Thursday, July 16, 2015

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson: July 15, 2015 Legislative Updates


Providing Paperless Warranties for Consumers
On July 9, the E-Warranty Act of 2015 (S. 1359), introduced by Senators Fischer and Nelson, passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The legislation would allow manufacturers of consumer products the option to make their warranties available online, providing more readily available access to consumers while ensuring those without Internet access can still review warranties before and after purchase. The bill now awaits consideration by the House of Representatives, where it has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Improving Vehicle Recalls
On July 9, Senators Nelson, Blumenthal, and Markey introduced the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2015 (S. 1743). The bill: 1) improves wrongdoer accountability by removing the cap on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) civil penalty authority and imposing criminal penalties on corporate executives who knowingly conceal the fact that their product poses an imminent danger; 2) improves the recall process by requiring commonsense practices such as asking dealers to check for recalls and used cars dealers and rental companies to fix cars before they sell or rent them, and explores new ways to notify consumers of recalls such as by a dashboard light; 3) authorizes new research to make vehicles safer such as by assessing if technology can help prevent children from being left in hot cars; and 4) improves how NHTSA uses and shares potential defect information.

Following Takata, GM, and other tragic recalls, this bill would help ensure that companies not hide lethal defects from the public, improves the recall process for dangerous cars, and harnesses American innovation and ingenuity to make vehicles safer.

Closing Loopholes in Firearms Screening
On July 9, Senator Nelson introduced S. 1735, the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act of 2015, which requires all major components of a firearm to be detectable in security screenings, while closing a loophole in existing law that has allowed certain firearms with removable metal parts to be legal. Senator Nelson introduced this legislation with Senators Schumer, Blumenthal, Boxer, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Markey, Menendez, Murphy, and Whitehouse. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) in June.

Updating the Tax Code
On July 9, Senator Nelson became an original co-sponsor of S. 1740, the Equal Dignity for Married Taxpayers Act. This legislation would update the tax code by removing gender-specific language in the law. More specifically, phrases in the tax code like “husband and wife” would be replaced with “married couple.” The legislation does not change the law, but only updates the language of the law to ensure accuracy.

Protecting Soccer Players Against Misleading Safety Gear Claims
On June 26, Senator Nelson joined Senator Udall in requesting the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potentially misleading claims made by manufacturers of soccer headgear that their equipment reduces the likelihood of concussions. The Senators expressed concern that sports equipment makers may be capitalizing on concerns regarding concussions to market their products. In light of the potential for real and sustained injury to children playing sports, Senators Nelson and Udall urged the FTC to bring action against any soccer headgear manufacturer engaging in unfair or deceptive practices.

Protecting American Workers from H-1B Visa Misuses
On June 30, Senator Nelson sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor underscoring the need for a thorough inquiry into the H-1B visa program meant to bring more high-skilled workers to the United States to work in specialized fields that are experiencing labor shortages. Specifically, Senator Nelson informed the Department of media reports that Florida-based Catalina Marketing is using an outsourcing firm to replace U.S. employees with foreign workers