As citizens, we should be aware of all bills in the “House Bill Hopper.” It’s really not that difficult; in fact, it takes but a few minutes to do so in order to form our own views.
Well, it shouldn’t be difficult, but many people still rely on cable news outlets — colloquially known as the mainstream media — to stay informed of current events. Unfortunately, these news sources rarely report on important pieces of legislation unless there is controversy.
Here are 5 bills currently being considered by the House that you probably have never heard of:
1. H.R.4679: Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014
Regardless of whether one feels the government needs to reduce spending or increase revenue, the federal government is bleeding from the jugular and steps need to be taken to stop that bleeding.One of the least visible, least publicized, and least addressed problems in the revenue-collecting half of this equation is corporate welfare. This includes government subsidies, wage policies keeping individuals below poverty levels thereby forcing employees to seek government subsidies, prejudicial government contracting, etc.
Another very lucrative form of corporate welfare is Corporate Inversion, a method employed by many corporations which conduct international business. This tactic is perfectly “legal” as long as those corporations don’t misrepresent their tax information — or do so illegally.
The process is relatively simple. A U.S. corporation either sells to a foreign corporation, often shell corporations, or simply reincorporates in countries with less stringent corporate laws and lower tax burdens, such as Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Panama, etc.
This bill will change the rules for corporations and subsequent tax requirements as they relate to percentage of ownership, changing the foreign/US ownership ratio from 80/20 percent to 60/40 percent. It will deem any corporation as inverted if its initial incorporation was domestic, thereby increasing revenue for the federal government and reducing the burden on individuals.
2. H.R.4784: To incentivize State reporting systems that allow mental health professionals to submit information on certain individuals deemed dangerous for purposes of prohibiting firearm possession...
While federal law prohibits possession of firearms by those who have been adjudicated as mentally unstable or by any person involuntarily institutionalized, there are currently no federal laws and few state laws requiring states to report any person deemed by a medical or mental health practitioner as unstable, thereby preventing them from owning firearms.
In light of the epidemic of deaths resulting from firearms that continues to plague the U.S., this bill will incentivize states to develop a seriously needed system in which mental health professionals will be prompted to file reports with state governments that potentially could have a very positive impact on this tenacious epidemic.
While certainly no panacea, such a measure may reduce firearm-related deaths, particularly now that the Affordable Health Care Act provides more access to mental health facilities and/or practitioners.
3. H.R.4776: To prohibit an institution of higher education that participates in a boycott of the Israeli government, economy, or academia from receiving funds from the U.S. federal government.
In 2002, an open letter to the The Guardian denouncing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the subsequently proposed boycott of Israel’s academia rapidly ignited tensions and a heated debate among universities and scholars on both sides of the issue. The debate heated to stellar intensity when Stephen Hawking joined the boycott and remains very contentious.The bill, introduced in February 2014, seeks to eliminate financial funding for educational institutions that back the movement. The boycott, ensuing debates, and now the federal government’s involvement raises some very serious questions with very deep implications.
Does the bill violate the First Amendment right to free speech? Do educational institutions harbor hypocritical values in siding against Israel, while other regimes are even more openly hostile to education? And at what point does the federal government determine what institution does not qualify for funding?
This is a bill that deserves, indeed requires, profound debate. On the surface, it seems easy to pick-a-side. However, given its implications, I am willing to wager that this issue will find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, regardless of its passage or defeat.
4. H.R.4733: Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Infrastructure Act of 2014
Fuel cell technology is no longer some futuristic dream; it is here now, and with dwindling supplies of oil and growing concerns over pollution, the technology and associated industry is here to stay.
A promising source of alternative energy with emissions producing nothing but water, fuel cell cars are rolling out to the public in California this month. H.R. 4733 is certainly behind the curve with cars already on the streets, but it is pushing to develop what is now a badly needed infrastructure to support the growing industry.
5. H.R.4731: Welfare Reform Act of 2014
Another welfare reform measure. As with all others, H.R. 4731 calls for substantial changes in provisions of the $534 billion social program, including work requirements, means-tested spending and what seems to be an overabundance of verbiage related to abortion.
The bill has twelve cosponsors representing ten states and while welfare programs in the U.S. certainly could use some “tweeking,” one may question the wisdom of relying so heavily on abortion language rather than a more practical application of its language related to work requirements.
Even in the heavily GOP states represented in the bill, perhaps antagonizing pro-choice representatives and their constituents seems a bit presumptuous and may be asking for defeat.
Photo Credit: AP