Will 2014 Be The Year of Action?

ob0During his State of the Union, Obama called for 2014 to be a year of action.  If its  action he wants I offer the following bills, rooted in the principles of freedom and federalism.   

I have deliberately omitted the bills sponsor and cosponsors in the hopes that everyone will read and consider the bills on their  own merits, untainted by the red/blue divide.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments of 2013, HR1847, and S607 seeks to protect the privacy of all Americans and secure Congressional and Judicial oversight of the executive branch.

  1. Eliminates the 180-day rule: Under current law, entities do not need a warrant to access some forms of electronic communications. This bill would strike that rule and require a warrant to access any and all electronic communication held in electronic storage or otherwise stored, held, or maintained by a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service.
  2. Requires that the government provide the customer with a copy of warrant and related information within 10 days for law enforcement agencies and within three days for any other government entity.
  3.  Requires disclosure of customer records: Outlines details surrounding how and what information may be accessed by the government.
  4.  Requires a GAO report: Includes analysis and evaluation of the disclosure of customer communications and records, including the frequency of use and evaluation of the effects of the bill.

The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act, S2015, builds on the welfare reforms enacted in 1996, a cornerstone of which was requiring able-bodied recipients to work or prepare to work in order to receive benefits.   S. 2015 rolls back total means-tested welfare spending to pre-recession (2007) levels, adjusted for inflation, and places a cap on welfare, adjusting for the rate of inflation going forward.  It inserts a work requirement into the food stamp program similar to that of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program and requires that total government welfare spending for the current year, as well as projections for the following 9 years, be reported in the President’s annual budget.

The Empowering Patients First Act, HR2300, repeals ObamaCare.  In addition, it 1) extends the income tax deduction on health care premiums to those who purchased coverage in the individual market; 2) creates a refundable tax credit, adjusted for income, for individuals to purchase coverage in the private market;   3) grants states incentives to establish high-risk pools and expands federal block grants for qualified pools;  4) allows individuals to shop for insurance across state lines; 5) creates pooling mechanisms such as associate health plans and individual membership accounts; 6) gives Medicaid and SCHIP beneficiaries the option of a voucher to purchase private insurance; 7) establishes health courts in each state for medical malpractice to encourage the speedy resolution of claims and caps non-economic damages;  8) prohibits federal funding of abortion and abortion coverage; and 9)  protects the conscience rights of certain health care professionals and organizations.

The American Health Care Reform Act, HR3121, repeals ObamaCare.  In addition 1) it provides tax reform that allows families and individuals to deduct health care costs in a manner similar to businesses;  2)  gives everyone a standard tax deduction for health insurance; 3) allows purchase of health insurance across state lines; 4) provides pooling mechanisms for small businesses;  5) reforms medical malpractice laws by limiting trial lawyer fees and non-economic damages; 6) expands access to  and increases pre-tax dollars that can be deposited to health saving accounts; 7)  grants state incentives to establish high-risk pools;  and 8) prohibits abortion funding except  in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.

The American Energy Renaissance Act will make changes to the country’s energy policy, by opening access to international markets, creating new opportunities for exploration and production of our domestic resources while expanding energy supplies and creating much-needed jobs. 

This bill will  1) free up liquefied natural gas exports by amending the Natural Gas Act of 1938;  2) repeal the ban on crude oil exports; 3) streamline the approval requirements for pipelines crossing international borders;  4) add deadlines for bureaucratic action while reducing red tape;  5) approve the Keystone XL pipeline;  6) allow leasing of the outer continental shelf and streamline the permitting process;  7) increase revenue sharing with states;  8) allow states the option of leaving offshore areas closed; 9) expand energy exploration;  10) open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for exploration;  11) change regulatory provisions for energy development on federal lands; and  12) keep the regulations of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands at the state level.

The Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act, HR2767  will end federal dominance on the housing finance system by dissolving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and  end taxpayer subsidies  by phasing out their failed taxpayer backed business model over a 5 year transition period.  It will return the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to its traditional mission of serving first-time and low and moderate income homebuyers while removing barriers to private capital to attract investment and encourage innovation.

The Transportation Empowerment Act, H.R.3486, and S1702   empowers states to set transportation spending priorities and enables them to determine the best funding sources;  lowers the federal gas tax from 18.4 centers per gallon to 3.7 centers over a 5 year period; reduces red tape, including the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements and other federal mandates;  and enables greater private-sector participation in funding and financing capital-intensive projects.

Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act, S 1909 empowers parents of children with disabilities to choose the educational paths that best suit their children’s needs by providing startup funds to states for disability school choice programs. It also allows states that already have those programs to make their federal funds portable to maximize education opportunities for students with disabilities.  In addition, it creates a pilot school choice program for students living on military bases; and expands D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship Program.

The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act, S.1904  would  make the cost of higher education more affordable, and  easier for students  to customize their own education and gain the specific skills they need to compete in today’s economy.  It empowers states to develop their own accreditation systems to accredit colleges, individual courses within colleges, apprenticeship programs, and curricula.   Any state-accredited educational institution, program, or course would then be eligible for federal funding such as student loans.

The Marriage and Religious Freedom (MARFA) Act, HR3133, and S1808  prohibits the federal government from discriminating against any individual or group based on their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman by ensuring that the government cannot deny or revoke an exemption from taxation under Section 501 of the IRS Code; disallow a federal deduction of any charitable contribution made by the group or to the group; deny or withhold any federal benefit; deny or exclude a person from receiving a federal grant, contract, loan, license, certification, accreditation, employment, or other similar position.


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