Congress has taken its Memorial Day recess, but there is still legislation in Congress that you should know about! In an update from our previous edition of Policy Watch, of the bills highlighted, only the EGO Act was signed into law. This month’s edition will address some controversial, and some not so controversial, proposals in our nation’s Congress.

 

Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act

Introduced to the House in July 2017 by Virginia’s Representative Barbara Comstock, this bill establishes the Project Safe Neighborhoods Block Grant Program within the Department of Justice. The proposed goal of the grant program is to “foster and improve existing partnerships to create safer neighborhoods through sustained reductions in crimes committed by criminal street gangs and transnational organized crime groups.”

On March 14, 2018 the bill passed in the House, and more recently passed the Senate on May 16, 2018. It is highly likely the bill will be signed by the President.

 

“Veterans Opiod Abuse Prevention Act”

Representative Neal Dunn of Florida brought the Veterans Opiod Abuse Prevention Act to Congress September 26, 2017. The bill creates better practices for the Department of Veterans Affairs to prevent prescription drug abuse, notably opiods and painkillers. This is done by establishing a national network of state-based “drug monitoring programs” for VA health care recipients.

The VA has an infamous reputation as underfunded to an almost criminal level, which has caused major issues in veterans receiving proper health care.

The bill passed in the House May 21, 2018. It has not yet been presented to the Senate.

 

“To Amend Section 203 Of The Federal Power Act”

 This creatively titled bill was introduced to the House by Representative Tim Wahlberg of Michigan in February, 2017. This bill amends the Federal Power Act regarding public utility mergers: Any merger or consolidation of a public utility whose value exceeds $10 million must first be authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In addition, FERC is required to create a rule within 180 days that mandates any public utility seeking to merge or consolidate to notify FERC, within 30 days of transaction consummation, if the value of such merger or consolidation exceeds $1 million but is less than $10 million.

It passed the House May 21, 2018. It is currently unknown if the Senate will vote on the bill or if it would pass the Senate.

 

“Protect And Serve Act of 2018”

Perhaps the most controversial bill we’re highlighting, the Protect and Serve Act was introduced to the House by Florida’s Representative John Rutherford.

This bill states that anyone who “knowingly assaults a law enforcement officer causing serious bodily injury, or attempts to do so” can be imprisoned for a sentence of 10 years or longer. The creation of this bill seems superfluous,

Blue Lives Matter Protest

A Blue Lives Matter protest © Elvert Barnes

as there are already laws that specify crimes against police. The clear origin of this bill is the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, which was formed to allegedly fight discrimination against police officers. It is a clear reaction to the widespread “Black Lives Matter” movement, which has protested police brutality towards African-Americans. There has already been outcry against the bill.

The Protect and Serve Act passed the House of Representatives on May 16, 2018. It is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

Know a bill in your state or Washington you want us to discuss? comment below or send us a message!