Kennedy, Braun introduce Thin Blue Line Act to increase penalties for criminals who target cops
Feb 16 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) in introducing the Thin Blue Line Act to make the targeting, killing or attempted killing of a police officer an aggravating factor in favor of maximizing sentences.
“The Defund and Disrespect the Police movement has given violent offenders cover to target members of law enforcement. If a wicked person attacks one of the brave officers who protect our local and state communities, they’ve earned the heaviest penalties possible. We have to stop ceding ground to the criminals—because everyone is safer when we back good cops who do good work,” said Kennedy.
“There is a war on our cops, and it’s time we raise the price of targeting them. The Thin Blue Line Act will make targeting or killing a police officer in a violent crime an aggravating factor in favor the harshest penalties we have. President Biden said in his State of the Union speech last week that police officers put their lives on the line every day, and that we ask them to do too much. I agree, and as liberal cities continue to encourage crime by going easy on violent criminals, I’m calling on President Biden to announce his support for this legislation to increase the penalties for those who try to kill cops,” said Braun.
When a jury in a federal case considers whether to impose the death penalty, the jury must consider certain "aggravating" factors.
Current law states that if the murder victim is a federal law enforcement officer or federal prosecutor, this fact shall weigh as an aggravating factor in favor of the maximum penalty.
The Thin Blue Line Act provides the same level of justice to local law enforcement officers, prosecutors and first responders.
The bill also enhances the penalty for a criminal who targets a law enforcement officer, prosecutor or first responder solely because that victim has chosen to protect and serve.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) also cosponsored the bill.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Hospital Transparency Compliance Enforcement Act to increase penalties on hospitals that hide the true costs of their items and services from patients.
“Patients deserve to know the true cost of hospital items and services. I wrote this bill to protect patients by making hospitals clarify how much a visit might really cost so that patients can make informed choices about their care,” said Kennedy.
The Hospital Price Transparency Rule requires hospitals to establish and make public a list of the prices that hospitals charge for items and services. Hospitals must also display charges in a consumer-friendly manner. A February 2023 study of 2,000 hospitalsfound that only 489—or 24%—were fully compliant.
In January 2022, the government implemented higher penalties on hospitals that fail to comply with the transparency rule. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires non-compliant hospitals with 30 or fewer beds to pay a penalty of $300 per day, those with 31 to 550 beds to pay between $310 and $5,500 per day and those with more than 550 beds to pay $5,500 per day.
The Hospital Transparency Compliance Enforcement Act would:
- Double the current government penalties on non-compliant hospitals. Penalties would increase to $600 per day for hospitals with 30 or fewer beds, $620 to $11,000 per day for hospitals with 31 to 550 beds and $11,000 per day for hospitals with more than 550 beds.
- Require all hospitals to comply with the higher penalties within six months of the law’s passage.
- Prohibit hospitals from shielding information on their websites using webpage coding.
- Give non-compliant hospitals 60 days after notice of non-compliance to pay their monetary penalty.
- Require CMS to publish the names of hospitals that have not complied.
Text of the Hospital Transparency Compliance Enforcement Act is available here.
Kennedy introduces bill to increase U.S. natural gas exports, support Louisiana energy jobs
Feb 16 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in introducing the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act, which would remove federal regulatory bottlenecks to increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and support domestic energy jobs.
“Louisiana is the nation’s number one exporter of liquefied natural gas, but we’re taking a beating at the hands of President Biden. LNG exports sustain Louisiana jobs, promote America’s energy independence and reduce global emissions. We should make it easier—not harder—to export American LNG, and that’s what this bill would do,” said Kennedy.
“Thanks to the United States’ innovation and use of clean natural gas, America leads the world in reducing carbon emissions. By exporting U.S. LNG, the United States creates thousands of jobs at home, reduces global emissions, and promotes energy independence from those who use it as a weapon to exert control over importing countries,” said Cruz.
This legislation would bolster America’s energy independence at home and supply our allies abroad, especially our European allies, who are acutely affected by strains on reliable fuel supply because Russia invaded Ukraine. Increasing LNG exports would broaden access to clean, affordable energy with American trading partners and counter the Biden administration’s full-frontal assault on the U.S. fossil fuel industry in the process.
As hostile, authoritarian regimes look to challenge America’s position on the world stage, leveraging LNG exports is integral to investing in America’s energy security, thereby strengthening its national security.
Kennedy and Cruz also introduced the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act last Congress.
The Natural Gas Export Expansion Act would:
- Amend the Natural Gas Act to expedite non-free trade agreement (FTA) export permits. This would ensure applications for exporting LNG to certain non-FTA countries would be treated the same as applications for exporting LNG to FTA countries and receive the same accelerated approval process.
- Retain current law for restricted nations. Any nation subject to sanctions or trade restrictions is specifically excluded, and the president or Congress can specifically exclude any nation from expedited approval.
The bill text is available here.
Kennedy introduces bill to help parents cut costs for K-12 education amid rampant inflation
Feb 15 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Inflation-Adjusted Education Investment Act to help parents afford the cost of K-12 tuition. The bill would permanently increase the amount of money that parents can withdraw from their 529 savings plans without incurring tax penalties.
“Parents know their kids best and have the right to choose the educational path that’s best for their kids. Now that raging inflation is making alternatives to government school less accessible, I’m introducing a bill to help families afford more private education options,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy’s bill raises the cap on withdrawing from a 529 plan from $10,000 to $12,000 for 2023. The increase adjusts for inflation that has already occurred under the Biden administration and is likely to occur by the end of the year. Additionally, the bill would make the new cap adjustable for inflation, beginning in 2024. Because of high inflation, it cost parents more than $11,400 in January 2023 to pay for what $10,000 purchased in January 2021.
The specific tax advantage of a 529 plan is that distributions from this savings plan are tax-free if parents use them to pay for qualified higher education expenses. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act gave parents the freedom to withdraw up to $10,000 tax-free each year for each beneficiary and to apply the funds to qualifying K-12 expenses. Those expenses include private and religious schooling.
Text of the bill is available here.
Kennedy, Crapo introduce Hearing Protection Act to remove regulatory burden for lawful gun owners
Feb 15 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in introducing the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) to help law-abiding gun owners better access suppressors to preserve their hearing and safety. The HPA would reclassify suppressors so that they receive the same regulation as traditional firearms, removing regulatory burdens.
“Making it easier to buy and transfer suppressors would help protect law-abiding gun owners’ hearing now and into the future. There’s no reason not to take this commonsense step,” said Kennedy.
“The Hearing Protection Act will benefit Idaho’s sportswomen and men by ensuring they have access to adequate hearing protection while hunting and participating in other recreational shooting sports,” said Crapo. “Law abiding Americans enjoying the recreational freedoms provided under the Second Amendment should not have to wade through overly-burdensome regulations in order to protect their hearing."
Suppressors are currently subject to additional regulatory burdens under the National Firearms Act (NFA). The HPA would remove suppressors from regulation under the NFA and replace the overly burdensome federal transfer process with an instantaneous background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This process would make the purchasing and transfer process for suppressors equal to that for a rifle or shotgun.
By taxing suppressors under the Pittman-Robertson Act, rather than the NFA, the bill would also generate funding for state wildlife conservation agencies.
The legislation does not impact any state laws that prevent suppressors, and it does not eliminate background check requirements.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined Sen. Tedd Budd (R-N.C.) and a bicameral group of Republican colleagues in urging Attorney General Merrick Garland and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steven Dettelbach to explain why the Biden administration is unfairly applying a zero-tolerance policy to gun dealers.
Some of these dealers are mom-and-pop businesses that have to close down once their licenses are revoked.
“As the Biden-Harris Administration is undoubtedly aware, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution unequivocally states, ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’ Yet, at every turn, this Administration appears to be weaponizing its executive powers to infringe upon this constitutionally protected right,” the lawmakers wrote.
“The Biden-Harris Administration, however, believes its role is to re-write the laws written by Congress to further its radical anti-Constitutional agenda without consequence,” they continued.
“We respectfully request that the Administration immediately cease the misinterpretation of the word ‘willful’ and resume with an interpretation that corresponds with the meaning of the word and the intent of Congress,” they concluded.
- In June 2021, the Biden administration established a zero-tolerance policy for gun dealers who commit so-called "willful" violations. In defiance of the law, the administration interprets the word “willful” to include minor paperwork errors.
- The rule allows the ATF to revoke Federal Firearm License's (FFLs) for unjustifiable reasons.
- Under this policy, Biden’s ATF has created a 500% spike in FFL revocations.
The letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $6,068,430 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grants for Louisiana.
“Louisianians are no strangers to natural disasters, but Hurricanes Ida and Zeta wreaked havoc on New Orleans and other parts of our state. This $6 million will support Louisiana’s recovery from these storms,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $4,867,553 to the city of New Orleans for debris removal related to Hurricane Ida.
- $1,200,877 to the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness for costs related to Hurricane Zeta.
Kennedy on pro-criminal DC crime bill: “The first purpose of government is to protect people and their property”
Feb 14 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today denounced the passage of the D.C. Council’s soft-on-crime revision of the city’s criminal code. Despite rising crime rates and decreasing law enforcement retention rates, the D.C. Council recently passed a law to eliminate mandatory minimums and reduce maximum sentences for violent crimes including robbery, carjacking, burglary and firearm offenses.
“We are responsible for our actions, and that’s a bedrock principle of an ordered society. I’m sorry that the city council of the District of Columbia doesn’t understand that,” began Kennedy.
“The first purpose of government is to protect people and their property, and we have to separate people who are anti-society from everybody else. That’s just the way it is. . . . Again, I’m sorry the city council in the District of Columbia does not understand that, but it is our responsibility to correct their jaundiced view of the world,” he concluded.
Louisianians visit Washington, D.C. every day, but local policies have contributed to rising crime rates.
D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed the new criminal code, but the D.C. Council overrode her veto.
The House of Representatives last week passed a resolution to block this dangerous bill from going into effect, with 31 Democrats supporting that effort.
The Senate now has the opportunity to send that resolution to the president’s desk and prevent the D.C. Council from further rewarding and inspiring criminal activity.
Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), along with a bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers, introduced the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies & Ecosystems (RISEE) Act. This legislation would reform the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) to lift a current revenue cap that unfairly penalizes Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
The RISEE Act would secure more shared resources among Gulf states, the federal government and conservation programs from the revenue generated by offshore oil, gas and wind leases. Specifically, this proposed legislation would ensure that a larger cut of Gulf states’ offshore energy profits would fund coastal protection and restoration as well as other environmental priorities in Louisiana.
“GOMESA’s current cap unfairly targets our state. Louisianians work hard to provide America with reliable, affordable energy, and they deserve their fair share from that energy production. Our communities depend on these resources to defend our coastlines against hurricanes and other natural disasters, so amending the GOMESA cap is crucial to protecting Louisiana lives and livelihoods. There’s still more to be done, but this bill is a welcome step forward,” said Kennedy.
“With strong bipartisan support and movement through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year, we look forward to advancing the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies & Ecosystems (RISEE) Act this Congress. Louisiana has learned to use money from offshore energy production to rebuild our coastline and protect our communities. This bill takes the lessons that Louisiana has learned, adds more funding, and serves as a model for other coastal states,” said Cassidy.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee previously passed the RISEE Act in the 117th Congress.
Kennedy also formerly introduced similar legislation, the Offshore Cap Parity Act, to eliminate the GOMESA cap.
GOMESA divides federal revenues from the offshore energy production of Gulf states into three portions. The federal government returns 37.5 percent of this revenue to Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The Land and Water Conservation Fund receives 12.5 percent of offshore revenue, which largely invests in the needs of landlocked states. The final 50 percent of Gulf energy revenue goes to the U.S. Treasury.
The GOMESA cap limits the dollar value of Gulf states’ 37.5 percent revenue share to $375 million, meaning those states receive no benefit when the energy sector peaks and revenues surpass the cap. Conversely, the Mineral Leasing Act ensures that states with onshore drilling operations receive 50 percent of their revenues, and there is no cap on how much money that share can include.
States with onshore energy production typically aren’t required to spend that revenue on environmental priorities. Louisianians, however, have previously voted in favor of dedicating their state’s share of offshore energy revenue to coastal conservation and restoration projects. Such projects may include updating levee systems and shoring up silt to bolster Louisiana’s coastal defenses. These investments mitigate damage to communities, local wildlife and other natural resources.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $56,784,219 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid grant for Louisiana.
“I’m grateful to see that this $57 million will help Louisianians in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Evangeline, Jefferson Davis, Vernon and Rapides Parishes repair critical infrastructure that Hurricane Laura so severely damaged,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $56,784,219 to the Beauregard Electric Cooperative, Inc. for repairs related to Hurricane Laura.