Construction Industry News

GSA Announces Hurricane Irma Relief Efforts and Special Emergency Procurement Authorities

GSA news releases - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:12pm
GSA’s senior procurement executive signed memo raising certain minimum thresholds to directly support Hurricane Irma relief efforts

GSA Announces Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and special emergency procurement authorities

GSA news releases - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:12pm
GSA Senior Procurement Executive signed memo raising certain minimum thresholds to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

GSA Announces Awards for GSA SmartPay 3 Master Contracts

GSA news releases - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 12:12pm
Next Generation of Payment Solutions will Help Federal Agencies Efficiently Meet Mission Needs

Southbound Vehicle Traffic at San Ysidro Port Detours to Otay Mesa Port During I-5 & I-805 Closures South of SR 905

GSA news releases - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 12:12pm
Traffic Advisory for the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry project, September 2017.

TSA Modernization: Improvements to Aviation Security

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-M.O.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, will convene a legislative hearing titled “TSA Modernization: Improvements to Aviation Security” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 28, 2017. The hearing will examine key reform proposals in upcoming legislation to reform and improve aviation security policy and programs at the TSA. This hearing builds on Committee oversight efforts following a February 2017 subcommittee hearing that explored stakeholder perspectives on how TSA can better serve the traveling public.

Witnesses:

-  Mr. Brian Weiler, Director of Aviation, Springfield-Branson National Airport
-  Mr. Stephen Alterman, President, Cargo Airline Association; Chairman, Aviation Security Advisory Committee
-  Ms. Sissy Pressnell, Vice President of Government Relations, Smiths Group; Vice Chair, Security Manufacturers Coalition
-  Mr. Michael White, Vice President, Government & Industry Relations, Cargo Networks Services Corp, International Air Transport Association (IATA) 

Hearing Details:

Thursday, September 28, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Nomination Hearing

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nominations hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, for four presidential nominees subject to Senate confirmation.

Witnesses:

-  The Honorable Ann Marie Buerkle, of New York, to be Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
-  Rear Admiral (Ret.) Timothy Gallaudet, of California, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
-  Mr. Howard R. Elliott, of Indiana, to be Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Department of Transportation
-  Dr. Walter G. Copan, of Colorado, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

FTC Stakeholder Perspecitves: Reform Proposals to Improve Fairness, Innovation, and Consumer Welfare

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a hearing titled “FTC Stakeholder Perspecitves: Reform Proposals to Improve Fairness, Innovation, and Consumer Welfare” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The subcommittee will explore recommendations by stakeholders and former Commission officials for improving the FTC’s handling of consumer protection cases and general process reforms.

Witnesses:

-  Mr. William MacLeod, Partner, Kelley Drye
-  Ms. Lydia Parnes, Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
-  Ms. Jessica Rich, Vice President, Policy and Modernization, Consumers Union
-  Mr. Berin Szoka, President, TechFreedom

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Subcommittee to Examine TSA Aviation Security Reforms

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-M.O.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, will convene a legislative hearing titled “TSA Modernization: Improvements to Aviation Security” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 28, 2017. The hearing will examine key reform proposals in upcoming legislation to reform and improve aviation security policy and programs at the TSA. This hearing builds on Committee oversight efforts following a February 2017 subcommittee hearing that explored stakeholder perspectives on how TSA can better serve the traveling public.


Witnesses:

-  Mr. Brian Weiler, Director of Aviation, Springfield-Branson National Airport
-  Mr. Stephen Alterman, President, Cargo Airline Association; Chairman, Aviation Security Advisory Committee
-  Ms. Sissy Pressnell, Vice President of Government Relations, Smiths Group; Vice Chair, Security Manufacturers Coalition
-  Mr. Michael White, Vice President, Government & Industry Relations, Cargo Networks Services Corp, International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Hearing Details:

Thursday, September 28, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Committee Announces Hearing for CPSC, DOT, & DOC Nominees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nominations hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, for four presidential nominees subject to Senate confirmation.

Witnesses:

-  The Honorable Ann Marie Buerkle, of New York, to be Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
-  Rear Admiral (Ret.) Timothy Gallaudet, of California, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
-  Mr. Howard R. Elliott, of Indiana, to be Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Department of Transportation
-  Dr. Walter G. Copan, of Colorado, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Subcommittee to Examine FTC's Handling of Consumer Protection Cases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a hearing titled “FTC Stakeholder Perspecitves: Reform Proposals to Improve Fairness, Innovation, and Consumer Welfare” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The subcommittee will explore recommendations by stakeholders and former Commission officials for improving the FTC’s handling of consumer protection cases and general process reforms.

Witnesses:

-  Mr. William MacLeod, Partner, Kelley Drye
-  Ms. Lydia Parnes, Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
-  Ms. Jessica Rich, Vice President, Policy and Modernization, Consumers Union
-  Mr. Berin Szoka, President, TechFreedom

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Committee Announces Legislative Hearing: S. 1693, The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017

Hearing will discuss proposal to combat online exploitation as well as concerns about weakening protections of the Communications Decency Act...

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

As we convene this hearing today, an untold number of women and children in the United States are being sold into sexual slavery via the internet. In just a few clicks, victims from all walks of life and parts of the country are being forced to endure brutal and unspeakable crimes.   Let me repeat – women and children are being forced into sex slavery in modern day America and it could very well happen to someone you know.

If that’s not a wakeup call then I don’t know what is. And sadly, it is a truth that my fellow Floridians know tragically all too well.  According to the human trafficking hotline, Florida ranks third in the country for the number of cases reported in 2016.

The question before us today is simple.  Why aren’t we doing everything we can to stop this heinous practice?   After all, we’re talking about modern day slavery and our children are at risk.

The bill we have before us today would help us shut down despicable websites that promote sexual trafficking. Let’s not kid ourselves, these shady and highly profitable website operators know full well how their sites are being used.  What’s more, they’re hiding behind a decades old legal shield in federal communication law to immunize themselves from prosecution. 

This bill by Senators Portman, Blumenthal, McCain, Heitkamp, myself and others would eliminate this safe harbor for sex traffickers and allow state Attorneys General, other state and local prosecutors, and victims to go after websites that knowingly provide a platform for sex trafficking.  It would not, as some claim, take a sledgehammer to the internet.  Rather, it takes a commonsense, responsible and targeted approach – one that the courts tell us only we can take – to limit the scope of current law and help end the scourge of child sex trafficking on the internet.

While some stakeholders have concerns about this bill, I strongly believe we cannot sit idly by any longer while websites aid and abet child sex traffickers.  The cost of inaction is far too high.

<span>Thank you for joining us today

Thank you for joining us today for our hearing on S.1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, our second committee hearing on human trafficking this year.

I’m particularly thankful that we will have the benefit of hearing from Yvonne Ambrose, who – very courageously – will share her heartbreaking family story with us.

We will also hear from Senators Portman, Blumenthal, and Wyden, who will offer their perspectives about the current state of the law and the proposed changes.

We will then have the opportunity to hear from our panel of expert witnesses, who will share their views on this legislation, which has garnered significant support, but also raised some questions.

Last month, Senators Portman and Blumenthal introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 with a bipartisan group of more than twenty cosponsors – a number that has grown since then, and which includes eight members of this committee.  As many already know, this bill would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to enable victims, as well as state and federal law enforcement, to bring to justice websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. 

Sex trafficking is an evil that affects every community across America.  I think everyone agrees that more must done to address this horrendous problem.  That’s why the conversation we’re having today is so important.    

As I mentioned, earlier this year, this committee held a hearing to examine ways that our nation’s transportation providers and supply chains can fight the growth of sex trafficking in the United States and slave labor in the global economy. 

That same week, Senators Klobuchar, Nelson, and I introduced two bills to address human trafficking prevention and enforcement in transportation.   I’m proud that both bills passed the full Senate last week, and I am hopeful that the House of Representatives will act soon to send these bills to the President’s desk.

There is, however, more that can be done.  That brings us to the legislation before us today.

I want to be clear: the website backpage.com has been the impetus for much of the discussion around Section 230, and nearly everyone agrees that the website should be held accountable.  But this is not the “Anti-backpage.com Act of 2017.”  This legislation is intended to address a larger problem, not a specific website. 

Backpage may have suspended its “adult services” section amid pressure from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, but what about the next online haven for such activity?

At the same time, some argue that because we frequently know exactly where this sort of activity is taking place online, law enforcement can better monitor it, and fight it.  Such observers caution that, if our legislative solution is too broad, it could have the opposite of its intended effect.

Given this challenge, I believe the cooperation of the tech industry will be critical to any effective solution this committee and our Senate colleagues might hope to forge.  There are many positive stories to be told about how internet companies work with law enforcement and victim’s rights organizations to fight sex trafficking, but I believe that these companies – like the rest of us – have an obligation to do more. 

I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Abigail Slater, who is here today representing the Internet Association, and who will tell us more about the specific work the association’s member companies do, and will do, to fight those who would use their platforms for evil. 

We will also hear from California Attorney General Becerra, who will offer testimony from his perspective as the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California.  Attorney General Becerra is currently prosecuting a case against backpage.com, and can offer insight into the legal history of such cases.  He can also speak to the recent request by 50 state and territorial Attorneys General to be allowed to enforce their respective criminal laws pertaining to sex trafficking in this arena.

Ms. Youras is here today representing the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which serves as the national clearinghouse for reports relating to child sex trafficking, and as the coordinator of the national response to problems relating to missing and exploited children.

Finally, Mr. Goldman is a law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, who has devoted much of his professional life to analyzing laws and their impact on the internet, and will be able to speak about the potential legal consequences of the proposed changes contemplated by this legislation.

Thank you all for being here and for the advocacy and work you are engaged in.  These are issues that are often difficult to discuss, but I believe this committee provides an appropriate venue for serious consideration of difficult matters, and I appreciate your participation in our discussion. 

Finally, before I turn to Ranking Member Nelson for his opening statement, I just want to acknowledge that our colleague Senator McCain had also hoped to join us today, given his long leadership on efforts to combat human trafficking, but he had an unavoidable conflict at the Armed Services Committee, which he chairs.  Without objection, Senator McCain’s statement will be included in the record.  I would note, however, that we are honored to have Mrs. Cindy McCain in our audience today, along with a number of distinguished guests, including Senator Heitkamp.

With that, I turn to Senator Nelson.    

Nelson Calls on Airlines to Cap Fares Ahead of Hurricane Maria

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today sent letters to the CEOs of 10 major U.S.-based airlines urging them to begin capping airfares for those fleeing the path of Hurricane Maria.

“As you know, Hurricane Maria is a major hurricane and is threatening Puerto Rico and the Caribbean now and may be a threat to the U.S. coast by next week,” Nelson wrote. “Therefore, I urge you to begin the process now for implementing capped airfare and ensuring that refunds are promptly issued for cancelled flights.” 

“Individuals and families should not be forced to delay or cancel their evacuation efforts because of confusion over the cost of airfare,” Nelson added.

Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the nation’s airline industry, sent letters to the heads of American, United, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Alaska, Hawaiian, Frontier and Allegiant.

Following is the text of Nelson’s letter:

September 18, 2017

 

Mr. Robin Hayes

Chairman and CEO

JetBlue

27-01 Queens Plaza North

Long Island City, NY 11101 

Dear Mr. Robin Hayes:

             In the days leading up to Hurricane Irma making landfall in Florida, I communicated to many airlines the concerns of individuals and families facing the prospect of paying excessive airfare to evacuate areas within the hurricane’s path.  My office received many complaints about airfare pricing during this time.  Information and screenshots of airfare well into the thousands of dollars were widely covered by news outlets and documented on social media. 

             I appreciate that several airlines ultimately capped airfare for some flights to and from affected areas after listening to these concerns.  However, your assistance in preventing future airfare spikes in advance of hurricanes and making policies regarding capped airfares available to the public is needed immediately.

             As you know, Hurricane Maria is a major hurricane and is threatening Puerto Rico and the Caribbean now and may be a threat to the U.S. coast by next week.  Therefore, I urge you to begin the process now for implementing capped airfare and ensuring that refunds are promptly issued for cancelled flights.  I also request that your policies on capped airfare be communicated clearly and in writing so that affected residents can evacuate quickly and safely.  Individuals and families should not be forced to delay or cancel their evacuation efforts because of confusion over the cost of airfare.

             I appreciate your consideration of my request and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely

 

Commerce Leaders Urge FTC to Remain Vigilant in the Wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, together with Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the chairman and ranking member of the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security Subcommittee, today sent a letter to the acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The letter urges the FTC to remain vigilant in its efforts to protect Americans from fraud and scams that could arise in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 

Excerpt from the letter to the FTC:

“In recent days, we have witnessed the national outpouring of support and aid to the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma and have seen once again that natural disasters bring out the best in Americans.  Congress also recently devoted billions of dollars to assist in rebuilding efforts and is likely to provide more in the future.  Unfortunately, major natural disasters also present an opportunity for fraudsters and scam artists to prey on the compassion and goodwill of fellow citizens as well as hurricane victims when they are at their most vulnerable.”  

The full letter to the FTC may be viewed here

The Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security have jurisdiction over consumer protection, as well as fraud and scams.

Senate Passes Two Bills to Combat Human Trafficking

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today applauded Senate passage, by unanimous consent, of two bills to combat human trafficking in the U.S. transportation sector.

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