Friday, July 14, 2017

Voter Fraud, Water Rights, Human Trafficking, Wetlands, Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

Voter Fraud

On July 11, Congressman Gerald E. “Gerry” Connolly (D-VA, 11th) whined in a letter to Vice President Pence urging him to rescind the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s directive for sensitive voter data. Connolly said the directive “is a thinly veiled effort to carry out voter suppression on a national scale. States should not comply.” The Vice President serves as chair of the Commission.

In wake of the Huffington Post's report about hundreds of voters cancelling their registration cards, it seems to me that Democrats are getting worried that no one will be left to vote for them in the next election. The only voters being "suppressed", however, are the dead ones.

Water Rights

HR 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act (GROW) passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives on June 13. The GROW Act modernizes water policies throughout the western United States and promotes improved water reliability in California. The bill expands water storage, develops water infrastructure, protects privately held water rights, and creates more abundant and reliable water resources to benefit both our communities and the environment. It also gives federal agencies the tools they need to help safeguard communities from the effects of future droughts.

The GROW Act prohibits past abuses of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture that required private entities to relinquish their water rights to the federal government as a permit condition to continue operating on federal lands

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a serious problem across the globe, but it also exists in our communities. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in Pennsylvania last year there were over 150 human trafficking cases reported and 575 human trafficking calls. The most common types of trafficking reported in Pennsylvania were sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and this week, the House passed two bills to assist in fighting both types.

The Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act would help train Department of Labor inspectors to identify patterns and circumstances surrounding human trafficking so inspectors can assist law enforcement in recognizing and stopping this labor exploitation.

There is also the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, a bill that would allow law enforcement agencies to apply for targeted grant opportunities through the Department of Justice. Law enforcement agencies and officials need a comprehensive approach to combatting human trafficking, but essential programs that are part of this approach are often expensive. The Department of Justice’s grant program can provide assistance in implementing programs that enable officials to better combat sex trafficking demand.

The Empower Educators to Prevent Trafficking Act (H.R. 2268) was included in a package of legislation - The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Protection Act (H.R. 2200) that passed the House on June 12th. This bill would authorize grants to help school districts establish a program if one doesn’t already exist, expand an existing program, and receive continued support for their efforts to train school staff about human trafficking.


On June 13, the bipartisan Wetland Determinations Efficiency and Transparency Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. This legislation aims to enact permanent reforms that make the wetland determination process more efficient, accountable and transparent.

According to Congressman Collin C. Peterson (D-MN, 7th), "This bill is a needed step to help ensure producers in our region don't face a determination backlog when trying to make improvements to their land. Making drainage improvements to land can increase yields, improve water quality and reduce the risk of flooding. This common sense bill will simply make the process more efficient for producers to stay in compliance with conservation rules.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is responsible for determining whether land qualifies as a wetland, and therefore, is protected for conservation purposes according to so-called “Swampbuster” rules. If property is determined to be a wetland, certain changes – such as laying drain tile in a field – are not allowed without a landowner losing the ability to participate in federal Farm Bill programs and crop insurance. In recent years, producers have faced a significant backlog in wetland determination.

Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

There are still ongoing trade discussions towards completing a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The economy of the State of Texas relies heavily on international trade, exporting $279.7 billion in goods in 2013, with 36.1% or $101.0 billion, sent to Mexico. Texas exports support thousands of jobs for Texas workers and sustain thousands of small and medium sized businesses based in Texas.