my community remains my number one goal and priority. But money has to come in the front door on a logical and planned timeline in order to properly budget and ensure the books remain solvent,” added Craig.
NASA OVER THE MOON FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
“I want to emphasize that for small businesses, NASA remains one of the Federal government’s most supportive organizations, testified Stephen Gorevan of Honeybee Robotics, Ltd, a small business based in Brooklyn, NY. “I believe NASA understands the ways in which the small business community can help it succeed with its mission, and it takes seriously its mandate to provide opportunities for small businesses such as Honeybee Robotics to thrive. We are excited for what the future holds and, along with our small business colleagues, look forward to the exciting and important missions ahead.”
CREATING JOBS, SPURRING INNOVATION
“Another challenge Small Businesses face in supporting NASA is the long-term stability of the SBIR-STTRprogram,” added George Davis, Ph.D, the president and founder of Emergent Space Technologies, noting that the program is budget-neutral. “Many U.S. Small Businesses rely on the SBIR-STTRprogram for seed funding in developing a unique product. Others, like Emergent, rely on it to perform strategic R&D for NASA, Air Force and DARPA. Ultimately this funding translates into jobs, both now and in the future.”
“As Albert Einstein once said, 'if we knew what we were doing, we would not call it research.' Congress can help Small Businesses by continuing its strong support of the SBIR-STTR program, especially when it comes to reauthorization in FY2020. Any delay or disruption in this vital program could result in the loss of thousands of job across the country,” concluded Davis.
Good afternoon. I am pleased to convene the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation & Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security for today’s hearing entitled “Intermodal and Interdependent: the FAST Act, the Economy, and Our Nation’s Transportation System.”
This hearing will explore diverse stakeholder perspectives on the implementation of the FAST Act and its role in improving our nation’s infrastructure, increasing safety, and enhancing economic growth.
We also plan to cover emerging economic and policy opportunities and challenges for freight and passenger transportation providers, shippers, and transportation safety officials.
Transportation is critical to our nation’s economy. Safe and reliable infrastructure facilitates commerce across the United States and with our global trading partners.
As I’ve stated before in this Subcommittee, time is money.
Efficient supply chains are key to reducing costs for both businesses and consumers.
America’s economy relies on our vast multi-modal transportation network consisting of railroads, highways, ports, maritime vessels, automobiles, and airplanes.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, our nation’s 140,000 miles of freight railroads, “move more freight than any other freight system worldwide.”
A recent report from Towson University found that class I freight railroads generated $274 billion in economic activity in 2014.
Nearly 31 million passengers boarded Amtrak’s passenger trains last year.
On the nation’s highways, commercial truckers carried almost 10 billion tons of freight in 2014, representing 69 percent of all domestic freight hauled in the U.S.
Across our skies, America’s aviation system transported an all-time high of nearly 897 million passengers and carried 66 billion revenue ton miles of cargo.
The overall success of the transportation sector is often considered a key indicator for activity in the financial markets. Many investors and economists believe that transportation sector trends can indicate broader market directions, often referred to as “Dow Theory.”
As the Wall Street Journal explains, “Dow Theory holds that any lasting rally to new highs in the Dow Jones Industrial Average must be accompanied by a new high in the Dow Jones Industrial Transportation Average—[this is] the 20-stock index that tracks some of the largest U.S. airlines, railroads, and trucking companies. When the transport average lags, it can presage broader stock declines.”
Unfortunately, the transportation sector currently faces economic challenges. In general, rail, maritime, air cargo, and trucking carrier volumes are down because of a variety of factors. These include a dip in commodities, such as agriculture and certain energy products.
I understand that many carriers are turning to intermodal shipments as a growing area of business, including household goods and manufactured products, as they seek to address current downturns in commodities. It is my hope that the FAST Act’s robust national freight policy will help to enhance the flow of intermodal freight across our country.
I’m proud that this Congress accomplished the passage of a long-term highway bill. It will increase safety on our roads, highways, and railways. It will also provide certainty to states and localities, and ultimately, bolster our economy.
But our work to strengthen America’s transportation network is not done. Traffic is rising and, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), highway fatalities increased by 7.7 percent in 2015.
As I mentioned, the FAST Act includes a new national strategic freight program, which will help our states prioritize freight traffic and increase safety. The program provides states with the discretion to direct new funds to rural and urban freight corridors with higher commercial traffic.
Increased investment will also be available for first and last mile connectors for freight at airports, trucking facilities, and railyards under this national freight program.
Meanwhile, members of this Committee have worked with carriers and law enforcement to reform the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to increase transparency and stakeholder participation. The FAST Act streamlines motor carrier safety grants, enhances the safety of hazardous materials transportation, and includes a comprehensive rail safety title.
I’m pleased that today we’ll hear from a wide array of participants in our transportation network. We are fortunate to have the incoming CEO of one of our nation’s leading freight railroads. We also welcome representatives from the world’s largest chemical manufacturer, America’s passenger railroad, and a motor carrier law enforcement official to speak with us this afternoon.
I look forward to our discussion on the FAST Act and the impact it will have on our transportation system and the economic growth of the United States.
I would now like to invite Senator Booker to offer his opening remarks.