Jan 152015
 

The Internet is credited with enabling possibilities unimagined a generation ago. It has lowered the cost of launching a new idea, ignited new political movements, brought communities closer together, and has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known. One reason for its success is that all Internet traffic is treated equally, giving each user the opportunity to be seen and heard. Net neutrality refers to the concept that an open Internet allows for all websites, both large and small, to have the same speed and access to customers and audiences regardless of content, application or platform. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon want to prioritize Web traffic by reserving the fastest loading speeds for those paying the highest access fees, relegating all other content to a slower tier of service. Critics say these fees would destroy an open Internet by severely limiting the ability of small websites to communicate with the people they need to reach, and stack the odds against the success of startup ventures. They say ISPs could also block content and speech they don’t like, and reject apps that compete with their own offerings.

Opponents of net neutrality say recent studies show Netflix and You Tube now consume 50% of the total Internet bandwidth, and warn this disproportionate usage will only increase as similar services propagate. They claim if large data users continue to consume more and more bandwidth, consumer Internet costs will increase and their access, speed and performance will decrease. They claim regulation is preferable to neutrality, saying rules could be enacted to prevent IPS abuse and a complaint resolution process could be established for consumers and small businesses. They wish to allow providers to offer faster speeds to large data users and charge accordingly, while providing a basic level of acceptable service to those not paying a premium price.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now completing new regulations for broadband service providers. More than 4 million Americans have submitted public comments during this process, the vast majority of which are in favor of keeping an open, neutral Internet. To ensure net neutrality, President Obama has recently asked the FCC to include rules which prohibit a broadband provider from blocking users from viewing legal websites, or intentionally slowing down or speeding up content based on a type of service or an ISP’s preferences. He also wants to ensure the points of interconnection between the ISP and consumers are transparent, and to ban paid prioritization by Broadband providers.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current net neutrality policy

I support net neutrality and wish to identify a legislator who will sponsor a bill to prohibit Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking legal websites; intentionally slowing down or speeding up content based on a type of service or an ISP’s preferences; banning paid prioritization of services by Broadband providers; and ensuring transparency in the points of interconnection between the ISP and consumers

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In the 1980s, our nation’s police departments had a total of 3,000 Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. Today, there are more than 51,000 of these elite units. Police administrators now regard SWAT teams as money-makers rather than costly budget-breakers as they did before they began receiving help from the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD 1033 program is providing a substantial amount of funding and military equipment, arms, vehicles and training to local law enforcement agencies (LEA). This military equipment is often used for local drug busts. Opponents claim the current militarization of our police departments is an overreaction to 9/11. Since the 1990’s, more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies, from all states but Hawaii, have participated in this program. Recipients also include many college and university police departments. In 2013, most of the equipment transferred from federal sources to LEAs was fairly routine — office furniture, computers and other technological equipment, personal protective equipment and basic firearms. But about 4%, or 78,000 pieces, of the property provided to LEAs in 2013 was military equipment such as high powered weapons and tactical vehicles. To date, there have been about 460,000 pieces of military equipment transferred to LEAs across the country. Our Pentagon states this program is intended to help police combat terrorists and drug cartels. Critics disagree and say that, much of the time, SWAT teams are used against non-violent consensual drug offenders. They are also concerned some police departments are using military equipment and tactics for routine duties such as crowd control at public demonstrations. Critics say the mind-set of a peace officer must be much different than that of a soldier, and that our police militarization policy is blurring this distinction.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current police militarization policy

I support preventing the militarization of Federal, State, and local law enforcement by Federal excess property transfers and grant programs; and prohibiting the Federal government from providing surplus or new military equipment and vehicles to local law enforcement agencies, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce S.2904 or H.R.5478 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014 (113th Congress 2013-2014), or similar versions thereof.

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The United States Postal service (USPS) is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by our Constitution. This self-sufficient agency is independent of all federal or state funding and employs more than half a million Americans. The USPS is deeply in debt and has recently proposed terminating Saturday delivery service to help make ends meet. Congress declined this offer. The USPS is now considering terminating 120,000 employees and reducing benefits of those remaining. In 2012, the USPS lost $16 billion on revenue of $65 billion. Its total indebtedness is now nearly $50 billion. In 2006, Congress passed the ‘Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.’ This law requires the Postal Service to prefund future retiree healthcare benefits for the next 75 years within a ten-year time span. No other government or business entity is required to prefund health insurance costs for employees that have yet to be born. Postal service supporters claim this legislation was only a ploy to drive this agency into bankruptcy so it could be privatized. They claim the postal service is indispensible to our way of life since it is required to make near-daily deliveries to every American address. Most private delivery companies use our Postal Service to deliver their packages to remote areas that are not cost-effective for these firms to serve. They warn that privatized mail services would also find these deliveries cost-prohibitive. They also say that if the 2006 prefunding requirement was removed, our Postal Service not only would be out of debt, but would be turning a profit.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current Postal Service policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to repeal H.R.6407 – Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (109th Congress 2005-2006)

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

A whistleblower is a person who exposes misconduct, dishonesty or illegal activity occurring in an organization. The 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act is a federal law that protects government-employed whistleblowers from any type of retaliation. Whistleblowers may file a complaint when they have evidence of a violation of a law, rule or regulation. Other possible reasons for whistleblower complaints include gross mismanagement, blatant waste of funds, abuse of authority or a danger to public safety. In 2006, IRS whistleblowers helped recover more than $3 billion in lost tax revenue resulting from tax evasion schemes. Whistleblowers typically receive a percentage of the money they save their agencies. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act authorizes whistleblower awards of up to 30% of the funds collected for those furnishing high-quality original information. The amount of these rewards can be considerable. In 2013, a Justice Department settlement with five of our largest mortgage servicing companies resulted in an award of $46 million to a group of whistleblowers. The largest whistleblower reward was given by the IRS to a former banker who exposed the largest tax evasion scheme in history. This whistleblower banker will receive $104 million after finishing his prison sentence for involvement in that scheme. Disclosures by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden exposed massive surveillance programs directed against lawful American citizens, among others. However, rather than money, the reward this man received was a grant of asylum from Russia. It is still debated whether he is a patriot whistleblower or a traitor to his country.

Pending Legislation:

S.665 & H.R.1648 – Protecting America’s Workers Act

S.1081 & H.R.704 – Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2013

H.R.1649 – Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current whistleblower policy and wish to defeat S.665 & H.R.1648, S.1081 & H.R.704 and H.R.1649

I support amending the Occupational Safety and Health Act to extend whistleblower protections to independent contractors; increase penalties for significant safety violations; providing increased rights for victims, and wish to pass S.665 & H.R.1648

I support extending whistleblower protections to a member of the Armed Forces who alerts the Defense Department or law enforcement agencies about potentially dangerous threats or actions of another servicemember against U.S. interests or security, and wish to pass S.1081 & H.R.704

I support providing whistleblower protections to offshore oil and gas industry workers by prohibiting an employer from discharging, discriminating, or engaging in retaliatory actions against specified employees who report to a government official any violation or unsafe condition under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and wish to pass H.R.1649

 Posted by at 12:00 am