Michael Choate Associates CPA

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Congress at Work for March 2014

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Congress at Work: Single-Payer Healthcare, Airline Safety and Props to the Seattle Seahawks

Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act (H.R. 676) – On Feb. 13, 2014, this bill was assigned to a congressional committee for review. The legislation, introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), would create a single-payer healthcare system by expanding the current Medicare program for universal coverage to all U.S. residents and residents living in U.S. territories. The plan would be publicly financed and healthcare would be delivered by the currently existing network of private healthcare providers. This legislation would ensure universal access to healthcare services regardless of employment, income or healthcare status.

Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (H.R. 2642) – Finalized and signed by President Obama on Feb. 7, 2014, this new $956 billion version of the Farm Bill replaces direct crop payments with an insurance program and trims $8 billion from food stamps over the next decade.

Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013 (H.R. 3676) – This act prohibits individuals from using a voice communication mobile device during airline flights, with the exception of flight personnel and federal law enforcement acting in an official capacity. A congressional committee submitted a report on the bill on Feb. 11, but it has not yet been voted on by the House or the Senate.

To establish requirements for the screening, testing or treatment of an airman for a sleep disorder, and for other purposes (H.R. 3578) – Another bill responding to recent issues concerning airline safety, this bill would create a new FAA policy requiring all pilots with a body mass index (BMI) or 40 or more to receive additional screening and evaluation by a board-certified sleep specialist. This bill passed the House on Feb. 11 and is presently in the Senate.

Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 1944) – This bill would provide American citizens with the means to protect their private property from private developers who use political ties to invoke the power of eminent domain. If a state or political subdivision of a state uses its eminent domain power to transfer private property to other private parties for the purpose of economic development, the state would be ineligible for federal economic funds for two fiscal years. Furthermore, the agency would no longer be permitted to use eminent domain for economic development purposes. This bill is currently in the House pending a vote.

Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3370) – Among its mandates, this bill would give flood insurance policyholders a variety of options to pay for and even reduce premiums via higher deductibles and monthly payments, and expands mitigation options. It places a cap on annual premium growth rates, which could result in thousands of dollars in annual savings for some homeowners. Furthermore, FEMA may not change the setback requirements for property owners who rebuilt to code after storms like Hurricane Katrina. The bill, designed to ensure insurance remains affordable and available for those who need it, is currently being reviewed in the House.

A resolution commending the Seattle Seahawks for winning Super Bowl XKVIII and the 12th Man for their Critical Support (S.Res. 358) – We joke that some activities would require “an act of Congress,” and apparently this simple resolution to congratulate this year’s Super Bowl winners is one of them. It was introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and agreed to on Feb. 12, 2014.

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