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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


12,456 subscribers

November 9, 2017

Honoring our Veterans

Our women and men in uniform protect our freedoms and safeguard our democracy. As we commemorate Veterans Day, I extend my appreciation to all who have served and honor the memory of those who sacrificed so much for our great nation.

Sutherland Springs

Once again we are sending thoughts and prayers to grieving families mourning the loss of loved ones due to gun violence. It truly is a tragedy that there seems to be little room for action on gun control in this country. In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, there was some discussion about at least banning bump stocks but even that seems to be fading from the agenda. I think we honor the memories of everyone we have lost to gun violence by refusing to back down. It may not be tomorrow, but I believe in my heart that there will come a day when reasonable people will find agreement on stronger gun laws. You have my promise that I will continue doing everything I can to make progress on this critical public safety issue.

A Back Door Way to Hurt Workers

On Tuesday the House considered H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act of 2017. This legislation is not about “saving” local businesses. Its intent is to alter both the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in ways that will have a serious negative impact on workers. One of the ways H.R. 3441 does this is by changing the definition of a “joint employer”. Under current law, an employee may have multiple official employers if more than one business entity is responsible for managing that worker’s employment conditions. For example, a worker may be placed by an employment agency at a company or that worker might be employed by a contractor at a large construction project. H.R. 3441 narrows the definition of a “joint employer” by characterizing it as an entity that controls virtually all employment conditions, from hiring and firing to daily supervision and scheduling.

The practical effect of this definition change is that it limits the ability of employees to pursue relief from unfair workplace practices. This change also impacts unions. The NLRA gives employees the right to negotiate with all of the companies that oversee the conditions of their employment. Narrowing the definition of a “joint employer” makes it harder for unions to negotiate a fair agreement because they won’t have the ability to deal with all employers responsible for their workplace. It also allows employers to escape responsibility for unfair workplace practices by claiming they do not exercise “significant control” over the employees as defined by this legislation. I voted NO. H.R. 3441 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

234

0

0

4

DEMOCRAT

8

181

0

5

TOTAL

242

181

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Limiting Environmental Oversight

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017. This legislation gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the sole authority to manage hydro licensing. As a result, protections offered under the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act could be at risk because other agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, would play a lesser role in licensing. H.R. 3043 directs FERC to establish a rigid process for reviewing hydropower licenses which limits public input and imposes worrisome restrictions on other federal agencies, states and tribes who also have a role in reviewing these licenses. The legislation directs FERC to establish deadlines for all entities who must sign off on the licenses. However, H.R. 3043 does not allow for extending a review if a project is overly complex or issues arise that require additional analysis. This legislation gives FERC the authority to ignore the concerns of a state, for example, if officials have not completed their analysis by a specific timeframe, even if the state lacks the necessary information to complete their analysis. I voted NO. H.R. 3043 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

231

3

0

4

DEMOCRAT

26

163

0

5

TOTAL

257

166

0

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

Making it Easier to Defraud Investors

Today the House considered H.R. 2201, the Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act. This legislation eliminates protections established for investors who seek to purchase micro-cap offerings. These protections are in place because these financial products do not require registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Micro-cap offerings are securities worth $500,000 or less over the course of a year. H.R. 2201 allows the sale if the investor already has a relationship with the issuers and the offering is only being sold to 35 investors or less. The protections eliminated gave investors access to basic financial information, important because the products are not registered with the SEC. I voted NO. H.R. 2201 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

232

1

0

5

DEMOCRAT

0

187

0

7

TOTAL

232

188

0

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

License Plates

This week I refiled the Reasonable Policies on Automated License Plate Readers Act. The legislation establishes privacy protections regarding the information obtained through automated license plate readers, which are mounted on police cars or set up as fixed cameras. They capture thousands of license plates every hour. The information is used in a number of ways, such as locating stolen cars or identifying cars associated with owners who have outstanding warrants. There is no question that they are a useful law enforcement tool. However, there is no statutory limit on how long the information is stored or how it can be shared.

My legislation does not prohibit the use of the cameras. It simply establishes some common sense privacy protections police departments must observe. The bill calls on police departments to have written policies requiring that the data collected be deleted after a certain timeframe unless it is needed in an active investigation. It also prevents the sharing of license plate data outside of the local police department.

Behind the Curtain — More House and Trump Administration Actions You Don’t Want to Miss

Here are this week’s additions. If you need to catch up or share with friends, you can find the full list here.

  1. According to November 2017 news reports, the Trump Administration argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals that federal courts have no legal authority to rule on whether a President is properly conducting a war, regardless of whether a relevant Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has been approved by Congress. The Administration is making this case as part of an appeal filed by a former Army analyst. His complaint is based on his belief that President Obama did not have a proper AUMF in place for actions in Iraq and Syria, instead utilizing AUMFs which were passed in 2001 and 2002 in the aftermath of September 11th. The War Powers Act requires presidents to obtain Congressional approval within 60 days of initiating military action. Making the argument that a federal court cannot weigh in on whether a president is properly conducting a war is breathtaking, even for the Trump Administration.
  2. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wants to limit the effectiveness of the Lifeline program by restricting its budget. This program is available to qualified household so they can reduce the monthly cost of internet access or phone service. Over 13 million low-income Americans rely on the program, which was established in 1985 for phone service and expanded in 2016 for internet access. The argument to limit the budget is the old “waste, fraud and abuse” excuse. Students rely on internet access for homework, parents rely on it to communicate with their children’s teachers and job seekers need access for employment opportunities. Pai wants to cap the program so that after it reaches an unspecified limit, qualified recipients will no longer receive assistance.
  3. In November 2017 the non-profit International Consortium of Investigative Journalists began releasing the “Paradise Papers”. This is a collection of documents shedding light on the financial ties of numerous public figures from executives and world leaders to celebrities. In the process, the papers have also highlighted connections that exist between Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr and Russians who are close with Vladimir Putin. Ross holds equity in Navigator Holdings, which is a Russian shipping company. One of that company’s clients is Sibur, owned by a Putin family member. This is yet another link between the Trump Administration and Russia and one more example of troubling conflicts of interest.

Behind the Curtain – UPDATES

  1. Syria announced it would join the Paris Agreement regarding climate change. This leaves the United States as the only country not part of the historic agreement.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday November 13th. The House is expected to consider the Republican tax bill.

Mike


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

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