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Columbia County Observer

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US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
March 28, 2012

Stopping Congressional Abuses

Last week, Senator Nelson voted for the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, S.2038, a bill to prohibit members of Congress and Federal employees, including executive branch officials, from using insider knowledge on public policy gained through their position in government to make stock trades or commodity trades.

 Nelson cosponsored a previous version of the bill. The bill was passed by the Senate in February, but was then amended by the House of Representatives to remove disclosure requirements for persons engaged in political intelligence-gathering for the purpose of gaining information to assist their clients with investment decisions.

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 96 to 3.

Supporting the Growth of Startups

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 for the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, H.R.3606, a bill to help small businesses get access to capital and create jobs by reducing regulatory burdens.

 Before the legislation passed, the Senate amended the bill to add investor protections when startup businesses use “crowdfunding.” Crowdfunding involves the use of the Internet and social networks to raise money. Senator Nelson favored the amendment. Another amendment (S.Amdt1836) to the JOBS Act would have extended authorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank beyond May. The agency, which helps U.S. companies lower the cost of exporting, is self-sustaining. More than 144 companies in Florida, employing thousands of workers, received support from the U.S. Export-Import Bank in 2011.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 73 to 26.

Repealing Big Oil Subsidies Act

Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of the Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act (S. 2204), which would repeal tax loopholes to the five largest oil companies: BP, Exxon, Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips.

These five companies alone have made nearly $1 trillion in profits in the last decade ($137 billion in 2011), yet are still receiving tax subsidies. The bill would use the savings from closing these tax loopholes to pay for a one-year extension of clean energy tax provisions such as the production tax credit (PTC).

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the cost of extending the energy tax incentives would be $11.7 billion over ten years, whereas repealing the oil and gas subsidies would save $21.2 billion during that time.


For the second consecutive Congress, Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, which would require disclosure of campaign-related expenditures of $10,000 or more and require the heads of organizations to appear in campaign ads funded by their organizations.

The bill addresses the public’s displeasure with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision; recent polls indicate that 70 percent of the public thinks super PACs should be illegal.

Reducing the Ability of Speculators to Drive up Gas Prices

Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of legislation that would require the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to implement emergency measures within 14 days of enactment to eliminate excessive speculation in the energy futures and derivatives markets.

The House of Representatives passed similar legislation in 2008, with a bipartisan vote of 402 to 19. Recent analysis by Goldman Sachs suggests that excessive speculation in the energy markets is causing a gas price premium of 56 cents/gallon.

Accountability for Rise in Identity Theft-Related Tax Fraud

Last week, Senator Nelson chaired a hearing in a Senate Finance subcommittee to review the progress the IRS has made in preventing thieves from using the stolen identities of honest taxpayers to steal tax refunds.

In 2010 there were more than 226,000 cases of tax related identity theft and that number keeps growing to where the IRS says it is now tracking nearly 300,000 cases of identity theft-related tax fraud.

The hearing was a follow-up to a hearing the Senator held last May that heard the testimony of victims to the crime, which led the Senator to introduce the Identify Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act (S.1534).

 The Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement at the IRS testified at the hearing, along with the National Taxpayer Advocate, and the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Tax Division of the Department of Justice. A leading detective at the Tampa Police Department also testified at the hearing, and shared his experience in catching these thieves and navigating through the bureaucratic maze that helps criminals get away with the crime. The detective also noted the case of a slain Tampa police officer whose widow had to straighten out the taxes of her late husband after his identity was used in a tax fraud scheme.

Everglades Restoration

In a letter to Senate appropriators last week, Senator Nelson touted the environmental and economic benefits of Everglades Restoration, which has been estimated to provide a $4 return on every $1 investment.

 Legal Services Corporation

Senator Nelson signed a letter supporting funding for the Legal Services Corporation in FY 2013. The Legal Services Corporation funds 135 local programs in every congressional district in the country to provide low-income Americans with legal representation. Over 60 million Americans qualify for legal aid, a nearly 24 percent increase from 2008.

Protecting Minors from Exploitation

Senator Nelson cosigned a letter urging Jim Larkin, the Chairman and CEO of Village Voice Media Holdings, to remove the adults services section of Backpage.com, a website that has been charged in more than 50 instances nationwide for trafficking or attempting to traffic minors.

 Commercial sexual exploitation continues to pose a problem in the United States, as experts estimate that 300,000 children are at risk. Fifty-one Attorneys General and more than 90,000 Americans have made similar requests urging Larkin to follow the example of Craigslist and voluntarily remove the adult services section of Backpage.com

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

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