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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


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January 23, 2015

Shareholder Protection Act

On Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, I reintroduced the Shareholder Protection Act with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The bill would require CEOs to seek authorization from a majority of shareholders before a corporation can spend money from its general treasury on political activities. The legislation also requires the disclosure of these expenditures. I first filed this legislation in 2010 in the aftermath of the ruling.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has had profoundly negative effects for all parties in our election system, including shareholders. The rights of shareholders must be protected. Instead, they are being compromised by a handful of corporate executives who act as if they personally own the company. A corporation’s money belongs to its shareholders. At a minimum, they should have a say in how that money is being spent.

The Citizens United decision allows CEOs to spend unlimited corporate treasury funds on campaigns. One of the effects of this decision is that corporations have been able to conceal their campaign spending by funneling the money through electioneering nonprofit groups. These groups in turn buy campaign ads without disclosing the corporate donors.

The Shareholder Protection Act would require a majority of shareholders to authorize an overall political budget before general treasury funds can be spent on political activities. The Board of Directors must vote on all expenditures over $50,000 within the overall budget approved by shareholders. The legislation also requires the disclosure of political spending to shareholders, the SEC, and the public on a quarterly basis, and board approval of significant expenditures disclosed on-line within 48 hours.

New Subcommittee Role

On Wednesday I was named Ranking Member on the House Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. This subcommittee oversees all aspects of rail operations such as safety, infrastructure and economic issues. It has jurisdiction over the agencies that oversee rail operations, including the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Subcommittee oversight includes Amtrak, rail safety, infrastructure and high speed travel. It also has jurisdiction over pipeline transportation issues and the transport of hazardous materials. I am very much looking forward to serving as Ranking Member on this subcommittee, which delves into all aspects of railroad operations, including issues directly impacting passengers. Pipeline oversight and the safe handling of hazardous materials are also important components of the subcommittee’s work.

More Pipelines

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 161, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. This legislation establishes rigid and specific deadlines for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to act on natural gas pipelines. H.R. 161 replaces the existing approval process and replaces it with a one year window for FERC to either approve or deny a pipeline application. The legislation is completely unnecessary because FERC already acts on 90% of the permitting applications it receives within a 12 month window. H.R. 161 also gives FERC jurisdiction over other regulatory agencies when it comes to pipelines. If other agencies fail to approve any necessary related permits within 90 days, then that permit is automatically approved. This would apply to any permits required under the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air, the Endangered Species Act and others. The potential environmental consequences could be significant. I voted NO. H.R. 161 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

239

0

0

6

DEMOCRAT

14

169

0

5

TOTAL

253

169

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

More ACA Votes

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 7, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015. This is really just another bill to weaken the Affordable Care Act (the 55th) using a very misleading title. Current law already prohibits federal funding of abortion through the Hyde Amendment, which has been part of every federal budget since 1976. This amendment bans the use of federal funding for abortions unless the circumstances involve rape, incest or the life of the mother. What H.R. 7 really does is restrict women’s access to private insurance coverage. Small businesses will be prohibited from utilizing the small business tax credits established by the ACA if the health insurance that they offer covers abortion. Since well over 80% of private insurance plans cover abortion, it is easy to see how women’s choices on health insurance would be significantly restricted. Also, women seeking insurance through the Marketplaces will lose access to certain tax credits if the plan they choose covers abortion. H.R. 7 is not about federal funding for abortions, which is already prohibited by law, and all about restricting health care access for women. I voted NO. H.R. 7 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

239

1

0

5

DEMOCRAT

3

178

0

7

TOTAL

242

179

0

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

What’s Up Next

Next votes will take place on Monday January 26th. The House is expected to consider H.R. 351, To Provide for Expedited Approval of Exportation of Natural Gas and H.R. 399, Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015.

Mike


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

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Roxbury Community College Campus Library, Room 211, Boston
Stetson Hall Room 124, 6 South Main Street, Randolph

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