Tuesday, February 2, 2016

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson: January 29, 2016 Legislative Updates

Preventing Drone-related Aircraft Accidents
On January 14, Senator Nelson, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense urging them to work together to mitigate the safety and security risks associated with new drone technology. A recent report found at least 241 close calls between aircraft and drones in U.S. including 24 reported incidents in Miami and 13 reported incident in Orlando. On January 19, Senator Nelson addressed safety and security risks of drones in a speech on the Senate floor, where he urged his colleagues to address the issue to prevent a terrible accident.

Seeking Answers in the El Faro Disaster
On January 14, Senator Nelson, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, sent a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requesting another search for the data recorder of the El Faro cargo ship, which sank after sailing into Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015. In his letter, Senator Nelson noted that recovering the data recorder is critical to understanding what happened to the El Faro, and in preventing other similar tragedies.

In October of 2015, Senator Nelson sent an initial letter to the NTSB asking them to conduct a thorough investigation and immediately review policies and guidance of vessel operations in severe weather.

Protecting Children From Liquid Nicotine Poisoning
On January 11, the House of Representatives passed S. 142, the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015, sponsored by Senator Nelson. The bill, expected to be signed into law by the President, will require “child-proof” packaging for liquid nicotine containers. In recent years, reports of liquid nicotine exposure to local poison control centers have skyrocketed, including one that resulted in the death of a child in New York in 2015.

Ensuring Corporations Report Political Spending to Shareholders
On December 22, Senator Nelson joined a group of over 50 lawmakers urging the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) to continue work on a rule ensuring corporations share their political spending with shareholders. The FY16 Omnibus Appropriations bill (P.L.114-113) prohibited the SEC from finalizing a final rule on the issue during the next fiscal year, but the letter maintains that the agency still has the power to propose it.

Urging Action in Response to Iranian Ballistic Missile Tests
On December 17, 2015, Senator Nelson wrote to President Obama urging that the United States impose additional sanctions on Iran after it tested two ballistic missiles in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929. The letter underscored the importance of enforcing sanctions on Iran
for ballistic missile tests in order to show the United States’ willingness to hold Iran accountable when it comes to enforcing the nuclear agreement. On January 17, President Obama imposed the additional
sanctions requested by Senator Nelson.

Authorizing the Use of Military Force Against ISIS
On December 16, 2015, Senator Nelson became a co-sponsor of S. 1587, The Authority for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Act. This bill provides the President with clear legal authority to use armed military force against ISIS or any related entity in Iraq, Syria, or anywhere else they may be found.

Strengthening Call Data Record Collection Provisions
On December 18, 2015, Senator Nelson became a co-sponsor of S. 2356, The Private Sector Call Record Retention Act. This bill requires certain telecommunications providers to notify the Attorney General if they decide to retain call data records used in counterterrorism investigations for less than eighteen months. The bill does not mandate providers retain the records.

Protecting Women’s Right to Privacy
On December 24, 2015, Senator Nelson joined 38 Senators and 124 Members of Congress in an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, concerning a Texas law that restricts access to abortion services.

Reporting of Online Terrorist Activity
On December 18, 2015, Senator Nelson became a co-sponsor of S. 2372, The Requiring Reporting of Online Terrorist Activity Act. This bill requires electronic communications providers that obtain knowledge of terrorist activity, including information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, report that information to appropriate authorities.

Honoring Members of the Office of Strategic Services
On December 18, 2015, Senator Nelson became a co-sponsor of S. 2234, The Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act. This bill awards the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II. The OSS was America’s first strategic intelligence agency and was the precursor to the modern-day intelligence and special operations communities.