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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%
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the recent outbreak of violence and the weakening relationship between police and impacted communities, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) is advocating for increased cooperation on Congressional criminal justice reform efforts.

For the last 3 years, Rep. Sensenbrenner has led bipartisan efforts in Congress for broad-based reforms to improve the federal sentencing and corrections system, from front-end sentencing reform to back-end release policies.  

The Judiciary Committee’s bill addresses the federal supervision system – recognizing that probation often does a better job stopping the revolving door at federal prisons. The legislation, which is inspired by the successes of states across the country, will reduce recidivism, concentrate prison space on violent and career criminals, increase the use of evidence-based alternatives to incarceration, curtail over-criminalization, reduce crime, and save taxpayer dollars. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “For too long, our communities have been devastated by heightened criminal activity, rampant recidivism, and a fractured criminal justice system. Over the past three years, Congress has worked on a bipartisan basis to create real change by proposing evidence-based solutions, which have been proven effective in the states. Additions to our police force, as well as sentencing reforms and rehabilitation programs for incarcerated individuals are the first steps toward rebuilding our broken neighborhoods, but the problems we face today in our criminal justice system will not be solved unless Congress can work cohesively with the next Administration.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, along with Representatives Mark Pocan, Reid Ribble, Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, Sean Duffy, and Glenn Grothman, sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Serves Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt requesting increased patient access to oropharyngeal strengthening therapy. 

This type of therapy would benefit individuals with various conditions and diseases, improving quality of life, providing efficient patient care, and offering cost savings to the American healthcare system. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “When gaps in care or methods of increasing quality care are discovered, it’s our responsibility to pursue efficient and cost effective solutions that will benefit individuals and improve our overall healthcare system. Patient access to oropharyngeal strengthening therapy is one such solution, and I look forward to hearing from Administrator Slavitt on how to move forward.”

Full text provided below:

Dear Administrator Slavitt:

We are writing to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure access to oropharyngeal strengthening therapy for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, head and neck cancers, those who have suffered a stroke, and others who have swallowing disorders.  

The act of swallowing is complex. Approximately 40 oral and pharyngeal (mouth and throat) muscles and multiple cranial nerves work together to accomplish two critical, life sustaining actions: breathing and swallowing. Weak oropharyngeal muscles can prevent effective and efficient transport of food, liquids and medication causing them to flow into an unprotected airway, also known as aspiration. Swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia, are highly prevalent in stroke patients and are associated with increased mortality and morbidity, dehydration, pulmonary complications, and reduced rehabilitation potential. Therefore, it is critical to ensure Medicare patients have access to safe, effective therapies to improve their swallowing function, prevent further complications and continue to advance their rehabilitation. 

Several peer-reviewed clinical studies report that systematic strengthening of oropharyngeal muscles is an effective and well-accepted therapy for treating dysphagia. Outcomes from these studies included reduced aspiration, progression to a regular diet, ending use of a feeding tubes, and cost savings to the healthcare system.

It has been brought to our attention that there is a pending application for separate, unique Healthcare Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes for swallow rehabilitation systems and their accessories. We understand that without these distinct HCPCS codes, patients cannot be assured access to the medical devices that provide this rehabilitation therapy in their homes. 

Therefore, we ask that CMS continue to work with all stakeholders to address this national healthcare policy imperative and give full and fair consideration of the swallowing rehabilitation therapies’ applications for new HCPCS codes. 

We look forward to your response.


F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R- Wis.), along with Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Gene Green (D-TX), Dave Trott (R-MI), and Jared Polis (D-CO) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch regarding the Department of Justice’s efforts to enforce antitrust laws, including a multi-year review of the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees, which allow for a competitive and successful music market. 

The letter, which comes after a recent announcement upholding the aforementioned decrees, commends Attorney General Lynch and the Justice Department’s work on guaranteeing fair and efficient music licensing.  

Full text provided below:

Dear Attorney General Lynch:
We write regarding the Department of Justice’s thorough multi-year review of the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees.  Assessing potential harm to competition arising from coordinated behavior of competitors – as would most certainly arise were the decrees modified to permit fractional licensing – is the responsibility of the Antitrust Division and we commend you for your diligence in this thorough review. 
Last week’s announcement upholding the decrees with no modification is appropriate at this time. Further, we support the Department’s clarification that under the decrees, ASCAP and BMI must use “100% licensing,” and that this obligation has always been inherent in the consent decrees.
We commend the Department’s efforts to guarantee the fair and efficient licensing of public performance rights for musical works.  Preserving the decrees as currently written will protect licensees acting in good faith, ensure that music is performed legally, and see that creators are compensated for their work.  
Moreover, we commend your staff for reaffirming that the consent decrees require ASCAP and BMI to license all of the works in their repertory.  So-called “fractional licensing” would hamstring the music marketplace.  It is our understanding that the current blanket licenses allow for the “100% licensing” of a work by any one partial owner of the work.  Were the Department to propose modifying the consent decrees to allow fractional licensing, it would paralyze the market for licensed music.
We thank you for your efforts to enforce our antitrust laws, which will make way for a competitive and successful music market.

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 in the House of Representatives. 

In their never ending quest for new revenues, states are increasingly looking for ways to shift tax and regulatory burdens to people from other states—to whom elected officials are unaccountable. The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 prohibits states from regulating beyond their borders by imposing sales tax collection requirements on individuals with no physical presence in the taxing state and no vote in the representation that would implement the tax.

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
“States should not have the ability to tax non-citizens, plain and simple. This legislation would help reduce burdensome overregulation, keep government overreaches in check, and ensure that only residents of a state are subjected to tax obligations.”

The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 section by section is available here.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Speaker Paul D. Ryan signed S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act at a bipartisan, bicameral ceremony. This comes after the recent approval of a conference committee report, which passed the House of Representatives last week. This legislation now heads to President Obama to be signed into law. 

The final legislative package signed today is a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic that is devastating millions of American lives. It includes provisions from eighteen bills passed by the House of Representatives in May, and addresses all facets of the epidemic. It permits the government to make grants for purposes of prevention, treatment, recovery, and overdose reversal through the use of FDA-approved and appropriately labeled drugs and devices, and law enforcement and investigative purposes.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has been a vocal leader throughout this process, and authored the flagship bill, H.R. 5046, which passed the House in May by a resounding 413-5 vote. H.R. 5046 creates a comprehensive Justice Department grant program to help states fight opioid addiction and authorizes $103 million annually over five years for the grant program. It directs taxpayer dollars responsibly by leveraging and streamlining existing programs and fully offsetting the legislation in compliance with the House’s cut-go protocol.  

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I’m extremely proud to have been part of this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will help millions of Americans overcome their struggles with addiction. The work accomplished here proves that compromise is possible and that Congress can come together to provide solutions to America’s most urgent problems. It’s my hope that the initiatives outlined in this bill will give addicted individuals the support they need to change their lives and once again become healthy, happy, and successful members of their families and communities.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the conference report for a comprehensive legislative package to combat the national opioid epidemic, which is ravaging individuals, families, and communities throughout the country. 

Among the eighteen bills passed and considered in the conference committee on the opioid epidemic prior to today’s approval was H.R. 5046, the flagship legislation considered on this issue, which was sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). 

H.R. 5046, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act (COARA), creates a comprehensive opioid abuse reduction program at the Department of Justice, which would, among other things, provide vital training and resources for first responders and law enforcement, aid in criminal investigations for the unlawful distribution of opioids, expand drug courts, and promote residential substance abuse.

Additionally, the comprehensive grant program created by H.R. 5046 is fully offset, meaning it successfully directs funds to address the opioid epidemic by taking advantage of existing funding. The result is no net increase in spending authorizations and no additional burden on the American taxpayer, which is a responsible, good-government approach to the epidemic.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Opioid and heroin abuse is an issue that doesn’t discriminate – it hurts individuals, families, and communities in every corner of this country. Today’s House approval of the conference report is a testimony to the seriousness of legislators to work together, compromise, and find real solutions. It is an important landmark that offers renewed hope for everyone impacted by this devastating epidemic.”

Addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, and other prescription pain medicines, has a devastating hold on this country. Between 435,000 and 1.5 million people in the United States currently use heroin, and an alarming number of them are younger than 25 years old. 

Deaths from prescription opioids and heroin set a record in 2014, climbing to 28,647. Beyond health care costs, other significant economic burdens are associated with opioid abuse, such as costs related to criminal justice and lost workplace productivity. In total, opioid abuse imposes an estimated $55 billion in societal costs annually.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Rapid DNA Act, introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and is on its way to a full vote on the House floor. 

The Rapid DNA Act would establish a system for the integration of Rapid DNA instruments for use by law enforcement to help reduce 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: “Today’s passage of the Rapid DNA Act out of the House Judiciary Committee is a promising development that brings us one step closer to safer communities throughout the nation. Rapid DNA technology is an effective tool for law enforcement that will help quickly identify arrestees and offenders and reduce the overwhelming backlog in forensic DNA analysis. It will also make crime fighting efforts more efficient and help prevent future crimes from occurring, which saves time and taxpayer dollars. I look forward to this smart legislation moving forward to a vote on the House floor soon.”
Residents interested in getting a sense of how national politics and government work can learn more about it from someone who confronts the issue on a daily basis.

House of Representatives member Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, will be in West Bend on Sunday, hosting a town hall beginning 7 p.m. at City Hall. Constituents can attend and listen to the congressman’s views on issues he and his colleagues face regularly.

“Getting back to the community regularly not only helps us understand what constituents need and what their problems are, but it also gives him the opportunity to see if they have issues with the federal government that his office can help them with,” said Nicole Tieman, Sensenbrenner’s communications director.

Tieman said Sensenbrenner visits areas throughout his district. typically on a quarterly cycle. During the events, he speaks with voters to get their opinions on a variety of subjects, from national security to fiscal and budget topics. Afterward he speaks with constituents individually to concerns regarding services received from federal agencies or any other problems they may have.

She touted his legislative initiatives regarding crime and healthcare, saying Sensenbrenner believes in advancing common sense solutions related to crime.

“He wants to make sure we are not throwing people in jail and forgetting about them," Tieman said. “Especially low-level, non-violent criminals. A lot of that can come down to dealing with programs that help them when they can back into their communities, reduce their recidivism rates, making sure they are not just going in and out of the system.”

Kathleen Kiernan, 5th Congressional District chairwoman of the Washington County Republican Party, said she believes jobs and the economy tend to be at the forefront of people’s minds when they attend the town halls, but immigration and terrorism are also significant issues.

“One of the important issues is the open-door immigration policy of the president where we don’t know who is entering the country,” Kiernan said. “We know terrorism exists and it exists in this country.”

One resident who attended numerous town halls is Frank Klein of the town of Wayne. He said he generally agrees with Sensenbrenner’s views and likes the job he has done thus far.

“He is consistently trying to hold down spending,” Klein said. “I know he votes every time he can for balanced budgets. I know he opposes wasteful spending. I know he favors lower taxes.”

Others disagree with is philosophy.

“When I went to a Sensenbrenner meeting, the first thing I said was that I want my taxes raised,” said town of West Bend resident Ken Johnson. “This is about 10 years ago and he was surprised when I said that. When I have a good investment year, I want you to tax 100 percent of my social security.”

For Johnson, Sensenbrenner represents corporate interests and wants to provide tax breaks for the wealthy and not the middle class.

“Sensenbrenner needs to work with his colleagues for sensible gun control reform,” said Waring Fincke of the Washington County Democratic Party. “He should stop trying to repeal Obamacare, and expand social security benefits by eliminating the cap on incomes subject to social security tax.”