Representative Capuano Announces Sponsorship of First Pieces of Legislation

January 20, 1999 -- Eighth District Representative Michael E. Capuano announced his sponsorship of several important pieces of legislation. The bills, filed this week, include The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 1999, The Patients' Bill of Rights of 1999, the Violence Against Women Act of 1999 and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Legislation. Capuano will also be the first freshman member of the House of Representatives to sign on as an original sponsor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act of 1999 (ENDA). ENDA will be filed in the weeks ahead. Additionally, Congressman Capuano is working hard along with Congressman Conyers and other House colleagues to draft a Hate Crimes bill designed to protect the rights of all Americans.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act calls for amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to increase the federal minimum wage to $5.65 per hour on September 1, 1999 and to $6.15 per hour on September 1, 2000.

The Patients' Bill of Rights is designed to protect consumers in managed care health plans as well as other types of health coverage. The Bill of Rights includes a host of provisions such as access to health care, quality assurance and patient information.

The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) was established in 1986 to offset decreasing appropriations for federally assisted housing as well as the elimination of other tax incentives for rental housing. Since its inception, the LIHTC has been instrumental in the creation of more than 900,000 affordable housing units throughout the country. Because demand for the LIHTC has increased dramatically, three out of every four applications must be turned down due to lack of funds. Since 1986, the LIHTC credit has been capped at $1.25 per capita while housing costs have increased by 40%. The proposed legislation would raise the cap from $1.25 to $1.75 per capita while indexing it to inflation.

The Violence Against Women Act of 1999 (VAWA '99) will reauthorize and expand provisions in the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. VAWA '99 will create a number of significant new protections. It will provide judges with the authority to consider domestic violence when granting child custody, establish a National Resource Center on sexual assault, increase funding for educational programs and provide a number of additional services. The legislation earmarks $1 billion over the next 5 years for battered women's shelters, law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups to address the issue of domestic violence.

"If passed, the proposed legislation will provide a number of important protections and services to residents of the Eighth Congressional District. I will work hard in the coming weeks to help these bills become law", Capuano stated.