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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 6133, the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016, which would allow the protections of the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act to continue saving the lives of children throughout the nation. 

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.

H.R. 6133 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, and the devastation it causes impacts every societal group. Reauthorizing the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act would ensure efforts continue to prevent the ongoing sexual exploitation of our nation’s children.”  

Further details of the proposal include the following:

• The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 would reauthorize the two primary programs of the Adam Walsh Act – The Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and SORNA – for five years. 
o 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.
o 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 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 25 years, and limiting public access to juvenile sex offender information.
 
Over the course of the past three years, Congress has made criminal justice reform a priority.

In 2013, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) created the Over-criminalization Task Force which examined the depth, seriousness, and complexities of the problems facing our federal criminal justice system. The findings that came from the task force allowed Members on the Committee to identify key problem areas and begin the reform process.

Last year, momentum for criminal justice reform reached an all-time high. It united a wide range of law enforcement and political organizations, advocacy groups, and Congressional leaders under a common goal: to fix our broken system.

For months, headlines heaped praise on the bipartisan efforts and cast optimism over upcoming legislation that would address specific areas in desperate need of reform, including front-end sentencing and back-end rehabilitation and re-entry strategies.

A total of 11 bills have already been passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. Speaker Paul D. Ryan expressed earlier this year his desire to see criminal justice reform legislation come to a Floor vote this month, and as Congress reconvenes, it looks as though there is a strong possibility that it will.


That is good news for the millions of American currently living with the consequences of over-criminalization in our country. Although a large number the nation’s 2.3 million inmates deserve their place behind bars, too many low-level, non-violent individuals are caught up in broken system. Their incarceration diverts limited resources away from other priorities, such as policing and the capture and punishment of violent and career criminals.

For too long, the pressing need for criminal justice reform has been put on the backburner. It has led to increasing financial burdens on taxpayers, violent outbursts in economically depressed neighborhoods throughout the nation, and the breakdown of hundreds of thousands of American families.

Fifty percent of the current prison population suffers from substance abuse problems, mental health issues, or a combination of both. Our criminal justice system is not equipped to provide these individuals with the help they need to gain control of their lives and acquire the critical work skills necessary to successfully re-enter society and the workforce. Without these basic tools, the likelihood of recidivism is high.

Despite the recent downtick of media coverage on the issue, Americans largely support reform efforts, with 6 out of 10 saying there are too many drug criminals taking up space in prisons. Further, 85 percent support allowing people in prison to earn time off their sentences through rehabilitation and work skills programs.

Each piece of legislation currently on the table addresses specific problems in the current system and offers common sense, fiscally responsible solutions that will increase public safety, support law enforcement and victims of crime, and decrease the overwhelming financial burden on hardworking taxpayers. However, none of it matters unless Congress is willing to pass legislation and President Obama is ready to sign it.

At the heart of federal criminal justice reform is the desire to create a better way forward for every American struggling under our broken system. Families ripped apart by incarceration, communities divided by a seemingly impenetrable wall between law enforcement and the neighborhoods they protect, and an ineffective justice system not only weakens the fabric of society, but hinders economic growth and opportunity for all Americans.

Three years ago, Congress began a journey to rectify the injustices in our federal criminal justice system. Right now, we have the opportunity to finish the job and pass meaningful and effective reform legislation. Our system cannot continue on its current trajectory. It’s not only fiscally unsustainable, but morally irresponsible. We must do better and we can do better.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business advocacy group, awarded Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner with its biennial Guardian of Small Business Award for his outstanding support of America’s small business owners in the 114th Congress.

Founded in 1943, NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that represents the consensus views of its members in Washington and all 50 state capitals. The Guardian of Small Business is NFIB’s most prestigious award and is reserved for lawmakers who vote consistently with NFIB on key issues identified by small business owners.

The NFIB tracks the votes of every Member of Congress, and only those who vote with NFIB at least 70 percent of the time are eligible for the Guardian Award. Congressman Sensenbrenner received a perfect 100 voting record during the 114th Congress.

NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan praised Congressman Sensenbrenner, saying “many elected officials claim that they are champions of small business, but our Guardian Award shows our members and other small business owners who is really fighting for them. Based on his voting record, Rep. Sensenbrenner is one of the most reliable advocates for small business in Washington.” 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Small businesses are a big deal, and I’m proud to be their constant ally in Congress. American entrepreneurs provide more than half of all jobs in the United States, and it’s more important than ever to support them by reducing unnecessary tax burdens and regulations. I am honored to be a recipient of the ‘Guardian of Small Business’ Award and will proudly continue to fight on behalf of American small business.”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 6042, legislation that would stop the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from placing unnecessary and burdensome estate tax regulations on family-owned businesses.

The IRS is proposing new and harmful regulations that would hurt family-owned businesses. Currently, valuation discounts exist for family business owners to make the transition from the owner to an heir after death more manageable. The IRS-proposed regulations would eliminate these valuation discounts, forcing many family-owned businesses to sell. 

These burdensome regulations would be particularly damaging to family-owned farms, many of which often have large assets due to land holdings, but maintain relatively modest incomes.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: 
“The IRS should not be in the business of making it difficult for family-owned businesses to keep their doors open, especially during a difficult time such as the loss of a loved one. At a time when the economic outlook is precarious and full of uncertainty, it’s critical we do everything we can to keep our nation’s small and family-owned businesses well and flourishing.”

Background:
• Currently, there are valuation discounts available for family business owners for purposes of estate and gift taxes, due to the lack of an identifiable market for the business.
• When a family tries to pass a family-held business on to the next generation, there are valuation discounts available to protect a business’s assets from undue taxation, including:
o Lack of Control Discount:
 Heirs often receive portions of family-held businesses that are minority ownership stakes. These minority owners do not have control over management decisions, making the minority interest less valuable to a potential buyer. 
o Lack of Marketability Discount:
 Most family-held businesses are not easily convertible to cash. This is a barrier to easy liquidation that, in the case of a family-held business, makes it less valuable to a potential buyer. 
• Currently, the fair market value of an interest in a family-held business is based on what a willing seller would be able to receive from a willing buyer. These discounts reflect reality by properly determining the realistic value of a family business in the open market.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sent the following letter to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the USDA’s ongoing role in preventing fraud and abuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Among other important programs under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to deliver much-needed assistance to Americans at a precarious point in their lives.

SNAP relies on cooperation from private retailers or grocers who accept government payments through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and distribute eligible food items to SNAP beneficiaries. In previous years, the EBT card’s function was filled by physical food stamps. 

Recently, a federal grand jury indicted multiple individuals in Baltimore, Maryland in connection with a practice known as “food stamp trafficking,” through which FNS-approved retailers and grocers exchange EBT funds for cash without delivering food to hungry Americans, or after greatly inflating food costs. Some reports indicate that SNAP was defrauded to the tune of $16 million in taxpayer funds in connection with these Maryland fraudsters. 

According to a 2012 press release, USDA has actively and successfully combated food stamp trafficking. The possibility for fraud exists when government distributes money, and it is always incumbent on government to safeguard the public’s trust by good administration. I commend USDA for the work it has already done to increase efficiency and reduce fraud in SNAP, and I am interested in seeing USDA reach greater successes in combating fraud.

I understand the importance of SNAP benefits for Americans. SNAP funds are dedicated to ensuring we stamp out hunger, and we must take strong action to keep the system clear of criminal activity. In the interest of guaranteeing SNAP funds go to feeding hungry people, I am asking about USDA’s activities to keep known fraudsters from repeatedly committing the same offenses. 

Does USDA:

1. maintain a comprehensive list of locations or addresses at which fraudulent activities have occurred?
2. maintain a comprehensive list of retail store owners and operators who have committed fraudulent activities?
3. cross-reference applications to become FNS-approved retailers with any existing list of retailers who may have committed SNAP fraud, or with any existing list of locations at which systematic fraud has occurred?
4. have processes and procedures in place to suspend or scrutinize retailers who may be discovered to have connections with previous cases of fraud?

I am pleased to see USDA taking action to shore up the public’s trust in its administration of taxpayer funds. I look forward to reviewing your response to these questions, and expect to receive your response by October 29, 2016. It is my hope that our cooperation results in a reduced burden for the American taxpayer.

Sincerely,

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner sent a letter to United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy asking her why the Agency has failed to produce reports on the environmental impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“The EPA has a statutory requirement to produce these reports. It is vital that Members of Congress have access to the Agency’s findings while evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of our national biofuels mandate in order to take sound actions on behalf of the American consumer.” 

Full text provided below:

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

In November 2013, the House Science Committee held a hearing entitled Strengthening Transparency and Accountability within the Environmental Protection Agency, at which you testified. During the hearing, you and I discussed the merits of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15), and its effects on engines. During this colloquy on E15 fuel – which traces its roots back to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – you stated that “additional research that’s done credibly and transparent is always welcome.” I appreciate those comments, as I too believe there is value in further research into a host of areas under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) jurisdiction, including the RFS. Your desire for additional research apparently is not shared by everyone at EPA, however. 

According to statute, your agency is required every three years to update Congress on the environmental and conservation impacts of the RFS. As noted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), EPA hasn’t completed a triannual congressional impact report since 2011 and never issued a backsliding study to determine if the RFS and our national biofuels mandate adversely affects air quality.

Although EPA says some of the required reports were not produced due to scare resources and other priorities, the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) stated that in regards to lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the state of the science (since 2010)  has not changed enough to necessitate an updated study on the impacts of the renewable fuels program. 

Additional and updated research and analysis allows lawmakers to better gauge the strengths and weaknesses of policy we enact, and science-based decision making is vital when evaluating our biofuel mandate. With this in mind, please answer the following questions by October 8, 2016:

• Considering missed deadlines in the past, how confident is the agency that it can produce a triennial report on biofuels to Congress during the first quarter of 2018?
o What specifically is EPA doing to ensure this deadline is met?

• Would it be beneficial for EPA to complete an anti-backsliding air study on the RFS before proposing new biofuel volume requirements in the future?
o If yes, why?
o If no, why not?

• Does your statement: “additional research that’s done credibly and transparent is always welcome” only apply to E15? Does this statement also apply to the RFS?
o If the statement does apply to the RFS, do you support OAR’s decision to forego an additional report on the lifecycle GHG emissions associated with the RFS?
? Why or why not?
o If the statement doesn’t apply to the RFS, why doesn’t it?

Thank you for your attention to these questions.

Sincerely,


F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR.
Chairman Emeritus
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Increase Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) Ceiling Act, legislation that would amend the Internal Revenue (IRS) Code of 1986 in order to help make the cost of childcare more affordable for families and businesses. 

Each year, up to $5,000 in funding is available for childcare services to employees with children 13 years and younger who are unable to care for themselves. Currently, if an individual does not use the full allotment within a year, the funds cannot be rolled-over for later use. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner’s legislation not only increases the amount available from $5,000 to $7,500, but also allows participants in the program to roll-over unused funds. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “The cost of reliable, quality childcare has risen dramatically over the years. Changes to the Dependent Care Assistance Program are necessary to give our hardworking families a hand up and ensure our businesses have a focused, productive workforce.”

Background:

• The Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) is a flexible spending account which can be used to pay for eligible dependent care expenses, such as childcare.
• Expenses must be incurred from the care of dependents under the age of 13, or older dependents incapable of caring for themselves, and must be needed to allow employees to work.
• The money set aside is pretax, which has the effect of lowering an individual’s taxable income. Under current law, each household may set aside up to $5,000 annually. This limit has been in effect since 1986, despite the fact that the cost of care has significantly increased.
 
Brookfield, WI – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner is accepting applications for a nomination to the United States Air Force, Military, Naval, or Merchant Marine Academy for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “It is my distinct honor and privilege to nominate young men and women from the Fifth Congressional District for appointment to our nation’s United States Service Academies. Applicants who receive a nomination and appointment will receive a world-class education from any one of the academies, and will graduate as a commissioned officer in our Armed Forces. I encourage the best and brightest students in my district to apply for a nomination.”

Applications will be accepted from those who are US citizens living in Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District, and are at least 17 years old, but not past their 23rd birthday on July 1, 2017, and must have reached their senior year of high school.

The application form and instructions are located on Congressman Sensenbrenner’s website at www.sensenbrenner.house.gov, or call his Brookfield office to request this information at (262) 784-1111.  

Be advised that completed applications are due in Congressman Sensenbrenner’s district office by close of business on Friday, October 14, 2016.  Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.
 
When you pay for something, you expect to receive it. Whether a physical good or a service, there is the rightful expectation that you will receive something in exchange for your money. The same should be true for scientific research. Americans, however, are being forced to pay double for access.

Technology and information sharing have put us on the brink of a new era of scientific breakthroughs. Citizen scientists can use unfettered access to federally-funded research to innovate and create new ideas that grow our economy and improve the lives of Americans. All citizens benefit when their tax dollars are used to craft life-changing ideas rather than scientific articles that go unseen behind pay walls and restricted access.

Currently, scholarly journals count on taxpayers to foot the bill for research on the frontend and for access to the results on the backend. While the federal government spends more than $100 billion annually on research and development, it denies adequate access to the taxpayers who fund it. Enhanced public access will prevent this “double charge” and will lead to less frivolous taxpayer spending on duplicative research, foster innovation, and increase scientific advances that keep America on the cutting edge of science and technology.

The idea of everyday citizens making scientific breakthroughs is not abstract. When he was a high school student, Jack Andraka was affected by the loss of a friend to pancreatic cancer. In the wake of that loss, he wanted to research the disease. By utilizing research articles based on federally-funded research, Jack created a new, accurate and inexpensive diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer.

The Internet is a useful tool in scientific endeavors. We’ve seen the value in linking the world community through a free and open Internet, allowing imaginative ideas to incubate and develop, eventually transforming into the type of innovative technologies that have come to define the Information Age. The tech industry has made it clear that we must avoid putting undue restrictions on the Internet. Instead, we should find ways to free the Internet from government restraints. It is imperative that this principle apply to scientific research as well.

In 2011, Aaron Swartz, a computer programmer and research fellow at Harvard University, downloaded academic journal articles through MIT’s computer network. He was arrested and later indicted on federal charges of wire and computer fraud, and unlawfully obtaining information from and damaging a protected computer. Nine additional felony charges were later added. Before he began his prison sentence, he committed suicide.

Following his death, several members of the House Judiciary Committee questioned the government’s handling of the case, and introduced Aaron’s Law. This bill excludes terms of service violations from the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and from the wire fraud statute.

While Aaron’s Law addressed the how, the Public Access to Public Science (PAPS) Act addresses the why. Why did Aaron hack into computers at MIT? He was passionate about open access.

The PAPS Act is a pro-taxpayer, pro-science, pro-information sharing bill–a bipartisan bill to ensure public access to published materials concerning scientific research and development activities funded by federal science agencies.

Partisan gridlock often defines Washington, but the PAPS Act is a collaborative effort that strikes a balance between enabling for-profit publishers and scientific societies to continue to host high-quality publications and allowing the public to access work funded by federal tax dollars.

It is past time we embrace a public access policy for scientific research and give the public what it pays for. The PAPS Act provides Americans access to the results of their investment, helping to spur curiosity, ingenuity and innovation in science and technology industries.

View this piece online here.
Brookfield, WI – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner released the 2016 results of his annual district survey, which are based on 3714 respondents throughout the Fifth Congressional District. 

Each year, Congressman Sensenbrenner hosts more than 100 town hall meetings and office hours in communities across the district, as well as responds to thousands of constituent letters on various legislative issues. The annual district survey is another tool Congressman Sensenbrenner uses to ensure he is best serving those he represents. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “My legislative priorities are determined by the needs of those I represent, and the annual survey is just one of the ways I’m able to learn their thoughts and concerns about the direction of our communities and our nation. It’s a great honor to serve my constituents in Congress, and I appreciate the time and effort each respondent took to participate in this year’s survey.”

Key Findings:

• 72% believe the country is headed in the wrong direction
• Only 17% rate the economy as “good,” while 80% rate it fair or poor
• 67% believe the Obama administration has violated the balance of powers

The questions, answer options, and results in full are below:

1) Do you believe the country is headed in the right direction?
A. Yes- 16%
B. No- 72%
C. Other- 11%

2) Rate the condition of the economy.

A. Excellent- 1%
B. Good- 17%
C. Fair- 49%
D. Poor- 31%
E. Other- 2%  

3) What is the greatest economic challenge facing your family? (Choose one)
A. Stagnant wages- 21%
B. Rising price of consumer goods- 45%
C. Debt- 6%
D. Lack of employment or underemployment- 9%
E. Other- 20%

4) What is your biggest concern/ complaint with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?
A. Its effect on small business- 16%
B. Cost/ Rising premiums- 45%
C. Losing your health coverage- 8%
D. Losing your doctor- 5%
E. I have no concerns or complaints- 26%

5) Do you believe that law enforcement agencies should be allowed access to encrypted information in certain circumstances in order to prevent and/or stop terrorism, and to solve cases of terrorism against the United States?

A. Yes- 69%
B. No 15%
C. Undecided- 16%

6) Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S., eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms. There were over 47,000 overdose deaths in 2014; 61% of which involved either a prescription opioid or heroin. Do you believe the government must take steps to fight heroin and opioid addiction in America?
A. Yes- 74%
B. No- 14%
C. Undecided- 12%

7) Do you believe the Obama administration has violated the balance of powers and abused the use of executive orders?
A. Yes- 67%
B. No- 28% 
C. Undecided- 5%

8) Do you believe there must be increased transparency from our federal government?

A. Yes- 83% 
B. No- 7%
C. Undecided- 11%

9) From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people. About $70 billion is spent on corrections annually. Do you believe reforms are needed to curtail the high rates and costs of incarceration? 
A. Yes- 73%
B. No- 15%
C. Undecided- 12%

10) What do you believe is the best method for prisoner rehabilitation?
A. Education and workforce opportunities within prison- 21%
B. Personalized sentencing over mandatory minimums- 7%
C. Longer prison sentences- 9%
D. Both A and B- 53%
E. Other- 10%

11) Do you believe the United States should allow more Syrian refugees to settle here?

A. Yes- 13%
B. Yes, but only after heavy screening- 36%
C. No- 43%
D. Undecided- 8%

12) Do you support building a wall on our southern border to prohibit illegal immigrants from coming into the country illegally? 

A. Yes- 51%
B. No- 38%
C. Undecided- 12%

13) The 2015 Social Security Trustees Report indicated that in the year 2035, the trust fund will be unable to pay the full cost of benefits for retirees. How should Congress reform the Social Security system to ensure the trust fund remains viable for future generations?
A. Raise taxes on Social Security benefits and on payroll taxes- 21%
B. Decrease the amount beneficiaries receive- 7%
C. Privatize the Social Security System- 26%
D. No changes- 9%
E. Other- 

14) What do you think is the biggest threat to our national security?

A. ISIS and other terrorist organizations- 34%
B. Cyber warfare- 22%
C. North Korea’s nuclear ambitions- 7%
D. The national debt- 28%
E. Other- 8%