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<p>Good afternoon. Thank you, Mr.

Good afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for convening this hearing and giving me the opportunity to participate.

As a parent, as a grandparent, I can think of no issue of greater importance than keeping children safe from sexual predators. The abuse scandal that’s the focus of today’s hearing is a grim reminder of that. Unfortunately, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University aren’t the only institutions that have made headlines over the years due to sexual abuse of young athletes. Other institutions have also struggled with this issue.

Sexual abuse, in any form, is an especially troubling crime because its victims suffer both physical and mental trauma that can last a lifetime. When the abuse is by a coach or a team doctor and the victim is a minor, the betrayal of trust is even greater. In this case, when there were adults in a position to intervene, but they failed to act, it’s particularly tragic.

Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor with USA Gymnastics, abused hundreds of victims over a period of years. The significant sentences he received ensure that he’ll never again hurt a young gymnast or any other child. But we must do more to prevent these horrific crimes from happening again. Congressional oversight of the FBI falls within the jurisdiction of our Judiciary Committee. After hearing one gymnast’s complaint about the FBI’s handling of the allegations against Nassar, I wrote the FBI Director to request a briefing on the Bureau’s involvement in this case.

My committee staff spoke with the FBI yesterday, and we were advised that the FBI’s handling of this investigation has been referred to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General. Our Committee convened its own hearing on the importance of protecting amateur athletes last year. I also joined Senator Feinstein last year in introducing the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act.

This new law requires amateur athletic governing bodies to immediately report suspected sexual abuse to the authorities. Our Judiciary Committee approved this measure and then worked closely with Commerce Chairman Thune on additional changes to the bill, before the President signed the final version in February.

The new law also authorizes the U.S. Center for Safe Sport to respond to instances of sexual misconduct within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic community. Since its inception, Safesport has fielded over 1,200 misconduct allegations and issued sanctions against 300 individuals.

Its website, safesport.org, has a searchable database that enables the public to find out if someone’s been banned from a sport or otherwise disciplined.

Just in the last month, I convened two other Judiciary Committee hearings on the topic of sexual violence. I’ve learned that we still need to do more to educate adults who are in a position to protect children. We also must reduce opportunities for predators to exploit victims. In many or most instances, adult coaches, trainers, and doctors shouldn’t be left alone while working with young athletes.

I’ll conclude by thanking you, Chairman Moran, for your leadership on this subcommittee. In holding several hearings on this issue, you’ve given a voice to sexual abuse victims.

Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions

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 “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” at 2:30 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse. It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.

The subcommittee convened two previous hearings on April 18 and June 5 featuring testimony from survivors and officials in positions of responsibility when abuse committed by former USA Gymnastics team doctor and Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar occurred.


- The Honorable John Engler, Interim President, Michigan State University
- Ms. Susanne Lyons, Acting Chief Executive Officer, United States Olympic Committee
- Ms. Kerry Perry, President and Chief Executive Officer, USA Gymnastics     

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
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.

SBC Examines How to Invest in Rural America

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – This week, the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittees on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access and Agriculture, Energy, and Trade held a joint hearing to examine venture capital’s role in helping small businesses access capital and highlight success stories of organizations that provide resources to small businesses in rural America.  

“Access to capital continues to remain a top concern for American small businesses—nowhere more than rural America, which has been slower to recover from the recession. Although venture capital has become a popular financing mechanism for small businesses trying to expand, data shows that more than 75 percent of venture capital goes to just three cities in the U.S.,” said Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access Subcommittee Chairman Dave Brat (R-VA).

 “Small businesses and entrepreneurs must be able to access capital so that they can continue to operate and expand their businesses and also attract talent, dollars, and jobs to their communities… Investing in and growing rural America is vital not just to the citizens who live there, but also to the future of our country,” said Agriculture, Energy, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Rod Blum (R-IA).

Witness Testimony: A Need to Expand Venture Capital to Rural Areas

“Investment in venture-backed companies in the United States reached $57 billion in almost 4,000 deals in the first half of 2018. And yet, only a fraction of these dollars found their way to funds and companies based in rural America. The capital deficit is starving innovative and valuable growth opportunities,” said Mr. Matthew M. McKenna, Executive in Residence, Rural Opportunity Initiative of McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

America’s heartland lacks the critical access to capital enjoyed in Silicon Valley, New York and Boston. Three-quarters of venture capital is being invested in just three states. Our home state of Ohio received less than 1%. Talent is equally distributed but, if capital continues to be concentrated in the hands of a few based on geography, we risk letting this momentum fade away,” said Ms. Falon Donohue, Chief Executive Officer of VentureOhio in Columbus, OH.

The landscape of agriculture and rural America is diverse and complex. Historically, some small and/or emerging farmer-owned cooperatives have been overlooked when it comes to financing and other technical assistance. To truly fulfill our mission and strengthen our rural communities, we also recognized a need to serve these customers whenever possible,” said Ms. Amy H. Gales, Executive Vice President, Regional Agribusiness Banking Group of CoBank in Greenwood Village, CO.

If we are able to expand access to capital to any entrepreneur who faces barriers, more Americans will be able to contribute to the economic vitality of our country,” said Mr. Ross Baird, President of Village Capital and Innovator-in-Residence at Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Alexandria, VA.

To read the full witness testimony click here and to watch the full hearing click here.

Opening Statement of Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Chairman, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 12:00am

Good morning, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing. I would like to thank members of the subcommittee and our witnesses for joining us today as we discuss H.R. 4219, the Workflex in the 21st Century Act.

The American workplace continues to evolve in many positive ways, reflecting changes in employer and employee needs, attitudes, and preferences.  Traditionally, competitive salaries and pay raises have been the primary ways for employers to attract and retain quality employees. While these recruiting tools are still important, more and more Americans have begun demanding flexible paid leave policies (including telework and other work arrangements). In fact, a 2015 survey conducted by Harris Poll found that nearly four in five employees preferred new or additional benefits or other perks over a pay raise.

The vast majority of full-time private sector employees have access to paid vacation leave and paid sick leave (90 percent and 82 percent, respectively). Even so, many states and local governments are mandating their own paid leave requirements.

To date, 10 states and the District of Columbia have a paid sick leave law on the books, as well as more than 30 localities. This has unsurprisingly resulted in a confusing patchwork of paid leave mandates that has led to increased compliance, administrative, and litigation costs.

Small businesses are especially vulnerable as they struggle beneath the burden of understanding and implementing these requirements, and employers that operate across state lines and multiple jurisdictions must now work to satisfy widely varying requirements that differ from state to state.

In answer to both the changes in the workplace and workforce and the growing patchwork of paid leave mandates, Congresswoman Mimi Walters from California introduced H.R. 4219, the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, this past November.

This legislation would encourage and allow companies and employers to voluntarily offer their employees a benefits plan that provides a generous paid leave policy as well as a flexible work arrangement option. In fact, the plans allowed by the bill would provide more paid leave to employees than all state paid leave laws and most local laws.

This legislation would accomplish a number of things: first, it would provide employers with a clear-cut solution to the growing confusion around state and local paid leave laws, while providing employees with a worker-friendly benefits package. Second, and maybe most notably, it would do so without resorting to the use of an overly burdensome and inflexible federal mandate. And third, if an employer chose to offer his or her employees a qualifying paid leave plan, then that employer and those employees would enjoy uniform and robust plans no matter where the employer is located, without the threat of state and local regulation.

The Workflex in the 21st Century Act is a win-win for businesses and their employees, and provides Americans with the flexibility they desire when it comes to striking the right work-life balance.

I am pleased to welcome our distinguished witnesses with us here today as we discuss this important and timely legislation, and I look forward to hearing from them as we explore the topic of paid leave in the 21st century workplace.

To view the PDF version, click here.

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‘Merck, Sharpe & Dohme v. Albrecht’: The Supreme Court’s Chance to Re-Open a Preemption Door the Third Circuit Tried to Close Forever

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 9:47am
Featured Expert Contributor, Litigation Strategies By Joe G. Hollingsworth, Partner, Hollingsworth LLP, with Stephen A. Klein, Partner, Hollingsworth LLP *Ed. Note: This is Mr. Hollingsworth’s inaugural post as the WLF Legal Pulse’s newest Featured Expert Contributor. He is a nationally renowned courtroom advocate who specializes in trials and appeals and leads a practice group of …

Continue reading ‘Merck, Sharpe & Dohme v. Albrecht’: The Supreme Court’s Chance to Re-Open a Preemption Door the Third Circuit Tried to Close Forever

Categories: Latest News

Committee Announces Hearing for Presidential Nominees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 26, 2018, to consider two presidential nominees.

Completed nomination questionnaires are available at www.commerce.senate.gov/nominations  


  • Mr. Rick A. Dearborn, of Oklahoma, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
  • Mr. Martin J. Oberman, of Illinois, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Thursday, July 26, 2018
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.

Thune and Markey Outline Opportunity for FCC Action on Reassigned Numbers Database to Combat Unwanted Robocalls and Robotexts

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) shared their vision for how an upcoming rulemaking can better protect consumers who receive unwanted robocalls and robotexts to a phone number that was reassigned after the previous holder gave consent to be contacted.

Subcommittee Begins NASA Hearing Series with Mars Exploration Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled “Destination Mars – Putting American Boots on the Surface of the Red Planet” at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. The hearing will focus on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) exploration priorities and will be the first in a series of hearings in anticipation of a future NASA authorization legislation.


  • Mr. Chris Carberry, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Explore Mars. Inc.
  • Dr. Dava Newman, Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Harvard-MIT Health, Sciences, and Technology
  • Dr. Peggy A. Whitson, former NASA Astronaut

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
2:15 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.

Full Committee to Explore Spectrum Needs to Ensure American Leadership in Global 5G Race

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “The Race to 5G: Exploring Spectrum Needs to Maintain U.S. Global Leadership” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. The hearing will examine the economic impact of 5G and the importance of American leadership to meet the growing consumer demand for reliable broadband services.


  • The Honorable Meredith Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer, CTIA – The Wireless Association
  • Mr. Dean Brenner, Senior Vice President, Spectrum Strategy and Technology, Qualcomm
  • Mr. Craig T. Cowden, Senior Vice President, Wireless Technology, Charter Communications Inc.

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
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.


Committee to Hold Hearing to Examine Innovations in Shark Research and Technology...

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

I’d like to start by welcoming our witnesses, but especially Dr. Robert Hueter from Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Hueter is the director of Mote’s Center for Shark Research, which is the only congressionally-designated Center for Shark Research in the country. He also serves as a chief science advisor for OCEARCH, a nonprofit that does shark tagging and research and provides free, open-source data and education. 

I just used their Global Shark Tracker app this morning and it’s pretty amazing how far technology has come to be able to track the location of these tagged sharks in near-real time. 

Our other three witnesses have Florida connections as well: Dr. Al Dove oversees the Georgia Aquarium Conservation Field Station, which is located in Flagler County, Florida.  Dr. Cheryl Wilga received her PhD from the University of South Florida in Tampa. Ms. Kukulya used the remote environmental monitor unit off the coast of Panama City as part of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Fest.  I’m delighted by the Florida representation here today. And I think it highlights the state’s crucial and special role in shark research. 

Florida is leading the way in shark research. We have the one of the longest coastlines in the U.S. and are home to many types of sharks.  We have some of the world’s top experts, including those of you right here on our panel. We have some of the world’s best shark research centers and programs, at Mote, the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Nova Southeastern, Florida Atlantic University, the Florida Institute of Technology and more. Earlier this year, Florida researchers even discovered a new species of shark, the Atlantic sixgill shark. 

Sharks are also important to Florida’s economy, supporting commercial and recreational fishing and eco-tourism shark diving adventures. Believe it or not, some people pay money to swim with sharks! Sharks also help keep the ecosystem in balance and are important for the health of Florida’s coral reefs, which are already suffering from a disease outbreak and warming water temperatures. 

Now, I know there’s some reason to fear sharks, too, and just last week there was a rare double shark encounter in Fernandina Beach in northern Florida with two men being bitten within the same hour.

Fortunately, the men have non-life-threatening injuries. 

I want to thank the local fire department for quickly responding to the situation and immediately closing the beach until it was safe to reopen. But the reality is that the chances of an encounter are very low. Of the millions of tourists visiting the beaches and getting in the water in Florida each year, there are just a handful of encounters. 

There’s a lot we can learn from sharks. Sharks have been used to produce potential cancer-fighting and antibacterial medicines, smarter and more energy-efficient designs, and faster swimsuits used by Olympic athletes to name a few. I look forward to hearing about these developments and others from Dr. Hueter and the rest of the experts on the panel.  

Given the long list of shark researchers in Florida and around the country, I suspect we may hear from some of them with more information on sharks. I ask for unanimous consent that any such comments may be submitted to the record. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 


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