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Pipeline Safety in the Merrimack Valley: Incident Prevention and Response

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a full committee hearing titled “Pipeline Safety in the Merrimack Valley: Incident Prevention and Response,” at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 26, 2018, at the South Lawrence East Middle School Gymnasium. This hearing will focus on the September 13, 2018, natural gas pipeline explosions and fires in Lawrence and Andover, Mass., that killed one, injured over two dozen, and damaged over 100 structures, as well as response efforts by federal, state, and local authorities.    

 
Witnesses:

 

  • The Honorable Robert L. Sumwalt, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
  • The Honorable Dan Rivera, Mayor, City of Lawrence
  • The Honorable Matthew A. Beaton, Secretary, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Mr. Paul Roberti, Chief Counsel, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  • Mr. Steve Bryant, President, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts
  • Mr. Joe Hamrock, President and Chief Executive Officer, NiSource
  • Mr. Richard Kuprewicz, President, Accufacts Inc.  

 

*Witness list subject to change.

 

Hearing Details:

 

Monday, November 26, 2018

9:00 a.m.

South Lawrence East Middle School Gymnasium

165 Crawford Street, Lawrence, Mass.

 

Witness testimony and opening statements will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov. Media interested in attending the event should contact Giselle Barry at giselle_barry@markey.senate.gov.

Bipartisan TRACED Act Cracks Down on Illegal Robocall Scams

Thune, Markey bill targets the worst offenders...

Senate Approves Coast Guard Funding Increase

Senate Approves Coast Guard Funding Increase

Sen. Nelson applauds vote to give service more resources

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to increase funding for the Coast Guard by a 94 to 6 vote today.

The legislation authorizes roughly $10.6 billion for the Coast Guard in fiscal year 2019 – a 16 percent increase compared to 2017.  

“This is a good bill and one we can be proud of,”  U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said in a floor speech Tuesday.  “Passing it will ensure the Coast Guard has the tools it needs to continue to carry out its many important missions, including its maritime rescue, disaster response and drug interdiction roles so many Americans have come to depend on.”

Nelson, who co-authored the legislation, also praised the Coast Guard for its recent rescue and disaster relief efforts in Florida. 

“Just last month I saw firsthand the Coast Guard’s efforts in protecting life and property following Hurricane Michael. Coast Guard ships, planes and helicopters came from across the country to help hundreds of people on the Florida Panhandle.  The Coast Guard, as always, was there to assist,” he added.

In addition to the funding increase, the legislation would, among other things:

  • Strengthen the Coast Guard's maritime drug and border enforcement roles by bolstering interagency cooperation, enhancing the service’s ability to find and seize concealments of bulk cash and allowing the increased use of informants.  
  • Enhance the Coast Guard’s efforts to place and perform maintenance on navigational aids.
  • Allow the Coast Guard to enter into less costly multi-year contracts for purchasing future National Security Cutters.
  • Improve safety and flexibility for recreational boaters by promoting the installation of engine cut-off switches and alternate signaling devices.
  • Require the EPA to establish uniform national standards and requirements for treatment and management of ballast water and other vessel discharges.  Accommodations will be made for unique regional situations, such as the Great Lakes and Pacific coast.  States will also be allowed to create no-discharge zones for areas requiring additional protection.  
  • Direct the Coast Guard to monitor and enforce requirements governing discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels.
  • Give commanding officers flexibility to grant leave for new parents.

The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration where it’s expected to pass before the end of the year.   

Thune, Carper, and Portman Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Coast Guard Authorization

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which exercises jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who was instrumental in developing changes to help address concerns of Great Lake states, issued the following statements on the Senate’s 94 to 6 vote to pass an amended bill supporting the service branch and setting a framework for national ballast water discharge rules. 

“As the Coast Guard works through hurricane season and continues drug interdiction and other critical efforts, Senate passage of this legislation is a critical step toward supporting the men and women in uniform who guard our nation,” said Thune“Addressing the need for clear and enforceable standards of incidental water discharges from vessels, a bipartisan agreement included in this legislation places the Environmental Protection Agency in the lead role of establishing standards, which the Coast Guard will monitor and enforce. Clear, achievable rules will be the most effective way to address environmental concerns about the spread of invasive species through ballast water discharges. I commend Senator Sullivan, who has led the Coast Guard reauthorization effort in the Senate, Senator Wicker, who has championed legislation to set sensible ballast water discharge policy, and Senator Carper, Senator Portman, and Senator Stabenow for their efforts to move this bill across the finish line.”

“Today, we are one step closer to getting this strong bipartisan compromise signed into law. This bill protects waters across our country from the environmental and economic risk of the spread of invasive species contained in ballast water, while also providing regulatory certainty for vessel owners and mariners. To reach this agreement, my colleagues and I did not settle for what was easy or what was expedient. These improvements have taken a great deal of time and energy, they are the right thing to do,” saidCarper. “Specifically, it will reduce the risks posed by ballast water discharges that enter our waterways, minimize the likelihood of introducing invasive species along our coasts and in the Great Lakes, while still ensuring these discharges are regulated under the Clean Water Act. This bill shows that we can keep our vessels moving in and out of our waterways while protecting our environment and marine life at the same time. As Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I was proud to be at the table during negotiations to see this compromise across the finish line and find a responsible way to pass the Coast Guard Reauthorization agreement. Thank you to Senators Thune, Nelson, Stabenow, and Portman for working with me on this important bipartisan bill.”

“This bill will both protect the Great Lakes against the spread of invasive species and ensure that our shipping industry in Ohio and across the Great Lakes is competitive,” said Portman. “I want to thank Senator Stabenow for working with me to find a balanced legislative solution to ensure the regulations regarding vessel discharges will protect the ecosystem in the Great Lakes. I appreciate Senators Thune and Carper for working with us on this important issue for the Great Lakes region.”

Highlights of S. 140: The Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018:

Maritime drug and border enforcement – includes new authorities to combat illicit trafficking and smuggling and transnational criminal organizations by furthering interagency cooperation, combating concealment of bulk cash, and increasing the budget for investigations and ability to use informants.

Multiyear contracting – authorizes the Coast Guard Commandant to utilize several new acquisition tools, including multiyear funding for procuring future National Security Cutters.  These changes will allow the Coast Guard to reduce the price of follow-on vessels and give shipyards greater predictability, stabilizing workforces.

Authorization level – authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal year 2019 at $10.6 billion. The previous Coast Guard authorization, enacted in 2016, authorized $9.1 billion for the service for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Arctic Operations – directs the Coast Guard to conduct a review of the assets and personnel required to ensure the safety and security of the Arctic.

Recreational Boating – increases safety and clarifies requirements for recreational boating safety by implementing the installation of engine cut-off switches and alternate signaling devices.

Regulation of ballast water discharges (Vessel Incidental Discharge Act):

  • Delegates the lead role in establishing standards for discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and assigns the Coast Guard the lead role in monitoring and enforcing standards.
  • Accommodates unique regional situations.  Pacific Coast ballast water exchanges will continue and the Great Lakes may set their own basin-wide standards.
  • Allows States to establish no-discharge zones for areas that require additional protection.

S. 140, as amended, returns to the House of Representatives for consideration. On Tuesday, November 13 Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced an agreement on reauthorizing the Coast Guard, see the full text of S. 140 here.

Committee Announces Massachusetts Field Hearing to Review Response to Pipeline Incident in the Merrimack Valley

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a full committee hearing titled “Pipeline Safety in the Merrimack Valley: Incident Prevention and Response,” at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 26, 2018, at the South Lawrence East Middle School Gymnasium. This hearing will focus on the September 13, 2018, natural gas pipeline explosions and fires in Lawrence and Andover, Mass., that killed one, injured over two dozen, and damaged over 100 structures, as well as response efforts by federal, state, and local authorities.    

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Robert L. Sumwalt, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
  • The Honorable Dan Rivera, Mayor, City of Lawrence
  • The Honorable Matthew A. Beaton, Secretary, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Mr. Paul Roberti, Chief Counsel, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  • Mr. Steve Bryant, President, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts
  • Mr. Joe Hamrock, President and Chief Executive Officer, NiSource
  • Mr. Richard Kuprewicz, President, Accufacts Inc.  

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Monday, November 26, 2018
9:00 a.m.
South Lawrence East Middle School Gymnasium
165 Crawford Street, Lawrence, Mass. 

Witness testimony and opening statements will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov. Media interested in attending the event should contact Giselle Barry at giselle_barry@markey.senate.gov.

The Government’s Duty to Preserve Evidence in a Non-Intervened Qui Tam Case

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Contributor, False Claims Act Stephen A. Wood, Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. For a printer-friendly PDF of this post, click here. Every civil litigator and trial lawyer knows (or should know) that a party to litigation has a duty to preserve evidence and documents for use in discovery and trial.  The rule applies to …

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Addressing the Custody Conundrum: A Cooperative Federal/State Effort to Build Market Infrastructure and Regulatory Clarity Around Digital Assets

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Contributor, Legal & Regulatory Challenges for Digital Assets By Daniel S. Alter, a Shareholder in the New York, NY office of Murphy & McGonigle P.C. Would-be custodians for cryptocurrencies and other digital assets seem very bullish these days.  Mike Belshe, CEO of BitGo, Inc.—a leading developer of cryptocurrency security products that was recently …

Continue reading Addressing the Custody Conundrum: A Cooperative Federal/State Effort to Build Market Infrastructure and Regulatory Clarity Around Digital Assets

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Small Business Committee Members Introduce Bipartisan Small Business Saturday Resolution

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, Members of the House Small Business Committee joined together to introduce a bipartisan House resolution recognizing the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 24, 2018, as “Small Business Saturday.”

“Small Business Saturday is an incredible opportunity for communities to rally around the more than 30 million small businesses during the holiday season,” said Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “With two out of three net new jobs generated from small businesses, it’s vital we ensure they continue to grow. I encourage everyone to shop small on November 24th and support those who are working to achieve the American Dream.”

“Every year, Small Business Saturday gives consumers across the country a special opportunity to focus on the value of patronizing their local Main Street businesses,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Ranking Member, House Committee on Small Business. “From driving local economic growth to creating good jobs and spurring innovation, small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. I am glad to join Chairman Chabot and my fellow Committee members in a resolution recognizing November 24, 2018 as Small Business Saturday, especially as we continue to work across the aisle on legislation to support America’s 30 million small businesses.”

This resolution underscores the critical role small businesses play in our nation’s thriving economy. The over 30 million small businesses in the United States:

  • Represent 99.9 percent of all businesses with employees
  • Employ nearly 48 percent of private sector employees
  • Pay 40.8 percent of the total payroll of private sector employees
  • Constitute nearly 98 percent of firms exporting goods
  • Have generated 1.9 million net new jobs

Thune and Carper Announce Coast Guard Authorization Agreement

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which exercises jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which exercises jurisdiction over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced an agreement for reauthorizing the Coast Guard and establishing a framework for the service to enforce an EPA-led standard setting initiative for national ballast water discharge rules.

Still Marching to its Own Drummer: The Eastern District of Texas on Patent Venue

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 11/09/2018 - 9:55am
Featured Expert Contributor, Intellectual Property—Patents Jeffri A. Kaminski, Venable LLP The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s interpretation of the patent venue statute, 35 U.S.C. § 1400(b), as articulated in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, has created a degree of uncertainty about the proper place to bring patent infringement …

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Finally Fed Up with Private Plaintiffs Litigating over Empty Space, California Amends Slack Fill Law

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 10:38am
Guest Commentary By Robert S. Niemann, a Partner with Keller and Heckman LLP in the firm’s San Francisco, CA office, and Jill M. Mahoney, an Associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office. Editor’s note: This blog is an update to the February 2, 2018 WLF Legal Backgrounder, “Litigating over Empty Space: Public and Private Plaintiffs …

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New Jersey Supreme Court Adopts Daubert (More or Less) for Civil Cases

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 11:33am
Featured Expert Contributor, Judicial Gatekeeping of Expert Evidence Evan M. Tager, a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Mayer Brown LLP, with Surya Kundu, an Associate with the firm. For a printer-friendly PDF of this post, click here. Although regarded by many as a relatively plaintiff-friendly court, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently bucked …

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Regulatory and Legal Barriers to Tech-Company Market Entry, Success, Stubbornly Persist

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 10:32am
Last month at The Atlantic Festival, FTC Commissioner Slaughter and former FTC Chair Ohlhausen participated in an enlightening interview on technology regulation. When discussing how the United States approaches regulation compared to other nations, Ohlhausen said the U.S. has such an “enormous presence in the tech space” due in part to America’s “lighter touch” on …

Continue reading Regulatory and Legal Barriers to Tech-Company Market Entry, Success, Stubbornly Persist

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California Appeals Court Upholds Legislative Workaround that Mooted CEQA Suit Targeting Development Project in Los Angeles

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 10:00am
Guest Commentary By Martin P. Stratte, an Associate with Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP in the firm’s San Francisco, CA office. Ed. Note: This article was first published on JMBM’s California Land Use Blog. Reprinted with permission. In August 2018, the California Court of Appeal decided Citizens Coalition Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles, …

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Chairman Chabot Recognizes National Veterans Small Business Week

House Small Business Committee News - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement in recognition of National Veterans Small Business Week; November 5-9, 2018. According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are 2.5 million veteran-owned small businesses in the United States, with a 3 percent growth from 2007-2012.

“Our nation’s heroes work hard to preserve and protect the homeland. They deserve to have the necessary resources to bring their business dreams to life as they continue to contribute to the American economy. With nearly one in ten small businesses owned by a veteran, it’s critical we work together to ensure our veteran entrepreneurs have the tools they need to succeed.”

This Congress, Chairman Chabot is an original co-sponsor of H.Res. 588, which supports National Veterans Small Business Week.

Chairman Chabot Praises Jobs, Wage Growth, and Economic Boost

House Small Business Committee News - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement after the United States Department of Labor announced an additional 250,000 jobs were added in October.

“With 250,000 jobs added this October, unemployment remaining at 3.7 percent, and wage growth at the fastest pace in a decade, America's 30 million small businesses are experiencing a boost in economic growth like never before. I’m pleased to see the positive effects of our economic policies coming to fruition through rising incomes and steady paychecks for millions of Americans.”

To read the full report from the Department of Labor, click here.

Chairman Chabot Celebrates Rule to Increase Access to Health Care Options for Small Business

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement after the proposed rule on Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury was published on October 29.

“Since 2013, the year before many of Obamacare’s regulations and mandates took effect, premiums have doubled for Obamacare’s individual health insurance plans. For this reason, this rule is vital for the health of America’s 30 million small businesses. It’s time we foster fairness and balance for large and small businesses alike, so that innovators are able have access to affordable, quality health care options for their families. I am pleased that the Administration is fighting for small business owners and working to eliminate the unnecessary red tape that Obamacare imposed.”

According to the Administration, for firms that employ 3-24 workers, the percentage of workers covered by employer health benefits, has fallen from 44 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2018. For firms that employ 25-49 workers, the percentage of workers covered by employer health benefits has fallen from 59 percent in 2010 to 44 percent in 2018. This rule would allow small employers to give their employees funds to pay for health care coverage selected by the employees. Preliminary estimates from the Treasury Department indicate that initially roughly 800,000 employers are expected to provide HRAs that would pay for coverage for more than ten million employees. Chairman Chabot has demonstrated his support of rules to provide more options for small business employers and employees, and also cosponsored H.R. 1101the Small Business Health Fairness Act, which passed the House last year.

Expressions Hair Design Speech Case Back on Track after Detour to NY State Court

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 9:25am
For more than 40 years, merchants have sought the right to impose surcharges on customers who use credit cards when making purchases. They prefer customers to pay with cash because when a customer pays with a credit card, the merchant must pay a transaction fee to the credit-card issuer. To encourage cash transactions, many merchants …

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Chairman Chabot Voices Support for Ohio Franchise Network

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement after meeting with local members of the Ohio Franchise Business Network in Cincinnati, Ohio. The International Franchise Association invited Chairman Chabot to this meeting to update members on legislation affecting small business franchises.

“Franchises bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, local communities, and brands by the opportunity they offer job creators. With 7.6 million direct jobs created through franchises nationwide, it’s critical we ensure small business owners have the certainty they need to operate and expand their businesses without fear of unfairly being labeled a joint employer. That’s why Rep. Cuellar (D-TX) and I introduced H.R. 6695, the Trademark Licensing Protection Act of 2018, this August to clarify that controlling and protecting a trademark license does not create a joint-employer relationship under state or federal law. As the largest vocational training industry in America, it’s important franchises continue to flourish and have access to the resources they need to grow their business and create jobs.”

Chairman Chabot Puts Ohio Women Entrepreneurs in Focus

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 10/30/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – This week, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) held a roundtable in Lebanon, Ohio, to examine the challenges and successes of women small business owners. The roundtable also celebrated the opening of the first Small Business Administration (SBA) Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Cincinnati.

“While we on the House Small Business Committee celebrate all entrepreneurs, in October we also like to highlight the specific achievements of women-led companies. Women now own more than 11 million businesses in the United States and employ almost 9 million workers. The new Women’s Business Center in Cincinnati will be another great resource for women entrepreneurs and I look forward to hearing its success stories. While the Committee continues to focus on helping businesses grow, we will also continue to celebrate their achievements along the way,” said Chairman Chabot.

October also marks the 30th anniversary of the Women’s Business Ownership Act becoming law. This legislation eliminated state laws requiring women to have a male relative or husband to get a loan; established the National Women’s Business Center Council; and created the Women’s Business Center Program.

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