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WCOE Turning Point for 11/15

Turning Point RSS - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 1:07pm

California High Speed Rail Posts Report

More news - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 1:00pm
Categories: Latest News

Will Kempton Speaks at WCOE CA Chapter Leadership Summit

WCOE News - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:57pm

Will Kempton, Executive Director for Transportation CA was a recent speaker at the WCOE CA Chapter Leadership Summit held in San Francisco in October. He discussed the history of transportation funding, repair acts and the challenges. His remarks regarding transportation issues in California are presented below.

"The State of California is in a crisis and needs increase in funding. Senator Bell and Assembly Member Frasier are both champions for transportation bill for funds of $7.4B annually (0.17/gal gas tax; returns weight fees to transportation projects instead of general fund for debt service). Identical bills in special session have been introduced. The issue could be dealt with in a conference committee but there is some reluctance to make changes in the conference committee, so it is likely to happen in a committee structure during the special session between 11/8/16 and 11/30/16. The bill would need to be introduced, consensus gained, printed and then voted on after 72 hours. Kempton believes they have the leaders involved to get this done, but does not have commitments yet. It may be possible to bring the legislature to come back on 11/10/16, however, the Munger initiative requires 72 hours for bills to be in print and following the 10th, many legislators are on various educational trips, so it is most likely to be in print the week of 11/21/16 and brought out the last week of November."

"There is some concern about the size of the increases for the package as different camps want to ensure that the size of the package is enough $3.6B (Governor's proposal) or $7.2B (Bell/Frasier proposal)."

"What can we do? Talk to our legislators, send them emails that this is important for our state, quality of life, construction industry."

"Local programs – There are 20 counties with local tax programs for investment in transportation programs. This is critical to CA transportation funding. The local programs are mostly dependent on state and federal programs and therefore cannot raise all their own funds. Funding adjustments are needed at both levels. There are 14 of these local programs on the ballots requesting additional funding for transportation."

Questions

Lee Cunningham: "Will, you are missed by the small business community. Tell us about the Munger Initiative – and Charles Munger."

Will Kempton: "The initiative requires that any pending legislation to be in print a full 72 hours before the legislature can vote on it. We have to assume it will pass and that anything CA Transportation does is compliant."

Rebecca Lewellyn: "Are there any legislators in particular that we need to work on?"

Will Kempton: "Target moderate democrats in Central Valley. 80 assembly seats (52 by democrats; need 54 votes); 40 Senate (27 votes required) 25 democrats. We are going to need to get all the democrats and as many republican members we can get on board. Moderate Dems in assembly including Elk Grove and Modesto. Also, target Republican Assembly Members including Meinschein, Erick Linder, Kristen Olsen, Chad Mayes, Republican Minority Leader (Desert) and Katherine Baker (So Contra Costa). In the Senate, target Anthony Canella, Bob Usk and Steve Glazer (Contra Costa)."

"Talk to any Congress member that you know and encourage WCOE Members to do so. Contact anyone with whom you have a relationship."

Will Kempton contact information: wkempton@transportationca.com

Categories: Latest News

Thune Urges FCC to Stop Work on Controversial Items

Sen. John Thune, in a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, urged the agency to stop work on controversial new orders that could create confusion if reversed and would be subject to review next year.

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Good afternoon.  I would like to thank everyone for coming today to discuss the exciting potential of augmented reality technology.

This past Fourth of July weekend, many Americans began to notice an unusual phenomenon: more and more people – far more than usual – were going outside.  Suddenly, sidewalks, parks, and local landmarks were packed with people wandering the great outdoors while burying their heads in their smartphones.

These people, of course, were playing the smash hit mobile game Pokémon GO.  But by going out into the real world to find and capture digital creatures, they weren’t just playing a game – they were getting their first exposure to the possibilities of augmented reality.

Many of us have heard of, or experienced, virtual reality, which usually involves putting on a headset that covers users’ eyes, surrounding them in an artificial world.

Augmented reality, or AR, is different.  AR takes digital information and superimposes it onto the real, physical environment.  Rather than closing the user off from the real world, AR adds virtual content on top of the real world.

Pokémon GO accomplishes this by using a smartphone’s camera to record the real world while the game displays digital characters over the image on the phone’s screen.

More advanced AR headsets currently in development and in use by industry have “mixed reality” capabilities that can map the user’s surroundings in real time and allow virtual content to convincingly interact with the physical world.

These more advanced AR devices and techniques show that the potential of this technology goes far beyond smartphone games, and could one day have a major impact on manufacturing, transportation, medicine, and eventually the daily lives of average Americans.

For example, imagine a worker in a factory whose job is to assemble an advanced jet engine for a new airliner.  With an AR headset, that worker could see step-by-step instructions floating above his workstation, with the exact spot he is supposed to weld being digitally highlighted.

Or imagine a medical student who can train on a virtual 3D model created from scans of a real patient.  Or an EMT in a rural area who can receive real-time instructions from a specialist in a hospital hundreds of miles away on how best to stabilize a patient while help is on the way.

AR technology promises to take all of the information that has been confined to the Internet over the past few decades and integrate it into the physical world, where such content can be most useful and do the most good.

Advanced manufacturing and other industries have already begun using AR for training new workers and have seen great improvements in safety and efficiency.  We often hear about technology replacing workers, but AR provides an opportunity for technology to enhance workers instead, by helping them with their training and making them more productive.

In previous hearings this Committee has held on new and emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things and Autonomous Vehicles, I stressed how important it is for government to avoid jumping in too soon with a heavy-handed regulatory approach.

AR is no different.  While there are certainly important policy questions to consider, such as the privacy of user data recorded by AR devices, it is essential that policymakers not unnecessarily stifle innovation.  Instead, we should foster an environment that maximizes the potential benefits of this promising new technology.

There may be obstacles, regulatory or otherwise, to achieving the full potential of AR.  Like a Pokémon trainer, the job of this Committee is to “catch ‘em all.”

Earlier today, the Committee had the great opportunity to see AR in action first-hand.  DAQRI, Niantic, and the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center provided us with a great demonstration of:  the DAQRI Smart Helmet and a heads-up display for automobiles, which gives drivers important information without having to take their eyes off the road; Pokémon GO and other Niantic apps; and military-focused applications of AR.

Even though the only reality they could augment was the reality of the Russell building, it was easy to see the potential of this new technology for a wide range of applications.  I want to thank them for making their products available to us today.

I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses to learn more about their experiences with AR and their visions for the future of this promising new technology.

Mayor Brown and GSA Announce the City Will Take Ownership of Michael J. Dillon Federal Courthouse This Week

GSA news releases - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:00am
Mayor Brown and GSA Announce the City Will Take Ownership of Michael J. Dillon Federal Courthouse This Week

GSA Hosts Industry Day for the Disposal of a Centrally Located Property in the District of Columbia

GSA news releases - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:00am
GSA Moving Forward with Disposal of the Cotton Annex

House Republican Leaders Warn Administration Against “Midnight Regulations”

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and all Chairmen of the standing committees of the U.S. House of Representatives this evening warned the Obama Administration against enacting any last-minute rules and regulations in their final days in office. In their letter, addressed to the heads of all Cabinet departments and federal agencies, the House Republican leaders wrote:

“Earlier this year, President Obama’s Chief of Staff stated that the Administration will “do audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year.” As you are aware, such action often involves the exercise of substantial policymaking discretion and could have far-reaching impacts on the American people and economy.  Considering these potential consequences, we write to caution you against finalizing pending rules or regulations in the Administration’s last days.  By refraining from acting with undue haste, you will ensure that agency staff may fully assess the costs and benefits of rules, making it less likely that unintended consequences will harm consumers and businesses.  Moreover, such forbearance is necessary to afford the recently elected Administration and Congress the opportunity to review and give direction concerning pending rulemakings. Should you ignore this counsel, please be aware that we will work with our colleagues to ensure that Congress scrutinizes your actions – and, if appropriate, overturns them – pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.”

You can view the letter HERE.

Later this week, the House will consider H.R. 5982, The Midnight Rules Relief Act, bipartisan legislation to give Congress the power to stop all of the “midnight rules” with one vote.

GSA’s Common Acquisition Platform Program to Launch Contract Writing System-as-a-Service

GSA news releases - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 12:00am
New Cloud Solution Will Provide Agencies with Reduced Costs, Increasing Efficiency and Effectiveness

A Sharing-Economy Giant Asserts its First Amendment Rights to Oppose Government Censorship

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 11/14/2016 - 10:49am
When prohibiting or reducing “harmful” economic conduct proves either politically unpalatable or otherwise unachievable, governmental regulators often target speech about the conduct as a convenient alternative. Rather than ban the sale of tobacco or sugary drinks, for instance, federal, state, and local governments have imposed restrictions on advertising and other promotional speech. Unable to generate […]
Categories: Latest News

District of Columbia’s Court of Appeals Adopts “Daubert” as Test for Expert Testimony

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 11/11/2016 - 12:12pm
Featured Expert Column: Judicial Gatekeeping of Expert Evidence By Evan M. Tager, Mayer Brown LLP, with Carl J. Summers, Mayer Brown LLP Nearly a century ago, in Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia—the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit—announced the general acceptance […]
Categories: Latest News

Friday Finger on the Pulse: From Our Blogroll and Beyond

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 11/11/2016 - 10:55am
Class-action defendants can learn much from plaintiff-leaning law-review article on “statistical adjudication” after Tysons Food v. Bouaphakeo (Class Action Countermeasures) By the Justice Department’s own measure of success, its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act “pilot program” is failing (FCPA Professor) The case for why FTC, not FCC, should regulate internet privacy (Truth on the Market) The […]
Categories: Latest News

The Federal Circuit Must Now Decide the Fate of AIG’s Largest Shareholder

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 11/10/2016 - 3:53pm
*Michelle Stilwell, the Mary G. Waterman Fellow at WLF, significantly contributed to this post. In what is poised to become an extremely influential case, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is currently deciding what to do after the federal government unlawfully took over the equity and leadership of one of America’s largest […]
Categories: Latest News

Commerce to Convene First Congressional Hearing on Augmented Reality

Expert witnesses testifying at the first congressional hearing on augmented reality will introduce to the committee the potential applications and policy considerations of this rapidly-developing technology.

Small Business Committee Leaders Fight for Medicare Payments to Small Laboratories

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 11/10/2016 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in asking Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to review new Medicare regulations that may harm small medical laboratories and the senior citizens they serve. The letter was signed by several members of the Small Business Committee in response to concerns over the Department of Health and Human Services implementation of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA).  

“We are concerned that under the process outlined in final regulations issued on June 17, 2016, many laboratories, especially small community and regional laboratories, may not have the necessary reporting capabilities in place,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote in their letter. “These laboratories could struggle to properly report data and comply with the regulations, which could result in significant problems for CMS’ implementation efforts, as highlighted in a recent report issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). In addition, the impact of these regulations could ultimately threaten the ability of small laboratories to provide needed services to Medicare beneficiaries.”

In their letter, Chabot and Velázquez emphasized the importance of small medical laboratories to small and rural communities across America. By jeopardizing Medicare payments for these small businesses and subjecting them to new penalties, the Committee leaders expressed concern that the facilities will be unable to continue to serve senior citizens who depend on them.  

You can read the full bipartisan letter HERE

Chabot, Velázquez Challenge OMB on Procurement Policy

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 11/10/2016 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON - House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Ranking Member Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), wrote to the Office of Management and Budget criticizing the implementation of Category Management, a procurement policy that has been shown to negatively harm small businesses. 

“By moving ahead with its Category Management scam, OMB has decided to deny small businesses the ability to fully and fairly compete for federal contracts,” Chairman Chabot said. “I will continue to work with Ranking Member Velázquez and members of our Committee in a bipartisan manner to fight back against this destructive policy on behalf of American taxpayers and small businesses.” 

“Not only does Category Management lock entrepreneurs out of the federal marketplace, but it means agencies are paying more for goods and services, wasting taxpayer dollars,” Ranking Member Velázquez said. “I am proud to stand with small business contractors and join with Chairman Chabot in calling for an end to this harmful policy.”


The full text of the letter is below.

November 7, 2016

Ms. Darbi Dillion
Office of Federal Procurement Policy
Office of Management and Budget
1800 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Dear Ms. Dillion:

We are writing this comment letter in our capacities as Ranking Member and Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, which has jurisdiction over federal procurement matters that impact small companies.  We are alarmed that the Office of Federal Procurement Policy continues to move forward with Category Management despite its negative impact on not only small businesses but the agencies which use its contracting vehicles.

Earlier this year, we wrote a letter to Administrator Denise Turner Roth at the General Services Administration detailing the impact this strategy has had on small businesses.  In numerous hearings conducted by the Committee, we have found that though Category Management has been billed as the strategy that can get agencies the lowest price, all evidence points to the contrary.   Vendors on the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) continually provide agencies with lower prices than those offered by Category Management contract holders.  Yet, agencies and contracting officers cannot take advantage of lower prices due to the fact that some Category Management vehicles have become mandatory by their agency. Ultimately, this results in wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars by agencies, forcing them to pay more than necessary for goods and services.  The proposed Circular will exacerbate this problem as it plans for mandatory vehicles government-wide.

Additionally, the contracting vehicles that have resulted from Category Management have reduced the overall number of businesses that have been able to compete for contracting opportunities.  Many of these vehicles have bundled so many goods together in one contract that previously qualified small businesses can no longer fulfill the requirements, despite having previously provided some of the goods or services under the MAS contracts. As a result, the number of small firms serving as suppliers to the government in certain areas has been reduced from hundreds to just a few handfuls.

This is worrisome for a number of reasons. First, it reduces competition between firms holding Category Management contracts, providing relatively little incentive to lower prices. Furthermore, the Category Management may reduce the industrial base as it is unclear whether firms not awarded a contract under Category Management vehicles will be able to keep their doors open.  With contracting officers and agencies forced to use Category Management contracts, many small firms will be excluded from the federal marketplace entirely, thus preventing robust competition that is needed to ensure agencies receive the best value for goods and services.

The issues of Category Management and strategic sourcing have been raised in numerous hearings before the Committee.  During these meetings, we have heard small businesses recount the severe and sometimes devastating impact these strategies have had not only on their bottom line and their employees but also their federal agency customers.  We have attached the transcripts of these hearings so that you may see the full impact these policies have on the small firms. 

Lastly, we would like to express our frustration at the process the Office of Federal Procurement Policy has used in soliciting comments for the proposed Circular.  Though this policy document will have far-reaching effects on businesses large and small as well as all federal agencies, your office decided to forego the customary 60-day comment period.  When Committee staff reached out your office to determine whether this period would be extended, they were told your office was working on a deadline and, as such, the November 7th deadline would stand.  This is simply unacceptable as many small businesses have not had opportunity to comment.  The process chosen has also not allowed for substantial analysis on the impact this policy could have on small business as no Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis occurred due to the nature of the change.  Furthermore, your office has not engaged in meaningful discussions with stakeholders as there has been no outreach done to either agencies or industry associations.

Therefore, we request that the Office of Federal Procurement Policy suspend any issuing of this proposed Circular until the office can evaluate the impact on small businesses.  Additionally, we request that the comment period be re-opened, allowing for more input from agencies as well as relevant industry stakeholders to be taken into consideration so as to ensure all businesses have access to contracting opportunities throughout the federal marketplace.

Sincerely,

Steve Chabot
Chairman

Nydia M. Velázquez                       
Ranking Member                                            

 

The New Era of “Daimler” Yields Confusion in the Lower Courts

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 11/09/2016 - 2:15pm
Prior to the US Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman, general jurisdiction existed over a business defendant in any state where it was incorporated, had its principal place of business, or its contacts were so “continuous and systematic” as to render them essentially at home in the forum state.  Under this expansive […]
Categories: Latest News

WLF Testifies at FDA Public Meeting on Off-Label Speech

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 11/09/2016 - 11:42am
Today, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a long-awaited public meeting to consider how off-label information about medicines can be shared with physicians. Washington Legal Foundation staff attorney Greg Herbers will testify at the meeting, which FDA has entitled “Communications Regarding Unapproved Uses of Approved Medical Products.” Since WLF’s landmark victories in […]
Categories: Latest News

Friday Finger on the Pulse: From Our Blogroll and Beyond

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 11/04/2016 - 11:03am
Be the boss, go to jail?: Responsible corporate office doctrine threatens C-suite executives with prosecution for unknown acts of employees (Corporate Counsel) Due-process arguments and state-court class actions (Class Action Countermeasures) The Supreme Court and laches: Reading into the SCA Hygiene oral argument (Patently-O) New York Court of Appeals finds unconventional litigation-financing agreement constitutes champerty […]
Categories: Latest News

Court Enjoins Implementation of Fair Pay Regulation

Office of Advocacy - Thu, 11/03/2016 - 11:11am

On August 25, 2016, the FAR Council published the final Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces final rule in the Federal Register.  The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs also issued guidance to accompany this rule. This final rule implemented E.O. 13673, which was intended to promote contracting efficiency by improving contractor compliance with basic labor standards during the performance of Federal contracts. The final rule contained an effective date of October 25, 2016. 

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

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