Saturday, October 24, 2015

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

Stopping Medicare Cost Increases
On October 7, Senator Nelson joined Senator Wyden and 19 other original cosponsors in introducing S. 2148, the Protecting Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2015. No Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is projected for 2016 and Medicare Part B premiums will rise by 52 percent for some beneficiaries. S. 2148 would hold Medicare Part B premiums at the 2015 level of $104.90 for all beneficiaries.

Requesting Answers on Experian/T-Mobile Data Breach
On October 7, Senator Nelson, along with Senators Blumenthal and Schatz, sent letters to Experian and T-Mobile requesting information about a security breach that exposed the names, addresses, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of up to 15 million T-Mobile customers. In the letter, Senator Nelson highlighted the risk of identity theft for the affected customers, including possible financial harm that can occur after a data breach. Earlier this year, Senator Nelson introduced the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015 (S. 177), which would set minimum data security standards for companies and, in the event of a breach, require timely notification for affected consumers.

Stopping the Sale of Used Cars with Open Recalls
On October 6, Senator Nelson took to the Senate floor to urge used car dealers to fix vehicles under recall before selling them to consumers, just as new car dealers are required to do under law. The speech came a week after Senator Nelson sent a letter to the used car industry asking them follow the lead of AutoNation, which announced in September that it would stop selling all used cars under recall until they are remedied.

Requesting Federal Investigation of the El Faro
On October 8, Senator Nelson sent a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in response to the tragic disappearance of the container ship El Faro. The El Faro was carrying 33 men and women, many of whom were from Florida, when it disappeared in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean after its engines became disabled leaving it in the direct path of Hurricane Joaquin.

The letter asks the NTSB to immediately review TOTE Maritime’s (the owner of the El Faro) policies and guidance on vessel operations in severe weather, and to make any necessary recommendations to prevent other similar tragedies from occurring. As follow-up to the letter, Senator Nelson travelled to Jacksonville on October 16 for a briefing from the NTSB and the Coast Guard on their investigation.

Protecting Access to Local Television
On October 9, as Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Nelson joined Senators Thune, Grassley and Leahy in a bi-partisan letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) expressing concerns about the agency’s proposal to eliminate the “exclusivity rules,” which help preserve broadcasters’ exclusive right to provide network television content within their local market.

The letter stressed concerns about the elimination of the exclusivity rules without corresponding consideration of reforms to the copyright licensing system. Instead of eliminating the rules, the letter calls for the agency to work with both the Commerce and Judiciary Committees to identify an approach to reform that balances both copyright and communications regulation.

Senator Nelson Discusses Wireless Infrastructure Issues at Commerce Committee Hearing
On October 7, at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing about wireless infrastructure, Senator Nelson, who serves as Ranking Member, stressed the importance of balancing the competing concerns of stakeholders involved in the deployment of wireless infrastructure. Senator Nelson also reaffirmed his desire to work with Chairman Thune to identify areas of bipartisan consensus that address the future of U.S. wireless policy.

Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Strategy
On October 16, Senator Nelson joined Senators Donnelly, McCain, and thirteen other Senators in sending a bi-partisan letter to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Army requesting an updated plan for the execution of the 2014 Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Strategy. Given the budget and operational challenges facing the Army, the letter expressed concern that the Army effectively manages and sustains its entire fleet of tactical wheeled vehicles as they transition in some units from “Humvees” to Joint Light Tactical Vehicles.

Senator Nelson: YouTube Kids Must Do More to Stop Inappropriate Content
On October 7, Senator Nelson delivered a speech on the Senate floor reporting on his efforts to ensure that Google’s YouTube Kids channel removes all inappropriate content for children, acknowledging the company’s recent steps to improve its filters and also urging YouTube to do more.

In June, Senator Nelson sought answers from Google’s CEO, Larry Page, about the mobile application that is purportedly designed to be a safe space for children. Inappropriate content included videos with explicit language; mature subject matters such as child abuse, drug use, and pedophilia; demonstrations of unsafe behaviors; and alcohol advertisements.