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Subcommittee to Hold Second Hearing Examining the International Space Station

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness will convene a hearing entitled “Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Stakeholder Perspectives,” at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The second in a series of hearings to examine the role of the International Space Station (ISS), this hearing will provide ISS stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the value of the ISS to our national space program and the future of human space exploration.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Mitch Daniels, President, Purdue University
  • Ms. Cynthia Bouthot, Director of Commercial Innovation & Sponsored Programs, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space
  • Mr. Jim Chilton, Senior Vice President, Space and Launch, The Boeing Company
  • Mr. Bob Mitchell, President, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
  • Mr. Michael Suffredini, Chief Executive Officer and President, Axiom Space

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details: 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness 

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 Hold Hearing Examining the Digital Coast Partnership

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a hearing entitled “A Decade of the Digital Coast Partnership Program: Successes and Opportunities,” at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The hearing will examine how partners and stakeholders contribute to and use the Digital Coast, a NOAA-sponsored partnership focused on helping communities address coastal management issues through data, tools, and training.  

Witnesses:

  • Ms. Nicole LeBoeuf, Deputy Assistant Administrator for National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Mr. Paul Barnes, Geographic Information Systems Director, Harrison County, Miss.
  • Mr. Tyson Fettes, Register of Deeds, Racine County, Wis.
  • Mr. David Millar, Government Accounts Director Americas, Fugro

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard 

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.

Monkey Selfie Update: 9th Circuit Judge Calls for En Banc Rehearing Vote on Ruling

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 9:38am
Two weeks ago, we posted a commentary on the so-called monkey selfie case decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Naruto v. Slater. The court unanimously held that Naruto, a photogenic Indonesian macaque, did not have statutory standing to sue the owner of the selfie-taking camera for copyright infringement. The majority …

Continue reading Monkey Selfie Update: 9th Circuit Judge Calls for En Banc Rehearing Vote on Ruling

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Subcommittee to Hold Hearing Examining Past Safety Practices for Olympians and Amateur Athletes

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 entitled “Preventing Abuse in Olympic and Amateur Athletics: Ensuring a Safe and Secure Environment for Our Athletes,” at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The hearing will focus on how past processes to protect our Olympic athletes from abuse have failed to keep athletes safe and explore current efforts to provide a safe environment for amateur athletes.

Witnesses:

  • Ms. Rhonda Faehn, former Women’s Program Director, USA Gymnastics
  • Mr. Steve Penny, former President, USA Gymnastics
  • Ms. Lou Anna Simon, former President, Michigan State University

*Witness list subject to change. 

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
3:00 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.

The Supreme Court’s “Epic Systems” Decision: Holdings and Hints on “Chevron” Deference

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 9:11am
Guest Commentary By Arthur G. Sapper, Senior Counsel with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. in its Washington, DC office, where he practices both appellate litigation and administrative law, with an emphasis on OSHA matters. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis will likely prove important on issues other than …

Continue reading The Supreme Court’s “Epic Systems” Decision: Holdings and Hints on “Chevron” Deference

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Neither Reason nor Science Supports Class Actions against Diet Soda Makers

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:26am
  A Food Court Follies Analysis No doubt, many a diet soda will be consumed this weekend. Will any of those consumers, though, purchase that soda—in reliance on the manufacturers’ devious use of “diet”—because they think it will assist in weight loss? That impression is the basis of a number of copycat consumer class-action lawsuits …

Continue reading Neither Reason nor Science Supports Class Actions against Diet Soda Makers

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Update: Federal District Court Rejects Minority View on Pharma “Innovator Liability”

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 2:05pm
In a recent post, West Virginia’s High Court Rejects Novel Theory of “Innovator Liability”, WLF Senior Litigation Counsel Cory Andrews discussed a state court decision that declined liability on a pharmaceutical manufacturer for alleged harms caused by a drug it did not produce. In doing so, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals parted company with …

Continue reading Update: Federal District Court Rejects Minority View on Pharma “Innovator Liability”

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California Supreme Court Limits Employers’ Ability to Characterize Workers as Independent Contractors

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 9:00am
Guest Commentary By John F. Querio, a Partner, and Lacey L. Estudillo, an Appellate Fellow, with Horvitz & Levy LLP. California courts and administrative agencies have long used a multi-factor common-law test, as summarized by S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations, 48 Cal. 3d 341 (1989), to determine whether workers are …

Continue reading California Supreme Court Limits Employers’ Ability to Characterize Workers as Independent Contractors

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House Passes FY2019 NDAA with Small Business Reforms

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), released the following statement upon House passage of the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes small business provisions introduced by the House Committee on Small Business:

“Small businesses play an immeasurable role in keeping America safe and strong. Not only are they the lifeblood of the economy, but they also the lifeblood of our nation’s industrial base,” said Chairman Chabot. “The common sense reforms in this bill will open new avenues for small businesses to flourish in our economy.”

Versions of the following bills were included in FY19 NDAA:

  • H.R. 2056, the Microloan Modernization Act
  • H.R. 4754, the Change Order Transparency for Federal Contractors
  • H.R. 2333, the Small Business Investment Opportunity Act
  • H.R. 2364, the Investing in Main Street America Act 
  • Significant portions of H.R. 2763, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Improvements Act, were also included

West Virginia’s High Court Rejects Novel Theory of “Innovator Liability”

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 1:03pm
Should the law recognize a plaintiff’s tort claims against a branded drug manufacturer when the drug that allegedly caused the plaintiff’s injuries was manufactured and sold by the defendant’s generic competitor? State and federal courts have been grappling with this novel question of “innovator liability” ever since the U.S. Supreme Court held, in Pliva and …

Continue reading West Virginia’s High Court Rejects Novel Theory of “Innovator Liability”

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Thune Statement on Apple iPhone 6 Battery Replacement Credit

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on today’s announcement by Apple to offer a $50 credit to customers who purchased an iPhone 6 battery replacement between January 1, 2017, and December 28, 2017:

“Apple’s announcement of a $50 credit for 2017 battery replacements effectively addresses an issue I raised after the company acknowledged it had taken steps to slow the processing performance of the iPhone 6. Full transparency about actions that could degrade the performance of a purchase is especially critical when it involves changes to complicated technology that might not be readily apparent to consumers.”

On January 9, 2018, Sen. Thune wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook asking a series of questions about revelations of a software update which slowed the processing performance of some phones with older batteries, including whether consumers who had paid for a full-price replacement battery in an effort to restore performance should receive a rebate. On February 2, 2018, Apple responded to Sen. Thune’s letter noting that it was exploring potential rebates for customers who had purchased battery replacements before it announced a discounted battery replacement offer.

Nelson Statement on the NTSB’s Release of its Preliminary Report on the FIU Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) issued the following statement this morning in response to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) release of its preliminary report on the March collapse of the pedestrian bridge at Florida International University.  Click here to read the NTSB’s preliminary report.

“While we still don’t know the ultimate cause of the bridge collapse, it’s reassuring that the NTSB is already laser-focused on the emergence of cracks on the structure,” said Nelson, who serves as the ranking Democrat of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the NTSB.  “The victims’ families and the public expect nothing less than a thorough examination of this tragic event to prevent it from ever happening again.”

<p>Good morning. Thank you all for

Good morning. Thank you all for being here for what should be another very quick markup, as I know many of you have to be at the EPW, Banking, or SASC markups, which are also occurring this morning.

We’ll start by considering two well qualified nominees – one to the Amtrak Board of Directors and the other to the National Transportation Safety Board – as well as over 250 Coast Guard promotions.

It is my hope that all of these nominations and confirmations will be considered on the floor expeditiously.

Legislatively, we will consider five measures today, including two focused on the ongoing opioid crisis.

It comes as no surprise to anyone here today that we are in the midst of an opioid abuse epidemic in this country. In 2016 alone, more than 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses.

Widespread abuse affects all industries, and transportation is no exception.

That is why the first item on today’s agenda, which I recently introduced, focuses on the transportation industry.

The Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act seeks to improve drug and alcohol testing requirements for workers performing safety-critical functions across the nation’s transportation network.

Additionally, the bill closes loopholes by expanding mandatory random drug testing requirements to both rail mechanical employees and yardmasters.

In a letter of support for the bill, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt stated that this change, if enacted, has “great potential to save lives and avoid injuries.”

The bill would also: expand the Department of Transportation drug testing panel to include fentanyl; improve transparency of drug testing data; and speed the adoption of testing methodology improvements.

The second item on today’s agenda, the Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018, sponsored by Senators Capito and Cortez Masto, focuses on weeding out bogus opioid treatment programs and products.

Given the physical, emotional, and financial challenges many face when deciding even to seek treatment, ensuring the resources they find are legitimate is critically important.

Their legislation would prohibit the marketing of bogus opioid treatment programs and products and provide additional tools to the Federal Trade Commission and states to enforce against these practices.

Other Committees in the Senate – including the Finance and HELP Committees – are also working on other legislative initiatives designed to tackle the opioid crisis, and I am hopeful today’s bills can eventually be considered along with them by the full Senate.

With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks.

Chairman Chabot’s Statement on the Passage of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement upon House passage of S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act:

“As Chairman of the Committee on Small Business, I hear consistently about the negative effects of flawed and burdensome regulations on our community banks and credit unions.  It is these small financial institutions that fuel our local economies and give hope to those who want to start their own version of the American dream,” said Chairman Steve Chabot. “The reforms included in this package, which will now be sent to the President’s desk, will put American Main Street businesses on the path to job creation and expansion. I applaud Chairman Hensarling and the Financial Services Committee for spearheading this comprehensive reform package in the House.”

###

Opening Statement of Rep. Byrne (R-AL), Chairman, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Hearing on “Regulatory Reform: Unleashing Economic Opportunity for Workers and Employers”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 12:00am

Despite the significant improvements to the economy thanks to regulatory reform and Republican-led tax reform efforts, more work is needed to build on this success. We still have 6.3 million Americans out of work, and we cannot afford to stop looking for ways to improve economic conditions and support American workers.

Burdensome federal regulations on businesses of all sizes are one major obstacle that hurt the efforts and slow the ability of businesses to grow and hire talented employees.

Small business owners alone are spending at least $12,000 every year complying with regulations.

Additionally, in 2013, businesses both large and small devoted $94.8 billion to hiring full-time personnel to achieve regulatory compliance.

The costs associated with regulatory compliance are creating a major barrier to a business’ ability to not only hire more workers, but is hampering its ability to grow the business as a whole.

To make matters worse, despite the pleas from businesses owners around the country, the Obama administration continued to issue new, complicated, and onerous regulations that slowed economic progress during a time when the economy was focused on recovering from the 2008 financial crisis.

Republicans actually listened to the needs of businesses large and small, and that is why Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration have made regulatory reform  a priority.

During this Congress alone, House Republicans have led the charge in delivering regulatory relief by advancing 15 resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to eliminate some of the most costly, redundant, and unnecessary regulations.

I’m proud to say that five of the 15 CRA resolutions that were signed into law by President Trump came from the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Since the passage of the initial 15 CRA resolutions, we have already started to see a reversal in the truly negative effects of Obama-era regulations.

According to the American Action Forum—which our witness Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin is president of — overturning these 15 regulations achieved approximately $4 billion in total cost savings to businesses.

Additionally, the Committee on Education and the Workforce has held twenty-two oversight hearings on federal rules and regulations, and I am proud to say eight of those hearings were conducted by this subcommittee. This record is proof members of this committee, as well as the staff, remain committed to taking a hard look at regulations and how they impact employees and employers.

After eight years of lost opportunity under the Obama administration, this Committee and the Congress are now able to work constructively with the Trump administration to improve the regulatory environment. For example, early in his administration, the President issued executive orders to reduce the number of regulations and control regulatory costs.

Employers are taking notice of Congress and the Administration’s actions to remove regulatory burdens. A survey conducted by Littler Mendelson stated that “a little over a year into the new administration, employers are cautiously anticipating less impact from key regulatory issues on their workplaces over the next 12 months.” As the Trump Administration continues to reform the regulatory process, employers anticipate additional economic growth.

Not all regulations are bad, but today’s hearing will explore the benefits of responsible regulatory reform, how regulatory costs can be controlled to allow for the continued growth of the nation’s economy, and the importance of Congress and the administration continuing to collaborate on a regulatory reform agenda.

Our panel of witnesses today are well-suited to discuss this subject, and I look forward to hearing their thoughts, as well as their ideas about where this committee should look for future reform efforts.

To view the PDF version, click here.

# # #

Controversial Consumer Product Safety Commission Nominee Narrowly Approved by the Senate

By a vote of 50-45, the U.S. Senate today narrowly confirmed the nomination of Dana Baiocco to serve on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The move is seen as a win for corporate America and a loss for consumers.

Among those leading the charge against Baiocco’s nomination was Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the CPSC.  Nelson’s opposition to Baiocco’s nomination hinged on her refusal to require portable generators be equipped with devices that limit carbon monoxide emissions or automatically shut off the machines when they reach dangerous levels.

The commission, which regulates the safety of thousands of products, from children’s toys to portable generators, is viewed as one of the nation’s top consumer watchdog agencies. 

In a floor speech moments before the vote, Nelson said carbon monoxide poisonings from generators were linked to as many as 12 deaths and numerous injuries in Florida following Hurricane Irma.

“Hurricane season begins on June 1st and every day the CPSC fails to act on portable generators equals more Floridians and other Gulf Coast residents at risk,” said Nelson.  “Sadly, it seems with the administration’s recent appointments to the CPSC, the commission could soon become known as the ‘Commission to Protect Shareholders and Companies.’”

Baiocco, a lawyer at powerful corporate lobbying and litigation giant Jones Day, was nominated by President Trump to serve on the CPSC last September.  Her nomination has in-part come under fire due to her refusal to disclose clients she’s represented or fully recuse herself from matters involving those companies.  Previous news reports indicate she has defended a number of manufacturers with interests before the CPSC, including cases involving toys with lead paint and ATVs linked to numerous rollover-related injuries and deaths.

Committee Approves Five Bills, Two Nominees, and Coast Guard Promotions

WASHINGTON – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today, approved five bills and two nominees subject to Senate confirmation, and Coast Guard promotions.

Bill and Nominations considered are as follows (all approved by voice vote):

1.    S. 2848, Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

         a. Thune Substitute (modified)

2.    S. 2842, Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)

         a. Capito 1

3.    S. 2844, STB Information Security Improvement Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

4.    S. 2764, Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

5.    S. 2418, Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) 

         a. Hassan Substitute

6.    Nomination of Joseph Ryan Gruters, of Florida, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors

7.    Nomination of Jennifer L. Homendy, of Virginia, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board

8.    Coast Guard Promotions

Update: Ninth Circuit Softens its Decision in Flushable Wipes Case

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 12:30pm
Guest Commentary By Lucía Roibal, an Associate with Morrison & Foerster LLP in the firm’s San Francisco, CA office. This commentary is reposted with permission, originally appearing on May 17, 2018 in the firm’s Class Dismissed  blog. On May 9, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an Opinion amending its previous …

Continue reading Update: Ninth Circuit Softens its Decision in Flushable Wipes Case

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Executive Session

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Tuesday, May 22 at 10:00 a.m. to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.

Click here for additional information on nominees.

Agenda:

1.    S. 2848, Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

2.    S. 2842, Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)

3.    S. 2844, STB Information Security Improvement Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

4.    S. 2764, Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

5.    S. 1092, Interstate Transport Act of 2017, Sponsor: Sen. Mike Enzie (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

6.    S. 2418, Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.)

7.    Nomination of Heidi R. King, of California, to be Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

8.    Nomination of Joseph Ryan Gruters, of Florida, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors

9.    Nomination of Jennifer L. Homendy, of Virginia, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board

10.  Coast Guard Promotions

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee Markup
Senate Dirksen Building, Room 106
 
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov

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