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04-29-2016 Rokita Report
Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the work of the 114th Congress. I trust this finds you and your family well, as we work together to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington.
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In this week's Rokita Report
Full List of Cosponsored Bills Passing This Week
This week, five bills that I cosponsored passed the House of Representatives:
SOAR Act for School Choice
Today, the House passed the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act. I supported this bill because it allows students from underprivileged communities to receive opportunity scholarships, giving those kids a chance to pursue meaningful educations.
For the entire five years that the program has been in place, President Obama has fought to stop it despite overwhelming support from the local DC community.
As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, I am very invested in education-related legislation and will make sure that adequate steps are taken to result in the best student outcomes. Hoosiers see that charter schools work in our state, because they give parents options. Under our Constitution, Congress is given special authority to create programs in Washington DC, as such, we should ensure that parents are able to send their kids to quality schools, regardless of where those families live.
Protecting Email Privacy
H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act passed without a dissenting vote. This bill, on which I am an original cosponsor, protects the 4th Amendment privacy rights of our digital records.
Currently, government agencies like the U.S. Department of Justice and the Security and Exchange Commission only need a subpoena to receive communications that have been stored electronically on a server for over 180 days. The Email Privacy Act requires government agencies obtain a search warrant, which is a more stringent standard that is the same as a search of paper documents requires. The ECPA was written in 1968 and predates cloud storage of emails, notes, and text messages.
Privacy is important to me. I will continue to work on protecting our privacy rights in the modern digital age. As such, I have offered legislation to modernize the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and held hearings on best practices to protect student privacy data.
Defending Hoosier Manufactures
On Wednesday, H.R. 4923, the American Manufacturers Competitiveness Act, passed the House, 415 to 2. This bill reestablishes the ability for American manufacturers to request waivers on burdensome tariffs. As an original cosponsor of H.R. 4923, which was introduced by Ways& Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (TX-8), it is great to see the bill receive strong support from my colleagues and the manufacturing community.
Brian Burton, President and CEO of the Indiana Manufacturers Association said that “Indiana is the country’s most manufacturing intensive state, and Hoosier businesses participate in the global economy. Helping eliminate these miscellaneous tariffs will reduce costs and lower incentives to relocate manufacturing operations abroad, keeping good jobs here.”
With the American Manufacturer Competitiveness Act, manufacturers will be able to request waivers on tariffs for products that can not be found or produced in the United States, if there is no American equivalent obtainable. Requested waivers will be evaluated by the International Trade Commission (ITC), made publicly accessible for review and then reviewed by Congress. The savings can be used to invest money back home and allow our businesses to continue to compete in the global economy.
Protecting Voter Integrity with Photo Verification
This week, a federal district upheld North Carolina's common sense photo ID law. I strongly support laws to protect voter integrity, because voting is a cornerstone of a healthy republic. States must have the ability to enforce a “one-person, one-vote” voting system. As Indiana’s Secretary of State, I worked diligently to ensure that all voters’ rights were defended against illegally cast votes. The ruling on North Carolina’s law reaffirms that states have a legitimate interest in ensuring no one casts more than one ballot and bolsters the states' ability to prevent election fraud. In 2008, my team from Indiana successfully defended our state’s photo ID law before the Supreme Court, which ruled in our favor.
Since Indiana’s law went in to effect 10 years ago, not a single eligible voter has been denied the right to vote. Virtually everything you do, from driving, to flying, to purchasing cold medicine, to applying for government assistance, requires a government issued photo ID. Why should the sacred civic transaction of casting a vote be any different?
I wrote for the Logansport Pharos-Tribune about the importance of Indiana's laws. Be sure to read it here.
Preserving Retirement Options
This week, the House passed H.J. Res. 88, legislation that I cosponsored, which would block the Department of Labor’s burdensome “fiduciary” rule. I led efforts to pass this bill because this rule would deny Americans retirement options, drive up the cost of receiving important financial consulting, and disproportionately hurt small local financial consulting firms. H.J. Res. 88 ensures that Hoosiers are able to continue receiving the retirement advice they need and deserve.
The bill was marked up last week by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, on which I serve.
Thank you for your continued interest in Congress and for supporting my efforts to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington. Take care.