U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines today secured provisions to improve access to broadband on tribal lands, increase transparency and reform America’s judicial system.
“When our courts are overburdened and overworked, Americans are left underserved and waiting too long for justice. I’m pleased that my colleagues are taking this important step to modernize the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, ” Daines stated. “I’m also proud to secure numerous reforms that work to increase transparency, improve broadband on tribal lands and ensure Americans’ have the access to justice they deserve. ”
Daines joined the Senate Appropriations Committee today in approving the FY2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act.
Ninth Circuit: Daines secured passage of his amendment to create a commission to study the structure of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Daines has long been a proponent of making sure all Americans have access to the justice they deserve. Daines’ amendment would help to identify changes needed to promote an expeditious and effective disposition of the Ninth Circuit caseload.
- In February, Daines introduced the Circuit Court of Appeals Restructuring and Modernization Act would split the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals into two circuits: the Ninth and the Twelfth Circuits.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): To ensure accountability and transparency, the bill includes:
- A prohibition on funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration;
- A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs;
- A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights;
- A prohibition on funds for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): Includes a Daines’ provision expressing concern that the Commission’s recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) rulemaking proceeding that would implement mandatory standards has not been terminated. The provision requires the CPSC to issue a report detailing ongoing negotiations and why the rulemaking has not been terminated. ROVs are for off-highway use and is the lifeline for Montana farmers, ranchers, and sportsmen. It is not to be regulated as a highway vehicle as the CPSC proposed rules intends.
Encouraging Transparency: Following a series of last minute and secretive proceedings at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Daines has worked to encourage transparency at the agency. The FCC’s routine practice of making significant changes to rules after the agency has already voted on them bars consumers, legislators, and industry from viewing the rules and regulations they will be impacted by. In an effort to reform this process and increase transparency, the bill directs the FCC to identify any changes made to rules after the agency as voted on them.
Improving Broadband on Tribal Lands: Daines has long fought to improve broadband connectivity on tribal lands. According to data collected by the FCC, only 63 percent of residents on rural, tribal lands have access to fast broadband service, which is eight times worse than the national average. The bill includes a provision that directs the FCC to take action to increase access to broadband on tribal lands.
Universal Service Fund: The Commission’s Universal Service Fund programs have a long history of fraud, waste, and abuse. Daines has been active in exercising Congressional oversight of these limited resources. The bill includes a provision that expresses concern with persistent waste and abuse and directs the Commission to focus funds on areas that truly need it, like many communities in Montana.
Incentive Auction: The bill includes a provision expressing concern with how the FCC’s incentive auction will impact broadcasters. The provision directs the FCC to produce a report to Congress detailing exactly which stations will be impacted – information that is essential for Montana broadcasters.
Rural Utilities Service: Includes a provision that the FCC coordinate with the Rural Utilities Service in providing resources to expand broadband deployment. Multiple agencies involved in broadband deployment projects can cause overlap and confusion, this provision ensures the agencies coordinate to avoid unnecessary duplication and red tape for businesses.