Written by Lynn Bannister, Director of Outreach, Senator Bill Nelson Tuesday, 08 March 2011 17:24
Promoting Transparency in Federal Spending
Last week, Senator Nelson introduced bipartisan legislation that will allow Americans to see where their tax dollars are going in real monetary terms. Under the Taxpayer Receipt Act (S. S.437), every taxpayer that files an individual income tax return will get a receipt from the IRS that breaks down and itemizes how their payroll and income tax bill is allocated, proportionally, among major federal programs. The itemized receipt will include key categories of spending, such as interest on the debt, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, national defense, education, veterans’ benefits, environmental protection, foreign aid, the Postal Service, and the Congress. Taxpayers will also be directed to a website where they can access information on their contribution to programs not included on the one-page receipt.
The American public has a right to know how their contribution to the U.S. government is allocated and spent by their elected representatives. This bill will empower Americans with the information they need to help make the difficult choices regarding federal spending, national priorities, and trade-offs.
Holocaust Era Insurance Claims
Senator Nelson introduced S. 466, a bill that would restore legal rights for claimants under Holocaust-era insurance policies. The bill would allow any purchaser, beneficiary, or heir or assignee of a purchaser or beneficiary of a covered policy to raise a federal claim, with treble damages and attorneys’ fees, against insurance companies for failing to pay Holocaust era claims.
This legislation was initiated immediately after the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) closed its doors in 2007. Supporters of the legislation argue that ICHEIC was deeply flawed and that the monies paid represent only a fraction of the value of life insurance policies held by Jews before the Holocaust. They also argue that Holocaust survivors are the only class of insurance claimants who are denied their day in court and therefore legislation is necessary to restore this right.
Supporting Bilateral Deficit Reduction
Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act (S.102), which creates a process much like a line-item veto; the bill would establish a streamlined procedure for Congress to vote on discretionary spending cuts proposed by the President. The spending cuts could only be used to reduce the deficit, and would not be allowed as an offset for new programs. This bipartisan bill is an important step in the effort to find common ground across the political aisle that could help put us on a more sustainable path.
Helping Small Businesses Access Credit
Senator Nelson is cosponsoring the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, which would enhance the ability of credit unions to provide loans to member businesses. Currently, credit unions are restricted from lending more than 12.25 percent of their total assets to member businesses. This bill would raise the cap to 27 percent for well-capitalized credit unions that meet strict guidelines, in order to help loosen credit to viable small businesses.
Elder Abuse Victims Act
Senator Nelson is an original cosponsor of the Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2011 introduced in the Senate Aging Committing on March 2, 2011. This legislation creates an Office of Elder Justice in the Department of Justice and establishes grant programs for states to assist in developing, establishing, and operating programs to respond to elder abuse and exploitation. Nelson cosponsored the same bill in the previous Congress.
Support for Balanced Budget Amendment
Senator Nelson voted for an amendment to the Patent Reform Act (S.23) in support of creating a balanced budget constitutional amendment, but the legislation did not receive enough votes to pass. Senator Nelson has been a long-time supporter of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, going back to his service in the 1980s, and will continue to reach across the political divide to find the type of common ground that will move the nation in the right direction.
Preserving Florida’s PDMP
Senator Nelson signed a letter with Senators Schumer, Manchin, and Whitehouse to Florida Governor Scott raising grave concerns about the elimination of Florida’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) in the governor’s budget. The Florida legislature created the PDMP to combat prescription drug abuse and diversion in Florida; prescription drugs now kill six Floridians per day – five times as many as caused by all illegal drugs combined. The PDMP is designed to collect specific dispensed controlled prescription drug medication information, primarily to encourage safer controlled substance prescription use and to reduce drug abuse and diversion. The PDMP is not state-funded. So far, it has received $1.2 million in private and federal grants. As of July 2010, 42 states have authorized PDMPs, and 34 are operational.
Senator Nelson cosigned a letter Senator Hatch is sending to Attorney General Holder urging him to enforce federal obscenity laws. The letter asks the Department of Justice, along with the FBI, to aggressively investigate and prosecute all major producers and distributors of adult obscenity.
Honoring the Last Surviving Veteran of World War I
Senator Nelson cosponsored Senate Resolution 89, honoring the death of Frank W. Buckles, the longest surviving United States veteran of the First World War, and Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, authorizing the remains of Frank W. Buckles to lie in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol. Mr. Buckles, who turned 110 earlier this month, lied about his age in order to enlist in the Army at 16.
March 8, 2011
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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