Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” I hope you and your family have enjoyed this holiday season. I send you my best wishes for the year ahead and wish you a very Happy New Year. I hope the new year brings a Congress better capable of working together for the well-being of our nation. Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
Update on Keeping the Internet OPEN
Last week, I joined Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon in introducing legislation aimed at stopping online piracy and preserving the infrastructure and open nature of the internet while protecting constitutional rights and the security of American citizens. Our Online Piracy Elimination Now Act (OPEN) takes a more targeted approach to combating online infringement than other pieces of legislation currently pending before the House and Senate, including Protect IP and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Protect IP and SOPA both raise serious constitutional and security concerns and include provisions that effectively chill investment in innovation. Read more about these concerns by visiting http://www.keepthewebopen.com.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently announced that the Senate will begin debate on the Protect IP bill in late January. In order to stop Protect IP from moving forward before our serious concerns with the bill are addressed, I have joined Sen. Wyden in placing a hold on the Protect IP Act. Any legislation affecting the internet must be carefully considered – we cannot afford unintended consequences.
Unlike Protect IP, the OPEN Act, provides a clear and uniform system of due process and does not compromise the secure operation of the internet. Our legislation allows the International Trade Commission (ITC) to conduct investigations – prompted by intellectual property rights holders – of rogue foreign websites that infringe upon U.S. copyrights and trademarks. Upon review, the ITC would have the authority to issue a cease and desist order to compel payment processors like PayPal and Visa, as well as online advertising providers, to cease doing business with the foreign sites in question. In effect, this would cut off profits for foreign sites engaging in illegal activity.
I will continue to promote the OPEN Act as the better alternative and support a filibuster of the PROTECT IP Act when it comes to the floor in January. The OPEN Act protects the ideas, innovation and rights of entrepreneurs to use the internet to promote their goods and services, while establishing a uniform and clear means for enforcement against foreign counterfeiters. Click here to read more. To join the discussion on Twitter, use #OPEN.
Sponsoring Legislation to Provide Relief for Kansas Utilities and Their Customers
This week, I sponsored S. 1833, The Fair Compliance Act, that would allow more time for Kansas utilities providers to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. Kansas utilities have been unfairly targeted in the release of the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT). As of January 1, 2012, Kansas utilities will be required to comply with these new emissions standards promulgated in July. Utilities providers in other states were given more than five years to meet the emissions standards while Kansas utilities have been given five months to comply.
If no action is taken, the effects of these rules put Kansas utilities in a lose-lose situation. The EPA’s irrational rules are forcing utilities providers to choose between exposing their customers to rolling blackouts or exposing themselves to criminal penalties. Kansas utilities providers have been taking steps to reduce emissions and should be given the same amount of time to comply as was given to eastern U.S. power providers.
The Fair Compliance Act would delay the effective date of CSAPR for three years and Utility MACT by two years. As we work toward providing relief from these arbitrary EPA timeframes, I will continue to press my colleagues to act on this important legislation while seeking possible administrative solutions within the EPA.
Delivering Weekly Address for Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses
As a member of the Senate Western Caucus, I had the honor of delivering this week’s weekly address. In my remarks, I spoke about the need to halt a new U.S. Department of Labor rule that would ban youth under the age of 16 from participating in many common farm-related tasks like rounding up cattle on horseback, operating a tractor, or cleaning out stalls with a shovel and wheelbarrow.
Until recently, farms that were jointly owned and operated by multiple family members had discretion over the responsibilities they gave their children on the farm. But this new rule would do away with those parental rights. The government is proposing to tell farmers and ranchers: “We know what’s best for your children, and what they should and should not be doing.”
The Department of Labor is also trying to do away with successful farm safety training and certification programs. Organizations like cooperative extension, 4-H and FFA play a critical role in training and certifying young people to safely carry out farm activities. If these changes go into effect, not only will the shrinking rural workforce be further reduced, and our nation’s youth be deprived of valuable career training opportunities, but most importantly – a way of life will begin to disappear.
Our country cannot afford to lose the next generation of farmers and ranchers. The future of agriculture depends on stopping this vast overreach of executive authority and protecting our individual rights. Click here to watch my video address.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.