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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


12,169 subscribers

May 22, 2015

Black Box Legislation

This week I filed the “Black Box Privacy Protection Act” with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to give vehicle owners more control over the information collected through their car or motorcycle’s "black box" event data recorder (EDR). The legislation requires manufacturers to notify consumers if an event data recorder is installed in their vehicle, disclose the data collection capabilities, and provide information on how data collected may be used. The bill places ownership of the data in the hands of the vehicle owner and requires the owner’s permission before the information can be accessed. The legislation also requires manufacturers to give consumers the option of controlling the recording function in future automobiles or motorcycles that are equipped with event data recorders.

Event data recorders, or "black boxes," are installed in vehicles to collect information leading up to an accident. They record factors such as speed and brake application. Many consumers are not aware that this data has the potential of being used against them in civil or criminal proceedings, or by their insurer to increase rates. No federal law exists to clarify the rights of a vehicle owner with respect to this recorded data.

Under this legislation, all data collected by an EDR would become the property of the vehicle owner. The bill would make it illegal for anyone other than the vehicle owner to download or retrieve information without owner consent or a court order. It also requires all new cars equipped with EDRs to have an option allowing the owner to control the recording function that cannot be restarted without the owner’s consent. For me this is a basic issue of privacy. Consumers should have control of the information collected in their own vehicles.

Transportation

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 2353, a two month Highway Trust Fund extension. The authorization for transportation funding expires at the end of May and H.R. 2353 extends it until July 31st. I supported this legislation so states and municipalities will continue having access to transportation dollars. I am deeply disappointed however, that an extension is once again necessary. Historically, reauthorizing transportation funding has been bipartisan and long term. Every state has infrastructure requiring repair and worthwhile transportation projects in need of federal funding. Transportation spending is also good for the economy because it creates jobs. Yet, time and time again, Republican leadership has settled on a short term extension rather than focus on how to advance legislation that will fund multiple years. Longer agreements give states a measure of certainty over how much money they can expect to receive from the federal government and the ability to set long-term priorities. I hope this is the last extension, and the House can complete work on a multiyear agreement this summer. I voted YES. H.R. 2353 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

228

12

1

3

DEMOCRAT

159

23

0

6

TOTAL

387

35

1

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

7

1

0

1

Appropriations

On Tuesday the House also considered H.R. 2250, Legislative Branch Appropriations. This bill funds the offices and services related to Congress, such as the Capitol Police, the Architect of the Capitol and member offices. I did not support this legislation due to my overall concern about the continued impact of sequestration. I voted NO. H.R. 2250 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

237

5

0

2

DEMOCRAT

120

62

0

6

TOTAL

357

67

0

8

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

1

7

0

1

Tax Credits

On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 880, the American Research and Competitiveness Act. This legislation updates and makes permanent the research and development tax credit. While I am concerned that the cost of the tax credit is not offset, it will create jobs and help to encourage additional investment in research. A permanent extension offers a degree of certainty to businesses that often plan their research projects far in advance. They must take into account the time involved with building facilities, conducting experiments and carrying out trials. Federal funding for research and development has declined over the years and making this tax credit permanent is one way to support it. I voted YES. H.R. 880 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

237

1

0

6

DEMOCRAT

37

144

0

7

TOTAL

274

145

0

13

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

6

2

0

1

Science

Also on Wednesday the House considered H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015. This legislation authorizes the federal government’s research and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs. Past reauthorizations have enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Unfortunately, H.R. 1806 does little to encourage scientific innovation. Instead, it contains steep funding cuts to a whole host of Department of Energy (DOE) and National Science Foundation (NSF) programs, including those focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, social, behavioral, and economic sciences research, and geosciences. This would be the first time Congress imposes specific funding allocations on individual research disciplines, effectively deciding which initiatives are more important than others. I believe these determinations are best left to the NSF. The bill also includes a provision blocking the government from using DOE’s own research on fossil fuels to set future policy and regulations. The Administration has stated that H.R. 1806 will be vetoed. I voted NO. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

217

23

0

4

DEMOCRAT

0

182

0

6

TOTAL

217

205

0

10

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

Space

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 2262, the SPACE Act of 2015. The legislation makes several changes to the Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA), passed to promote development of the commercial space launch industry. While this legislation is far from perfect, it contains provisions to improve safety, keep this emerging industry internationally competitive and allow it to continue creating jobs and developing new technology. H.R. 2262 extends the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulatory learning period to 2025, giving the agency time to collect data and begin developing a safety framework for future regulations. It also establishes a legal framework to govern the property rights of resources obtained from asteroids and orders the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to study how to best manage space traffic and mitigate the increasing number of dangerous debris cluttering low-Earth orbit. I voted YES. H.R. 2262 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

236

3

0

5

DEMOCRAT

48

130

0

10

TOTAL

284

133

0

15

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

1

7

0

1

What’s Up Next

A District Work period is scheduled. The next House votes will occur on Monday June 1st.

Mike


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

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