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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Public Meeting Will Present Preliminary Findings For Cooper Nuclear Station Facility

Public Meeting Will Present Preliminary Findings For Cooper Nuclear Station Facility

Jeannette Man Sentenced to Prison for Using Craigslist to Threaten Police Chief


Jeannette Man Sentenced to Prison for Using Craigslist to Threaten Police Chief 

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeJune 29, 2012
  • Western District of Pennsylvania(412) 644-3500
PITTSBURGH—A resident of Jeannette, Pa., has been sentenced in federal court to 12 months and one day in prison followed by two years’ supervised release on his conviction of violating federal laws pertaining to transmitting threatening communications, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer imposed the sentence on Adrian Peter Stock, 30, of 504 Western Avenue, Jeannette, Pa.
According to information presented to the court, Stock posted a threatening communication on Craigslist, in which he threatened to drag a Westmoreland County Police Chief behind his truck with chains and drown him in a local creek.
Assistant United States Attorney Margaret E. Picking prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Westmoreland County Detective Bureau for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Stock.

Norfolk FBI’s Awareness Campaign Continues


Norfolk FBI’s Awareness Campaign Continues 

FBI NorfolkJune 29, 2012
  • Media Coordinator Vanessa Torres(757) 455-0100
The Norfolk FBI and its partners launched a five month campaign called Aware.Prepare.Prevent (A.P.P.) in May. The campaign, which will last until September, includes free seminars designed to educate the community on topics that focus on:
  1. Cyber Security;
  2. National Security;
  3. Fraud; and
  4. Parental Awareness.
The Cyber Security Seminar will include presentations on identity theft, safety and security travels, financially motivated crimes, and elicitation. The National Security Seminar will include presentations on counterterrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and civil liberties. The Fraud Seminar will include presentations on health care fraud, mortgage fraud, Internet scams, and computer and software safety. The Parental Awareness Seminar will include presentations on Innocent Images, sexting, cyber bullying, and gangs.
A Fraud Seminar will be presented on July 12, 2012 at Virginia Beach Police Training Center, 411 Integrity Way, Virginia Beach, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. This Seminar will include presentations on health care fraud, mortgage fraud, Internet scams, and computer and software safety.
All seminars are free and open to the public. Community members are encouraged to attend and learn ways to protect themselves, their children, families, and businesses from existing threats.
For information about the A.P.P. Campaign please visit http://www.fbi.gov/norfolk/, call (757) 455-3161, or e-mail A.P.P.campaign@ic.fbi.gov.

Former Hamilton Township, N.J., Official Admits Laundering Bribe Money Allegedly Paid to Mayor


Former Hamilton Township, N.J., Official Admits Laundering Bribe Money Allegedly Paid to Mayor 

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeJune 29, 2012
  • District of New Jersey(973) 645-2888
TRENTON, NJ—The former director of Community Planning and Compliance for Hamilton Township, N.J., today admitted he laundered a $5,000 alleged bribe from an insurance broker to township Mayor John Bencivengo, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Robert Warney, 46, of Hamilton, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to an Information charging him with one count of money laundering.
According to documents filed in this case and statements in court: On May 12, 2011, while serving as the director of Community Planning and Compliance for Hamilton Township, Warney accepted on Bencivengo’s behalf a $5,000 check from a cooperating witness (the “CW”), and gave the proceeds of that check to Mayor Bencivengo in cash increments over several weeks. At that time, the CW and the CW’s employer provided health insurance brokerage services to the Hamilton Township School District. Warney said that he, Bencivengo, and the CW agreed to have the check made payable to Warney’s spouse in order to conceal the payment. They also agreed that if anyone asked Warney or the CW about the check, they would say that the CW purchased a bedroom sent from Warney’s spouse. A notation “Cherry Bedroom Set” was put on the check to support that story.
On June 21, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted Bencivengo in connection with $12,400 in bribes he allegedly solicited and accepted in exchange for his official influence in helping the CW maintain the position of health insurance broker with the township’s school district
In pleading guilty today, Warney also admitted that in March 2006 and November 2007, while serving as a member of the Hamilton Township Board of Education, he received corrupt payments from the CW in exchange for his official action and influence in voting in favor of the School Board entering into a three-year contract with the CW and the CW’s employer for them to provide health insurance brokerage services to the school district. Warney admitted that on March 26, 2006, at a meeting of the school board, he voted in favor of entering into a three-year contract with the CW and the CW’s employer and that he received two payments of $5,000 in March 2006 and in November 2007—$10,000 total—from the CW in exchange for his official action. Although not charged in the Information, this conduct will be taken into account by the Court at sentencing.
The charge to which Warney pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater. As part of Warney’s guilty plea, he agreed to forfeit the $10,000 in bribes that he accepted in 2006 and 2007. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson is scheduled for Oct. 9, 2012.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Trenton Resident Agency, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Bartle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division in Trenton.
Defense counsel: William Hughes Esq., and John Corson Esq., Atlantic City, N.J.

Even after Supreme Court ruling, questions linger on health care reform - KansasCity.com

Even after Supreme Court ruling, questions linger on health care reform - KansasCity.com

Missouri schools free of No Child Left Behind - KansasCity.com

Missouri schools free of No Child Left Behind - KansasCity.com

Catholics rally at Kansas statehouse against birth control mandate - KansasCity.com

Catholics rally at Kansas statehouse against birth control mandate - KansasCity.com

Friday, June 29, 2012

API welcomes Congressional action to end the mandate on imaginary biofuels

Press release:


API welcomes Congressional action to end the mandate on imaginary biofuels

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2012 – API welcomed the introduction of the Phantom Fuel Reform Act of 2012 by Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in the U.S. House of Representatives that would eliminate EPA mandates for the use of biofuels that do not yet exist:

“EPA’s mandate is out of touch with reality and forces refiners to pay a penalty for not using imaginary biofuels,” said API Director of Downstream and Industry Operations Bob Greco. “EPA’s unrealistic mandate is effectively an added tax on making gasoline.”

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to determine the mandated volume of cellulosic biofuels each year at “the projected volume available.” However, EPA continues to mandate the use of these fuels even though no company is able to produce them commercially, according to EPA’s own records.

“The fact that EPA continues to mandate these biofuels that do not exist is regulatory absurdity and bad public policy,” Greco said.

API represents more than 500 oil and natural gas companies, leaders of a technology-driven industry that supplies most of America’s energy, supports 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy, delivers more than $86 million a day in revenue to our government, and, since 2000, has invested more than $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

Donohue: Highway and Transit Bill Will Create Jobs, Enhance America’s Competitiveness, and Bring Needed Reforms


Release Date: Jun 29, 2012Contact: 888-249-NEWS

Donohue: Highway and Transit Bill Will Create Jobs, Enhance America’s Competitiveness, and Bring Needed Reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The bipartisan highway and transit bill will create jobs, enhance America’s competitiveness, bring needed reforms to transportation spending, and should be immediately signed by the president, according to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue.

“In the near term, this legislation will save thousands of jobs in construction and related industries,” said Donohue. “In the long term, it will strengthen the nation’s economy and global competitiveness. The president should sign it immediately.”

The legislation overwhelmingly passed both the House and Senate containing a number of reforms long supported by the U.S. Chamber, including: consolidating overlapping and duplicative federal programs; streamlining the project delivery process; giving states the flexibility to target federal funds where they are most needed; and helping to draw more private investment into infrastructure.
The bill also includes the RESTORE Act, a Chamber-supported economic and ecological restoration project that will create badly needed private sector jobs in the hard-hit Gulf Coast region.
“While we would have preferred a bill covering a period longer than 27 months and with greater funding, this is a major step in the right direction,” said Donohue. “The bigger challenge lies ahead—devising a predictable, sustainable, and growing source of dedicated, user-fee based funding to ensure we have adequate resources to maintain the world’s greatest infrastructure system for decades to come. We promise to work with members of Congress to pursue that important goal.”
“While we would have preferred a bill covering a period longer than 27 months and with greater funding, this is a major step in the right direction,” said Donohue. “The bigger challenge lies ahead—devising a predictable, sustainable, and growing source of dedicated, user-fee based funding to ensure we have adequate resources to maintain the world’s greatest infrastructure system for decades to come. We promise to work with members of Congress to pursue that important goal.”

Bill To Prevent Human Trafficking In Government Contracting Overseas Passed By Senate Homeland Security And Government Affairs Committee - U.S. Senator for Florida, Marco Rubio

Bill To Prevent Human Trafficking In Government Contracting Overseas Passed By Senate Homeland Security And Government Affairs Committee - U.S. Senator for Florida, Marco Rubio

Portman Statement on Transportation Bill - Rob Portman

Portman Statement on Transportation Bill - Rob Portman

On Day of New Mansfield VA Clinic Groundbreaking, Senate Passes Portman-Brown Legislation to Rename New Facility After Medal of Honor Recipient and Mansfield Native David F. Winder - Rob Portman

On Day of New Mansfield VA Clinic Groundbreaking, Senate Passes Portman-Brown Legislation to Rename New Facility After Medal of Honor Recipient and Mansfield Native David F. Winder - Rob Portman

Portman Fix Clears Significant Hurdle for the Blanchard River Flood Reduction Project - Rob Portman

Portman Fix Clears Significant Hurdle for the Blanchard River Flood Reduction Project - Rob Portman

Blumenthal-Portman Bill To Prevent Human Trafficking In Government Contracting Overseas Passed By Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee - Rob Portman

Blumenthal-Portman Bill To Prevent Human Trafficking In Government Contracting Overseas Passed By Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee - Rob Portman

Committee Approves Portman Bill to Streamline and Reduce Costly Federal Government Property Portfolio - Rob Portman

Committee Approves Portman Bill to Streamline and Reduce Costly Federal Government Property Portfolio - Rob Portman

Lugar Statement on Highway Bill


Press Release of Senator Lugar

Lugar Statement on Highway Bill


Friday, June 29, 2012

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) released the following statement regarding passage of the Highway conference report:

I am pleased to support the legislative package that includes the reauthorization of the federal highway programs, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and a student loan rate agreement.
The highway conference committee worked diligently to address the concerns I expressed regarding Indiana’s unfair share of highway funding.   These changes to highway funding formulas will increase Indiana’s distribution of highway funds to a fair and equitable amount.

This legislation also removes a provision which would have punished Indiana for the innovative lease of the Indiana Toll Road, which funded Governor Daniels’ “Major Moves” initiative.  Furthermore, I am pleased the bill includes my amendment to help Indiana’s recreational vehicle (RV) industry.  The industry will now benefit from a needed axle weight limit exemption, to support the RV industry’s rebound and growth in the years ahead.

Additionally, this package contains needed reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which includes bringing the program back to solvency and an important agreement on freezing interest rates for federally subsidized student loans.

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CONGRESSIONAL PASSAGE OF HIGHWAY BILL GREAT NEWS FOR OKLAHOMA

Press release:


CONGRESSIONAL PASSAGE OF HIGHWAY BILL GREAT NEWS FOR OKLAHOMA


 
Contacts: Jared Young 202-224-5762
Liz Lathrop 202-224-1282

June 29, 2012




Washington, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Rep James Lankford (R-OK-5) both members of the transportation conference, hailed Congressional bipartisan approval of the highway conference report as an enormous win for Oklahoma and the nation. The conference report passed today is based largely on the Inhofe-Boxer highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP 21), which contains important reforms from companion legislation that was passed in the House.  The highway conference report passed overwhelmingly in the House today by a vote of 373-52, and in the Senate it passed by a vote of 74 – 19 with one member voting present.  

Inhofe: “Today Congress came together with overwhelming bipartisan support to pass a responsible highway bill that provides significant conservative reforms, creates jobs and will help generate economic growth. Pure and simple, this bill is a victory for Oklahoma. I appreciate my friend Representative Lankford, who helped move this legislation through the House, and Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley, who partnered with us every step of the way as we worked to ensure Oklahoma and the nation has a responsible bill that will help create jobs and improve our economy. I look forward having this bill signed into law as soon as possible.” 

Lankford: “The Highway Bill passed by the Congress today is a true, conservative victory. Senator Inhofe and I have worked tirelessly to craft a responsible transportation policy with a focus on lifting the burden of red tape on our state. The final product will provide much needed stability to transportation infrastructure across our nation.  We were able to create a long-term solution, which will shorten construction permitting schedules, reduce costs, and increase state flexibility. It was essential to give primary transportation decision authority to Oklahoma leadership, rather than keeping the control in Washington, D.C.  The 27-month reauthorization will last through two fiscal years and give solid ground on which to construct the next responsible transportation policy.”          

Important provisions in the highway conference report:  
-          Reduces the number of programs by 2/3
-          Eliminates or consolidates programs that are duplicative or don’t serve the national transportation goal
-          Streamlines the lengthy and often duplicative environmental review process from an average of 15 years down to 7 years 

Highway Bill a Victory for Farmers 
Inhofe and Lankford further welcomed inclusion of a key provision Inhofe and Lankford have sponsored, along with Rep. Dan Boren (R-OK-2), H.R. 2414, the Farmers’ Freedom Act of 2011 – a bi-partisan measure that exempts farm trucks from the burdensome commercial vehicle regulations have made it extremely difficult for farmers to cross state lines while transporting crops.  The Farmers’ Freedom Act fixes the problem by supplying farm trucks with a limited commercial vehicle exemption from these federal regulations when they travel within 150 air-miles of their farm. Senator Inhofe and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have been working to pass companion legislation since 2009 in the Senate.  With the inclusion of this bill’s language in the highway conference report, Senator Inhofe and Representative Lankford were successful in their efforts.  

Inhofe: “The inclusion of the Farmers’ Freedom Act in the highway bill is a victory for farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma and across the nation.  Now, farmers will no longer be forced to comply with burdensome and unnecessary commercial vehicle regulations while transporting their crops from the farm to the marketplace, within a 150 air-miles range. As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, one of my top priorities is to do everything I can to alleviate the immense regulatory burden the Obama administration is putting on our agricultural community. I am very pleased that today we were able to make progress.  I would like to thank Representative Lankford for his hard work and the conferees for their cooperation in achieving this great victory for famers.”   

Lankford: “Initially I offered the Farmers’ Freedom Act as a stand-alone bill in the House, and after working with the Committee, it was included as part of the many reforms of the Committee-passed bill.  We worked diligently to remove this burdensome restriction on farmers across our nation, so they could move freely. These hardworking citizens deserve the right to conduct their business in a fair and efficient manner.”  
Boren:  “The Farmer’s Freedom Act has been a priority on my agenda for many Congresses.  I am grateful to Representative Lankford for his leadership and persistence in passing this important measure.  Senator Inhofe has done a fantastic job of ensuring we do not over regulate those that provide nutrition to our families.  I am pleased that our farmers and ranchers will be better able to transport their products across the country to provide us with an abundant marketplace."


Oklahoman Agricultural Community  
Mike Spradling President of Oklahoma Farm Bureau (OFB) welcomed the inclusion of the provision in the conference report saying, "Oklahoma Farm Bureau appreciates the hard work of Senator Inhofe, Representative Lankford, and Representative Boren to protect farmers and ranchers in this transportation bill. They are true advocates for Oklahoma's agricultural producers."     Terry

Detrick, President of the American Farmers and Ranchers, also welcomed the provision saying, “American Farmers & Ranchers (AFR) is extremely pleased that Congress is taking this crucial step towards protecting the ability of our members to haul their crops and livestock to market. We are especially grateful to our Oklahoma Congressional delegation, led by Sen. Inhofe, Rep. Lankford and Rep. Boren for their tireless work on this issue. They have been pursuing relief for farmers and ranchers faced with complicated and burdensome transportation regulations for many years and we sincerely thank them for their efforts.” 

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INHOFE CORRECTS CHAIRMAN KERRY ON LAW OF THE SEA

Press release:


INHOFE CORRECTS CHAIRMAN KERRY ON LAW OF THE SEA


 
Contacts: Jared Young 202-224-5762
Liz Lathrop 202-224-1282

June 29, 2012


 WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) a leading conservative opposed to the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) yesterday corrected Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) on the issue of environmental litigation resulting from LOST.  During yesterday’s hearing, Kerryconstructed a highly misleading “straw man” argument. 

“At yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on LOST, a false narrative was presented, and must be corrected,” said Inhofe. “Chairman Kerry insisted that if the U.S. joins LOST it will not require the U.S. to enforce treaties our nation is not signed onto such as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.  Kerry concludes that because of this the U.S. will be exempted from environmental litigation.  

 “That is simply false.” 

Inhofe continued, “Neither I nor anyone else has argued that the U.S. would be subject to environmental lawsuits for environmental treaties the U.S. has not signed.  Rather, the real concern is that baseless and costly environmental lawsuits brought under LOST may be based on much broader areas of international law than just those treaties that the U.S. has not ratified, including internationally recognized norms and standards. 

“The threat of baseless environmental lawsuits is very real, and no amount of straw man arguments can prove otherwise.  International environmentalists, academics, and lawyers have already made clear their intention to bring such lawsuits immediately against the U.S. should we join LOST.  We should take them at their word, and reject LOST.”   

THE FACTS ABOUT LOST & ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION: 

Ø  Article 213 of LOST, titled “Enforcement with respect to pollution from land-based sources” would require the U.S. to adopt laws and regulations to“implement applicable international rules and standards established through competent international organizations or diplomatic conference to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources.”
Ø  In 2003, the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Law Institute published “The Legal Option: Suing the United States in International Forums for Global Warming Emissions” by law professor Andrew L. Strauss. According to Strauss. It states that the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto Protocol “makes the United States the most logical first country target of a global warming lawsuit in an international forum.” The article proposed various forums for initiating a lawsuit against the United States, including LOST’s compulsory dispute resolution mechanisms, but Strauss lamented, “As the United States has not adhered to the Convention, however, a suit could not be brought directly against it under the Convention.”
Ø  In her 2005 book Climate Change Damage and International Law, law professor Roda Verheyen posed a comprehensive hypothetical case that could be brought against the United States for its alleged responsibility in melting glaciers and causing glacial outburst floods in the Himalayas. The claim would include compensation for flood damages as well as additional funds to monitor glacial lakes and prevent future floods. Verheyen based liability for such damages on the U.S.’s alleged violation of its commitments under the UNFCCC and failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.Ø  In 2006, the International Journal of Sustainable Development Law & Policy published “Potential Causes of Action for Climate Change Damages in International Fora: The Law of the Sea Convention,” in which law professor William C. G. Burns cited LOST’s marine pollution provisions as a basis for a cause of action for rising sea levels and changes in ocean acidity. Burns named the United States as “the most logical State to bring an action against given its status as the leading producer of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, as well as its failure to ratify Kyoto,” but noted that the U.S. “is not currently a Party to the Convention.”
Ø  If another country thinks that the U.S. has failed to comply with Article 213 in regard to, say, internationally accepted standards on carbon emissions, that country may sue the U.S.—regardless of whether the U.S. is a party to the Kyoto treaty.  Other countries could also point to U.S. commitments in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (which the U.S. is a party to) or other universally accepted environmental standards such as the “no harm” rule as the basis of climate change lawsuits against the United States.  The U.S. would become environmental lawsuit target number one, and crippling costs to the U.S. economy would result. 

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INHOFE’S PILOTS BILL OF RIGHTS PASSES SENATE

Press release:


INHOFE’S PILOTS BILL OF RIGHTS PASSES SENATE


 
Contacts: Jared Young 202-224-5762
Liz Lathrop 202-224-1282

June 29, 2012


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus and certified flight instructor with more than 10,000 flight hours, today hailed the Senate’s unanimous passage of his bill, the Pilots’ Bill of Rights (S.1335). Inhofe has worked to pass the legislation for the past year.  His bill has 65 co-sponsors, including U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska). 

Last October, the bill garnered the endorsement of pilot and actor Harrison Ford.  The next month, the bill crossed an important milestone gaining its 60thco-sponsor in the Senate. 

For the past few weeks, Inhofe has worked with Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, to reach a unanimous agreement on the legislation. 

“This is a big victory for general aviation pilots all across the country,”said Inhofe.  “Last year, I introduced this bill and presented it to the general aviation community at OSHKOSH.  Thanks to the efforts of so many pilots, and organizations like AOPA and EAA, we were able to get this important bill passed.  Over the course of my years in Congress, I have helped an untold number of pilots facing the pressure of dealing with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This bill remedies many of the most serious deficiencies in the relationship between general aviation and the FAA, and ensures that pilots are, like everyone else, treated in a fair and equitable manner by the justice system.  

Senate passage of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights has taken the effort of a many of my colleagues in the Senate, some of whom I didn’t initially agree with. In particular I want to thank Senator Begich for joining me from the very beginning, Senators Hutchison and Rockefeller for being so willing to work through some of the more complicated aspects of the legislation, and of course Senator Reid, who reached across the aisle and has shown real leadership during this effort.” 

Begich said, “Flying is a way of life in Alaska.  With six times more pilots per capita than the rest of the country, it’s important to make sure pilots are treated fairly in their dealings with the FAA. I praise Senator Inhofe for his dedicated efforts to pass this legislation.”  

Rod Hightower, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) President/CEO said,“This is a very important win for GA and protecting aviators’ rights.  We especially appreciate the bipartisan support in the Senate for the measure and Sen. Inhofe’s dedicated efforts to move this bill forward.” 

Craig Fuller, Aircraft Owners Pilots Association (AOPA) President said, “A year ago, Sen. Inhofe made a bold decision to introduce legislation in support of pilots' rights when general aviation seemed to be under attack in Washington, D.C. His willingness to take a stand on behalf of pilots, and his success in bringing this measure through the Senate at a time when so much legislation is at a standstill, are powerful testaments to his commitment to protecting the freedom to fly. We applaud Sen. Inhofe's ongoing work on behalf of general aviation so it can continue to play an important role in fostering economic development, providing personal and business transportation, and delivering services to millions of Americans.”  

DETAILS ABOUT THE PILOTS BILL OF RIGHTS 

Makes FAA Enforcement Proceedings and NTSB Review Fair for Pilots 

·         Requires NTSB review of FAA enforcement actions to conform, to the extent practicable, with the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
·         Requires the FAA to provide timely notice to a pilot who is the subject of an investigation, and that any response by the pilot can be used as evidence against him.
·         Requires that in an FAA enforcement action against a pilot, the FAA must grant the pilot all relevant evidence 30 days prior to a decision to proceed with an enforcement action. This is currently not done and often leaves the pilot grossly uninformed of his violation and recourse.
·         Makes contractor-run flight service station and contract tower communications available to airmen. Currently, if a request is made for flight service station information under FOIA, it is denied to the requestor because the contractor is not the government, per se. However, the contractor is performing an inherently governmental function and this information should be available to pilots who need it to defend themselves in an enforcement proceeding.
·         Removes the special statutory deference as it relates to National Transportation Safety Board reviews of FAA actions. Too often the NTSB rubber stamps a decision of the FAA, giving wide latitude to the FAA and making the appeals process meaningless. This returns NTSB’s deference to the FAA to general administrative law principles, just like every other government agency.
·         Allows for Federal district court review of appeals from the NTSB, at the election of the appellant. This is important because a review by the Federal district court is de novo, meaning the pilot gets a new trial with the ability to introduce evidence and a new review of the facts.  
NOTAM Improvement Program 
·         Requires that the FAA undertake a NOTAM Improvement Program, requiring simplification and archival of NOTAMs in a central location. The process by which Notices to Airmen are provided by the FAA has long needed revision. This will ensure that the most relevant information reaches the pilot. Currently, FAA makes pilots responsible for knowledge of pre-flight conditions. Non-profit general aviation groups will make up an advisory panel. 
Medical Certification Review 
·         The FAA’s medical certification process has long been known to present a multitude of problems for pilots seeking an airman certificate. The bill requires a GAO review of the FAA’s medical certification process and forms, with the goal of demonstrating how the FAA can provide greater clarity in the questions and reduce the instances of misinterpretation that have, in the past, lead to allegations of intentional falsification against pilots. Non-profit general aviation groups will make up an advisory panel, which will give advice to the FAA on how the medical certification process can be improved. The FAA is required to take appropriate action on the GAO recommendations within one year. 

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Grassley, Issa work to protect whistleblowers from retaliation at ATF


For Immediate Release
June 29, 2012

Grassley, Issa work to protect whistleblowers from retaliation at ATF

Lawmakers ask Inspector General to take immediate action in response to job placement

WASHINGTON –Senator Chuck Grassley and Chairman Darrell Issa today asked the Inspector General for the Department of Justice to immediately investigate whether steps have been taken to prevent retaliation against whistleblowers in the Fast and Furious case by senior management of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in light of inflammatory comments by ATF personnel reported to the lawmakers’ offices.

In a letter sent this afternoon to Michael E. Horowitz, Grassley and Issa detailed hostile and extremely negative comments that were made last year about two of the main whistleblowers who testified before Congress, according to a direct eyewitness account.  Grassley and Issa said they have just learned that the two whistleblowers have been placed under the supervision of the ATF official who reportedly made the comments, Scot Thomasson.

Grassley and Issa said the fact that these alleged comments have been in public documents since May, and since the Inspector General should be “a firm, independent voice within the Department to protect whistleblowers from retaliation,” they’re asking the Inspector General to investigate how the ATF official has been admonished, how the ATF official was elevated and given such supervisory duties, and what steps are being taken to protect the whistleblowers from the campaign of retaliation the ATF official expressed a desire to conduct in his comments.

Click here to read the letter of request from Grassley and Issa.

Grassley challenges U.S. Attorney to act independently, meet responsibilities in contempt case


For Immediate Release
June 29, 2012

Grassley challenges U.S. Attorney to act independently, meet responsibilities in contempt case

Senator says Deputy AG response is invalid without review of executive privilege claim

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is asking U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. to explain whether he has had the opportunity to demonstrate the independence required of his position in handling the contempt resolution adopted yesterday by the House of Representatives, given that there has been no determination that every single document sought by the House subpoena is protected by the President’s claim of executive privilege.  Ignoring the contempt citation before even seeing it or reviewing the particular circumstances of this case would be a sharp contrast to the independence and integrity for which Machen has been praised by many in his assignment to investigate national security leaks that may have been politically motivated.

Grassley raised these issues and asked for responses to specific questions in a letter this afternoon to Machen.  Grassley’s inquiry follows last night’s letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives from the Deputy Attorney General stating that the Department of Justice would take no action in response to the House resolution.

“The Deputy Attorney General’s letter has put the cart before the horse,” Grassley wrote today.  Grassley also said that without a particularized description of the documents being withheld or a description of the documents over which executive privilege has been asserted, the U.S. Attorney cannot reasonably make an intelligent judgment as to the validity of any privilege claim and his duty to present the citation to a grand jury.

Last week, Grassley wrote to President Obama asking for a description of the scope of the executive privilege claim he made for documents in the congressional investigation of the Fast and Furious program.  He has not received a response.

Urging independence by the U.S. Attorney as the law and accountability in government demand, Grassley also wrote, “Your independence and integrity were cited as the reason that there was supposedly no necessity to appoint a special prosecutor.  This matter [the congressional contempt citation] gives you an opportunity to live up to that high praise and prove your independence.”

Click here to read the letter from Grassley to Machen.

Grassley: Response to Supreme Court Decision on Medicaid

Press release:


For Immediate Release
June 29, 2012

Grassley: Response to Supreme Court Decision on Medicaid

Mr. President, the Supreme Court yesterday overturned the mandatory Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act.

As of yesterday, the states now have a choice to expand or not expand coverage to the poorest people in society without being subjected to harsh federal penalties.

Mr. President, I’d like to draw attention to a speech I gave on the Senate floor on December 2011 on the subject of the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion.

I expressed my concerns then about the potential impact of a Supreme Court decision on Medicaid expansion.

I said on the floor that day, “… A Supreme Court ruling in favor of the States in this case could not only jeopardize the mandated Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act but could challenge the fundamental structure of Medicaid and have broader implications outside health care.”

The concerns I expressed then have, to a degree, come true.

Reading from a Washington Post editorial this morning about the Court ruling on Medicaid, “ … this restriction of federal authority may have greater ramifications than the court’s limiting of the Commerce Clause. One can imagine challenges to federal conditions across a wide spectrum of programs, including but not limited to the environment, education and transportation.”

This decision overturns the mandatory expansion of the Medicaid program.

And while I realize most of the focus is on the decision related to the tax mandate, we should spend a moment talking about the consequence of the Medicaid decision.

Mr. President, one of the goals of health care reform was to provide coverage for people in need.

I would argue the people most in need of coverage are people without a job, people without an income, the poorest of the poor.

The Affordable Care Act required states to cover people below poverty through Medicaid.

States were mandated to expand to cover people below poverty.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory expansion unconstitutional.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said, “ … Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the Affordable Care Act to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that States accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.”

With this decision, states now have the option to expand Medicaid to cover people below poverty.

Mr. President, the states had that option before the Affordable Care Act was passed.
So what does this decision mean in real terms?

It will be up to the states to determine if they will cover the poorest of the poor.  The federal government cannot guarantee coverage.

So now people with jobs will have to purchase insurance under the tax mandate.

People without an income, people who are below poverty are dependent upon the state in which they reside.

Now I know some people will believe that the choice is perfunctory, that Medicaid expansion will move forward because the federal government has offered to pay for more than 90 percent of the expansion.

But if you were a state, would you really trust a promise from a federal government that is $15 trillion in debt?

If you were a state, would you really trust an Obama Administration that proposed eliminating that special federal payment rate through a proposal known as the blended rate?

States will very reasonably be risk adverse.

States can now expand if they choose or not at all.

No one should assume for a second all states will expand to cover as much as was mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, you might think people below poverty could still get health care through tax credits, but the people who wrote this bill made people below poverty ineligible for tax credits.
That’s right … ineligible.

It’s all or nothing for the poor with Medicaid.

With today’s ruling, the answer is nothing.

On December 15, 2011, I said on the Senate floor that the expansion of Medicaid and the coverage of poor people was in jeopardy because, “… the White House and the Democratic majority put their partisan goals ahead of collaboration with Republicans and States to build legitimate public policy.”

Today, that is the outcome.

When people with income, people with jobs are mandated to purchase health insurance and face a tax penalty if they don’t, while the poorest people in society, those without job or income have a guarantee of nothing, I think victory laps are premature.

After this decision, a person in a family with an income of more than $80,000 a year would be guaranteed access to a subsidy to buy private insurance, while a person in a family with no income would be guaranteed nothing.

When people below poverty, the people who least can afford coverage or the consequence of not having coverage are left with nothing, that sounds like a failure to me.

Grassley says the denial of Iowa’s request for an education waiver is baseless


For Immediate Release
June 29, 2012

Grassley says the denial of Iowa’s request for an education waiver is baseless

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is challenging the U.S. Secretary of Education over his agency’s overreach in denying Iowa’s request for a waiver from some requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act, saying the Obama administration’s rationale lacks “democratic legitimacy.”

Grassley said the federal law contains no requirement for states to develop a “teacher and leader evaluation and support system,” which was the reason given by the U.S. Department of Education in denying Iowa’s request.  Grassley said the state-level issue of whether the Iowa Department of Education has the authority to implement such a system is irrelevant in this waiver request because the federal government doesn’t have the power to require it.

“If we have learned any lesson from the No Child Left Behind Act, it is that, in our vast and diverse nation, one size does not fit all,” Grassley said in the letter he sent today to Secretary Arne Duncan.  “Therefore, I ask that you invite states to submit waiver requests that are entirely locally designed and that you establish an objective process to review such waiver requests that evaluates them on their merits, free from any specific federal policy agenda that has not been enacted by Congress.”

Grassley said the matter of what specific education reforms are right for Iowa is between the Governor, the Iowa Legislature, and the people, not the federal education agency.

The text of Grassley’s letter to Duncan is below.  Click here to see a signed copy of the letter.

June 29, 2012

The Honorable Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary Duncan,

The recent letter to the Director of the Iowa Department of Education signed by your Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education denying the State of Iowa’s request for a waiver from certain federal requirements raises some serious concerns.  This letter makes clear that the denial is based on the fact that the Iowa Department of Education does not have the authority to implement a “teacher and leader evaluation and support system” that contains six specific components.  Section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides that states or school districts can apply to waive certain requirements of that law and sets out the required components for such a waiver request.  Nowhere in this section, or anywhere else in federal law, is there a requirement for states to develop a “teacher and leader evaluation and support system” and nowhere in the law is the Secretary of Education granted the authority to require the implementation of new policies that are not in existing law.

As you know, the Iowa Department of Education lacks the authority to implement such a system because the Iowa Legislature considered the matter and declined to grant that authority.  As a federal elected official, it is not my place to say whether or not that was the right decision.  I admire Governor Branstad’s commitment to education reform, but the details of what specific reforms are right for Iowa is a matter between the Governor of Iowa, the Iowa Legislature, and the people of Iowa.  It is certainly not the place of the U.S. Secretary of Education to condition relief of certain federal requirements on the adoption of a whole new federal policy agenda that has never passed Congress and therefore lacks democratic legitimacy.

It is important to recognize that real innovation and reform cannot be imposed from the top down, but must come from the ground up.  What works in one state or community may not work in another.  If we have learned any lesson from the No Child Left Behind Act, it is that, in our vast and diverse nation, one size does not fit all.  Therefore, I ask that you invite states to submit waiver requests that are entirely locally designed and that you establish an objective process to review such waiver requests that evaluates them on their merits, free from any specific federal policy agenda that has not been enacted by Congress.

Sincerely,
Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator

Grassley to hold meetings next week in Northwest Iowa

For Immediate Release

June 29, 2012

Grassley to hold meetings next week in Northwest Iowa

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley will meet with Iowans in George, Ashton, Sheldon, Orange City, Akron, Sioux City, Aurelia, Ida Grove, Mapleton and Charter Oaknext week.

“I look forward to these meetings to listen to comments and respond to questions.  My town meetings are open to the public, and everyone is welcome.  I also appreciate the opportunity to go to workplaces to talk with people who couldn’t otherwise get to a town meeting,” Grassley said.  “Representative government is a two-way street and is strengthened by dialogue between elected officials and the people we represent.”

Grassley has held at least one meeting with Iowans in every one of the state’s 99 counties since 1980, when he was first elected to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Below is more information about the July 2-3 schedule.  Grassley will be available to answer questions from reporters immediately following each event.

Monday, July 2
8:45-9:45 a.m.
Lyon County Town Meeting
George North Community Room
115 South Main Street in George

10:30-11:30 a.m.
Osceola County Town Meeting
Ashton Legion Community Building
323 3rd Street in Ashton

12 noon-1 p.m.
Speak at the Sheldon Kiwanis Luncheon
Sheldon Community Building
416 9th Street in Sheldon

1:45-2:45 p.m.
Sioux County Town Meeting
Prairie Winds Event Center
908 8th Street in Orange City

3:45-4:45 p.m.
Plymouth County Town Meeting
Akron Fire Station
1000 Ridge Road Drive in Akron

Tuesday, July 3
9-10 a.m.
Tour and Meet with Employees at Jolly Time
One Fun Place in Sioux City

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Tour and Meet with Employees at Pioneer Hi-Bred International
5311 Highway 7 in Aurelia

1:30-2:30 p.m.
Ida County Town Meeting
Ida Grove Community Hall
301 Main Street in Ida Grove

3:15-4:15 p.m.
Monona County Town Meeting
Mapleton Community Center
511 Main Street in Mapleton

5-6 p.m.
Crawford County Town Meeting
Charter Oak Community Building
29½ Main Street in Charter Oak