7-1-2017 Rokita Report

Jul 1, 2017 Issues: Congressional Issues, Education

Dear Fellow Hoosier,

Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the work of the 115th Congress.  I trust this finds you and your family well, as we work together to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington.

For daily updates, please take a moment to "Like" my Facebook page by clicking here  or follow me on Twitter if you prefer  @ToddRokita.


In this week's Rokita Report

  • Conservatives Wins in the Supreme Court
  • Securing Our Border
  • Protecting Student Data Privacy
  • NLRB Markup - Includes Tribal Labor Sovereignty Bill


Conservative Wins in the Supreme Court

On Monday, the Supreme Court delivered a major victory for religious liberty in the Trinity Lutheran v. Comer case.  Trinity Lutheran Church, which owns a learning center, applied for a grant for its preschool playground.  The grand application was denied because of Trinity Lutheran's religious affiliation.  Trinity Lutheran sued for discrimination and fought the decision all the way to the Supreme Court.  The court ruled that their affiliation alone was not a reason to deny the grant funds.  This is an important victory in the fight against religious discrimination and for school choice.  This will help ensure that religious institutions will not face additional burdens because they follow their faith.

The Supreme Court also issued a major ruling that allows implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order temporarily freezing immigration from six countries with a high risk of terror.  This stay will allow time for counter-terrorism vetting before allowing additional persons from these countries to enter the United States.  The court decided they will hear the full case over the constitutionality of the Executive Order in their next session.  The safety of American citizens should come first, and that is why I stand behind President Trump on this Executive Order.  This ruling should be commended for recognizing the Constitution's requirement that government defend its citizens from foreign adversaries.

On February 17th of this year, I wrote a letter expressing my strong support for the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.  81 of my House colleagues signed onto my letter.  Just over four months later, Justice Gorsuch is proving himself worthy of the support he received.  This week, Gorsuch ruled in favor of the religious liberty case, and also wanted the court to immediately allow full implementation of President Trump’s travel restrictions, one of three justices to do so.  Justice Gorsuch has been the ideal replacement for Justice Scalia, furthering Scalia's legacy and upholding the Constitution in the way Scalia did.

Securing Our Border

It is the constitutional duty of the President to enforce the laws of the United States.  President Obama’s immigration policies failed to do so.  His policies ignored and undermined our legal system.  President Trump has promised to secure the border and protect the American people from crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

I have always supported President Trump’s strong support for enforcing our laws.  My colleagues and I have been working hard to help the President achieve his goal.  On Thursday, I supported House passage of two bills on this issue.

  • No Sanctuary for Criminals Act - This bill restricts federal funding to sanctuary cities and redistributes it to places that comply with federal law.  It also requires federal authorities to detain any undocumented person who commits a crime that results in the death or bodily injury of a person.  The latter provision was instituted because of the tragic death of Sarah Root who was killed by an illegal immigrant driving intoxicated.
  • Kate’s Law - Kate’s Law was named after 21-year old Kate Stienle whose life was ended too early after she was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant who had previously been convicted of violent crimes and deported.  The bill will increase penalties on illegal immigrants who have prior convictions and deportations.

Sanctuary Cities are consciously breaking the law and using taxpayer money to support illegal immigration.  As a nation of law, we must enforce our rules.


Protecting Student Data Privacy

On Wednesday, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, I chaired a hearing on protecting student privacy in education research.  In my opening remarks, I welcomed the newest member of the committee, Rep. Karen Handel of Georgia.  Like me she is a former state Secretary of State. 

Wednesday's hearing was titled "Exploring Opportunities to Strengthen Education Research While Protecting Student Privacy."

In our increasingly interconnected society, student privacy is a top priority in the field of education policy.  Cybersecurity incidents and data breaches pose a risk to the personal information of students and families.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was established in 1974 with the intent of safeguarding student privacy, but this bill is long overdue for an update in the internet age. 

Information from the hearing will identify best practices in education research that also keep student data protected.  As the committee moves forward on this topic, it is my hope that we are able to find a balance between the security of student data and the benefits of education research. 


NLRB Markup - Includes Tribal Labor Sovereignty Bill

This week, H.R. 986, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, which I am the lead sponsor for, passed the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  It can now move to the floor of the House of Representatives for consideration.

In addition to the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act we considered and approved two other bills, H.R. 2775, the Employee Privacy Protection Act, and H.R. 2776, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act.  The Employee Privacy Protection Act gives workers greater control of the disclosure of their personal information and helps modernize the union election process. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act codifies union election procedures designed to ensure that workers have time to hear from all sides and sufficient time to consider their options.

My bill, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, is important because it protects the constitutional principle that Native American tribal governments are sovereign governments.  The bill allows tribes to carry out their government functions and determine labor ordinances without the interference of the Washington bureaucrats.  Just like state and local governments already are, tribes should be exempt from the National Labor Relations Actand not be subject to decisions by the National Labor Relations Board.  I look forward to working to bring this bill before the full House soon.


Thank you for your continued interest in Congress and for supporting my efforts to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington.  Have a Happy 4th of July!  


Todd Rokita