Wednesday, September 23, 2015

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson: September 22, 2015 Legislative Updates

Senator Nelson Calls for Disaster Assistance for Parts of Florida Hit with Floods
In August Senator Nelson wrote Craig Fugate, the head of FEMA and President Obama requesting “all available resources” for parts of north and central Florida hit recently by severe rain that caused devastating floods.

Senator Nelson wrote in support of a Major Disaster Declaration and Individual Assistance for the areas of Dixie, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Taylor Counties. After the State’s request was denied, Senator Nelson again wrote FEMA and the President urging the denial be reconsidered, and individuals and families affected receive critical assistance for expenses towards temporary housing and emergency home repairs.

Providing Funds for Conservation Efforts
On September 10, Senator Nelson became a cosponsor of S. 520, a bill to amend the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (Public Law 106-247). Neotropical migratory birds breed in the United States and Canada during the summer and travel to Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean islands for the winter. About 380 species of these birds, the majority of which are songbirds, are losing habitat from deforestation and development, threatening their survival.

The Act established a matching grants program that, since 2002, supports projects in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean that promote the conservation of neotropical migratory birds. In Florida, funding has been used to improve the habitats of species like the White-crowned pigeon, which migrate to Florida, Jamaica, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands each winter. A reauthorization of the Act would provide important funding for conservation efforts.

Raising the Minimum Wage
On September 8, Senator Nelson became a co-sponsor of S. 1150, the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the minimum wage to $12.00 by 2020 and provide about 38 million low-wage workers with increased wages. The bill, introduced by Senator Murray, has 33 co-sponsors and is currently one of three Senate proposals to raise the minimum wage.

Reauthorizing Programs to Aid 9/11 Survivors and Responders
On September 10, Senator Nelson became a cosponsor of S. 928, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. This bill reauthorizes programs established in 2011 that provide medical treatment and compensation for first responders of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and New York City workers and residents who were directly impacted by the attack.

Improving Health Disparities in US Territories
On September 10, Senator Nelson became a cosponsor of S. 1961, the Improving the Treatment of the U.S. Territories Under Federal Health Programs Act of 2015, which aims to improve the treatment of Puerto Rico and the other territories under Medicaid and Medicare.

Investigating FDA Decision on OxyContin Use by Children
On September 9, Senator Nelson signed a bipartisan letter led by Senators Manchin and Ayotte asking the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to investigate a recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the prescription painkiller OxyContin for use in children ages 11-16. OxyContin is related to prescription drug abuse that affects 2.1 million Americans.

Encouraging Federal Agencies to Work Together for Better WiFi Service
On Friday, September 11, Senator Nelson, joined by Senators Peters and McCaskill, sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Commerce, and Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission encouraging agency officials to work together and expressing support for an agreement forged between industry stakeholders—namely, the automotive, cable, telecommunications equipment, and satellite industries—that could lead to more WiFi service options for consumers.

Providing Medicare Coverage for Glucose Monitoring
On September 8, Senator Nelson became a cosponsor of S. 804, Medicare CGM Access Act, which would provide Medicare coverage for continuous glucose monitoring devices to qualified individuals with Type 1 diabetes. Medicare does not currently cover CGM devices, regardless of the wide coverage by private health plans and the evidence of clinical benefit, leaving seniors with type 1 diabetes vulnerable.