Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
From our Hill Sources: The House is in recess this week, but the Senate will continue to work on a bill that would require that an Iran nuclear deal be reviewed by Congress. Also, weigh in on horse legislation, a big issue after the Kentucky Derby. And Congress considers law enforcement accountability and the role of video recording and body cameras on officers.
In the Senate
In March 2015, Congress passed a resolution, SJRes 8, disapproving the National Labor Relations Board’s recently issued “representation case procedures” rule. According to the Obama Administration, these reforms would “help simplify and streamline private sector union elections, thereby reducing delays before workers can have a free and fair vote on whether or not to form or join a union. The rule allows for electronic filing and transmission of documents, ensures that all parties receive timely information necessary to participate in the election process, reduces delays caused by frivolous litigation, unifies procedures across the country, requires additional contact information be included in voter lists, and consolidates appeals to the Board into a single process.”
The President vetoed the resolution in March 2015, and the Senate may consider voting to override the President’s veto.
Congressional Disapproval of the National Labor Relations Board Representation Case Procedures Rule (SJRes 8)
- Sponsor: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures. (Read resolution text)
The Senate will also continue consideration of a bill requiring Congressional review of any final nuclear agreement with Iran:
- Sponsor: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) —Bipartisan— According to the bill sponsor: within five days of concluding a comprehensive agreement with Iran, the President must submit to Congress (1) the text of the agreement and all related materials, (2) a verification assessment on Iranian compliance, and (3) a certification that the agreement meets US non-proliferation objectives and does not jeopardize US national security, including not allowing Iran to pursue nuclear-related military activities. The president is prohibited from suspending, waiving or otherwise reducing congressional sanctions for up to 52 days after submitting the agreement to Congress. Following an initial review period of 30 days, the legislation includes an additional 12 if Congress passes a bill and sends it to the president. If the president vetoes the legislation, Congress would have an additional 10 days to override a veto. After the congressional review period, the president would be required to provide an assessment to Congress every 90 days on Iran’s compliance with the agreement. (Read bill text)
From our Hill Sources: With the Kentucky Derby this weekend, horses have been on the mind of constituents as well as Congressional staffers. Here’s a look at pending legislation related to horses.
Safeguard American Food Exports Act (HR 1942)
- Sponsor: Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) —Bipartisan— To address the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting horses outside of the United States for human consumption, according to the bill sponsors. “For centuries, horses have embodied the spirit of American freedom and pride. To that end, horses are not raised for food—permitting their transportation for the purposes of being slaughtered for human consumption is not consistent with our values and results in a dangerously toxic product. My bipartisan bill seeks to prevent and end the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting thousands of horses a year for food.”
Safe Transport for Horses Act (S 946)
- Sponsor: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) —Bipartisan— Prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle (except a vehicle operated exclusively on rail or rails) containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. Prescribes civil penalties for persons who knowingly violate such prohibition. (Read bill text)
Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act (HR 152)
- Sponsor: Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) Directs the Secretary of the Interior to enter into an agreement within 180 days with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Currituck County, North Carolina, and the state of North Carolina to provide for the management of free-roaming wild horses in and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. (Read bill text)
Horse Protection Amendments Act (S 1161)
- Sponsor: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) To amend the Horse Protection Act to provide increased protection for horses participating in shows, exhibitions, or sales.
Preventing horse soring (S 1121)
- Sponsor: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) —Bipartisan— To amend the Horse Protection Act to designate additional unlawful acts under the Act, strengthen penalties for violations of the Act, improve Department of Agriculture enforcement of the Act. “Soring is inhumane, and this bipartisan legislation takes an important step toward stopping this abusive training tactic that intentionally inflicts pain on horses,” according to the bill sponsors. (Read bill text)
Horse Transportation Safety Act (HR 1282 and S 850 in the Senate)
- Sponsor: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) —Bipartisan— Prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle (except a vehicle operated exclusively on rail or rails) containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another. Prescribes civil penalties for persons who knowingly violate such prohibition. (Read bill text)
Law Enforcement Accountability
Members of Congress have recently introduced legislation regarding police cameras in light of recent deaths at the hands of law enforcement—especially when video footage of the actual event have allowed the public to evaluate the assertions of those involved. Here’s a look at bills related to law enforcement accountability, the right to record officers and body cameras.
- Sponsor: Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA) Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of the United States have the Constitutional right to record law enforcement authorities, and they have the full protection of the law to the possession of the recording devices, and full protection of the law regarding data saved on the recording devices. (Read resolution text)
Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (Police CAMERA) Act (HR 1680 and S 877 in the Senate)
- Sponsors: Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Rep. Corinne Brown (D-FL) —Bipartisan— Would create a pilot grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies with purchasing or leasing body-worn cameras, according to bill sponsors.
- “Body cameras will benefit the brave men and women who serve in our police force and the people they protect,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). “The use of body cameras helps officers collect and preserve evidence to solve crimes, while also decreasing the number of complaints against police. The Police CAMERA Act will help state and local police departments access this new tool, while ensuring that the privacy rights of every civilian is respected.”
Police Accountability Act (HR 1102)
- Sponsor: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) “Would expand the Department of Justice’s authority to investigate wrongdoing by police by making it a federal crime for police officers to commit murder and manslaughter,” according to the bill sponsor. “Expanding authority under the “Police Accountability Act” would enable the DOJ to conduct murder investigations and bring charges in the event that states fail to do so. This way, civil rights investigations, while encouraged, would not be the only mechanism to necessary to hold police accountable.” (Read bill text)
End Racial Profiling Act (HR 1933 and in the Senate, S 1056)
- Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) To eliminate racial profiling by law enforcement. “Has a multi-pronged approach to healing the rift between community and law enforcement,” according to the bill sponsors. “It will eliminate the well documented problem of racial profiling by establishing a prohibition on the practice and mandating retraining and data collection by federal law enforcement agencies. The legislation also provides grants for the reinforcement and/or development of effective, positive policing practices. For the first time, this bill will make federal cause of action for racial profiling, meaning victims will be able to seek redress in a court of law.”
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