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Thune and Nelson Statement on Inspector General Criticisms of TSA Risk Assessments

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who serve respectively as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, issued the follow statements on a new report released today by the office of the Department of Homeland Security inspector general concluding that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), “lacks an intelligence-driven, risk-based security strategy that informs security and resource decisions across all transportation modes.”

With 3 Cases on October 2016 Docket, US Supreme Court Poised to Expand Its Impact on Patent Rights

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 12:05pm
Featured Expert Contributor – Intellectual Property (Patents) Jeffri A. Kaminski, Venable LLP The US Supreme Court will hear arguments on three patent cases in the October 2016 Term.  Each case addresses a different area of patent law. In Samsung v. Apple (argument October 11), the Court will address the amount of damages awarded for infringement […]
Categories: Latest News

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

The Federal Communications Commission has a very full – and by all accounts, an ambitious – agenda in front of it this fall.  And while proceedings like the one on broadband privacy are incredibly important, I want to touch initially on Chairman Wheeler’s latest proposal to free consumers from having to pay annoying and excessive monthly rental fees for set-top boxes. 

Everybody agrees that we need to move beyond set top boxes.  The marketplace should constantly strive for ways to give consumers what they want.   Congress said as much in 1996 when we required the FCC give consumers some alternatives to these boxes.

Unfortunately, twenty years has passed and consumers are still renting these boxes month after month.  That’s no longer acceptable.  That’s why this senator is fully supportive of the FCC’s efforts to use its authority to give consumers some relief.

Chairman Wheeler, as we have discussed, I am encouraged that your leadership and relentless drive have gotten us so close to that shared goal. 

As you know, I’ve spent a great deal of my time here in the Senate putting politics aside in order to reach agreement on reforms that improve the lives of the Americans.   I learned a long time ago that no matter how good intentioned a proposal, if consensus can’t be reached then it’s not likely going to be a success.

We sit here today two weeks from a planned vote on your proposal and I continue to hear from many stakeholders that there are elements of your proposal that continue to need work.  And much of that concern comes from the approach you have taken on copyright and content.  In fact, I share those concerns and stated those concerns to you months ago.

If we stay on the present course, I fear the FCC’s actions to promote set-top box competition could be tied up in court and hamstrung for years.   We just experienced that reality with net neutrality, which created a decade-long fight and left consumers without effective consumer protections as they used their broadband service. 

It’s my hope that you will take the time necessary to reach out to stakeholders in good faith to try to resolve some of these concerns so that we can once-and-for-all free consumers from monthly set top box fees.  This issue is very important to consumers.  We need to get this right. 

I do want to briefly touch upon a couple of additional matters in the time I have remaining.

Chairman Wheeler, at our last oversight hearing, you and I talked about the need for Congress to act to help advance the ongoing evolution of our nation’s 9-1-1 infrastructure to Next Generation 9-1-1.  It is a public safety priority for the federal government and the states to further this transition and make sure that 9-1-1 service remains robust and able to respond adequately and effectively in an emergency.  We all rely on 9-1-1 – the call that we hope we never have to make.  And it is time for all of us to do everything that we can to make Next Generation 9-1-1 a reality throughout the nation.  So I will be introducing in the near future legislation to promote development and deployment of Next Generation 9-1-1 services and make this transition a success, and I invite my colleagues to work with me, on a bipartisan basis, on this effort.

I also want to renew my call yet again for the Senate to act on Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s re-nomination.  She has waited far too long for floor action and for the distinguished Majority Leader to live up to his promises. 

Thank you Mr. Chairman for calling today’s hearing.

<p>"Welcome to today&rsquo;s hearing on

"Welcome to today’s hearing on oversight of the Federal Communications Commission.

"In the past, people used to say that telecom policy was not particularly partisan and that both parties could often find common ground to work together. The voting record at the Commission certainly bears that out, with the previous five permanent FCC chairmen combining for just 14 party-line votes at open meetings during their tenure. But since Chairman Wheeler assumed his post, this agency has too often pursued a highly partisan agenda that appears driven by ideological beliefs more than by a sober reading of the law. Chairman Wheeler has forced three-to-two votes on party-line items a total of 25 times. Put another way, in three years under Chairman Wheeler, the FCC has seen nearly twice as many partisan votes than in the previous twenty years combined. What were once very rare events are now standard operating procedure at the Commission.

"A free and open Internet, universal broadband access for all Americans, innovative offerings for pay-TV customers, and necessary privacy protections all have broad, bipartisan support. So why does the current FCC continually advance divisive policies at the expense of certainty for consumers and innovators that only bipartisan solutions can offer?

"Of course, consensus is not always achievable on every issue. But when there have been opportunities for common ground, the Commission has frequently chosen a partisan path over collaboration. By relying on unnecessarily partisan tactics, Chairman Wheeler has, I believe, missed opportunities for bipartisan accomplishments.

"Chairman Wheeler at times has seemed to use even the distribution of information about Commission proceedings as a political weapon. Too often, we have seen conveniently-timed leaks and disclosures used as tools to benefit the partisan agenda. When he and I spoke earlier this week, I reiterated my call for the FCC to be as transparent as possible. Treating all commissioners fairly and not using the disclosure of nonpublic information as a sword would lead to a better process at the agency, which in turn could only improve the Commission’s work product. While process issues at the FCC may seem to be just a minor transgression that can be chalked up to business as usual in Washington, D.C., in this case it illustrates a divisive leadership approach, which threatens to undermine the credibility of the agency now and into the future.

"This extreme partisanship has been used to do the following things:

• A complete upending of how the Internet is regulated, creating years of uncertainty for everyone;

• Stripping important consumer protection responsibilities from the Federal Trade Commission;

• A failed attempt to override state’s rights on municipal broadband in a power grab that was overturned by the courts;

• Increasing the size of the Universal Service Fund by billions of dollars, while simultaneously undermining bipartisan efforts to improve the program’s accountability;

• The unnecessary and unlawful disclosure of trade secrets; and

• A plan, that could possibly be adopted later this month, to have the FCC and its Media Bureau design and dictate the future of television apps.

"The common thread among these partisan actions by the agency is a clear intent to install the Federal Communications Commission as the most important player in the communications landscape – the arbiter through which all new marketplace developments and innovations must pass.

"If you’re an innovator working to develop a new consumer-friendly Internet-based app, sorry, you need to first make sure it conforms to the license required and regulated by the FCC. If you’re a mobile subscriber enjoying competitive service plans that make data more affordable for you, enjoy it while it lasts, because while the Commission might be O.K. with that today, they could easily deem it unlawful next year or even tomorrow. And if you are a small business seeking a new way to promote your company online, sorry, the FCC is going to saddle would-be disruptors with rules preventing them from challenging the dominant players in the online advertising market.

"Rather than exercising regulatory humility and putting faith in the marketplace, over and over again, the FCC has required companies to beg for government permission to innovate.

"And Republicans are not alone in noticing the FCC’s overreach; on several occasions other federal agencies have refused to support the FCC’s actions. The Copyright Office strongly criticized the earlier proposal for set-top boxes, which was far less complex than the new one. The staff at the Federal Trade Commission called the FCC’s privacy rules “not optimal,” which is bureaucrat-speak for “really bad.” And the Department of Justice refused to defend the FCC’s unlawful action on municipal broadband.

"This all stands in contrast to the good-faith efforts by Republicans and Democrats in Congress to work together on telecom policy. The bipartisan MOBILE NOW Act is the most prominent example of this in the Senate, but other examples abound: FCC reauthorization, Kari’s Law, the Amateur Radio Parity Act, the SANDY Act, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act, and more. In Congress, communications policy is often a rare oasis of cross-aisle cooperation. But even here, the partisan toxicity of the Commission has reached across D.C. and infected our bipartisan work. For proof of this, one need look no further than at Senator Reid blocking the Senate’s telecom agenda while admitting that this Committee has done its work—including reporting nominees—in bipartisan fashion.

"What is perhaps most unfortunate is that we have clear examples of the good the Commission can do when it truly works toward bipartisanship. Earlier this year, Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner O’Rielly worked together to address the standalone broadband problem that threatened rural communities. More recently, the FCC issued its Spectrum Frontiers order, which is an important down-payment toward making much-needed spectrum available to fuel the next generation of gigabit wireless services.

"I urge all members of the Commission to treat each other fairly, to respect the law, to be willing to ask Congress for guidance, and to seek consensus whenever and wherever possible. Doing so will result in agency actions that are more likely to endure. Further, less controversy at the Commission will improve its credibility, providing it with more wherewithal to carry out its statutory responsibilities.

"On a side note, while this agency is far from the largest in our committee’s expansive jurisdiction, its importance to the future of our economy and our society is hard to overstate. Communications and media networks are at the center of Americans’ lives, and that role is only increasing over time. Regardless of how the agency operates or who is in charge of leading the Commission, it is important and worthwhile for the Commerce Committee to hold regular oversight hearings of the FCC, and today’s hearing should be viewed as establishing a regular biannual schedule for FCC oversight.

"Thank you. Ranking Member Nelson."

Navy Signs a Memo of Use for GSA’s OASIS Professional Services Contracts

GSA news releases - Thu, 09/15/2016 - 12:00am
Navy Signs a Memo of Use for GSA’s OASIS Professional Services Contracts

IRS Puts Small Businesses through Audit Wringer

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 11:00am
Chairman Steve Chabot has scheduled a hearing of the Committee on Small Business titled, "IRS Puts Small Businesses through Audit Wringer." The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses 
Ms. Kathy Petronchak
Director of IRS Practices and Procedures
alliantgroup, LP
Houston, TX

Mr. Warren Hudak
President
Hudak & Company
Lemoyne, PA
*Testifying on behalf of the National Association of Enrolled Agents

Ms. Jennifer E. Breen
Partner
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Washington, DC



Curbelo Statement: Markup of H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 10:05am
Every child deserves the opportunity to achieve a lifetime of success. That’s why we worked together to empower parents and restore local control to K-12 education with the Every Student Succeeds Act. It’s why we advanced five bipartisan bills that will help more Americans pursue a higher education. And it’s why we advanced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a bill that will help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to compete in the workforce.

The reforms are different, but the goal is the same: putting people on a pathway to success. And that’s the reason we are here today.

Since 1974, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act has coordinated federal resources to improve state juvenile justice systems. By focusing on education and rehabilitation, the law supports state efforts to put some of the most vulnerable kids across the country on the right path. That includes both keeping at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and giving kids who are already in the system a second chance to turn their lives around.

Over the years, these programs have made a real difference in the lives of many children—children like Sloane Baxter. As Sloane explained to us at a hearing last year, he was on the wrong path as a teenager and eventually ended up in the District of Columbia’s juvenile justice system. Sloane was detained in a youth detention center and later participated in a community-based alternative program called Boys Town.

Ranking Member Scott and I recently visited that same program, and it was easy to see how it helps kids like Sloane grow into productive, responsible, and healthy individuals. Today, Sloane is a high school graduate, works as a coffee barista, and runs his own home improvement business. He is on the right path, and he described that experience to us, saying:

“I easily could have become a statistic ... Instead, I’m a tax-paying, contributing member of society. There is that same possibility in every other young person as long as you, me, all of us are willing to not give up on them before they even really get to start.”

That possibility—that potential—is the reason we are considering this bill today. Introduced by Representative Curbelo and Ranking Member Scott, it reauthorizes and improves current law to help state and local leaders explore and implement better ways to serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders in their communities. The bill will deliver state and local leaders flexibility to meet the needs of vulnerable children; support prevention services for at-risk youth; and focus on proven strategies that will produce results. It will also improve accountability and oversight to protect taxpayer dollars and help ensure the system is working.

Mr. Curbelo will discuss in greater detail the positive reforms in the bill. These reforms will deliver a collaborative and comprehensive system that brings parents, teachers, and community members together to help kids reject a life of crime and seize opportunities to achieve a lifetime of success. I urge my colleagues to help us put more children on the right path by advancing the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act.

In closing, I would like to note that this has long been a priority for Ranking Member Scott. I thank him for his leadership in championing this effort, and I commend both him and Representative Curbelo for working together to deliver bipartisan reforms that will make a real difference in the lives of a lot of children. I will now recognize Ranking Member Scott for his opening remarks.

# # #

Kline Statement: Markup of H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 10:00am
Every child deserves the opportunity to achieve a lifetime of success. That’s why we worked together to empower parents and restore local control to K-12 education with the Every Student Succeeds Act. It’s why we advanced five bipartisan bills that will help more Americans pursue a higher education. And it’s why we advanced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a bill that will help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to compete in the workforce.

The reforms are different, but the goal is the same: putting people on a pathway to success. And that’s the reason we are here today.

Since 1974, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act has coordinated federal resources to improve state juvenile justice systems. By focusing on education and rehabilitation, the law supports state efforts to put some of the most vulnerable kids across the country on the right path. That includes both keeping at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and giving kids who are already in the system a second chance to turn their lives around.

Over the years, these programs have made a real difference in the lives of many children—children like Sloane Baxter. As Sloane explained to us at a hearing last year, he was on the wrong path as a teenager and eventually ended up in the District of Columbia’s juvenile justice system. Sloane was detained in a youth detention center and later participated in a community-based alternative program called Boys Town.

Ranking Member Scott and I recently visited that same program, and it was easy to see how it helps kids like Sloane grow into productive, responsible, and healthy individuals. Today, Sloane is a high school graduate, works as a coffee barista, and runs his own home improvement business. He is on the right path, and he described that experience to us, saying:

“I easily could have become a statistic ... Instead, I’m a tax-paying, contributing member of society. There is that same possibility in every other young person as long as you, me, all of us are willing to not give up on them before they even really get to start.”

That possibility—that potential—is the reason we are considering this bill today. Introduced by Representative Curbelo and Ranking Member Scott, it reauthorizes and improves current law to help state and local leaders explore and implement better ways to serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders in their communities. The bill will deliver state and local leaders flexibility to meet the needs of vulnerable children; support prevention services for at-risk youth; and focus on proven strategies that will produce results. It will also improve accountability and oversight to protect taxpayer dollars and help ensure the system is working.

Mr. Curbelo will discuss in greater detail the positive reforms in the bill. These reforms will deliver a collaborative and comprehensive system that brings parents, teachers, and community members together to help kids reject a life of crime and seize opportunities to achieve a lifetime of success. I urge my colleagues to help us put more children on the right path by advancing the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act.

In closing, I would like to note that this has long been a priority for Ranking Member Scott. I thank him for his leadership in championing this effort, and I commend both him and Representative Curbelo for working together to deliver bipartisan reforms that will make a real difference in the lives of a lot of children. I will now recognize Ranking Member Scott for his opening remarks.

 

# # #

IRS Audits Target Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 12:00am

Committee Spotlights Abusive IRS Tactics

WASHINGTON – Today, Small Business Committee witnesses told Congress that increasingly aggressive audits by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are harming innocent small businesses, forcing some to close their doors entirely.

“The IRS has an obligation to provide small businesses with clarity and to treat all taxpayers with fairness and respect,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “The agency has failed repeatedly in meeting this obligation to the people it is supposed to be serving.”

“I know Members of this Committee have heard from constituents who were audited so aggressively by the IRS that they had to close their doors. Others are engaged in protracted audits that seem like vague fishing expeditions, with no end in sight,” added Chairman Chabot.

A “SECRET ALGORITHM” TARGETS SMALL BUSINESSES

“Most audits are not random,” testified Don Williamson, Executive Director of the Kogod Tax Policy Center at American University. “The IRS has a secret algorithm for determining how likely each taxpayer is to have unreported income. Employing this calculus, the IRS has concluded that small businesses are less likely to be paying their fair share of taxes relative to much larger enterprises.”

“In short, use of IRS resources disproportionately targeting small businesses, regardless of the degree of misreported income by a few, is both an inefficient use of IRS resources and unfair to the vast majority of small businesses that properly report all their income while generating more growth and creating more jobs than any other sector of our economy,” concluded Williamson.

“INCONSISTENT TREATMENT” OF SMALL BUSINESSES

“We believe there is some inconsistent treatment of small versus large businesses by the IRS, as well as differing procedures being used in audits of these businesses,” said Kathy Petronchak, Director of IRS Practices and Procedures for alliantgroup, LP. “It is vitally important to remember that America’s small businesses do indeed have needs, interests and resources that may differ significantly from those of larger businesses.”

“Some of the procedures utilized in large business audits provide added transparency that would bring greater fairness to the small business examination,” Petronchak added.

THERE IS “A BETTER WAY”

The House Small Business Committee’s hearing comes as House Republicans are offering a policy agenda to rein in the IRS and reform the tax code to help small businesses as part of A Better Way to Grow Our Economy.

###

Kline Statement: Debate on H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 3:30pm
A quality education is vital to succeeding in today’s workforce. However, it’s important to know that a quality education doesn’t have to mean a four-year college degree. Career and technical education can be just as valuable, and for many individuals, it’s the path that’s best for them.

Earlier this year, members on the Education and the Workforce Committee heard from Paul Tse. Paul struggled as a student, but his life changed when he enrolled in a CTE program at the Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Silver Spring, Maryland. Today, Paul has a fulfilling career and not a dime of student loan debt.

There are countless other success stories just like Paul’s. The CTE classes Rob Griffin took as a high school student in Whitfield County, Georgia, prepared him for a successful career at one of the nation’s leading steel fabricators.

The hands-on experience Alex Wolff received at the Santa Barbara County Regional Occupational Program led to a rewarding career in electrical engineering. And Jasmine Morgan from the Atlanta area found her passion through CTE coursework and landed a job as a sports marketing specialist.

The goal of this legislation is to help more individuals write their own success stories. This bipartisan legislation will empower state and local leaders to tailor CTE programs to serve the best interests of the students in their communities. It will improve transparency and accountability, as well as ensure federal resources are aligned with the needs of the local workforce and help students obtain high-skilled, high-demand jobs.

These positive reforms are an important part of our broader agenda, A Better Way, which is aimed at helping more men and women achieve a lifetime of success. I want to thank Representatives Glenn Thompson and Katherine Clark for their leadership, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation

 

Thompson Statement: Debate on H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 3:00pm
A weak economy and advances in technology have dramatically changed today’s job market, creating both challenges and opportunities for men and women entering the workforce. That is why equipping today’s students with the tools they need to remain competitive is essential. One way we can achieve that goal is by strengthening career and technical education programs for those eager to pursue pathways to success.

As co-chair of the Career and Technical Education Caucus, I have worked hard to increase awareness about the opportunities available through CTE. For some students, a four-year college is the best path forward. For others, a CTE program might be the best way to shape a fulfilling and successful future.

These state and local programs help individuals obtain the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in a number of different occupations and fields—fields like health care, technology, and engineering. However, the law that provides federal support for these programs has not been updated in more than a decade. Simply put: It does not address the new challenges today’s students, workers, and employers face.

That’s why I, along with my colleague Representative Katherine Clark, introduced H.R. 5587—a bill that works to modernize and improve current law to better reflect those challenges and provide more opportunities for students to pursue successful, rewarding careers.

Recognizing the importance of engagement with community leaders and local businesses, this bill empowers state and local leaders by providing them with the flexibility they need to best prepare their students for the workforce and respond to the changing needs of their communities. H.R. 5587 also promotes work-based learning and encourages stronger partnerships with employers to help students obtain jobs now and throughout their lifetimes.

I am also proud to say H.R. 5587 takes steps to reduce the federal role in career and technical education while ensuring transparency and accountability among CTE programs. By streamlining performance measures, the bill provides state and local leaders—rather than the federal government—with the tools they need to hold these programs accountable.

These are just some of the important reforms this bill makes to provide Americans with clear pathways to success.

 

The Cumulative Burden of President Obama’s Executive Orders on Small Contractors

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 11:00am
Chairmen Cresent Hardy and Richard Hanna have scheduled a joint hearing of the Committee on Small Business Subcommittees on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations and Contracting and Workforce titled, “The Cumulative Burden of President Obama’s Executive Orders on Small Contractors.”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, September 13, 2016.

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses

Mr. James P. Hoffman, P.E.
President
Summer Consultants, Inc.
McLean, VA
*Testifying on behalf of the American Council of Engineering Companies

Ms. Donna S. Huneycutt
Co-Owner and Chief Operating Officer
Wittenberg Weiner Consulting, LLC
Tampa, FL
*Testifying on behalf of the National Defense Industrial Association

Mr. Jimmy Christianson
Regulatory Counsel
Associated General Contractors of America
Arlington, VA

David Madland, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow & Senior Advisor to the American Worker Project
Center for American Progress
Washington, DC



Examining the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016

This hearing of the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security Subcommittee is now called to order.

Whether it’s a Garth Brooks concert in Wichita, a KU Basketball game in Lawrence, or the most hyped and prestigious Broadway show of all time – Hamilton – the digital age has made acquiring tickets easier than ever. But an age-old issue, ticket scalping, has been made even more prevalent by advances in technology. When you’re trying to pick up tickets for the next big event, you’re no longer only competing against other eager fans when the tickets are released. You are now forced to compete against an army of sophisticated “ticket bots” that overwhelm the ticketing website through brute force, scoop up as many tickets as possible, and then resell them on the secondary market at a significant markup.

So, what are ticket bots? Here’s a quick example – a live performance is happening – say a Garth Brooks concert in Wichita. You know lots of people who want to be there, and there are only so many tickets available.

People who use bots first overwhelm the primary ticket issuer’s website by “cutting the line” ahead of regular fans. While those tickets are taken out of circulation, they quickly use a human operator to enter distinct names, credit cards and addresses, and circumvent other security measures.

The software is easy to find, and you don’t even have to be a technological genius to use it. I don’t want to direct anyone to the website, but a quick google search for “ticket bots” will lead you to a different kind of marketplace – one where you can purchase the software we’re talking about today.

The bots are advertised as specific applications for websites such as Ticketmaster or StubHub, and they even offer to make custom products.

Bots harm everyone in the live entertainment ecosystem – from performers to fans. Ticket issuers, like Ticketfly, have to invest heavily in server capacity and extra security measures to deal with the artificially-generated stress that the bots produce. And when the site doesn’t seem to work properly, or the event is listed as sold out seconds after tickets go on sale – consumers get frustrated with the ticket issuer or the venue.

The secondary market is also impacted by this practice. For their part, eBay/StubHub supports BOTS legislation and believes that misuse of ticket bots “harm all parts of the ticket industry.”

And of course, the biggest impact is on the fans. A report by the New York Attorney General suggests that “at least tens of thousands of tickets per year are being acquired” using ticket bots.

To be clear, I believe a vibrant secondary ticketing marketplace is nothing but good for consumers. People can and should be able to sell their tickets in the marketplace, and if people are willing to pay extra for certain performances, that is their right. StubHub estimates that half the tickets sold on their platform are below face value – so the value prospect cuts both ways for consumers.

What I take issue with, and what this legislation seeks to address, is the practice of “cutting the line” when tickets are offered, so that regular consumers don’t even have a chance to pay face value for the tickets.

Some have also raised ticketing concerns outside the scope of the BOTS Act. We do not claim that this legislation will be the silver bullet for all that ails consumers, and I look forward to a robust discussion today about many of those proposals.

Many groups, including StubHub in their testimony today, have advocated for additional provisions that they believe would be beneficial to consumers. But our legislation has been narrowly tailored to address a real and significant problem that impacts peoples’ lives, and there is strong bipartisan and bicameral interest in the bill.

It is my expectation that this committee will consider the BOTS Act at its next markup, and I would encourage all of my colleagues to cosponsor and support this bipartisan legislation.

I would like to specifically thank my Commerce colleagues for their interest and support in this issue. Ranking Member Blumenthal, thank you for your support in advancing this legislation and in putting together this hearing. Senator Fischer, thank you for your support as well, and I’m sorry that the Big 12 has trumped the Big 10 once again, and is testifying here today.

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed on suspension a very similar version of the BOTS Act. I’d like to thank Congresswoman Blackburn for her work on this issue, and I look forward to continuing to work with her to make this bill a law.

I would now like to recognize the Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Senator Blumenthal, for five minutes to deliver his opening statement.

@HouseSmallBiz and #SubEnergyPower Press EPA on Rules Limiting Refrigerants

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 12:00am

Chabot and Olson Concerned with proposed rule’s impact on American businesses and consumers

WASHINGTON, DC – House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and House Energy and Power Subcommittee Vice Chairman Pete Olson (R-TX)today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting information related to the legality, cost, and feasibility of the agency’s proposed rule restricting several hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) refrigerants in residential refrigerators and other equipment. The rule is the second such effort by the agency to limit refrigerants used in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment.

“We have serious concerns about this rule’s impact on American businesses and consumers, and we also believe that it exceeds the agency’s statutory authority by establishing a new and expansive global warming program never intended by Congress,” write Olson and Chabot.

“These proposed regulations could have a chilling effect, and not the one you want, on manufacturers and consumers alike. We have a number of questions about EPA’s legal authority to restrict these refrigerants and whether doing so makes sense” commented Vice Chairman Olson. “We also want to know more about the actual environmental impacts of the proposed rule.”

“I believe that EPA’s proposed rule may pose particular burdens for small businesses that the agency has not fully taken into consideration,” noted Chairman Chabot. “I look forward to EPA’s responses to these concerns.”

To read the letter online, click here.

###

Obama Executive Orders: A Crushing Burden on Small Business

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 12:00am

Small Contractors Say New Red Tape Pushing Them Out of Markets

WASHINGTON – Today members of the small business community told Congress that President Obama’s executive orders are preventing small businesses from competing for federal contracts, raising costs for the taxpayers while killing jobs and economic growth. Today’s joint hearing of two subcommittees of the House Small Business Committee comes as House Republicans are offering a policy agenda to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses as part of A Better Way to Grow our Economy.

"In meeting after meeting with my constituents back home in Nevada, and listening to small business after small business testify here before our subcommittee, I have come to the conclusion that Washington regulators, and particularly those appointed in the Obama Administration, do not understand how much their actions affect the day-to-day operations of small firm," said Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-NV, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations.

“The bipartisan work we have done here in the Small Business Committee is in stark contrast to what President Obama has done during his time in office,” said Rep. Richard Hanna, R-NY, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce in his written statement. “Since 2009, the President has issued 15 Executive Orders and presidential memoranda that specifically relate to government contracting. While these mandates may be well-intentioned, too often the costs significantly outweigh the benefits.”

Small Engineering, Defense and Construction Companies Bearing the Brunt

“The engineering industry, which suffered significantly during the recent recession, is finally coming back to fiscal health,” testified James Hoffman, the President of Summer Consultants, Inc., who spoke on behalf of the American Council of Engineering Companies. “Unfortunately, these and other regulatory actions could put that recovery at risk and create disincentives for engineering firms of all sizes to participate in the federal market.”

“Several of the recent executive orders have, through flawed processes, installed burdensome, unnecessary, inefficient, and in many cases duplicative and overlapping regulatory regimes that have the cumulative effect of dramatically increasing the cost of doing businesses with the federal government,” said Donna Huneycutt, the co-owner of Wittenberg Weiner Consulting, LLC. “Over time, these will decrease efficiency and economy in federal procurement, while undermining small business growth and development, and limiting the federal government’s access to innovative products and services to fulfill their needs, in direct contradiction of ongoing initiatives.”

“Given the overall state of the construction economy today, several small business contractors have expressed to AGC that they are strongly considering or plan to walk away from the federal construction market,” noted Jimmy Christianson, who testified on behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America “The result of these new requirements may, therefore, include reduced competition and, in turn, higher prices to the federal government and taxpayers.”

You can view full video of today's hearing here and read full testimony here.

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GSA to Open Sealed Bid for the Sugar Grove Station in Eastern West Virginia

GSA news releases - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 12:00am
GSA to Open Sealed Bid for the Sugar Grove Station in Eastern West Virginia

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