- Protecting Women — Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2012, by a vote of 222-205. The bill would reauthorize funding for VAWA grant programs for five years, and would authorize $660 million in funding per year to help prevent domestic violence and protect victims of abuse. In addition, the bill would: streamline and consolidate some grants for maximum benefit; would increase resources for sexual assault investigations, prosecutions, and victim services; would increase penalties for sexual assault, sexual abuse, and stalking; would promote educational awareness to prevent violence and improve services for young victims; would improve emergency and transitional housing services for victims; and would enhance immigration laws to protect victims of violence.
- National Defense — On Friday, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 4310, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013, by a vote of 299-120. The bill would authorize appropriations for the Department of Defense (DoD) and for the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DoE) for Fiscal Year 2013. This authorization is intended to enhance national security through the procurement of materiel, the modernization of the Armed Forces, and continued funding for overseas contingency operations (OCO). H.R. 4310 would authorize a total discretionary budget authority of $637 billion for Fiscal Year 2013 ($3.6 billion above the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request) for programs within the jurisdiction of the Armed Services Committee. Of this amount, $546.8 billion is for “base” DoD programs (representing a $0.2 billion decrease below the levels provided for in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 [P.L. 112–81]), including $18.1 billion for Department of Energy national security programs and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, and $88.5 billion for OCO requirements. Among other items, the bill would: provide funds to modernize three guided missile cruisers scheduled to be retired before the end of their service life; would preserve tactical airlift critical to the ability of the United States to project power, such as C-130 Hercules and C-27J Spartan aircraft proposed for early retirement; and would ease strain on the heavily stressed military by slowing the pace of the Obama administration’s end-strength reductions.
Butterfield, G.K. (D):Nay Ellmers, Renee (R):Yea Jones, Walter (R):Nay Price, David (D):Nay Foxx, Virginia (R):Yea Coble, Howard (R):Yea McIntyre, Mike (D):Yea Kissell, Larry (D):Yea Myrick, Sue (R):Yea McHenry, Patrick (R):Yea Shuler, Heath (D):Yea Watt, Mel (D): Nay Miller, Brad (D):Nay
Comments: The House passed HR 4310 which authorizes budgets and policy for National Defense for fiscal year 2013. The budget continues fiscal support for military projects and infrastructure improvements in Guam. In addition, the budget provides military service members a 1.6 percent pay increase. The budget did not support proposed increases in TRICARE fees and copayments for service member's healthcare services. HR 4310 will face more significant opposition in the Senate, where Senator John McCain, Chair on the Armed Services Committee, opposes the military build-up costs in Guam, projected to total $101,904,000. The Senate is expected to pass a revised edition of the bill, which will then need to be reconciled before final passage.
H.R.4119: Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012--Sponsor: Rep Reyes, Silvestre [TX-16] (introduced 3/1/2012). Committees: House Judiciary; House Ways and Means; House Homeland Security. Latest Major Action: 5/17/2012 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Received in the Senate, read twice, considered, read the third time, and passed without amendment by Unanimous Consent. Latest Action: 5/17/2012 Message on Senate action sent to the House. Summary: To Prevent the construction and use of tunnels and subterranean passages between Mexico and the U.S. for drug trafficking, human smuggling and illegal activity.
Votes: Butterfield, G.K. (D): Yea; Ellmers, Renee (R): Yea; Jones, Walter (R): Yea; Price, David (D): Yea; Foxx, Virginia (R):Yea; Coble, Howard (R): YeaMcIntyre, Mike (D): Yea Kissell, Larry (D): Yea; Myrick, Sue (R): Yea; McHenry, Patrick (R):Yea; Shuler, Heath (D): YeaWatt, Mel (D): Yea; Miller, Brad (D): Yea.
Comments: H.R. 4119 passed both the House and Senate and is expected to be signed by the President. The legislation strengthens law enforcement's ability to reduce the trafficking of drugs and to prevent human smuggling across the Southwest Border by deterring the construction and use of border tunnels. The House and Senate recognized tunnels and subterranean passage ways are frequently used for drug trafficking and smuggling between Mexico and the U.S. Law enforcement discovered 149 tunnels along the Mexico and the U.S. border, with 139 found since 2001. The significant increase in subterranean passages into the U.S. especially on the Arizona and California borders demonstrates the need for legislation to deter activity supporting the construction and use of tunnels crossing the U.S. borders. The legislation prohibits permitting the construction or use of a tunnel on a person's private property to smuggle aliens, weapons, drugs, terrorists, or illegal goods. Those convicted will face enhanced penalties and prosecution. http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20120514/BILLS-112hr4119-SUS.pdf
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
H.R.5799: To modernize voter registration, promote access to voting for individuals with disabilities, protect the ability of individuals to exercise the right to vote in elections for Federal office, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] (introduced 5/17/2012. Latest Major Action: 5/17/2012 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committees on the Judiciary, Science, Space, and Technology, Veterans' Affairs, Oversight and Government Reform, and Education and the Workforce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
H.R.5795: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the rate of tax on domestic manufacturing income to 20 percent. Sponsor: Rep Kind, Ron [WI-3] (introduced 5/17/2012). Committees: House Ways and Means. Latest Major Action: 5/17/2012 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
S.3205: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide that persons renouncing citizenship for a substantial tax avoidance purpose shall be subject to tax and withholding on capital gains, to provide that such persons shall not be admissible to the United States, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles [NY] (introduced 5/17/2012). Committees: Senate Finance. Latest Major Action: 5/17/2012. Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
Comments: Facebook Co-founder Eduardo Saverin has upset tax hungry Democrats with his move to renounce his U.S. citizenship in order to save up to $67 million in taxes. Senator Charles Schumer was so upset he has introduced a bill that some are calling the "Ex-Patriot Act." Senate Bill 3205 would force "Ex-Patriots" to pay a 30% tax on all future U.S. business ventures and prevent "Ex-Patriots" from returning to the U.S. Although Republicans have also expressed surprise at Saverin's decision, they are lukewarm on the need for this type of legislation. Perhaps, the Democrats should consider why someone would have to renounce their U.S. citizenship in order to save their business assets. A better use of their legislative pen would be to introduce legislation to significantly lower corporate and capital gains taxes, which would make the U.S. a more business friendly nation. http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/international-taxes/228427-norquist-compares-schumers-tax-dodger-bill-to-the-nazis
S.3200 & S.3198: S. 3200 bill to require the Small Business Administration to submit a regular National Small Business Index to Congress to assess how policies provide incentives or impediments to small business development. S.3198 to improve the entrepreneurial development programs of the Small Business Administration. Sponsor: Sen Landrieu, Mary [LA] (introduced 5/17/2012) Cosponsors (None). Committees: Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Latest Major Action: 5/17/2012 Both bills were referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2012 SESSION
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 983: ACT TO PROVIDE THAT NORTH 2 CAROLINA SHALL NOT COMPLY WITH ICLEI/AGENDA 21, RELATIVE TO THE RIO DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT AND THE STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES FOR THE SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF FORESTS. Sponsors: Representatives Bradley, Cleveland, Cook, and Pittman (Primary Sponsors) Norman Sanderson has also signed on. Latest Action: May 17, 2012 Referred to Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.
HB 925: Annexation Reform 2--Sponsor: Moffit, Tim (R-Buncombe). Latest Action: 5/16/12 Senate Committee Substitute Adopted. Summary: AN ACT TO REQUIRE A VOTE OF THE RESIDENTS PRIOR TO THE ADOPTION OF AN ANNEXATION ORDINANCE INITIATED BY A MUNICIPALITY. The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts: SECTION 1.Part 7 of Article 4A of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes is 5 amended by adding a new section to read: "§ 160A-58.64. Referendum prior to involuntary annexation ordinance. After the adoption of the resolution of intent under this Part, the municipality shall place the question of annexation on the ballot. The municipal governing board shall notify the appropriate county board or boards of elections of the adoption of the resolution of intent and provide a legible map and clear written description of the proposed annexation area.
Public Notice of Annexation information meetings; dates for the referendum on ballot; The ballots used in a referendum shall submit the following proposition: "[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST and The annexation of (clear description of the proposed annexation area)." If less than a majority of the votes cast on the referendum are for annexation, the 26 municipal governing body may not proceed with the adoption of the annexation ordinance or 27 begin a separate involuntary annexation process with respect to that proposed annexation area 28 for at least 36 months from the date of the referendum. If a majority of the votes cast on the 29 referendum are for annexation, the municipal governing body may proceed with the adoption of 30 the annexation ordinance under G.S. 160A-58.55." http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/House/PDF/H925v4.pdf
Comments: This legislation protects individual property rights and community rights from the government's process of intrusive forced annexation to raise more tax revenue. Instead the bill gives the power back to the people through the referendum process. I would like to see an amendment to this bill which would also allow communities to petition their county government for a referendum if the city wishes to be annexed due to infrasture and county service needs. That would give the ultimate decision on annexation to the individual and prevent the government from cherry picking wealthier communities over others, who may be in greater need of county services and are willing to pay higher taxes in order to get them.