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Freedom Works
Tuesday December 12, 2017 @ 04:19:02 AM mt

FreedomWorks Bill of the Month for December 2017: Regulatory Fingerprints Act H.R. 1460



FreedomWorks is proud to announce that our Bill of the Month for December 2017 is the Regulatory Fingerprints Act, H.R. 1460, sponsored by Rep. David Young (R-Iowa).

Because bureaucrats in the executive branch are unelected, they already have little to no incentive to be responsive to the publics wishes, despite being government employees purposed to serve the public. To address this unaccountability, Youngs bill improves transparency in executive agency rules, implementing personal accountability measures.

The Regulatory Fingerprints Act would require three things to be included in each publication in the Federal Register pertaining to an agency rule: the specific legal authority for the rule, the name and title of each agency office or employee who participated in the rulemaking, and each person performing any work pertaining to the rule under an agency contract.

This bill is simply and effectively targeted at creating more transparency, and thus accountability, in the federal bureaucracy, which characteristically lacks both. Creating transparency in the executive branch introduces personal responsibility currently not required.

The same procedures are required of those under agency contract that are tasked with carrying out the rule, which expands the breadth of the reforms to further improve accountability.

Rep. Young said himself, When I introduce a bill, or an amendment, I have to put my name on it. But, when theres rules and regulations in the executive branch...we dont know whos writing them. My bill simply says whoever is writing these rules and regulations, theyve got to put their name on it...Because, when you put your name on something, you deliver a better product or service. He is undoubtedly correct.

Requiring bureaucrats to be held responsible for the rules they make, and those contracted to carry them out to be responsible in doing so, is an essential step in opening up the bureaucracy for oversight by the public they are intended to serve. The Regulatory Fingerprints Act, H.R.1460, is a commonsense and effective step to improving bureaucratic accountability and holding the federal government responsive to the people it governs.

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Freedom Works
Tuesday December 12, 2017 @ 04:19:01 AM mt

FreedomWorks' Member of the Month for December 2017: Rep. Ralph Norman R-S.C.



FreedomWorks recognizes Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) as Member of the Month for December. Representing South Carolinas 5th congressional district, Rep. Norman was elected in a June 2017 special election to succeed former Rep. Mick Mulvaneys following his confirmation to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Rep. Norman served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives prior to his election to Congress, representing the 48th district for nearly ten years.

Since he was sworn in on June 26th, Rep. Norman has already proven himself as a principled proponent for limited government and freedom. During his campaign, he promised to help get big government out of [voters] li[ves], help small businesses to thrive, and give [voters] and [their] famil[ies] the freedom to create, innovate, and succeed.

True to his promise, Rep. Norman holds a 100 percent score with FreedomWorks on the seventeen key votes held during his five months in office. He has also cosponsored multiple pieces of legislation FreedomWorks supports, including the Debt Ceiling Alternative Act (H.R.3167), the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act (H.R.4274), and a term limits amendment (H.J.Res.6), as well as our March 2017 Bill of the Month that would terminate the Department of Education (H.R.899).

His first piece of sponsored legislation was an amendment to the omnibus bill this fall for fiscal year 2018, which would have, if passed, reduced the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by $1.8 billion, a significant spending cut.

He introduced his first bill, the Better Evaluation of Science and Technology Act (H.R.4231), on November 21st. This legislation would require federal agencies to use the best available science when crafting regulations, which falls in line with his committee role on Science, Space, and Technology. Rep. Norman also serves on Small Business.

Beyond his already-proven record, Rep. Norman has bold goals to reform and hold our federal government to fiscally responsible policies. He has a passion for regulatory reform as well as for reigning in spending, both of which FreedomWorks fully supports in the effort to tackle the ever-increasing national debt.

Taking action on accomplishing these goals, Rep. Norman is developing legislation to impose a cap on spending. Discussions of spending caps, the debt ceiling, and appropriations are all at the center of the stage this month as the House is poised to cut a deal on an end-of-the-year spending bill. Having voices like Rep. Normans are crucial in standing up for fiscal responsibility in Congress.

FreedomWorks is proud to honor Rep. Ralph Norman as Decembers Member of the Month, and looks forward to seeing his successes continue in the fight for liberty.

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Freedom Works
Tuesday December 12, 2017 @ 04:19:00 AM mt

Peach State Justice: Successes of Smart on Crime Policies in Georgia



When confronted with a rapidly rising prison population, which had grown exponentially between 1982 and 2011 from 13,884 prisoners to almost 56,000, newly-elected Georgia Governor Nathan Deal decided to take action to address the problem of overincarceration in his state. By adopting smart on crime policies to reinvest limited resources into violent criminals that need to be in prison and into rehabilitative measures for those who can contribute to society, Gov. Deals three-phase initiative continues to be a huge success, both for public safety and fiscal savings.

Georgia jumpstarted its criminal justice reform initiative with the creation of the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians by the Georgia General Assembly in 2011. This council conducted studies and issued reports that included policy recommendations, which guided the next several years of reforms, organized into three phases.

The first phase, HB 1176, was adopted in early 2012, passing the General Assembly unanimously. Its focus on front-end reform including accountability courts, risk assessments, and increased felony thresholds for certain offenses were projected to save roughly 5,000 prison beds, avoid a projected 8 percent increase in prison population, and save $264 million over five years. Its successes are still being measured, but the 4.5 percent decline, quite contrary to the projected increase, in state prison population since 2012 is a testament to its immediate and significant effects.

The second phase, HB 349, was adopted in early 2013, and was aimed at improving public safety while saving taxpayer dollars at the same time. HB 349 created the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform to promote successful reentry and reduce recidivism, and incorporated a safety valve into sentencing for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses.

The 10 percent reduction in recidivism rates between 2007 releases and 2010 releases, in the three years following release, offers statistical validation of HB 349s efforts to reduce the rates of offenders returning to prison. Its successful redirection of resources in the Georgia justice system away from nonviolent offenders and towards those who pose public safety threats, is also evidenced by the proportion of violent and sex offenders in prison increasing from 58 percent in January 2009 to 68 percent in October 2014.

Gov. Deals third phase of the justice initiative, SB 365, focused efforts further on back-end reforms, making changes to post-incarceration programs, and introducing a certificate program to remove barriers to employment, housing, and education for former offenders. This certificate program, the Program Treatment Completion Certificate, has issued approximately 5,000 certificates through the program from its advent until February 2017.

Altogether, the three major, comprehensive phases of Gov. Deals initiative comprise the bulk of the reforms made in the past seven years in Georgias criminal justice system. Additionally though, there has been issue-specific legislation implemented in the same time frame as the three major phases as well as in the years following, and multiple pointed executive actions as well, that have contributed to the successes seen in recidivism reduction and improved public safety.

By exploring in depth the work that Gov. Deal and the Georgia General Assembly have done in Georgia over the past seven years, FreedomWorks holds up Georgia as an ideal example of the successes of smart on crime policies. The models and reforms implemented in Georgia are evidence that such policies do work, have worked in other states, and will work at the federal level. It is our hope that, with Georgia's lead to follow, champions of the issue in state legislatures across the country and in Congress will take action on criminal justice reform, and America will be safer and more prosperous for it.

Peach State Justice: Successes of Smart on Crime Policies in Georgia

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Freedom Works
Tuesday December 12, 2017 @ 04:18:59 AM mt

FreedomWorks TweetStorm Pushes Flake and Corker for Tax Reform



FreedomWorks activists across the country urged Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker to support tax reform on Twitter.

Our activists made their voices heard. They want tax reform, and they let Senators Flake and Corker know that today. They should not leave without a win this year, especially walking into their final year in the Senate, when Republicans have the House and Senate majorities and a Republican in the White House, said Vice President of Advocacy Noah Wall. And more action is on the way.

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Freedom Works
Monday December 11, 2017 @ 09:09:04 PM mt

FreedomWorks Reminds House and Senate About 20 Percent Corporate Tax Rate



FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye released the following statement before the House and Senate meet to reconcile the Senate and House tax reform bills on Wednesday:

The 20 percent corporate tax rate is itself a compromise; it was originally set for 15 percent. We remind the Senate and House conferees that the support of FreedomWorks 6 million activists came with the 20 percent corporate tax rate.

We need to grow our economy. The lowering of the corporate rate to 20 percent and the lowering of the rates for individuals along with the doubling of their standard deduction are important for the greatly increased economic growth.

Conservative tax reform should not adopt the class warfare of the Left. We should keep our focus on passing a fairer, flatter, simpler tax code across the board.

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Freedom Works
Monday December 11, 2017 @ 12:19:17 PM mt

Capitol Hill Update: December 11 2017



Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

House:

The House comes into session this week following a busy week last week, when they named House conferees for the conference committee with the Senate on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1, as well as passed a short-term continuing resolution, H.J.Res.123. This continuing resolution avoided a government shutdown by extending funding of the federal government previously set to expire on December 8 through December 22.

The Republican House conferees on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas Devin Nunes (R-Calif. Peter Roskam (R-Ill. Diane Black (R-Tenn. Kristi Noem (R-S.D. Rob Bishop (R-Utah Don Young (R-Alaska Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and John Shimkus (R-Ill.).

The Democratic conferees are Reps. Richard Neal (D-Mass. Sander Levin (D-Mich. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).

The House will reconvene on Monday, with votes on five bills on the suspension calendar. The votes are not expected to occur until approximately 6:30 pm. Two of these bills relate to homeland security and two to financial services. On Tuesday, the House will continue consideration of fourteen other bills on the suspension calendar, the majority of which are noncontroversial and should easily pass.

During the remainder of the week, the House will consider two bills relating to international affairs in Iran, and one relating to privacy in financial policy, the Privacy Notification Technical Clarification Act, H.R.2396. This bill would provide more leniency to financial institutions in the requirements to notify their members annual of policy changes, so long as the changes are sufficiently communicated in other manners, such as via websites, billing statements, or phone.

As mentioned, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 22. Another spending bill will be necessary to fund the government into next year. The concern right now is that the next spending bill will be packed with other must-pass items, including reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In order to pass the bill, this Republican-controlled Congress will, once again, bust the spending caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019, likely by an amount higher than the three previous times theyve busted the caps for the past five fiscal years combined.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.

Senate:

The Senate will begin this week with a roll call vote at 5:30 pm on Monday on the motion to invoke cloture on Leonard Grasz to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. Late last week, Leader McConnell filed cloture on three nominations, Executive Calendar #533 for Leonard Grasz, as well as two others -- #534 for Don Willett to be a Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and #535 for James Ho to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit.

These are routine steps for the Senate in its role in the nomination process to continue to confirm President Trumps nominees to federal courts. Democrats have continued to use obstructionist, dilatory tactics to slow this process down, however, by forcing thirty full hours of debate on each nominee. These tactics prevent the Senate from addressing pressing legislative business, as their time is almost entirely taken up by meaningless debate hours on nominees.

Of note as well is, with last weeks naming of Senate conferees for the conference committee with the House on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this conference is set to meet Wednesday of this week. The intention is to have a conference report produced by the end of the week, that will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions. This will be sent again to both chambers for a vote on final passage of tax reform, which will then go to the President to be signed into law.

The Republican Senate conferees on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Enzi (R-), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

The Democratic Senate conferees are Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.).

The full committee schedule can be found here.

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Freedom Works
Monday December 11, 2017 @ 10:39:58 AM mt

Jail Time for Too Much Meat on a Sandwich



Time and time again, the federal government has encroached into a sector of the economy and imposed a one-size-fits-all regulation that stifles competition, hurts small businesses, and creates troubling criminal penalties for lack of compliance. This is epitomized in federal involvement in menu labeling -- regulations and requirements for private businesses to disclose caloric information on physical menus.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) is leading the charge on rolling back this overreach through the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, H.R.772, to provide relief for convenience stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and pizza chains alike.

The factors at play here are multifaceted, but their effects are glaring. Beginning with the enactment of ObamaCare, retail food establishments with more than twenty locations of substantially similar menus were required to provide nutritional information, including caloric content, to its customers on their standard menu items.

Implementation of this measure fell to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has since struggled with rule-making to enact the law as intended. As a result, small businesses and large businesses alike have been detrimentally affected, as the attempt at an overarching federal regulation spreads its reach into every sector of the food preparation and sales industry.

Rule after rule issued by the FDA on this matter has drawn more and more businesses into forced compliance with this law. What was intended to cover restaurants, expanded in 2014 to cover convenience stores, coffee and ice cream shops, bowling alley and movie theater food counters, and take-out or delivery establishments.

From this 2014 expansion, an FDA Regulatory Impact Analysis "conservatively estimate[d] that at least two thirds of the establishments affected by the requirements of the final rule...will be part of small businesses. Imposing onerous federal regulations is no way to support small businesses and the families who rely on them.

The nature of a nationwide sit-down restaurant chain is vastly different from that of a primarily delivery-based food chain, a gas station convenience store, or a local chain of coffee shops. What they all have in common, however, is the inevitable human error involved in food preparation.

As the rule stands to be implemented in May of 2018 when its compliance date was delayed earlier this year, none of these establishments are given coverage under the law for variances in caloric content that exceed five percent. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association the year ObamaCare was enacted, 93 percent of foods in convenience stores were found to have a greater than ten percent variance in caloric content.

These foods would therefore be considered misbranded under the law, and those at fault for a first violation would be subject to the criminal penalties of up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $1000, under the penalties outlined in the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. As a result, every food establishment affected under this rule could find its employees facing jail time for, quite literally, too much meat on a sandwich.

Furthermore, the rule indirectly stifles local businesses that have fewer than twenty establishments. The calorimetry requirement for all foods offered in larger chains discourages these businesses from picking up locally-sourced products. Currently, convenience stores frequently offer fresh-grown vegetables or holiday-oriented baked goods seasonally, sourced from a local farmer or mom-and-pop bakery.

If this rule is implemented as it stands, they are not likely to continue to do so, as even these local products would become subject to the FDA rule, as they would be sold at a location with more than twenty establishments. This hurts not only the businesses directly affected by the rule, but also local small businesses working to break into a larger market.

Fortunately, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers simple legislative solution to this massive government power-grabbing and competition-stifling menu labeling mess would benefit food establishments of every size and variety. The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act addresses the core of the problem -- the language included in ObamaCare -- amending it in a few simple ways to provide reasonable leniency to establishments.

This bill would allow establishments discretion on the portion size they display caloric information for (i.e. a slice of pie instead of the whole pie), the manner in which it is accessed (i.e. an app or website for a delivery pizza place where few people enter the store and thus a physical display is nonsensical), reasonable variance in caloric content (to avoid criminal penalties for reasonable human error), and provide two years for compliance from the promulgation of from the final regulations pursuant to the bill.

It has bipartisan support, with thirty-three Democrats voting on its passage through the House in the 114th Congress, and six Democrat cosponsors on this years bill. A commonsense measure indeed, as its name denotes, this legislation has widespread support both inside and outside of Congress -- it is simply a matter of prioritizing an issue that practically affects all Americans.

Of course, in an ideal world, ObamaCare would be repealed and the standard menu labeling requirements would cease to exist entirely, leaving establishments either to the regulations of their states or to the demands of the free market for nutritional information on their products. However, with the situation we are realistically in today on this issue, The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act is undoubtedly a step in the right direction toward limiting the ills of heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all federal regulations.

We should all be able to agree that no one should go to jail for throwing a few extra fries in your McDonalds bag.

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Freedom Works
Monday December 11, 2017 @ 10:39:57 AM mt

State Taxes Are Too High



FreedomWorks Vice President of Advocacy Noah Wall released the following statement regarding the states with bad tax policy who are resisting conservative tax reform:

The state and local tax deduction forces lower-tax states to pay the federal taxes of the states with terrible tax policy. Politicians in these blue states are worried that if this special break is overturned, theyll get thrown out of office. They are afraid that new, conservative leaders will be elected in their states to reform their state tax policy. Theyre concerned they wont be able to continue raising state taxes even higher.

A simpler, flatter, fairer tax code at the federal level is a great thing, and it will be even better if it also applies pressure to blue states to move in a conservative direction.

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Freedom Works
Monday December 11, 2017 @ 02:50:01 AM mt

FreedomWorks Puts New York Times on Defense Over Political Advocacy



FreedomWorks Puts New York Times on Defense Over Political Advocacy Washington, DC FreedomWorks launched a social media campaign to bring awareness to the New York Times editorial boards foray into political advocacy governed by the Federal Election Commission.

FreedomWorks drove tweets like the ones below:

FreedomWorks itself tweeted.

The tweets drew a defensive response from the New York Times editorial board, specifically Carol Giacomo.

FreedomWorks responded, pointing out that expressing an opinion and driving political activity are completely different activities.

Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye commented as well.

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Freedom Works
Monday December 11, 2017 @ 02:50:00 AM mt

FreedomWorks: The Left Backs Imposter Leandra English at CFPB



FreedomWorks Vice President of Advocacy Noah Wall released the following statement regarding the Lefts Support for Imposter Leandra English at the Center Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

When Richard Cordray left the CFPB, two people were saying they were the Acting Director: Leandra English who was not the Acting Director, and Mick Mulvaney, whom President Trump appointed to lead the agency.

Liberals are further confirming they either do not understand or do not abide by the Constitution or Novembers election results.

The CFPB is part of the executive branch, and President Trump is the head of the executive branch. He gets to appoint new leaders of executive agencies.

Liberals are supporting Leandra English, herself an Obama appointee. They want an Obama appointee, Cordray, to be able to appoint another Obama appointee.

Reminder to all the liberals: Donald Trump is the president.

While the CFPB is an independent federal agency, that designation lends protections to the directors against being fired by the president. The ability to fill vacancies at this level still belongs to the president.

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