Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Updates from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson


U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-F)

From time to time, the staff at U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's office compiles and releases a list of news briefs, key issues and hot topics involving Senator Nelson that are of particular interest or concern to the people of Florida. Below is a list of such released today April 2, 2014.

Senator Nelson cosponsors the Paycheck Fairness Act
Senator Nelson became a cosponsor this week of S. 84, the Paycheck Fairness Act. This legislation aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women, amends the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to make it easier for employees to pursue legal claims for unequal pay based solely on the sex of the employee. It would also allow employees to share salary information without fear of retaliation, and increase the amount of damages that could be awarded in these types of discrimination lawsuits.

Senator Nelson Cosponsors Minimum Wage Fairness Act
Senator Nelson became a cosponsor this week of legislation to raise the federal minimum wage. The bill, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737), would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over two years and then index it to inflation. It would also increase the minimum wage for tipped employees until it reaches 70 percent of the minimum wage for regular employees.

Senator Nelson cosponsors legislation defending human rights in Venezuela
In response to the Venezuelan government’s violent suppression of protests, arrest and detention of opposition leaders, and human rights abuses, Senator Nelson signed on as an original cosponsor to S. 2142, the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights.

Senator Nelson Urges Regulators to Combat Food and Oil Speculation
Out of concern for the rising price of food and gas, Senator Nelson sent a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which is the federal agency charged with preventing price speculation in markets for oil, gasoline, precious metals, and many bulk foods. BN’s letter supported the CFTC’s recent proposal for new regulations that would limit certain speculative trading activities. The letter urged the agency to implement regulations to prevent excessive Wall Street commodity speculation, which can lead to higher food and fuel costs for ordinary Americans.

Senator Nelson has long supported such regulations to protect Americans from speculative commodity price spikes, including his vote for the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203) in 2010. He also wrote the President’s nominees to serve on the CFTC, asking them to commit to combating commodity market manipulation.

Senator Nelson signs bipartisan letter supporting efforts to protect against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. 
In response to the persistent threat of Iran to the United States and our allies, particularly Israel, Senator Nelson has cosigned two bipartisan letters to President Obama in support of the President’s continued efforts to get the Iranian regime to denounce enrichment, dismantle weapons programs, resolve all UN concerns, and stay committed to negotiations.

Senator Nelson sends letter to Secretary Kerry regarding the murder of Peace Corp Volunteer, Kate Puzey
To hopefully bring closure to the 2009 murder of Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Puzey, Senator Nelson joined in signing a bicameral and bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Kerry, FBI Director Comey, and Peace Corps Inspector General Buller. The letter requests a reinvestigation team be sent to the African country of Benin to assist its government in their investigation of Kate’s murder. A similar team was sent to investigate the 1998 murder of another Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, which helped in the conviction of her murderer in September 2013.

Senator Nelson chaired Aging hearing on Medicare fraud
On March 26, Senator Nelson chaired a hearing, which focused on the human cost of Medicare fraud, and included testimony from a senior who was prescribed potentially dangerous medication she did not need so that her doctor could bill Medicare. Though there are several provisions in the Affordable Care Act that expand the Department of Health and Human Services’ authority to combat fraud and increase penalties, the hearing revealed that there are additional ways through public and private partnerships to eliminate the threat of fraud for Medicare beneficiaries. The Committee will continue to investigate avenues to enhance protection for seniors against fraud in the healthcare system.