Jan 152015
 

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) permits the physical and electronic surveillance of “foreign intelligence information between foreign powers and agents of foreign powers.” FISA was amended in 2008 to allow the government to conduct surveillance of “a U.S. person located outside of the U.S. with probable cause they are an agent of a foreign power.” It also provided immunity from lawsuits to telecommunication companies assisting in these investigations. FISA authorized the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The FISA court oversees requests from the FBI and other federal police agencies for surveillance warrants against those suspected of spying or plotting against us. These law enforcement requests are presented to the FISA court in national security letters (NSL). By law, NSLs can only request non-content information, such as transactional records, telephone numbers dialed, and sender or recipient email addresses. NSLs may also contain a gag order that prevents the recipients of these letters, including telecom companies and Internet service providers, from disclosing the existence of these requests. However, it has recently been revealed that the FISA Court has been signing off on domestic surveillance and data collection programs targeting law-abiding American citizens. These programs have occurred with little knowledge or input from anyone outside the White House. The court itself operates in secrecy and answers only to the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, who also appoints all 11 judges that serve on the FISA court. Supporters of these surveillance programs say they are necessary to protect us against terrorists. Opponents claim the FISA court has overstepped the original intent of this 1978 law which contained no provision for data-mining or spying on law-abiding Americans. They say our civil liberties are being trampled without due process. They also say this court needs an adversarial process to insure impartiality in its decisions. They claim there is no one opposing law enforcement when it goes to the FISA court to request permission for a surveillance project. They call FISA “the court that never says no” and claim it should be held civilly liable for illegally intercepting the communications of law-abiding citizens.

Pending Legislation:

S.1215 – FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act of 2013

H.R.2586 – FISA Court Accountability Act

I oppose reforming current Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court policy and wish to defeat S.1215 and H.R.2586

I support repealing the 2008 FISA Amendments Act by advancing its sunset date to June 1, 2015; requiring law enforcement to present a statement of facts and circumstances showing reasonable grounds to believe that the records sought are relevant to an investigation; giving entities who are required to produce records or information subject to a nondisclosure order the right to challenge the order without waiting one year; removing the presumption in favor of the government to seal orders; requiring the publication of an unclassified report on the impact of these uses on the privacy of U.S. citizens; requiring the Inspector General to conduct audits of Section 215 orders, NSLs and other surveillance authorized under the Patriot Act, and wish to pass S.1215

I support allowing the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives appoint Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges; requiring a 60% majority vote of FISA Court judges to pass FISC decisions; requiring pro-government decisions of the FISA Court of Review to be unanimous; requiring classified and unclassified versions of FISA Court decisions and opinions be provided to the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and wish to pass H.R.2586

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Mandatory arbitration is a private-sector alternative to the public court system in which grievances are decided by a private panel instead of a jury. Originally, arbitration was used to resolve business-to-business disputes. In the last 15 years however, it has become the method of choice for businesses to resolve disputes with customers. Consumers and employees often find they have unknowingly surrendered their right to a jury trial for any grievance that may arise once they sign a waiver -or continue to use a credit card, do business with a firm or work for one. Companies have increasingly used arbitration to keep disputes involving employees, stockholders, patients and consumers out of court. Instead of suing, consumers and employees are required to present their grievance to an arbitration panel. The members of these panels are usually selected by the company and their decisions are often final. Consumers may still need to hire an attorney to represent their interests when facing mandatory arbitration. Critics claim settlements awarded by these panels are usually much less than consumers would receive in a jury trial. Companies in virtually every industry have embraced arbitration as faster, cheaper and more efficient than litigation. It is imposed it on employees and customers as a routine and often unnoticed condition of doing business. Without realizing it, many consumers are now signing mandatory arbitration clauses in credit, telephone, car and health insurance contracts, bank loans, rental leases, agreements for babysitting, nursing homes, summer camps, house repairs and more. However, critics claim arbitration lacks the legal safeguards of our court system and warn that company panels can be tainted with conflicts of interest that might skew the case’s outcome. Industry advocates say arbitration eliminates attorney costs thereby keeping costs low for all consumers. Opponents say arbitration protects many firms from large jury verdicts, particularly from class action lawsuits, to the detriment of all consumers.

Pending Legislation:

S.878 & H.R.1844 Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current mandatory consumer arbitration policy and wish to defeat S.878 & H.R.1844

I support eliminating mandatory arbitration clauses for consumers and allowing consumers, patients and employees to choose how to resolve a dispute after it arises – whether in court or arbitration, individually or as a member of a class action by: declaring that no pre-dispute arbitration agreement shall be valid or enforceable if it requires arbitration of an employment, consumer, antitrust, or civil rights dispute; declaring that the validity and enforceability of an agreement to arbitrate shall be determined by a court, under federal law, rather than an arbitrator, irrespective of whether the party resisting arbitration challenges the arbitration agreement specifically or in conjunction with other terms of the contract containing such agreement; exempting from this Act arbitration provisions in a contract between an employer and a labor organization or between labor organizations; denying to any such arbitration provision, however, the effect of waiving the right of an employee to seek judicial enforcement of a right arising under the U.S. Constitution, a state constitution, a federal or state statute, or related public policy, and wish to pass S.878 & H.R.1844

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In 2013, hospitals committed 17% fewer medical errors and reduced hospital-acquired infections, bedsores and pneumonia by 9%, compared to 2010. These and other improvements in hospital safety saved 50,000 lives, $12 billion in avoidable costs, and resulted in 1.3 million fewer patients suffering a hospital-acquired condition. Some have credited Obamacare reforms with this success. However, statistics show that at least 150,000 Americans continue to die from medical malpractice each year, much of it attributed to hospital and physician errors. This is more than double the combined number of Americans killed each year by breast cancer and in automobile accidents. Between 15,000 and 19,000 malpractice lawsuits are brought against doctors each year, and more than 15 cents of each dollar spent on health care is wasted on injuries resulting from medical mistakes. However, negligent doctors are rarely reprimanded for these mistakes. Health advocates say most states do not require public disclosure of negligent doctors and the American Medical Association only disciplines doctors in cases of extreme negligence. They claim this is one reason medical malpractice insurance is so expensive. Another reason healthcare and malpractice insurance costs are so high, these advocates say, is due to the antitrust exemption granted to the insurance industry in 1945. Many say this exemption allows hospitals to engage in uncompetitive behaviors such as collusion and price fixing. They claim this lack of competition fosters inefficiency, leads to medical mistakes, and increases the cost of healthcare. However, industry advocates claim frivolous lawsuits and astronomical awards by juries are causing healthcare costs and malpractice insurance rates to skyrocket. At least half of all medical malpractice lawsuit awards exceed $1 million. They warn that our access to good healthcare and competent physicians could be endangered if malpractice insurance costs are not controlled. These costs account for about 2% of all healthcare costs but insurance premiums for many physicians and specialists are increasing.

Pending Legislation:

S.44 – MCAP Act

H.R.99 – Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current medical malpractice policy and wish to defeat S.44 and H.R.99

I support imposing a 3 year statute of limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits; imposing sanctions for frivolous lawsuits; limiting non-economic malpractice damages to $250,000 with a $500,000 cap per injury; requiring proof of malicious intent to award punitive damages; prohibiting a health care provider from being named as a party in a product liability or class action lawsuit for prescribing or dispensing an FDA-approved prescription drug, biological product, or medical device for an approved indication; providing for periodic payments of future damage awards, and wish to pass S.44

I support requiring health and medical malpractice insurance insurers to be subject to our antitrust laws by: prohibiting health insurance issuers or issuers of medical malpractice insurance to engage in any form of price fixing, bid rigging, or market allocations in connection with the conduct of the business of providing health insurance coverage or coverage of medical malpractice claims or actions; amending such Act to provide that nothing in it shall modify, impair, or supersede the operation of any of the antitrust laws with respect to the business of health insurance; applies prohibitions against using unfair methods of competition to the business of health insurance without regard to whether such business is carried on for profit, and wish to pass H.R.99

 Posted by at 12:00 am