WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the Deducting Expenses Derived from Use of Care and Treatment (DEDUCT) Act in the House of Representatives.

In the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Congress allowed Americans to deduct medical expenses from their tax returns if the costs exceeded a certain amount of their adjusted gross income. Current law states that no medical expense may be deducted until the costs reach 10 percent of an individual’s gross income.

The DEDUCT Act would eliminate this unnecessary tax threshold in order to help make medical expenses more affordable for Americans.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The costs of medical procedures and prescriptions can be a significant burden on individuals and families. As Congress continues to debate health care and tax reform, now is the ideal time to repeal the arbitrary medical tax deduction threshold for medical expenses and give a hand up to Americans struggling to pay for necessary medical expenditures.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner gave the following statement on the House floor in support of the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017: 

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See full transcript below:

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, enacted in 2006, is landmark legislation intended to keep our communities, and most importantly our children, safe from sex offenders and other dangerous predators.

This bipartisan bill strengthened sex offender registry requirements and enforcement, extended federal registry requirements to Indian tribes, and authorized funding for several programs intended to address and deter child exploitation.

The centerpiece of the Adam Walsh Act is the national Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA. SORNA’s goal is to create a seamless national sex offender registry to assist law enforcement’s efforts to detect and track offenders.  SORNA provides minimum standards for state sex offender registries, and created the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Website, which allows law enforcement officials and the general public to search for sex offenders nationwide from just one website.

H.R. 1188, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017, reauthorizes two key programs from the original Adam Walsh Act – grants to the states and other jurisdictions to implement the Adam Walsh Act’s sex offender registry requirements, and funding for the U.S. Marshals’ to locate and apprehend sex offenders who violate registration requirements.  These programs are crucial to efforts to complete, and enforce, the national network of sex offender registries, particularly in light of the already-passed deadline for the states to come into compliance with SORNA. 

Based on feedback from the states, H.R. 1188 makes targeted changes to the SORNA sex offender registry requirements.  The bill changes the period of time after which juveniles adjudicated delinquent can petition to be removed from the sex offender registry for a clean record from 25 years to 15 years, and provides that juveniles do not need to be included on publicly-viewed sex offender registries.  Instead, it is sufficient for juveniles to be included on registries that are only viewed by law enforcement entities.  I believe these provisions strike an appropriate balance between being tough on juveniles who commit serious sex crimes and understanding that there can be differences between adult and juvenile offenders.  

The bill also recognizes the unique challenges that tribes face in implementing SORNA.  H.R. 1188 provides technical assistance to tribes so they can access, and enter information into, the federal criminal information databases. Finally, H.R. 1188 amends the statute of limitations to allow individuals who were victims of exploitation or trafficking as juveniles to have 10 years after becoming an adult to file suit for a civil remedy.  It is my hope that with these common sense changes, more states will come into compliance. 

With the passage of this legislation, Congress can send a strong message to all Americans about our continued commitment to keeping our nation’s children safe.  I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1188 and yield back the balance of my time.  

Legal foreign workers are necessary for a thriving, successful American workforce. They bring expertise and flexibility to our companies, allowing them to grow, innovate and create more American jobs. However, our federal visa program is in desperate need of reform and it must be addressed with a serious, clear-eyed approach.

For years, America’s work visa programs – specifically H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers – have been abused. At their conception, these visas were the solution for American companies that could not find American workers to fill specific, niche positions. The program allows employers in the United States to temporarily permit specialized foreign employees into the country for particular jobs, most often in the technology, engineering, medical and scientific fields.

However, over the years, the program has transformed into a way for companies to undercut American workers and replace them with foreign labor for significantly less money. Eighty percent of H-1B workers receive less than the median wage – this is not only a violation of the spirit of the program, but it also disadvantages American-born job seekers.

Several high-profile stories have highlighted this growing problem, most notably the lawsuits currently pending against the Walt Disney Company, in which American workers lost their jobs to foreign workers on H-1B visas and were instructed to train their replacements. Similar situations are occurring across the country. In my home state of Wisconsin, a number of the largest local employers are utilizing the program in order to maintain their bottom lines.

Serious reforms are necessary to tamper abuse of the program, level the playing field, and bring the process back to its original purpose.

Improving the process in which visas are awarded is one such necessary reform. In the current system, 85,000 H-1B visas are allotted by lottery annually. If there is competition to come to the United States, we should ensure we get the best and brightest, not just roll the dice and accept the results. Applicants with specialized skills should be selected for specific positions, the way the program intends. By shuffling foreign applicants through a lottery system, we empower businesses to replace qualified American workers with cheaper labor. Higher standards and stricter qualifications must be enforced. No job that could be filled by a qualified American worker should be given to a visa holder for less money.

Additionally, earlier this year outsourcing giant Cognizant claimed it “fully complies with all U.S. regulations regarding H-1B visas” and ensures their “practices are not merely compliant with existing laws in letter and spirit, but also adhere to best practices.” If this is truly the case, it’s imperative we reassess the laws and regulations governing the H-1B visa program to ensure that our country no longer tolerates questionable hiring and firing practices of American and foreign workers.

Last month, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order entitled Buy American and Hire American, which highlights the problems within our visa and guest worker policies and calls for the enforcement of all laws governing foreign workers’ entry into the United States. It also calls upon the Departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State to take action against fraud and abuse of our visa programs. While the order applies broadly to all U.S. visa programs, it specifically addresses the problems within the H-1B visa program and demands reforms that ensure these visas are only awarded to companies that actually require highly skilled foreign workers.

I disagree with the partisan charges leveled against this executive order. Democratic leaders, such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and members whose districts are home to many of the companies taking unfair advantage of our nation’s visa programs, need to recognize that reform is good for American workers, American businesses and America’s economic health and prosperity.

The first step in the reform process is beginning the conversation, which is what the President has done with his Buy American and Hire American executive order. It is now up to Congress to take legislative action. As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to facilitate real reform that will not only uphold the spirit of our laws, but encourage growth, competition and diversity in the American workforce.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017, which would allow the protections of the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act to continue saving the lives of children throughout the nation, passed in the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support.

Introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act became law in 2006 and has played a vital role in the prevention of sexual exploitation of America’s children. The comprehensive, bipartisan law strengthened sex offender registry requirements and enforcement across the country, as well as extended registry requirements to Native American tribes, increased penalties for child predators, and authorized funding for various programs to strengthen our defenses against child exploitation.

This legislation is critical because despite ongoing prevention efforts, the fight against child exploitation is not over. The Justice Department reports that only 17 states, three territories, and 36 Native American tribes have substantially implemented the Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

Additionally, there are also an estimated 100,000 fugitive sex offenders across the country who are unregistered or in violation of registry requirements.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Childhood sexual abuse is a serious problem facing this nation. The devastation it causes impacts every societal group and lasts a lifetime for its victims and their loved ones. Today’s reauthorization the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act ensures that serious action will continue to prevent the ongoing sexual exploitation of our nation’s children.”  

Further details of the bill include the following:

  • The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017 reauthorizes the two primary programs of the Adam Walsh Act – The Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and SORNA – for five years.
    • SORNA sets minimum guidelines for state sex offender registries and establishes the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, which is a comprehensive national system for the registration and notification to the public of sex offenders. This registry currently contains information on more than 600,000 convicted sex offenders in the United States.
    • The Sex Offender Management Assistance Program provides funding to the states, tribes, and other jurisdictions to offset the costs of implementing and enhancing SORNA, and funding for the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement agencies to assist jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who violate registration requirements.
The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017 makes targeted changes to the SORNA requirements, including giving states more flexibility in classifying sex offenders on their registry, lowering the period that certain juveniles must register to 15 years, and limiting public access to juvenile sex offender information.
In recent years, a multitude of states have attempted to impose sales taxes on purchases made over the internet and to set regulatory standards that would apply to out-of-state producers, despite U.S. Supreme Court precedent barring such practices. Recently introduced federal legislation could offer a commonsense solution to what has been a growing problem.
 
Just recently, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed into law a measure to subject sales made over the internet to the state’s sales tax, regardless of where the seller is located. In Wyoming, the state house approved legislation this year that would require any remote seller with more than $100,000 annually in gross sales to the state to pay sales tax. In South Carolina, the state senate passed a bill in February requiring out-of-state remote sellers to register with the Department of Revenue so that they may be held liable for the state's sales tax.
Likewise, states continue to try to set regulatory standards that apply when out-of-state companies sell products into the state. California, for example, is trying to require out-of-state egg farmers to use a certain size cage for chickens if they want to sell their eggs in the Golden State. This sort of ad hoc tax and regulatory policymaking poses enormous constitutional and economic concerns.
In its 1992 decision in Quill v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court held that, before a state may levy a sales tax on purchases made from a company, the company in question must have a physical presence in that state. This decision was grounded in sound constitutional principles of federalism and Congress’ plenary authority to regulate commerce between the states. For instance, the Quill court noted that Congress could choose to grant states the ability to levy taxes beyond their borders, but thus far, it hasn’t exercised that power.

The implications from the court’s quarter-century-old decision are far-reaching. For example, if a state had the power to levy sales taxes on companies located in other states, it necessarily also would have authority to send its auditors out of state to examine that company's books. This would have appalled the designers of our constitutional framework. Allowing states to set standards that apply to companies in every state would begin the process of eviscerating federalism as we know it. Yet spendthrift states with ever-growing appetites for more resources and busybody state regulators increasingly push the envelope in order to chip away at the Quill decision.

In order to stop state efforts to tax and regulate beyond their borders, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has introduced a promising new piece of legislation, the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017. By codifying the Supreme Court’s Quill decision in federal statute, the bill would make clear that Congress respects its own Commerce Clause authority and that it will force states to respect each other’s borders, as well.

Since the early days of our republic, Americans have benefited immensely from our federalist system, in which states are generally free to set the rules of the road for their own citizens and businesses, but their ability to influence other states’ citizens and businesses are largely circumscribed. 

Should Congress fail to enact something similar to the Sensenbrenner bill, states will continue to try to tax and regulate beyond their own borders. This will increasingly impede economic growth and balkanize the regulatory environment. Stakeholders will increasingly turn to the courts to try to solve their problems.

Congress can stop this unnecessary litigation by passing the No Regulation Without Representation Act. It should do so quickly in order to stop the regulatory and taxation overreach that has grown in recent years.

Clark Packard (@Clark_Packard) is outreach manager for the nonprofit R Street Institute.

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Which members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation play well with others?

According to the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, it’s U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls.

They were the state’s only current representatives in either house of Congress to rate well for working across party lines in a serious way.

Kind ranks 15th best in the 435-member House of Representatives, while Sensenbrenner is a respectable 65th.

The main activity the researchers tracked was how often each member of Congress sponsored or co-sponsored proposed legislation with members of the other political party.

“What we are measuring in this index is not so much the quality of legislation,” former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, explains in his center’s report, “but rather the efforts of legislators to broaden the appeal of their sponsored legislation, to entertain a wider range of ideas, and to prioritize governance over posturing.”

Former U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, who retired from Congress this year, also did well in the Lugar and Georgetown analysis. He ranked 90th out of 435 House members for collaboration across party lines.

And we have high hopes for his successor, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, who has shown flashes of independence in recent weeks. Gallagher hasn’t been rated yet for his willingness to work on bipartisan solutions because he has only been in office five months.

But the former Marine has drawn national attention for seeking answers from his own president’s White House about what Donald Trump disclosed during meetings with Russian officials. Gallagher also has questioned Trump’s abrupt firing of James Comey, just as the FBI director was overseeing a probe into whether Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to influence the outcome of last fall’s presidential election.

Gallagher’s willingness to question the leaders of his own party suggests he won’t be afraid to cooperate across the partisan divide on workable solutions. We sure hope that’s the case.

The rest of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation rated poorly for cooperating in Congress. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, ranked 250th; Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth, was 265th; Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, came in at 355, and Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, was nearly last at 426th.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, wasn’t rated because he is the House Republican leader whose job is inherently partisan, according to the researchers. Yet when the Lugar Center and Georgetown first compiled its list more than a year ago, Ryan ranked poorly at 338th.

On the Senate side, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, was slightly below average, ranking 52nd out of 100 senators, while Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, was far back at 75th.

Wisconsin deserves more leaders in Washington who can work together to solve the nation’s problems.

View original piece online here.

As many of you know, my wife Cheryl was injured in a car accident when she was 22 years old. The injuries she sustained from that incident have shaped her life ever since. She became a tireless advocate for the disabled and served as a board member of the American Association of People with Disabilities. Despite the pain and daily struggles she endures, she has never let those challenges slow her down or damper her spirit.

She has been a powerful force for good, and has inspired my efforts to fight on behalf of the disabled.

I supported and helped pass the original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and introduced the ADA Restoration Act of 2007. I later sponsored the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which President George W. Bush signed into law.

Congress passed the ADA to break down the physical and societal barriers that kept disabled Americans from fully participating in the American Dream. From creating standards for wheelchair accessibility in places open to the public to requiring 911 phone lines to be equipped to respond to hearing-impaired callers, the ADA has transformed the lives of millions of Americans. The progress we’ve made is remarkable, and I’m proud to have been part of these efforts. But there is still more than can be done to improve the lives of America’s disabled citizens.

That’s why this week I introduced the Disability Integration Act. This legislation would help assure the full integration of Americans with disabilities into communities nationwide, and would amend the ADA to make it clear that every individual eligible for long term services and support (LTSS) has the right to choose how they receive support. It would also assure that the states and other LTSS funders provide services in ways that allow beneficiaries to live as independently as possible. 

Additionally, the Disability Integration Act establishes a comprehensive state planning requirement comparable to the transition planning processes required under the ADA and would require them to address the need for affordable and accessible integrated housing, as well as establish targeted enforcement measures.

This legislation, along with the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act – which I introduced earlier this year – would add to the successes of the ADA and improve the lives of millions of Americans living with disabilities.

Our nation is stronger when all of its citizens are given the opportunity to succeed, and the bipartisan efforts of Congress to help individuals with disabilities are powerful reminders of the good work we can do in government when we put aside our differences to achieve a common goal. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner gave the following statement on the House floor in support of H.R. 510, the Rapid DNA Act.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: Rapid DNA is a promising new technology that allows for the almost immediate DNA analysis of an arrestee. Unlike standard DNA practices which require sending DNA samples from arrestees out to labs with a result taking weeks to ascertain, Rapid DNA results take only a few hours and can be done right at the booking station. Like fingerprinting, photographing, and other booking procedures which at the time were novel but have now become routine, Rapid DNA will soon be standard procedure in police stations throughout the country.

There is only one problem with Rapid DNA technology--- Federal Law. Our law, written in 1994 when DNA technology was still in its infancy, prohibits the use of Rapid DNA technology in booking stations. This is not because of any limitation in Rapid DNA technology, but simply because at the time, Rapid DNA technology was not even contemplated. Similar to the transformation of musical devices – records leading to cassette tapes, cassette tapes leading to CDs, CDs leading to MP3, and now iPods and online music hosting services, -technology moves quicker than we can legislate. Now is the time to change the law to permit Rapid DNA technology.

Rapid DNA machines are compact, approximately the size of copy machines, and can provide a DNA analysis from a cheek swab sample of an arrestee within 2 hours. This has two profound implications. First, arrestees may be exonerated of crimes in 2 hours, rather than waiting for up to 72 hours for release, or months for more standard DNA testing. Second, those arrested for a crime, can quickly be matched to other unsolved crimes where there was forensic evidence left at the crime scene, but for which there is no identified suspect.

The Rapid DNA Act updates current law to allow DNA samples to be processed using Rapid DNA instruments located in booking stations and other approved locations.  The bill will require the FBI to issue standards and procedures for the use such instruments and their resulting DNA analyses to ensure their integrity and the accuracy of results. It will permit those results to be included in the DNA Index if the criminal justice agencies taking Rapid DNA samples comply with the standards and procedures that the FBI approves. In this way, the bill would permit this new category of DNA samples to be uploaded to the index with the same protections and quality standards as current DNA samples.

Not only does Rapid DNAhave the potential to reduce crime and help expeditiously exonerate the innocent, but also to positively impact the current backlogs for rape kits and other DNA sample analysis. This committee has spent a great deal of time and significant work to try and reduce the forensic DNA backlog, especially in rape kits.  Rapid DNA could not at this time be used for rape kits, but the implementation of Rapid DNA will allow forensics labs to focus on forensic samples, not on identification samples which can easily be handled by Rapid DNA machines. I hope this will reduce the rape kit backlog which will also prevent future rapes from happening.

I am pleased that the House is taking a significant step in furthering the use of this technology. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and yield back the balance of my time. 

Watch here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the bipartisan Rapid DNA Act, introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) passed in the House of Representatives.

The Rapid DNA Act would establish a system for the integration of Rapid DNA instruments for use by law enforcement to help reduce the DNA backlog. Unlike traditional DNA analysis, which can take weeks, Rapid DNA analysis permits processing of DNA samples in approximately 90 minutes or less.

This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way in which arrested individuals are enrolled in the criminal justice system, shorten the time required for their DNA to be linked to unsolved crimes, and expedite the exoneration of innocent suspects by giving law enforcement officials a new system that meets FBI quality assurance standards to compare DNA samples collected at the time of an arrest to profiles in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Rapid DNA is a promising new technology and an effective tool for law enforcement. It will help quickly identify arrestees and offenders, reduce the overwhelming backlog in forensic DNA analysis, and make crime fighting efforts more efficient while helping to prevent future crimes from occurring. It will also save time and taxpayer dollars. Today’s passage of the Rapid DNA Act is a victory and I look forward to it being signed into law."

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the Disability Integration Act, legislation which would help assure the full integration of Americans with disabilities into communities nationwide.

America has come a long way in ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal rights and opportunities, particularly with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 – legislation Congressman Sensenbrenner strongly supported and fought on behalf of alongside his wife, Cheryl. Despite these advancements, there are still lingering issues that need to be resolved to ensure true integration and freedom for our nation’s disabled.

The Disability Integration Act would amend the ADA to address many of these issues by making clear that every individual eligible for long term services and support (LTSS) has the right to choose how they receive support and assure that the states and other LTSS funders provide services in ways that allow beneficiaries to live as independently as possible.

Among other things, the bill establishes a comprehensive state planning requirement comparable to the transition planning processes required under the ADA and would require them to address the need for affordable and accessible integrated housing, as well as establish targeted enforcement measures.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The passage of the ADA was a significant step forward in the fight for equal rights for Americans with disabilities, but more than 20 years later, there are still problems that need to be solved. The Disability Integration Act identifies challenges that still exist and provides comprehensive and effective solutions that will help these individuals fully participate in daily life.”

 

Additional Information about the Disability Integration Act

The Disability Integration Act defines discrimination based on Title III of the ADA with a general rule and specific prohibitions. The general rule states, “No public entity or LTSS insurance provider shall deny an individual with an LTSS disability who is eligible for institutional placement, or otherwise discriminate against that individual in the provision of, community-based long-term services and supports that enable the individual to live in the community and lead an independent life.”

The Disability Integration Act identifies specific prohibitions to address the various ways that access to Home and Community Based Care (HCBS) LTSS have been limited. Additionally, public entities must assure that there is sufficient affordable and accessible housing available to allow people to live in non-congregate, independent housing in the community.

The legislation also requires that all public entities and LTSS insurance providers must complete a self-evaluation within six months after the regulations are released. Within one year of completing the self-evaluation, public entities must submit a transition plan for addressing the issues identified in the self-evaluation and achieving the purpose of this legislation. The plan must address these issues as soon as practicable, but public entities have up to 10 years to complete the plan. The Secretary, through the Administration on Community Living, is charged with reviewing and approving state transition plans.

Finally, the Disability Integration Act provides the Attorney General with the authority to enforce this law in a manner that is consistent with other titles of the ADA. An individual who believes they have been discriminated against in violation of this law may bring a civil action for preventive relief and the Attorney General may intervene if he certifies that the case is of concern to the general public.