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By; Pete Kasperowicz of the Washington Examiner

House Republicans this week introduced legislation that would let the U.S. use money and property seized at the border from drug cartels to pay for a southern border wall.

The bill, from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., could help reduce Democratic opposition to a border wall. Democrats in the House and Senate have opposed new federal funding for the wall in part because Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for it.

"This commonsense legislation will provide the necessary funding to completely secure our southern border and cut off the flow of gang members and drugs into our country," Sensenbrenner said. "Best of all, this can be done with minimal cost to the American taxpayer."

"This bill would break through the stalemate of funding for border security, thereby providing a path to reopen the government," he added. "Congress should consider this legislation immediately so we can return to other important legislative business."

GOP Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Phil Roe of Tennessee, Rob Bishop of Utah, Bob Gibbs or Ohio, and Jody Hice of Georgia cosponsored the bill.

It was introduced as both parties have been scrambling to come up with some agreement on border wall funding. The lack of a deal has prevented Congress from funding nine federal agencies, in a shutdown that has lasted nearly three weeks.

By: Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Jim Sensenbrenner, the dean of Wisconsin's congressional delegation, underwent successful hip replacement surgery Thursday, his office said.

The surgery took place at Mount Vernon Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.

Sensenbrenner's hip trouble began six years ago when he caught his foot on wires, tripped and fell while attending a community fair in Butler. He sustained a fracture near his elbow and another fracture at the hip socket.

"After a surgical repair at that time, he was able to resume his duties," his office said. "The condition of the hip worsened recently, and doctors recommended a full replacement."

Sensenbrenner, 75, will recuperate and undergo rehab for several weeks, his office said, adding that the congressman "is grateful for all of the well-wishes and prayers and looks forward to being back in commission very soon."

Sensenbrenner, a Menomonee Falls Republican, was first elected to Congress in 1978.

By: WISN

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner had hip replacement surgery Thursday, his office reported.

The Wisconsin Republican's office said the surgery at Mt. Vernon Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, was a success but he will be recuperating and in rehab for "several weeks."

Sensenbrenner is 75 and has been in Congress since 1979.

Sensenbrenner fell while attending a community fair in Butler, Wisconsin, six years ago. His office says his hip was surgically repaired then, but it was only a temporary fix and after the conditioned worsened recently he went in for a full replacement.

Sensenbrenner's district is in southeast Wisconsin encompassing areas immediately to the northwest of Milwaukee.

Washington, D.C.—Following the President’s address last night, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) re-introduced the Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted (BUILD WALL) Act.  He was joined in this effort with Congressmen Mark Meadows (NC-11), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Phil Roe (TN-01), Rob Bishop (UT-01), Bob Gibbs (OH-07), and Jody Hice (GA-10). 

This legislation would direct money and assets seized from Mexican drug cartels to be used to increase border security between the U.S./Mexican border. In addition to building a physical wall, the funding may also be used to construct other types of barriers or to implement technology-supported solutions where appropriate.

Rep. Sensenbrenner
“This commonsense legislation will provide the necessary funding to completely secure our southern border and cut off the flow of gang members and drugs into our country. Best of all, this can be done with minimal cost to the American taxpayer. This bill would break through the stalemate of funding for border security, thereby providing a path to reopen the government. Congress should consider this legislation immediately so we can return to other important legislative business.”

You can view the text of the legislation here.

Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced identical legislation during the 115th Congress. Senator Ted Cruz has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

By: Colm Phelan of the Irish Sun

THE E-3 visa that would allow Irish people live in America has hit a snag after one Senator put a 'hold' on the bill.

The bill had been passed in the US House of Representatives but the deadline has now passed for US Senate approval.

The Senator is understood to have put a 'hold' on the bill and therefore it failed to get approval before the Senate sat for the final time last Saturday, RTE reports.

A new bill will now have to be passed as the House of Representatives will sit for the first time under new membership.

The new visa proposal was drafted up back in November and sought to allow 4,000 - 5,000 Irish citizens gain access to the US through the visa.

The E-3 visa was originally available for Australian citizens, with 10,500 available each year but only half of them were being used up.

According to the report, Irish officials are now working out other ways to secure support for the plan to add Ireland to the visa programme.

Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner previously welcomed the bill that would allow Irish people to work in the US for a two-year span.

He said: "The United States was built on hard work and the determination of immigrants – many of them who hail from Ireland.

"Through their perseverance, they have enabled this country to grow and prosper.

"This modest proposal would give Irish nationals the opportunity to work in the US under the non-immigrant visa category of the E3 visa, previously reserved only for Australian nationals.

"Ireland in the meantime has proposed a reciprocal work visa specific to US nationals so that those wanting to live and work in Ireland can more easily do so."

Washington, D.C.—Today, the House passed S. 756, the First Step Act. This bipartisan criminal justice reform package includes Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner’s (WI-05) reauthorization language of the Second Chance Act, which provides grants for the purpose of helping newly-released prisoners successfully reenter society.

Rep. Sensenbrenner“Republicans and Democrats coming together to pass criminal justice reform is a monumental victory for the American people, and I’m proud to have been a leader of this effort that has been years in the making. I’m also proud to note that this bill reauthorizes the Second Chance Act, which has been instrumental in healing communities by helping those who have paid their debts to society to rejoin their families and live a productive life. I thank Chairman Goodlatte, Congressman Collins, and the many others who carried this bill across the finish line.”

You can view Congressman Sensenbrenner's remarks on the House floor here

Background on the First Step Act:

The First Step Act is a combination of the original House-passed First Step Act, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, and the Second Chance Reauthorization Act. The comprehensive package aims to reduce over-criminalization by preparing inmates to successfully reenter society through programs proven to reduce recidivism. Additionally, it gives judges greater discretion when sentencing low-level, nonviolent offenders and provides grants for reentry programs.

Background on the Second Chance Reauthorization Act:

Congressmen Danny Davis (D-IL-07) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) introduced the original Second Chance Act in 2007. It passed Congress with strong bipartisan support, and President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2008. This legislation provided non-profit faith and community-based organizations with mentoring grants to develop support programs such as drug treatment, housing, job training, medical care, and education.

Reentry services have been improved in the decade since the Second Chance Act was implemented, which resulted in a reduction in recidivism and helped ensure a successful return to society for prisoners who have completed their sentence. More than 160,000 men, women, and youths returning home from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities have benefited from Second Chance grants providing career training, mentoring, family-based substance abuse treatment, and other evidence-based reentry programs. 

This investment has also paid public safety dividends. A report from the National Reentry Resource Center highlights how numerous states have experienced drastic reductions in statewide recidivism rates as a result of robust reentry services made possible in part through Second Chance.

Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Davis introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act in 2017 to build upon the success of the original legislation. The bill authorizes funding for both public and private entities to evaluate and improve academic and vocational education for offenders in prison, jails, and juvenile facilities.

Washington, D.C.— Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08) introduced legislation to direct the US Attorney General (AG) to make grants to states and localities for gunfire detection and location technology. The AG would be authorized to allocate $10 million annually for the next four fiscal years.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “This commonsense legislation will help law enforcement quickly and accurately locate violent crimes, cut down on response time, and save lives. Cities like Milwaukee have already begun utilizing this type of technology and have with positive results. I’m grateful to Congressman Jeffries for joining me in leading this important effort.”

Background:
Cities like Milwaukee have already begun utilizing gunshot detection technology. Networked sensors are placed throughout a coverage area to detect the origin of gunshots. Once a gunshot is detected, the technology calculates the position of the shooter and instantly notifies law enforcement with real-time data delivered to dispatch centers, patrol cars, and smart phones.

Police stations that have access to shot detecting technology can arrive at the scene faster and better prepared to protect the public and themselves as well as attend to victims. Further, information gather is secured in a database and then turned into preemptive intelligence, which provides for better dispatch of resources and improved collection of evidence.

Far too often gunfire incidents are not reported to 911 dispatchers. This means law enforcement begin responding to crimes with significantly limited information. Additionally, reports of gunfire often contain vague or inaccurate information resulting in lost time and less efficient response by law enforcement.

Early data suggests that use of gunfire detection technology has shown positive results. According to a report, the city of Milwaukee has seen a 38 percent decrease in the amount of gunshots fired in areas where this technology was used from 2017 to 2018 showing that its use can act as a deterrent. 

Washington, D.C.—Today, The House unanimously passed S. 3170, the CyberTipline Modernization Act of 2018, which cleared the Senate unanimously in September. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) sponsored H.R. 4447, the companion legislation in the House. The bill now heads to the White House for the President’s signature.
 
Rep. Sensenbrenner: “Today’s vote will reduce the online sexual exploitation of children. The bill improves upon the successes of the existing CyberTipline by empowering the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to address new developments in online child abuse. I urge the President to sign it into law immediately.”
 
Background:
First launched by the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in 1998, the CyberTipline allows public citizens and members of the technology industry to report online instances of child sexual exploitation and abuse, such as child pornography, online enticement of children for sexual acts, child sex tourism, and child sex trafficking. In 2017 alone, NCMEC received more than 10 million reports.
 
The CyberTipline Modernization Act makes key updates to the existing program, including changes to reporting requirements for imminent or planned violations. The bill also reflects a commitment to fight new forms of online abuse including the expansion of child pornography.
 
Congress last updated the CyberTipline statute in 2008.

By: Paul Williams of Law360

A federal bill that would prohibit states from taxing remote sellers until 2020 while codifying a temporary exemption for businesses has been introduced by four Democratic senators from two states without a sales tax.

S.B. 3275, filed Thursday by the senators from New Hampshire and Oregon, would enact a moratorium on taxing remote sales until Jan. 1, 2020, prevent retroactive collection and shield businesses with less than $10 million in annual sales from the tax until the U.S. Congress approves an interstate compact with clearly defined nexus thresholds.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said Friday that a federal barricade against the tax would provide businesses ample time to adapt to the country's new tax landscape in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair. That decision, issued in June, no longer requires companies to have a physical presence in a state to be subject to sales and use taxes. The bill would bar states from taxing any remote sales that occurred prior to that date.

“Forcing New Hampshire businesses to adopt and adhere to a new, complicated tax collection system, particularly as retailers approach the busiest time of the year, is entirely unfair and impractical,” Shaheen said in a Friday statement. “New Hampshire doesn’t collect a sales tax, and our small businesses shouldn’t have to bear this burden for other states.”

Joining Shaheen in sponsoring the bill are fellow New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan and Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeffrey A. Merkley and Ron Wyden. Those four senators sent a letter to the Senate leadership in November, arguing for the passage of legislation akin to S.B. 3275 before the current session ends Jan. 3.

In their letter, the senators said federal lawmakers should grant a reprieve to businesses that face the possibility of complying with thousands of taxing jurisdictions nationwide. Wyden doubled down on that stance in a Friday statement.

“Action by Congress is the only way to give small businesses more time to prepare for this new and disastrous internet sales tax regime,” Wyden said.

Several states that have already enacted remote sales tax laws or rules began taxing out-of-state transactions earlier this year, with more eyeing Jan. 1 as their remote tax rollout date. Not all of those states share the same small business exemptions, with nexus parameters ranging from $10,000 to $250,000 in annual sales into a state per year.

The bill’s $10 million annual sales threshold would give way to congressional approval of an interstate compact that contains bright-line nexus thresholds and simplifies the process of registering, collecting and remitting the tax. Currently, 24 states are members of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which simplifies the tax regimes of its participants. However, it is not universal among states and has never been ratified by Congress.

Craig Johnson, executive director of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

The bill’s text mostly represents a blend of two bills Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. has introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in the last three months, with the chief difference being the date the proposed remote tax ban would be lifted.

In September, Sensenbrenner filed H.R. 6824, which called for a Jan. 1, 2019, start date for remote tax and included the same $10 million small-seller exemption and interstate compact ratification included in the senators’ bill. In late November, he introduced H.R. 7184 to bar states from taxing any remote sales that occurred prior to the date the Wayfair opinion was issued. Neither of those bills have had a hearing.

Christopher Krepich, a spokesman for Sensenbrenner, told Law360 via email Monday that the congressman would support S.B. 3275 if it passed the Senate, and believes there is still enough time for lawmakers to act if the measure is fast-tracked in the session’s waning weeks.

None of the senators responded to a question asking if they expected the bill to have a hearing by the Senate Finance Committee before the session ends.

--Additional reporting by Maria Koklanaris. Editing by Neil Cohen.

By: Erik Maulbetsch of the Colorado Times Recorder

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner had a few unexpected guests at his annual Christmas party Friday evening at the Brown Palace Hotel.

In addition to the usual gathering of elected officials and Republican party volunteers, several disability rights activists with the group Atlantis ADAPT joined the festivities.

The group wanted Gardner to grant them a meeting to discuss his reason for being the only member of the Colorado congressional delegation who has not yet signed on to the Disability Integration Act (S. 910).

The bipartisan civil rights bill was introduced by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D- New York) and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). As of August the bill has 24 Senate and 114 House co-sponsors. It would protect the rights of disabled people who require Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) to live and receive services in their own homes, rather than being forced into institutions.

Dawn Russell, one of the activists pictured below (center), confirmed that they received a photo with Gardner, but no firm promise on sponsorship or a date for an in-person meeting. Prior to the Friday, they talked with Gardner’s state director Andy Merritt, whom they say promised to follow up with the group this week.

Gardner and his staff know the ADAPT activists well. Russell was among those arrested and forcibly removed from Gardner’s office last year, along with Jordan Sibayan (right).

Besides the ADAPT activists, Senator Gardner’s party attendees included a number of prominent elected officials. Outgoing Secretary of State Wayne Williams, outgoing Congressman Mike Coffman (R – CO06), and outgoing Senate President Kevin Grantham (R- Cañon City) all attended. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D – CO07) also dropped by.

In years past the evening has typically featured speeches by Senator Gardner and others. Gardner delivered his speech via video last year as he was stuck in Washington. This year however, despite a microphone and stand set up in the suite, not one speaker addressed the crowd.