Jan 152015
 

A major natural disaster may as terrifying as a terrorist attack. There have always been hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, volcanoes, floods, wildfires and droughts, but it seems the frequency and intensity of these events are increasing. Since 2011, China, the United States, the Philippines, India and Indonesia have been the top 5 countries most frequently hit by natural disasters. Between 1980 and 2010, our 10 costliest natural disasters were responsible for more than 12,000 deaths and $500 billion in damages. Since 1980, there have been 144 of these billion-dollar events with total damages exceeding $1 trillion. Hurricane Katrina claimed the lives of 1,833 New Orleans natives in 2005. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the 1994 Northridge earthquake killed 65 and 57 people respectively. In 2008, Hurricane Ike claimed 112 lives in Texas. The devastating 2011 Hackleburg, Tuscaloosa and Joplin tornadoes all occurred within 5 weeks of each other. These EF4, 200 mph twisters, took the lives 233 Americans and caused more than $6 billion in damage. Likewise, the EF4 tornado that hit Oklahoma City, Moore and Newcastle in 2013 flattened an elementary school and killed 90 people including 20 children. This devastating tornado was nearly a mile wide and was in contact with the ground for at least 40 minutes. The 1980 volcanic explosion of Mt St. Helens killed 57 people. Hurricane Sandy, which hit New Jersey’s shoreline in 2012, took the lives of 286 Americans. In 2012, we experienced 11 natural disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damage, and 2013 brought 7 more. Scientists predict climate change will increase both the frequency and intensity of these events, and soaring property insurance premiums seem to be confirming this prediction.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.549 – Homeowner Catastrophe Protection Act of 2013

H.R.1669 – Public Housing Disaster Preparedness Act of 2013

H.R.390 – National Emergency Centers Establishment Act

I oppose reforming current disaster aid policy and wish to defeat H.R.549, H.R.1669 and H.R.390

I support providing tax incentives for homeowners and insurance companies to allow them to better prepare for and respond to future natural disasters by: allowing insurance companies to make tax deductible contributions to a tax-exempt policyholder disaster protection fund for the payment of policyholders’ claims arising from catastrophic natural disasters; establishing a tax-exempt Catastrophe Savings Account to help taxpayers pay for catastrophe expenses; allowing a tax credit for 25% of natural disaster mitigation property expenditures made to fortify a taxpayer’s home against catastrophes, and wish to pass H.R.549

I support requiring public housing projects to develop disaster response and relief plans that include: immediate disaster response; protecting the special needs of residents; safe evacuation of residents and staff; supporting short- and long-term relocation of residents; temporarily renting vacant units to local victims of a disaster who are not residents of public housing; prohibiting authorities from evicting residents (with certain exceptions) during a disaster period; protecting and restoring public housing building; listing the condition and location of emergency supplies and equipment; providing information regarding federal, state, and local grant and loan programs including information regarding the insurance policy of the covered PHA and how to file a claim; implementing certain emergency disaster training, and wish to pass H.R.1669

I support establishing at least 6 national emergency centers on military installations to use existing infrastructure to provide: temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster; centralized locations for the training of first responders and the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts; listing minimum requirements for sites for such centers, including that they be capable of: meeting for an extended period the housing, health, transportation, education, public works, humanitarian, and other transition needs of a large number of individuals affected; being scaled up or down to accommodate major disaster preparedness and response drills, operations, and procedures; housing existing permanent structures necessary to meet training and first responders coordination requirements during non-disaster periods; and hosting the infrastructure necessary to rapidly adjust to temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance needs, and wish to pass H.R.390

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The security measures we took after 9/11 helped prevent another such tragedy. However, the threat of nuclear, radiological, chemical or biological weapon attack still exists. Some of these weapons, such as anthrax and sarin are relatively difficult to deploy. This is because these agents must remain in high-enough concentrations to be harmful even after being dispersed in air or water -unless they are used in confined spaces. Security experts are more worried about portable nuclear weapons or radioactive material being detonated by conventional explosives, producing a “dirty bomb.” It is possible a dirty bomb may not kill many people but it could disrupt and contaminate a large area. Improved radioactivity monitoring at our ports has reduced the risk of nuclear devices being smuggled into our country. Many nations have taken steps to prevent the theft of radiological material. We have also had some success securing this surplus material from other nations. Analysts claim these are the reasons we haven’t yet been attacked by terrorists using nuclear or radiological devices. However, there still remains much of this material worldwide and terrorists are actively trying to acquire it. Security analysts say gathering information on terrorists and sharing it between law enforcement agencies is one of our best tools for thwarting terrorist plots. There have been times when this tool has not been employed, most notably in the months before 9/11 when critical information about the hijackers was not shared between law enforcement agencies. This blunder was blamed on inter-agency rivals and suspicions. Some say our FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and its fusion centers have created a new and different culture which shows a willingness to share information amongst agencies and across all levels of government.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1542 – WMD Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current terrorism intelligence policy and wish to defeat H.R.1542

I support requiring the Dept. of Homeland Security to: support homeland security-focused intelligence analysis of terrorist actors, their claims, and their plans to conduct attacks involving chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials against the nation and of global infectious disease, public health, food, agricultural, and veterinary issues; support homeland security-focused risk analysis and risk assessments of such homeland security hazards by providing relevant quantitative and nonquantitative threat information; leverage homeland security intelligence capabilities and structures to enhance prevention, protection, response, and recovery efforts with respect to a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack; share information and provide tailored analytical support on these threats to state, local, and tribal authorities as well as other national biosecurity and biodefense stakeholders, and wish to pass H.R.

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Well over 100 million people perished in wars during the 20th century. The end of the Cold War gave many people hope that a new era of lasting peace was at hand. However, our world remains the venue for countless regional conflicts resulting from disputes over territory, resources, religion, culture and more. Currently, our country is the most powerful and influential nation on Earth, affecting many people in most parts of the globe. America provides food and medicine to many millions of people in nearly 100 needy countries. We help resolve conflicts between nations and pioneer most of the world’s medical and scientific advancements which benefit all humanity. However, some advocates claim we are not fully aware of the effects our corporate and foreign policies have on the people of other nations. They claim some of these effects are responsible for anti-American feelings in parts of the world. They say, at times, while “developing” the resources of other countries, our corporations have harmed their people and damaged their environments. At times, our government has supported repressive or non-representative regimes, and has used military force without adequate justification and before exhausting diplomatic options. Advocates say we should consider those affected by all our corporate and foreign policies if we are to help bring about a new era of lasting peace. They claim we need a new cabinet-level voice in our executive branch who will advocate for a more peaceful approach to attaining foreign policy objectives. The purpose of this department, which would have input on foreign as well as domestic policy decisions, would be to study and promote the conditions that are conducive to building domestic and international peace.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.808 – Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current peace policy and wish to defeat H.R.808

I support establishing a Department of Peacebuilding with the mission to cultivate peace as a national policy objective; develop policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful conflict resolution, and structured conflict mediation. Establishing in the Department: the Office of Peace Education and Training; the Office of Domestic Peace Activities; the Office of International Peace Activities; the Office of Technology for Peace; the Office of Arms Control and Disarmament; the Office of Peacebuilding Information and Research; the Office of Human Rights and Economic Rights; and the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Peace; directing the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to consult with the Secretary of Peacebuilding concerning nonviolent means of conflict resolution when a conflict between the United States and any other government or entity is imminent or occurring, and wish to pass H.R.808

 Posted by at 12:00 am