Written by Lynn Bannister, Director of Outreach, Senator Bill Nelson Monday, 28 March 2011 07:09
Combating Rising Gas Prices
Last week, Senator Nelson sent a letter to the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), urging the commission to exercise new authority given to them through the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that allows them to impose margin requirements for speculators in the futures trading market (except for legitimate market hedgers). Currently, futures exchanges for commodities like oil require speculators to post collateral covering just six percent of a futures contract, while regular investors in the stock market have to post a 50 percent margin for the purchase of securities. Higher margin levels would reduce incentives for excessive speculation by requiring investors to back their bets with real capital. Recently, in response to unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, speculators have increased their holdings of oil futures contracts by more than 38%, leading to a spike in the price of crude oil. The American consumer ultimately pays for this game of profit-gouging by speculators.
Senator Nelson is an original cosponsor to S.600, also known as the “Use It or Lose It” bill, which would promote the diligent development of federal oil and gas leases. Only 19 million of the 60 million federal acres leased to oil companies are under development for oil drilling; this legislation would require oil companies to develop leased lands or the lease would expire and other oil companies would be allowed to develop for oil drilling on the leased acreage.
Hearings on NASA FY 2012 Budget, R&D
Last week, Senator Nelson chaired two hearings of the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee. “Realizing NASA's Potential: Programmatic Challenges in the 21st Century” focused on understanding the progress and challenges NASA is facing in implementing the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. The Senator pushed for more concrete answers from the Administration about their plans and timetables after a report in January did not provide adequate details. The witnesses also discussed the impacts of the proposed long-term House Continuing Resolution (CR) which would include approximately 4,500 NASA layoffs with just fewer than 800 of them being from the Kennedy Space Center.
“Investing in Federal R&D” featured the heads of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the NASA Chief Scientist testifying about their respective agency’s research and development activities. The hearing emphasized the importance of investing in critical areas that help the United States remain competitive in a global environment. Also, it was revealed that the proposed long-term House CR would have large impacts to NIST programs and the NSF, which would issue 900 fewer grant awards (approx. 7%) and lose 12, 630 people if the CR is enacted.
Shuttle Destinations in Retirement
Last week, Senator Nelson sent a letter to the Administrator of NASA urging him to consider the merits of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center bid for an Orbiter. The Senator has consistently supported the ambitious proposal which would be a boost to both the morale and economy of the Brevard area following Shuttle retirement. NASA is expected to make an announcement on April 12, the 30th anniversary of the first Shuttle flight.
Senators Support Balancing Budget
Senator Nelson joined colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the President urging him to support a comprehensive approach to balancing the budget, including not only discretionary spending cuts, but also tax reform and changes to nondiscretionary programs to reduce fraud and waste. The letter was signed by 32 Republicans and 32 Democrats to show that, with the President’s help, bipartisan deficit reduction is possible.
Wireless Tax Fairness
Senator Nelson is an original cosponsor of the Wireless Tax Fairness Act that was introduced on March 10. This legislation would impose a five-year moratorium on new state or local taxes on wireless goods and services that exceed taxes for comparable goods and services. Senator Nelson supports keeping communications services affordable for households and businesses. Spiraling tax increases on cell phones and wireless services make it harder for service providers to offer low-cost products and services to consumers.
Holocaust Rail Justice Act
Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of legislation that provides plaintiffs the right to seek damages against the French National Railway (Société Nationale Des Chemins De Fer Francais - SNCF) in U.S. Federal Court for its transportation of French and other Jews to Nazi concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Buchenwald. SNCF claims immunity from legal action due to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), yet the FSIA was passed 30 years after the action causing the damages for which the plaintiffs seek. The bill allows survivors, family members, and veterans to sue regardless of the strictures of the FSIA. More than 75,000 Jews and thousands of others, including U.S. POWs, were transported from France toward concentration camps by this French railroad company. The bill was introduced in both the House and Senate with bipartisan support.
Questions about E-Verify at VA Hospital
On March 14, Senator Nelson sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano in response to the incident at the Veterans Affairs hospital site in Lake Nona, FL, where a number of unauthorized aliens were being illegally employed and hidden. The letter asks how flaws in the employment eligibility verification system, E-Verify, are being addressed and corrected to improve the system’s ability to prevent abuse and detect fraud.
Closure of Southeastern Fisheries
On March 17, Senator Nelson sent a letter to NOAA Administrator Lubchencho expressing concerns over the recent National Marine Fisheries Service closure of multiple southeastern fisheries. The letter indicated that outdated data and assessments are resulting in fishery closures, with significant costs to the $13 billion industry in Florida. Senator Nelson urged that complete, updated data and stock assessments are needed before fisheries are closed.
Support for Women’s Health and Family Planning
Senator Nelson is one of 30 signatories on a letter to Senate leadership expressing strong support for protecting women’s health and family planning services. This letter opposes provisions in the House-passed H.R. 1 that would eliminate federal funding from Planned Parenthood and cut Title X family planning funding from the budget. There are more than 4,500 Title X-funded clinics nationwide that provide comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services principally to low-income families, many of whom rely on these providers as their primary source of health care.
Director of Outreach: Lynn Bannister
111 North Adams Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
850-942-8415 / 850-942-8450 (fax)
FYI - From time to time, our Senate staff compiles electronic news briefs highlighting key issues and hot topics of particular importance to Floridians. If you'd like to receive these free "E-Briefs," visit Bill's web site at http://billnelson.senate.gov/ and click on the "E-Briefs" button.
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