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US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
June 21, 2011

Working to Land a Patent Office on Space Coast

Senator Nelson wrote David Kappos, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to express his support for locating a USPTO satellite office on the Space Coast.

The Senate recently passed The America Invents Act (S.23), which would allow the USPTO to establish several offices throughout the country to help improve employee retention and reduce the significant backlog of patents.

This bill is still being debated in the House, but will hopefully be voted on in the coming weeks.

Florida’s Space Coast and the Central Florida region are home to a high tech economy that includes major research universities, the Kennedy Space Center, and the Florida High Tech Corridor. The USPTO satellite office would capitalize on the available workforce following the retirement of the Space Shuttle while bringing stable and high-paying jobs to the area.

Creating  High-tech Jobs

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

Last week Senator Nelson filed an amendment (S.Amdt.471) to the Public Works and Economic Development Reauthorization Act that would focus the nation’s economic development strategy on the creation of high-tech jobs.

High-tech jobs often provide better wages and have greater potential for growth in the global economy. The amendment also ensures that areas suffering from job loss due to the termination of a major civilian program, such as the Space Shuttle program, receive attention in Federal efforts to diversify and strengthen the economy.

Ethanol Subsidy Repeal Passes

 By a vote of 73-27, the Senate voted to repeal the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax (VEETC); Senator Nelson voted with the majority. The tax had been set to expire on December 31, 2011, but this amendment would end the credit immediately.

Safe and Accessible Streets

Senator Nelson is cosponsoring two bills aimed at increasing bicycle and pedestrian access to streets.

S.1056, the Safe and Complete Streets Act, and S. 800, the Safe Routes to Schools Program Reauthorization Act would require cities and States to better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians when using Federal money for transportation projects.

The Safe Routes to Schools bill not only allows for more sidewalks and bike lanes around schools, it also includes education and law enforcement programs to make it safer and easier for kids to walk to school.

Many of Florida's roads are not designed to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic; this problem becomes more evident as the price of gas continues to fluctuate, and more people begin to use alternate forms of transportation.

Ensuring Access to Social Security Statements

Last week, Senator Nelson sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, urging him to continue the mailing of annual Social Security statements.

Social Security statements inform Americans of their earnings history and the amount of benefits they are entitled to in retirement, providing a useful tool for retirement planning. The statements also enable workers to ensure accurate recordkeeping at the Social Security Administration, which prevents their benefits from being delayed or impaired when they retire.

Since Americans receive monthly bank statements and credit card statements, it makes little sense that workers should not be able to track their investments in Social Security, considering they contribute 6.2 percent of their paychecks to Social Security every month. In order to lower cost without marginalizing those without means, the letter advises the Commissioner to give workers an option to receive either electronic or paper mailings of annual Social Security statements. Six other senators cosigned the letter.

Fighting Oil Speculation

Senator Nelson is cosponsor to the End Excessive Oil Speculation Now Act (S.1200), a bill that would set hard caps on oil speculation into law, establish margin requirements for speculators, and distinguish the regulatory treatment of hedge funds and investment banks from actual producers and merchants, who trade futures contracts for legitimate hedging purposes.

Last year Congress passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203), which gave the CFTC the authority to craft new rules to limit speculative trading. However, Wall Street banks and investment firms have attempted to undermine the intent of the law by delaying its implementation.

Unrestricted speculation can significantly drive up the price of gas and allow for market manipulation, which hurts producers as well as consumers.

 Support for a Negotiated Two-state Solution

Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of S. RES. 18, a bipartisan resolution supporting a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The resolution reaffirms the commitment of the United States to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; opposes the inclusion of Hamas in a unity government unless it is willing to accept peace with Israel and renounce violence; and declares that Palestinian efforts to gain recognition of a state outside direct negotiations demonstrates absence of a good faith commitment to peace negotiations.

Legal Services Corporation Support

Senator Nelson signed a letter in support of FY12 funding for Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

LSC distributes federal grants to local legal aid providers that perform civil legal services for poor clients (125% below the poverty level) in the U.S.

The letter, sent to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Committee, requests $450 million, which matches the President’s budget request and is an increase from$404.2 million in the FY11 compromise and $420 million in FY10 enacted.

Senator Harkin, the American Bar Association, and the Florida Bar requested Senator Nelson’s support.

Juneteenth Resolution

Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Juneteenth Independence Day resolution, which acknowledges the historical significance of June 19, 1865-- the day when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War had ended and that African Americans in servitude were free.

Although passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in January 1863 legally abolished slavery, many African Americans in the frontier regions of the U.S., particularly in the Southwest, remained in servitude due to the slow dissemination of news across the country.

Juneteenth resolutions have been an annual tradition in the Senate since 1997, when the first bipartisan resolution was introduced and passed.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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