Pitched Battle for GMO Labeling Continues

Update (07/24/2014): On July 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) withdrew its GMO disclosure rule, previously proposed in February 2013. The rule would have allowed the USDA to share information with state regulators about the flow of genetically engineered organisms into and out of a state. The USDA obtains information about farmers’ GMO use through registrations and permit applications

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We Can Fix This. We've Done It Before. Re-imagining Government

When I talk to people who work in Washington, DC these days, I'm struck by the resignation. The political/policy professionals with whom I interact regularly are discouraged by the political posturing that undermines serious efforts at addressing national needs. They've counted noses and can tell me why nothing can happen in the next month, before November, before the end of the year, before the next presidential election. They tell us why we should give up. The fatigue is palpable, heavy, and contagious.

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Corporate Inversions: A “Get Out of Taxes Free” Card

If you don’t pay your taxes in America, you risk heavy fines or even jail time. That is, unless you are a major, profitable corporation able to merge with a firm registered in a low-tax country.

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Lifting the Ban on Crude Oil Exports Troubling in Light of Recent Rail Catastrophes

What do fracking, recent rail car explosions, and international trade have in common? A volatile light crude oil called "condensate."

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Momentum Growing as Campaign Finance Amendment Clears Senate Committee

On July 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to support S.J. Res. 19, a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore the ability of Congress and the states to regulate money in elections. The amendment was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) amid growing concerns over the influence of money in politics, particularly following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

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Senate Bill Would Ensure Negligent Corporate Officials Are Held Accountable

On July 16, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Hide No Harm Act. The legislation would require corporate officers to disclose to employees, federal officials, and the public information and warnings about serious dangers associated with product defects or unsafe work practices. Currently, criminal fines and imprisonment are rarely imposed on individual corporate executives who have knowingly concealed such crucial information, but this bill would ensure that those personally responsible for decisions leading to serious injuries or deaths are held criminally accountable.

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Congress's Latest Assault on the EPA

On July 9, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced H.R. 5034, the Stop the EPA Act of 2014. Incorporating the worst aspects of previous attempts to undermine the ability of federal agencies to address needed public protections, this bill would require a joint resolution of congressional approval for any standard developed by the U.S.

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Yet Another Chemical Plant Fire in Texas Underscores the Importance of Disclosure

On July 7, a fire broke out at a Chevron Phillips chemical plant in Port Arthur, Texas injuring two workers and frightening neighbors in the largely residential neighborhood. While the cause of the fire is still being determined, the incident highlights the danger posed by facilities that store large amounts of chemicals and the importance of providing the public with information on chemical threats in their communities. 

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EPA Addresses Misinformation Surrounding Proposed “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

Update (07/17/2014): On July 16, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a number of measures to limit the EPA's ability to regulate water pollution. These measures would entirely halt the agency's proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule and restrict the timeframe that the EPA has to veto pollution permits. Under the bills passed by the committee, individual states will have greater authority over water pollution permits.

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Bipartisan Unemployment Benefits Bills in Both Houses

Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) have introduced a bill (S. 2532) in the Senate to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed for five months. Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) have introduced companion legislation (H.R. 4970) in the House of Representatives.

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