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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

Categories: Latest News

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

Solicitor General Inveighs Against Antitrust-Law Revolution in SCOTUS “Apple v. Pepper” Amicus Brief

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 10:24am
Ed. Note: With this post we welcome WLF’s newest attorney, Corbin K. Barthold, as a WLF Legal Pulse author. Many legal disputes pit the affective and sometimes utopian thinking of lawyers against the statistical and efficiency-oriented thinking of economists. The archetypal lawyer subscribes to the maxim ubi jus ibi remedium—“where there is a right, there …

Continue reading Solicitor General Inveighs Against Antitrust-Law Revolution in SCOTUS “Apple v. Pepper” Amicus Brief

Categories: Latest News

Opening Statement of Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Chairwoman, Committee on Education and the Workforce Hearing on “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education.”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 12:00am

Just a few days ago, we experienced yet another tragedy, this time at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Madam Secretary, I hope we’ll hear from you today about the work of the Commission on School Safety. I know state and local school districts are struggling with how to address this issue, and I know parents and students are concerned and even scared. I hope today will be an opportunity for all of us to learn more about how the Commission is developing recommendations for keeping our schools safe

As members are aware, this hearing was originally scheduled for December of last year, but had to be postponed due to changes in the House schedule. I want to thank Secretary DeVos for her flexibility and for working with the committee to make today’s hearing possible.

Given that Secretary DeVos’s primary responsibility is to faithfully carry out the laws enacted by Congress, having this dialogue about the Department’s priorities and activities is critical.

While the Constitution is clear about our roles, it’s less clear about what we must do in terms of policy. As I have reminded members of this committee on more than one occasion, there are 4,543 words in the Constitution. Not one of them is the word “education,” or a synonym for it.

Our country was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It has been my experience that education, in whatever form it may take, is the key to all of those pursuits. I believe on that point, we can all agree.

I also believe most of the members of this committee would agree that our constituents have strong feelings about the role of the federal government in education policy. They often tell us: the less from Washington, the better. Local control isn’t just a matter of philosophy, it’s a matter of practicality.

We’ve seen that firsthand through the work we have done on workforce development. Two examples that come to mind are the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. These pieces of legislation reflect the simple fact that local control and input make all the difference in ensuring that educational pursuits yield real results for Americans who just want to live successful lives.

This committee took a similar approach to K-12 education with the Every Students Succeeds Act. We firmly believe that states and school districts have an obligation to provide all students an excellent education and hold schools accountable for the performance of all students. But effective accountability must have buy-in from parents, teachers, and other state and local leaders. I applaud states and school districts for stepping up to this challenge under ESSA and the Department for enforcing the law as written. 

Secretary DeVos has made it clear that she is also a believer in local solutions for  education challenges. It’s parents and the local school leaders they know and trust who are best equipped to make the decisions that will help improve education for all students. Most of the time, it should be our job at the federal level to stay out of their way. Sometimes there’s a need for legislation. Other times, it’s up to the Department to take a step back and let state and local officials respond to the needs of their communities.

For example, under the Bush administration, the Department issued seven economically significant rules. Rules carry this designation when they would have an annual impact on the economy of $100 million or more or would have any material adverse effect on "the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or tribal governments or communities." President Obama’s administration issued as many such rules in a single year, and 27 in the Department alone over the length of the administration. That was a nearly 300 percent increase in the regulatory burden on education alone.

That’s why it’s crucial that we, the committee of jurisdiction, have a strong and productive relationship with the Secretary of Education. I expect today’s hearing to be an important chapter in that relationship.

Madam Secretary, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you over the course of your time at the Department. I know what drives you to show up to work every day is the same thing that drives each one of us – ensuring all students have access to an excellent education. I applaud your willingness to take on this work in the face of the unprecedented vitriol you face.  We look forward to hearing about what you’ve done so far to restore the Department’s authority to its rightful place, and the creative ways you’ve found to help open doors for Americans looking for more opportunities in education.

Again, it’s a pleasure to welcome you here today. I thank you for being here, and I now yield to Ranking Member Scott for his opening remarks.

To view the PDF version, click here.

# # #

A Class-Action Paradise: Legal Environment in California Encourages Frivolous Claims

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 4:03pm
A Food Court Follies Analysis California: the land of beaches, Hollywood, and lawsuits.  A land where dreams can come true and where plaintiff-friendly statutes and forgiving federal judges allow consumer class actions to reign supreme.  Here on the WLF Legal Pulse, we have previously blogged on series of cases filed in California in which consumers …

Continue reading A Class-Action Paradise: Legal Environment in California Encourages Frivolous Claims

Categories: Latest News

Chairman Chabot’s Statement on House Passage of H.R. 5044, the Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Continuation Act

House Small Business Committee News - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement upon the House passage of his bill, H.R. 5044, the Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Continuation Act:

“America owes a debt of gratitude to not only members of our military, but also their families. My bill ensures that the surviving spouses of service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses are able to retain the service-disabled veteran-owned status of their small business for a period of time after the passing of their veteran spouse,” stated Chairman Chabot. “Most importantly, this bill provides peace of mind for surviving spouses of veteran business owners.”

Chairman Chabot has made veteran small business issues a key pillar for the Committee on Small Business during his tenure. The Committee has held multiple hearings on veterans’ business development and has successfully passed veterans-related bills such as the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act, which has since been signed into law.

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WCOE Turning Point for May 2018

Turning Point RSS - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 12:00pm
Categories: Turning Point

Circuit Split Grows over Whether Evidence Supportive of Class Certification Must be Admissible

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 10:14am
Featured Expert Contributor, Judicial Gatekeeping of Expert Evidence By Evan M. Tager, a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Mayer Brown LLP, with Carl J. Summers, an Associate with Mayer Brown LLP. The Supreme Court explained in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes that “Rule 23 does not set forth a mere pleading standard.  A party …

Continue reading Circuit Split Grows over Whether Evidence Supportive of Class Certification Must be Admissible

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WCOE Turning Point for 5/17/2018

Turning Point RSS - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 12:52pm
Categories: Turning Point

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Jacksonville, FL

Office of Advocacy - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 12:03pm

 

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Jacksonville, FL

 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, June 7, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration will host a Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Jacksonville, Fla. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the JAX Chamber, 3 Independent Dr.

 

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Oviedo, FL

Office of Advocacy - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 12:01pm

 

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Oviedo, FL

                      

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, June 6, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration will host a Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Oviedo-Winter Springs, Fla. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the City of Oviedo Amphitheater and Cultural Center, 357 Center Lake Lane.   

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Oviedo, FL

Office of Advocacy - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 12:01pm

 

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Oviedo, FL

                      

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, June 6, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration will host a Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Oviedo-Winter Springs, Fla. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the City of Oviedo Amphitheater and Cultural Center, 357 Center Lake Lane.   

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Tampa/Brandon, FL

Office of Advocacy - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 11:59am

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Tampa/Brandon, FL

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, June 5, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration will host a Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Brandon, Fla. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Tampa-Brandon Hotel, 10221 Princess Palm Ave.   

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Santa Clarita, CA

Office of Advocacy - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 11:41am

Advocacy to Host Regulatory Reform Roundtable for Small Business in Santa Clarita, CA

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, May 3, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration will host a Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Santa Clarita, Calif. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT at the Small Business Development Center – College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd.  

 

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Hotline Truths II: Audit Reveals Inconsistencies in Defense Subcontracting

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 10:00am

The Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce will meet for a hearing titled, “Hotline Truths II: Audit Reveals Inconsistencies in Defense Subcontracting.”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on May 17, 2018 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

As part of the Subcommittee’s ongoing efforts to identify waste, fraud and abuse in federal contracting and to ensure that small contractors have the opportunity to compete, the Subcommittee will hear testimony from the Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) concerning the results of a recent audit.  As a result of hotline complaints, the DODIG has been reviewing contracting activities for compliance with the Small Business Act.  The hearing will allow the Subcommittee to learn about the findings of this audit and compare these findings with earlier DODIG audits examining small business subcontracting at other service branches.  

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List 

Witness List
Mr. Michael J. Roark
Assistant Inspector General
Readiness and Global Operations
Office of Inspector General
Department of Defense
Alexandria, VA

Mr. Tommy L. Marks
Director
Army Office of Small Business Programs
Office of the Secretary of the Army
Washington, DC

Ms. Tiffany S. Scroggs
President
Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
Lacey, WA

Deafening Silence from the Department of Defense on Small Business Act Mandates

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, Members of the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce questioned officials from the Department of Defense and the Office of the Secretary of the Army and a government procurement expert as to why statutory provisions outlined in the Small Business Act are being overlooked and undermined in a recent audit of the Army Contracting Commands (ACC) Redstone and Warren.

“The Department of Defense Inspector General (IG) investigated small business subcontracting at two Army Contracting Command, or ACC, locations. The IG’s report, issued on March 19, 2018, found that the ACC has inconsistently complied with statutory requirements requiring the administration of subcontracting plans. This failure resulted in the denial of $914.8 million in small business subcontracting opportunities,” said Subcommittee Chairman Steve Knight (R-CA). “I believe a vibrant small business community is essential to our national security. Many of these businesses serve our country by working with the Department of Defense to provide necessary goods and services to our men and women in uniform.”

“Perhaps most alarming is the IG’s finding that administering subcontracting plans is not a high priority at the ACC.  This is a short-sighted view, failing to take into account the enormous cost the loss of qualified, high-performing small business contractors would have on our industrial base.”

What the Audit Found

According to the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Inspector General (IG), the ACC has inconsistently complied with statutory requirements regarding the administration of subcontracting plans. This has resulted in the denial of $914.8 million in subcontracting opportunities for small businesses. 

“Overall, ACC-Redstone and ACC-Warren generally provided small businesses with the opportunity to compete for prime contracts; however, contracting officials did not ensure that prime contractors provided small businesses adequate subcontracting opportunities,” said DoD Assistant Inspector General Michael J. Roark. “We made a total of 8 recommendations to the Army to address the deficiencies identified during the audit.”

Assistant Inspector General Roark continued, “ACC-Redstone and ACC-Warren contracting officials did not ensure that prime contractors provided small businesses with adequate subcontracting opportunities for 23 (valued at $914.8 million) of 50 contracts (valued at $1.6 billion).”

Mr. Tommy L. Marks, Director of the Army Office of Small Business Programs, said that, “The DoD awarded $59.4B in prime contract dollars to small business firms, during the period of October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017.”  However, Mr. Marks agreed with the findings in the IG report, acknowledging the Army’s deficiencies in the administration of subcontracting plans.  He stated his commitment to strengthening the enforcement and compliance of subcontracting plans to the statutory requirements of the Small Business Act.

Tiffany Scroggs, President of the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) in Lacey, WA, stated, “The IG’s findings are consistent with PTAC’s experience across all agencies and buying activities….In the broader context of government acquisitions, expanding access to small business subcontracting opportunities is often not treated as a priority at any level – not by buying offices, not by agency leadership, and not by policy; as a consequence, it is not a priority for prime contractors either. But it should be.

“When we fail to establish and support practices that allow small businesses maximum opportunity for subcontracting, our nation’s supply chain suffers."

Click here to read full testimony and here to watch the hearing.

Opening Statement of Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Chairwoman, Committee on Education and the Workforce Hearing on “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Data Security: Exploring How Schools and States Keep Data Safe”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 12:00am

Over the past several decades, there has been a significant leap in the ways that technology can be used to strengthen classroom instruction and improve student outcomes. Companies specializing in education technology have provided teachers, school districts, and states with the cutting-edge software and tools needed to create a modern learning environment that inspires student success.

The use of this technology can greatly enrich the student experience and help teachers adjust instruction according to the needs of their students. However, questions of privacy will always accompany any discussion of student data collection, as well they should.

Concerns have been raised that information such as attendance records, school performance, and other aspects of students’ personally identifiable information may be shared, sold, or mined by the companies that collect it.

In an effort to provide parents with confidence and peace of mind, several companies have signed a “Student Privacy Pledge” that holds service providers accountable to a list of stipulations, including not selling student information, providing comprehensive security, and being transparent about the collection and use of data.

While this commitment from the technology community is encouraging, it is only half of the equation. More must be done to ensure that student data remains confidential, and updating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a crucial step to ensure better protections. This law is intended to protect student privacy and stipulates who may access student education records and the ways those records may be shared, both with and without parental consent.

More than 40 years have passed since FERPA’s enactment in 1974. In those decades, which have seen breathtaking innovation and technological advances, FERPA has been amended just a handful of times to address changing circumstances under which a student’s personally identifiable information may be released.

Times have changed and the law is in need of a more substantial reform to better reflect the current realities of data collection in schools and classrooms. We need to clarify what data is a part of the record, we need to ensure access to the information is limited to those who truly need access to the data, and we need to ensure that anyone who accesses that information is known and knows the rules of using that data.

In January, this committee held a hearing on evidence-based education policymaking and the importance of strengthening education research while protecting student privacy. Today we are focused on what schools and states actually to do protect that data, through limiting what is collected and providing better security over the data that is collected. Given their unique areas of expertise, I’m looking forward to hearing our witnesses give members an on-the-ground look into what states and educators are doing to keep students’ personally identifiable information safe.

I look forward to the discussion today as this committee works to ensure the continued protection of student privacy.

To view the PDF version, click here.

# # #

Senate Votes to Restore Net Neutrality

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted 52 to 47 to restore Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules prohibiting internet service providers from blocking or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps.   

The measure, supported by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, was backed by all 47 Democratic senators, along with three Republicans and the chamber’s two Independents. 

The rules, known as net neutrality, were initially adopted by the FCC under the Obama administration but were repealed by the newly Republican-controlled commission in the aftermath of President Trump’s election. 

The resolution approved by the Senate would reverse the FCC’s rollback of the rules, which are set to expire on June 11.  

“The American public understands how important these protections are to their lives and the future of the internet,” Nelson said on the senate floor before the vote.  “They do not want to have their websites blocked or internet accessed slowed.  And, they certainly don’t want their internet providers making those decisions.”

The vote is seen as a victory for consumer groups and small businesses that argued that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality would ultimately result in internet service providers charging extra to access some online content or have websites load faster.  

The resolution now heads to the House of Representatives. 

Thune Statement on Senate Democrats’ Objection to Bipartisan Net Neutrality Legislation, Vote on Markey CRA Resolution

WASHINGTON –- U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on the Senate’s 52-47 vote to approve the S.J.Res. 52, a resolution offered under the rules of the Congressional Review Act to reverse changes to internet rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in December 2017.

“This vote was about politics, not protecting net neutrality. Unfortunately, it’s only going to delay Senate Democrats from coming to the table and negotiating bipartisan net neutrality legislation,” said Thune.

“Today, I made a motion to put this resolution aside and take up a draft of net neutrality protection legislation, first floated in 2015, as a starting point for amendment and discussion. I’m disappointed but not surprised that Democrats rejected my offer to write, consider, and amend legislation in a process open to ideas from both sides of the aisle. Despite this vote, I remain committed to finding a path to bipartisan protections for the internet and stand ready to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle when they are ready as well.”

On the Senate floor, Thune proposed that S.J.Res. 52 be set aside and the Senate instead take up for amendment and consideration a draft he first put forward in 2015 with House of Representatives colleagues Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.). The objection to beginning work on bipartisan legislation came from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the sponsor of S.J.Res. 52.

Click here to watch Sen. Thune’s floor speech on the need for bipartisan net neutrality legislation. His motion, and the objection from Sen. Markey, occur at the end of the floor speech.

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