Friday, October 6, 2017


Source: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a federal government policy yesterday that clarified that transgender people are protected from sex discrimination in the workplace under Title VII.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, issued the following statement:

“Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice, which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect.

“This Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions has time and time again made it clear that its explicit agenda is to attack and undermine the civil rights of our most vulnerable communities, rather than standing up for them as they should be doing.

“Discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, just as DOJ recognized years ago. We are confident that the courts will continue to agree and will reject the politically driven decision by Attorney General Sessions.”


Source: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Seattle, WA - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The ACLU of Washington filed a civil rights lawsuit today against PeaceHealth, a Catholic healthcare organization, on behalf of Cheryl Enstad and her teenage son, Pax, for denying coverage under its health benefits plan for medically necessary surgery to Pax simply because of who he is. The suit says that PeaceHealth’s policy of refusing to cover medical care required by transgender people is discrimination and violates federal and state law.

Pax Enstad is a boy who is transgender, meaning that while the sex assigned to him at birth was female, he has a male gender identity. He was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition marked by persistent and clinically significant distress caused by incongruence between an individual’s gender identity and that individual’s sex designated at birth.

Gender dysphoria is a condition codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). To treat Pax’s gender dysphoria, Pax’s doctor prescribed chest reconstruction surgery.

PeaceHealth refused to cover the surgery, citing a policy of excluding all “transgender services.” The lawsuit asserts PeaceHealth’s blanket policy of refusing to pay for medically necessary healthcare for otherwise covered transgender individuals simply because of who they are discriminates on the basis of sex and gender identity, violates the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), and is harmful to the health of transgender individuals.

“PeaceHealth’s blanket of exclusion of ‘transgender services’ is not based on standards of medical care,” said ACLU-WA Staff Attorney Lisa Nowlin. “This is discrimination, and it is plainly illegal. Under state and federal law, no company is allowed to single out and exclude one group of individuals from medical care that is prescribed for them by their doctors and that the company routinely provides for others.”

In the past, some public and private insurance companies excluded coverage for gender dysphoria (or “transition-related care”) based on the erroneous assumption that such treatments were cosmetic or experimental. Today, however, every major medical organization recognizes that such exclusions have no basis in medical science and that transition-related care is effective for the treatment of gender dysphoria.

Discrimination by healthcare providers routinely causes transgender people to delay or forgo preventative and necessary medical care, putting them at greater risk for illnesses and increasing their risk of suicide.

If left untreated, gender dysphoria can lead to debilitating anxiety, depression, self-harm, and even suicide. Pax suffered from debilitating depression and anxiety as a result of gender dysphoria that began at age 11, when he started to enter puberty. His grades at school fell; he was unable to participate in activities such as swimming and athletics; he wore several layers of clothing to hide his chest from view; and he eventually avoided going outside altogether. Pax’s gender dysphoria became so severe that he had to wear a binder to flatten his chest 24 hours a day.

As a result of PeaceHealth’s exclusion for “transgender services,” Cheryl Enstad and her husband were forced to take a second mortgage on their house and use some of Pax’s college savings funds to pay over $10,000 out-of-pocket for the chest-reconstruction surgery prescribed to Pax by his doctor.

“We were willing to do whatever it took to get Pax the medical care he needed — as any parent would,” Cheryl Enstad said. “When your child is singled out and rejected simply for being themselves, it’s heartbreaking, and it isn’t fair. We’re bringing this lawsuit to ensure no family has to go through what we did.”

The lawsuit asks the court to declare PeaceHealth’s blanket exclusion of “transgender services” discriminatory and illegal. It also seeks unspecified damages for the Plaintiffs.

The lawsuit, Enstad v. PeaceHealth, was filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington. PeaceHealth operates 70 sites in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska and has approximately 16,000 employees.

In addition to Nowlin, attorneys for the Enstads include Josh Block and Leslie Cooper with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project and Denise Diskin and Beth Touschner of Teller & Associates.

Addressing gun violence in America

Source: American Bar Association

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The American Bar Association joins our country in mourning the innocent people who lost their lives in Las Vegas and our sympathies go out to all those who were injured and traumatized by this pointless attack.

In the aftermath of yet another tragic mass shooting in America, more than sympathy is needed. The ABA will rededicate its efforts to facilitate changes to stop senseless gun deaths.

Legal experts from all backgrounds agree this can be done through sensible regulations, legislation and widespread education that can protect the safety of individuals and their constitutional rights. And the ABA is working with a broad coalition of medical societies and health organizations to address gun violence as a critical public health problem.

Effective and constitutional solutions exist. It is past time to work together to enact them.

Go to for the ABA’s new feature that cites case and statutory law and other legal precedents to distinguish legal fact from fiction.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.


Source: American Association for Justice

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Appearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs today, former Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard F. Smith admitted that since it’s a “legally viable path,” the company still pursues forced arbitration. This admission comes just weeks after Equifax abruptly removed the forced arbitration clause, after massive public outcry, that prevented victims of Equifax’s recent date breach from pursuing justice in court. These efforts to strip consumers of their rights could be stopped altogether if the U.S. Senate were to allow the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) forced arbitration rule to go into effect.

“The fact that Equifax is still imposing forced arbitration on its customers, even after their data breach fiasco, further proves why we need to uphold the CFPB rule,” said American Association for Justice CEO Linda Lipsen. “Shame on Equifax for trying to push consumers into forced arbitration after enduring the largest data breach in U.S. history, but it shouldn’t be legal for Equifax to try such a move in the first place.”

Last month it was revealed that 143 million consumers (roughly 40% of all Americans) had their personal information stolen in a massive data breach. Once it became public that Equifax was trying to steer these victims into forced arbitration, the company quickly withdrew the arbitration clause and blamed its existence on a technical error. Smith’s admission proves that unless the CFPB rule exists, companies like his will continue to use forced arbitration to deny their customers access to justice, putting the American public at the mercy of financial institutions and Wall Street banks.

“We’ve seen that when consumers lose their rights, companies like Equifax and Wells Fargo are going to take advantage of them,” concluded Lipsen. “When banks and credit reporting agencies break the law and rip off their customers, Americans should have the choice as to how to hold the corporation accountable.”

Yesterday, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan appeared in front of the same Senate Committee and repeatedly lied about the corporation’s continued use of forced arbitration, drawing further attention to the need for CFPB’s rule.

American Action Network Statement on House Budget Resolution

Source: American Action Network

American Action Network (@AAN) Executive Director Corry Bliss released the following statement upon passage of H. Con. Res. 71, the House Republican FY 2018 budget resolution:

“Today, conservatives took a crucial step in the process of delivering tax reform that will lower rates for working families and job creators. House conservatives passed a budget resolution that not only restores fiscal responsibility in Washington but most notably, it paves the way for pro-growth tax reform. This is exactly the kind of leadership that is needed to ensure middle-class families see a simpler, fairer tax code with lower rates. Congress must keep pushing forward, working families across this country deserve relief.”

In August, American Action Network launched the Middle-Class Growth Initiative (MCGI), a special project to advocate for the passage of meaningful tax reform legislation. The multi-pronged campaign, now totaling $10 million, has included advertising on television, radio, direct mail and mobile billboards across over 40 congressional districts nationwide.

Michigan funeral home asks appeals court to uphold respectful dress code for employees

by: Alliance Defending Freedom

Cincinnati, OH - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- A federal court ruled last year in favor of the funeral home, which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued over the discharge of an employee who refused to comply with a requirement to dress in a manner sensitive to grieving family members and friends. The EEOC appealed the decision. ADF attorneys represent R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, which has locations in Detroit, Garden City, and Livonia.

The EEOC’s appeal seeks to force the business’s owner to allow a biologically male employee to wear a female uniform while interacting with the public. The district court ruled that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects the freedom of the business to maintain a dress code consistent with its sincerely held faith convictions.

“The government should respect the freedoms of those who wish to respectfully serve the grieving and vulnerable,” said Wardlow. “The federal government shouldn’t use employment law to strong-arm private business owners into violating their religious beliefs. The district court was right to affirm this, and we will vigorously encourage the 6th Circuit to uphold that ruling.”

The funeral home hired the male employee as a funeral director and embalmer at its Garden City location in 2007. Funeral directors at the company regularly interact with the public, including grieving family members and friends. After informing the funeral home of an intention to begin dressing as a female at work, the employee was dismissed for refusing to comply with the same company dress code that all other employees are required to follow while on the job.

As the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan acknowledged in its opinion and order in the case, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, the company’s sole corporate officer and majority owner, Thomas Rost, is a Christian whose faith informs the way he operates his business and how he serves those who are deeply grieved by the loss of a loved one. Not only would Rost be violating his faith if he were to pay for and otherwise permit his employees to dress as members of the opposite sex while serving the grieving, the employee dress policy is intentionally sensitive to interaction with customers at an especially delicate time of their lives.

ADF attorneys argued that the funeral home did not violate Title VII, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in employment, and is, in fact, protected by RFRA, which says that the government cannot force someone like Rost to violate his faith unless it demonstrates that doing so is the “least restrictive means” of furthering a “compelling government interest.” The district court agreed that the EEOC’s actions violate RFRA.

Statement on ALPA Pilots Assisting in Recent Hurricane Recovery Efforts

by The Air Line Pilots Association

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) president Capt. Tim Canoll issued the following statement today after the latest efforts by ALPA pilots to assist in the aftermath of recent hurricanes that caused massive damage and displaced citizens across Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico:

“Over the past several weeks, there have been numerous examples of pilots, airlines, and aviation employees working together to provide support to those impacted by hurricanes and flooding. The latest example took place today at Newark International Airport, where United Airlines pilots volunteered their time to fly a humanitarian mission composed of over 300 specialized union volunteers, as well as much-needed supplies, to Puerto Rico in order to assist in efforts to rebuild the U.S. territory.

“ALPA’s United pilots were instrumental in orchestrating this important flight, along with the AFL-CIO, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. I salute them all for their collective efforts and commitment to their fellow Americans.

“Every day, pilots usher passengers and cargo safely to destinations around the world, and during difficult times like these it’s heartening to see that professionalism and experience bring support and supplies to areas in need.

“We are grateful for all the ALPA pilots at numerous airlines who have dedicated their time and resources recently, and applaud their continuing efforts to lift up our profession and each other.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 57,000 pilots at 33 U.S. and Canadian airlines.

School Superintendents Association Partners With Tap Water Watch

Source: AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Recognizing the alarming lead levels in our drinking water, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is teaming up with a water testing company to address a critical issue that has an impact on a very high percentage of schools throughout the country.

Based in Dallas, Texas, Tap Water Watch specializes in identifying water fixtures in schools, daycares and homes that are exposing drinking water with lead contamination. The company has a nationwide presence with trained water samplers and laboratories in every state.

Congress banned the use of lead pipes in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1986. Any school built before 1986 is at the highest risk level for lead in drinking water.

“Millions of American homes and schools continue to supply drinking water through old lead pipes,” said Chuck Woodruff, chief operating officer, AASA. “Lead gets into drinking water after it leaves a city water treatment plant in the lead service lines, plumbing, solder and water fixtures. We are pleased that Tap Water Watch is an AASA School Solutions partner to help school districts come up with solutions so more students can have access to safe drinking water.”

Based on EPA data, last year 18 million Americans were served water by systems that failed the Lead and Copper Rule, a U.S. federal regulation which limits the concentration of lead and copper allowed in public drinking water.

“Odds are there are water fountains within every school that have elevated levels of lead,” said Scott Nelson, founder, Tap Water Watch. “As pressure mounts from state legislators, the media and concerned parents, school districts have a choice to either proactively test and fix any issues on their own or be forced to reactively test while under the media spotlight.”

Tap Water Watch is offering lead and copper management solutions to AASA member school districts, including providing on-site trained water samplers and water quality monitoring. Districts are encouraged to watch a video the company produced discussing the high levels of lead in drinking water throughout the country and how to register to have their water fixtures tested.

Senator Warren to Wells Fargo CEO: "You should be fired."

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- At the Senate Banking Committee hearing, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asked Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan about his record at the company, including his actions as CFO during the fake accounts scandal. She also pressed him on his plans to cut $4 billion in expenses over the next several years, and whether those cuts would result in the firing of thousands of frontline Wells Fargo employees.

Senator Warren questioned Mr. Sloan, a Wells Fargo employee for thirty years, about his ability to reorient the company in the wake of the fake accounts scandal. Mr. Sloan served as CFO during a portion of the scandal, during which he aggressively promoted Wells Fargo's ability to open up new accounts for existing customers, according to transcripts from investor calls.

During her questioning, Senator Warren noted a 2013 article detailing the relentless pressure imposed on Wells Fargo employees to open new accounts. At the time, Mr. Sloan said he was "not aware" of any problem, and did not launch an investigation into the matter. Wells Fargo's own report noted that he was aware of the issues with sales practices at the time of the interview. The Senator also highlighted a 2016 interview during which Mr. Sloan, then the COO, was asked whether the bank had pushed sales goals and cross-selling too far and he responded "No" and "the fundamental strategy that we have is not going to change."

"You knew there was a problem and when you were asked about it, you lied. This is about personal responsibility. Wells Fargo cheated millions of people for years. The Federal Reserve should remove all of the current board members who served during the fake accounts scam. And Mr. Sloan, you say you've been making changes at Wells Fargo for thirty years, but you enabled this fake account scam, you got rich off it, and then you tried to cover it up," said Senator Warren. "At best you were incompetent, at worst you were complicit. Either way, you should be fired. Wells Fargo needs to start over and that won't happen until the bank rids itself of people like you, who led it into this crisis."

During a second round of questioning, Senator Warren pressed Mr. Sloan on the bank's new financial plan, which calls for $4 billion in cuts over the next several years. Senator Warren ran through the numbers, noting that in order to make the 8% reduction in non-interest expenses, Wells Fargo would likely have to fire as many as 20,000 of its 270,000 employees, whose compensation and benefits account for 60% of the bank's expenses.

"Given your statements about how much you value your employees, can you tell us today that you will not be firing any employees as part of this $4 billion cut?" asked Senator Warren. "I cannot," replied Mr. Sloan.

Senator Warren also noted that Mr. Sloan was calling for a $4 billion cut in expenses - and potentially firing thousands of employees - while simultaneously committing to spend $11.5 billion over the next year on stock buybacks.

"Now that the fake accounts scandal has tanked Wells Fargo's reputation, your way of pumping up the bottom line and keeping Wall Street investors happy is to slash costs by firing low level employees," said Senator Warren. "In these corporate scandals, it is almost always the frontline workers who pay the price - not the executives. The only way we're ever going to stop these scandals is to hold executives personally accountable - to fire the people who are responsible and, when they break the law, to march some of them out of the building in handcuffs. Until we do that, these scandals are going to continue, and working people are going to continue to take the brunt of it."

Watch video of Senator Warren's questioning of Mr. Sloan's record here. Watch the exchange over employee cuts here.

Warner, Scott Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Diabetes Supplies

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act of 2017 to strengthen patient protections included in the Medicare National Mail Order program for Diabetic Testing Supplies (DTS). The legislation reinforces existing protections that ensure Medicare beneficiaries are able to continue accessing familiar diabetes supplies and test systems through DTS.

The legislation directs the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish new surveillance programs and requirements for mail order suppliers to better guard consumer access.

“We want to ensure seniors can access the life-saving supplies and technologies that work best for them,” said Sen. Warner. “This bill will allow Medicare to continue employing innovative, cost-saving payment models while also guaranteeing patients’ access to necessary medical supplies. This legislation builds on existing consumer protections and aims to strengthen these safeguards in a pointed and data-driven manner.”

“About a quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries suffer from diabetes, and we should be finding ways to ensure they are able to use medical supplies that provide life-saving results,” said Sen. Scott. “I am glad to work with my colleague Senator Warner on this bipartisan, no-cost legislation to help make sure Medicare beneficiaries living with diabetes have the ability to access state-of-the-art diabetes testing supplies.”

Under the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) for Durable Medical Equipment and Supplies, suppliers are paid the same amount by Medicare for DTS regardless of what they supply to a beneficiary. To ensure that beneficiaries continue to have access to familiar test systems, Congress enacted the 50 Percent Rule, which required that mail order suppliers make available at least 50 percent of all types of diabetes test supplies on the market before implementation of the CBP. However, feedback data has indicated these protections may not be adequate.

This legislation seeks to strengthen the 50 Percent Rule protection by establishing a surveillance program and additional safeguards to ensure suppliers are compliant. CMS also established the Anti-Switching Rule to protect beneficiary and physician choice of glucose meters. This rule requires suppliers to furnish the test system requested by the beneficiary, and prohibits suppliers from influencing beneficiaries to switch their current glucose monitor and testing supplies brand to another brand. Recent reports show this rule may not be adequately protecting beneficiaries. This legislation would strengthen the Anti-Switching Rule by both codifying the rule and requiring suppliers to provide beneficiaries with an explanation of the beneficiary’s rights.

The Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act of 2017 has been endorsed by The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Udall Statement on BLM Proposal to Suspend or Delay Waste Prevention Rule

Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Tom Udall responded to the announcement by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that it is proposing to suspend or delay some requirements of the BLM’s 2016 natural gas waste prevention rule. Leaking, venting and flaring from natural gas operations wastes $100 million in taxpayer-owned natural gas resources a year, and NASA scientists say it has created a methane hotspot the size of Delaware over the Four Corners region. Udall led the successful fight in the Senate to protect the rule from Republicans’ attempt to roll it back using the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

“The BLM’s proposal to roll back the natural gas waste prevention rule would hurt taxpayers, school children, New Mexico’s economy, and our environment. This rule takes common-sense and cost-effective steps to limit the waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas, providing badly needed revenue to cash-strapped states like New Mexico for public education and other essential services. Prior to this rule, $100 million in taxpayer-owned natural gas was wasted each year from oil and gas wells operating on public lands in New Mexico. The new standard also creates jobs in a new and growing field of methane capture technology. And, the rule is helping to reduce dangerous pollution across the West and in New Mexico, where a methane cloud the size of Delaware is hanging over the Four Corners region. This rule is simply good policy – good for taxpayers, good for the economy, and good for the environment.

“The arguments against this rule from the current administration do not hold water. Since the rule came into effect in November 2016, employment data shows no evidence of any jobs lost, and the number of drilling rigs in operation has increased significantly. Everyone should agree that preventing the waste of taxpayer-owned resources should not only be a goal – it’s our obligation. That’s why senators from both parties came together to save this common-sense rule in May.

“The BLM’s process includes the opportunity for public comment, and the administration is required by law to take those into account and act in a deliberate and transparent way. I encourage every New Mexican and every American to speak out forcefully to defend this rule – and to defend their tax dollars, new jobs, and the air they breathe.”

Thune and Noem Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Expand Sodsaver Initiative

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and U.S. Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, today introduced companion versions of the bipartisan American Prairie Conservation Act (S. 1913 and H.R. 3939). This new sodsaver legislation, which, according the Congressional Budget Office, would save more than $50 million over ten years, would disincentivize the conversion of native sod to cropland by closing a crop insurance yield substitution loophole in all 50 states. Thune first authored sodsaver initiatives in the 2008 and 2014 farm bills for nationwide implementation.

Sodsaver, which has only been implemented in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska, is a cost-saving initiative that disincentivizes, but does not prevent, farmers from converting native sod to cropland. Farmers who choose to break up native sod and convert it to cropland face a reduction in crop insurance premium subsidy assistance and a reduction in guaranteed yields of insured crops.

“By closing loopholes and applying these more effective sodsaver provisions nationwide, we can save taxpayers money, eliminate an unintended crop insurance incentive to break native sod, and protect America’s diminishing prairie grasslands that are so important to our grazing livestock producers,” said Thune. “Not only is this an example of a good-government solution, but the savings achieved by our bill could be used elsewhere in an already cash-strapped farm bill.”

“The sodsaver provision we implemented in six Midwestern states as part of the 2014 Farm Bill has successfully reduced the conversion of native sod, saved taxpayer dollars, and encouraged wildlife habitat,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan legislation would extend this small, commonsense change to the crop insurance program and boost conservation efforts and savings nationwide.”

“As an avid hunter and a lifelong farmer, I truly appreciate that in South Dakota our hunting tradition is just as strong as our commitment to agriculture,” said Noem. “With the Protect Our Prairies language included, the 2014 Farm Bill has helped strike a healthier balance between production and conservation in the Prairie Pothole Region. With proven results and the prospect of additional savings for taxpayers, now is the time to expand the program nationwide.”

“I am proud to re-introduce this legislation that will conserve critical wildlife habitat while allowing farmers to manage their lands as they see fit,” said Walz. “By working together and promoting common sense conservation practices we can protect critical wildlife habitat, support our farmers, and support the hunting and fishing industry that is an integral part of our state’s economy.”

The American Prairie Conservation Act would:

  • Apply sodsaver’s prohibition to substitute crop insurance yields on native sod that is converted to cropland nationwide;
    By requiring crop insurance premium subsidies and yield guarantees be reduced for a total of four cumulative years for any crop, close an existing loophole that allows certain noninsured crops to be planted four consecutive years with no reduction in crop insurance assistance for succeeding insured crops;
  • Make crop insurance assistance more reflective of production capabilities on all native sod that is converted to cropland nationwide;
  • Require producers who convert native sod to cropland to certify to the Farm Service Agency the number and location of acres of native sod that are converted in an existing automated crop certification system so the converted acres would be accurately tracked;
  • Apply to both crop insurance and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

    A loophole in existing sodsaver statute allows producers to plant non-insurable crops on newly converted native sod for four successive years. After the four successive-year window, producers could then plant insurable crops, such as corn, wheat, and soybeans, without any reduction in crop insurance assistance. The American Prairie Conservation Act requires four cumulative years of crop insurance assistance reductions before insurable crops planted on native sod that are converted to cropland are no longer subject to sodsaver provisions.

    U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) are cosponsors of the American Prairie Conservation Act.
  • Senate Passes Shaheen, Hassan Bipartisan Resolution to Designate National Community Policing Week

    Washington, D.C. - October 6, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) announced the passage of their Senate Resolution designating the first week of October as “National Community Policing Week.” The bipartisan resolution recognizes the sacrifices of police officers and expresses support for building trust and mutual respect in communities through sustained and meaningful engagement between law enforcement and civilians. It encourages the people of the United States, law enforcement agencies, and elected officials to identify ways in which communities may improve public safety, strengthen relationships and build trust. Yesterday, during an event at the Derry Police Department, Shaheen and Hassan presented the resolution text to New Hampshire law enforcement leaders.

    “Law enforcement officers take tremendous risks while in the line of duty and this bipartisan resolution honors their important work in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Senator Shaheen. “This resolution recognizes that community policing efforts have been key in improving the relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. In New Hampshire, the efforts of our police departments to establish ties, build trust and collaborate with citizens and civic groups have played a leading role in addressing the opioid epidemic at its roots. We should always be thankful for the incredible sacrifices police officers make every day to keep our communities safe.”

    “Our communities are stronger when police officers and citizens have good communications and partnerships. I am proud of New Hampshire’s longstanding tradition of community policing, and proud to co-sponsor a bipartisan resolution to recognize community policing,” Senator Hassan said. “I am deeply grateful for the commitment that these officers have shown to building the trust of the individuals they serve and protect, and I will continue to highlight the positive impact that community policing has on our people.”

    As the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice & Science Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen helps secure funding for the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) programs.

    Full text of the resolution is available here.