Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
March 15, 2011

Patent Reform Clears Senate

Last week, the Senate passed S.23, the America Invents Act.

The comprehensive patent reform bill updates the application process for patents, allowing the public to bring forth relevant patent information during the patent review process, provides greater post-grant confidence in the validity and enforceability of the patents, incentivizes the commercialization of technology protected by the patent, provides fee setting authority to the Patent and Trademark Office, provides for satellite patent offices outside of Washington, D.C., and enhances damages for patent violations.

H.R. 1 Fails in Senate - Budget Work Continues 

For more information
Lynn Bannister: Director of Outreach
111 North Adams St
Tallahassee, FL  32301
850-942-8415 / 850-942-8450 (fax)

Senator Nelson voted against two spending plans for the current budget year because they took a piecemeal approach to solving the nation’s budget woes.

The spending plan set forth by the House of Representatives in HR.1 blindly slashed programs without taking the time to examine the consequences.

Instead Senator Nelson is working with his colleagues on a package of broad reforms that would reduce the debt long term-- like simplifying the tax code, closing tax loopholes for oil and gas companies, eliminating government duplication, and reducing fraud plaguing programs like Medicare.

Economic Impact of Numeric Nutrient Criteria Rule

Last week, Senator Nelson wrote Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting an independent, third-party review of the economic impacts from implementation and enforcement of the EPA’s Florida numeric nutrient criteria.

There is a large discrepancy in cost estimates — EPA reports $135 million annually, the state of Florida over $1 billion annually and other groups have higher estimates. The final rule contains a 15-month enforcement delay, and the letter urges an expeditious review during this period to determine a more accurate cost analysis. Senator Nelson requested that the independent analysis also include regional costs.

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Hearing

At the request of Senator Nelson, the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a March 8 hearing on the implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Annually, Florida’s fishing industry is worth about $13 billion.

Senator Nelson was one of a handful of Senators who criticized federal regulators for using outdated data to justify annual catch limits and fishery closures for certain species, such as the red snapper.

 Seafood Advisory Group

Senator Nelson signed a bipartisan letter from Florida Rep. Bill Young to President Obama urging the Administration to reinvigorate efforts to provide information about seafood safety following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

In the wake of the spill, there was concern that information about the seafood safety testing done in the Gulf was not getting out to consumers. Senator Nelson and other Gulf state senators asked the president to create a March 15, 2011 Seafood Advisory Group to publicize the federal government’s seafood safety work and the availability of healthy Gulf seafood.

Senator Rubio, the senators of Louisiana and Mississippi, and 11 representatives from the Florida delegation also signed this latest letter.

Preserving Community Development Block Grants

Last week, Senator Nelson signed on to a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that seeks to preserve the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.

 Proposed spending bills in the House of Representatives have sought to significantly diminish the effectiveness of CDBG, which provides important funding to local governments for housing-related assistance, public services, and economic development projects.

The letter specifically requests that any short- or long-term funding plans for the current fiscal year maintain CDBG’s funding at FY 2010 levels.

Enforcing Iran Sanctions

Senator Nelson signed a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Clinton regarding the enforcement of sanctions against Iran.

The letter requested that the State Department report to Congress regarding violations of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) as amended by the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act (CISADA). The senators also requested that the State Department comment on its plans to investigate violators of U.S. sanctions (such as Chinese firms in the energy and banking sectors) and on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s recent report on Iran’s ongoing weaponization activities.

Zero Funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Alternate Engine

Senator Nelson joined a bipartisan group of senators to applaud the Senate Appropriations Committee for excluding funds for the F-136 engine in their draft plans for the current budget year. The letter also requested that zero funds be appropriated for the engine in FY12

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