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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts


8,321 subscribers

November 22, 2013

Cell Phones on Planes

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just announced that it would consider allowing cell phone use during flights. The FCC will review the matter at its December 12th meeting. I have concerns about this. If cell phone use is allowed, will airlines then begin charging passengers, either to sit in cell phone free rows or in rows that allow calls? An airplane is a confined space with no ability to move into another compartment or switch seats if someone is talking loudly and at length. Unlike trains, airlines cannot offer “quiet cabins”. We’ve all been in the presence of someone who is not considerate of others when engaging in conversation on a cell phone. That situation is significantly more challenging in a confined space. No one wants to be stuck sitting next to someone talking loudly on their phone for an hour or more when they have nowhere to go for some quiet. I will be expressing my concerns to the FCC.

Drilling

This week the House considered H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act. H.R. 1965 is another one of those bills that shouldn’t be judged by its title, which is certainly misleading. It establishes a mechanism for automatically approving oil drilling permits after 60 days regardless of whether or not the appropriate reviews have been completed. This includes any required safety or environmental reviews. It mandates that the Interior Department approve 25% of the acreage requested in drilling permits every year without any consideration given to where the acreage is located. This will prioritize drilling over environmental protection or recreational use. This bill is problematic and it is also unnecessary because oil and gas companies are not even using almost 2/3 of the public lands they already lease for drilling. I voted NO. H.R. 1965 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

221

1

0

8

DEMOCRAT

7

191

0

2

TOTAL

228

192

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

0

Fracking

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Security Act. This bill essentially prevents the federal government from exercising oversight of oil and gas drilling that utilizes a process called fracking. This is a controversial procedure employing a highly pressurized mixture of components such as water, gravel or certain chemicals to remove oil and gas from rocks. The Department of Interior is updating regulations in response to the more than one million comments received on its recent rulemaking, most of which called for increased federal oversight. H.R. 2728 prevents the federal government from exercising any oversight whatsoever, passing that responsibility along to the states. The problem is that many states don’t do enough to oversee fracking. I voted NO. H.R. 2728 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

223

2

0

6

DEMOCRAT

12

185

0

3

TOTAL

235

187

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

0

Pipelines

The House also considered H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. This bill makes changes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) natural gas pipeline permitting process. It establishes a mandatory 12-smonth deadline for action on all permitting applications even if environmental reviews on those applications have not been finalized. H.R. 1900 sets an arbitrary deadline for permits not issued by FERC, allowing them to go into effect after 90 days if the appropriate agency has not acted. I voted NO. H.R. 1900 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

226

0

0

5

DEMOCRAT

26

165

0

9

TOTAL

252

165

0

14

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

0

AIDS Relief

The House considered S. 1545, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Stewardship and Oversight Act. This legislation extends the President’s global HIV/AIDS initiative through fiscal year 2018. It allows funding to be used for global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. It also directs funding to combat tuberculosis and malaria. This important initiative passed in the House by voice vote. Since it has already passed in the Senate, S. 1545 will go on to the President’s desk for his signature.

Flood Insurance

I recently filed H.R 3511, the Keeping Flood Insurance Affordable Act. This bill will help make the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) affordable for every homeowner and for small business owners. Others have proposed legislation for primary residence owners by implementing a four year delay of new rates and requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to complete an affordability study. My legislation simply adds protections for small businesses and second homes valued below $1 million by including them in the four year delay. It also includes them in the FEMA study. Primary homes should certainly be the first priority of any legislative approach. However, it’s important to remember that there are many second home owners and small business owners who are solidly middle class. The economies of many communities impacted by flood insurance changes rely on business generated by second homes. My legislation recognizes the reality that many middle-class economies across the country will suffer, both directly with large increased costs, and indirectly with reduced economic activity. It is simply a fact that most second-home owners and most small business owners are NOT wealthy. My legislation gives them access to the same rate increase delay being proposed for primary residence owners.

What’s Up Next Week

A District Work period has been scheduled for next week. Votes will occur on Monday December 2nd. I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a chance to spend time with family and friends.

Mike


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Ethics
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

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