Kennedy, Feinstein, Tillis introduce bipartisan, bicameral bill to protect homeowners from natural disasters
Jun 14 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) in introducing the Disaster Mitigation and Tax Parity Act of 2023 to exempt from federal taxes rebates that homeowners receive for hardening their homes against natural disasters.
“No one knows the pain of having a home blown away or flooded like Louisianians. They shouldn’t face extra federal taxes when receiving a rebate for simply protecting their homes against vicious weather. The Disaster Mitigation and Tax Parity Act will not only do away with the federal tax, but it will also encourage more folks to protect their homes,” said Kennedy.
“Hardening one’s home against threats from natural disasters remains one of the best ways to mitigate damage from the increasing frequency of disasters like wildfires and hurricanes. Many states, including California, offer homeowners rebates for making these smart home improvements. Unfortunately, these rebates are subject to federal taxes. By exempting the rebates from federal taxes, our bill will make home improvements more affordable and encourage more homeowners nationwide to harden their homes,” said Feinstein.
“Federal taxes being taken out of a North Carolina homeowner’s rebate is the last thing they should have to think about after a natural disaster strikes and they need to be made whole again. I’m proud to work on this bipartisan bill to provide additional relief to the North Carolinians who need it,” said Tillis.
The legislation would exempt state rebates for wildfire, wind and earthquake mitigation measures from federal income tax.
The Disaster Mitigation and Tax Parity Act is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) rule to implement Dodd Frank Section 1071, which amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA).
Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) has introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives.
“By collecting and publishing personal demographic and other information, the CFPB is putting small business owners at risk of having their private financial affairs exposed to a watching world. Reporting these personal details is an invasion of privacy and a waste of resources aimed at furthering the woke agenda. The practical impact of this rule could hamstring lending to Main Street,” Kennedy said.
“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new rule is a continued attack on Main Street America. Each day, small businesses struggle with rising costs, increasing interest rates, and ongoing labor shortages, and this new rule only builds on those issues. We cannot allow the CFPB to continue to add burdensome requirements without any consideration of their impact on small businesses and lenders. I am proud to stand by my commitment to protect Main Street America from costly over-regulation by unelected bureaucrats,” said Williams.
Kennedy’s CRA would ensure that the CFPB’s final rule on Dodd-Frank Section 1071 does not go into effect.
On March 30, the CFPB promulgated the final rule implementing Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which amends the ECOA. The rule was published in the Federal Register on May 31, 2023.
Section 1071 requires covered financial institutions to collect and report certain personal information on small business loan applicants and report that to the CFPB. The CFPB may then make certain parts of that information public, including data that could publicly identify the small business credit applicant.
In order to comply with the Biden CFPB rule, financial institutions would have to collect information about applicants, including the applicant’s census tract, North American Industry Classification System and years in business, among other information. Further, banks are required to report the owner’s race, ethnicity and sex; and whether the business is minority-owned, women-owned or LGBT-owned.
- The rule applies to financial institutions that originated at least 100 small business loans in each of the two preceding calendar years.
- Based on the number of credit transactions for small businesses, covered financial institutions must comply with the final rule beginning October 1, 2024; April 1, 2025; or January 1, 2026.
- A small business is defined as a company with $5 million or less in revenue from the previous fiscal year.
Among the many concerns about the CFPB’s collecting and storing such personal information is that the agency recently experienced a data breach including the personally identifiable information of 256,000 consumers and failed to properly inform them for two months.
The implementation of this rule may reduce the availability and accessibility of small business credit by increasing compliance costs of lenders.
Text of the resolution is here.
Kennedy to Biden admin’s CFPB: “Why do you want to know what a small business woman’s sexual preference is?”
Jun 13 2023
Watch Kennedy’s exchange here.
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today questioned Rohit Chopra, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on its rule to implement Dodd Frank Section 1071. The Biden administration rule would require banks to collect data on small business owners when they seek a loan.
Key excerpts from the exchange are below.
Kennedy: “Is your rule going to require banks to ask the customer about their race?”
Chopra: “So, that is in the statute—"
. . .
Kennedy: “Your rule would require a bank to ask the question of a small business person, ‘What's your race? What's your ethnicity? What's your sexual preference? Are you gay? Are you a woman?’
“Now, that’s—you can bubble-wrap this all you want, but that’s what your rule does.
“Now, the customer—particularly in a small town—is going to go, ‘Woah, what’s my sexual preference have to do with a loan?’
“And the customer can say, ‘I don't want to answer,’ but then the bank has got—you're requiring the bank to tell you that they wouldn't answer, and all of this data is going to go to your agency, and, we don't have the slightest idea how you're going to use it, except you say you're going to publish it.”
Chopra: “Well, we will not get any names at all . . . ”
Kennedy: “Yeah, but you're going to have data sets, so that it's possible—you can't tell me it's not possible to have this information known. Why do you want all this information?”
Chopra: “I don't—”
Kennedy: “Why do you want to know what a small business woman's sexual preference is?”
Chopra: “Okay, that's a mischaracterization of it.”
Kennedy: “No, it’s not.”
. . .
Kennedy: “Why do you want to know what a small business woman—let's say in a town of 20,000 people, going to her local bank [to] borrow money—why do you want to know what her sexual preference is? What business is that of yours?”
Chopra: “We sought to implement what the congressional requirements are—"
Kennedy: “What business is that of yours, what a small business woman does in her bedroom?”
Kennedy: “Who appointed you pope?”
Chopra: “Again, people are able to self-identify, if they wish.”
Kennedy: “You're making them.”
Chopra: “We are not making them.”
Kennedy: “Yes, you are . . . and we have no idea how you’re going to use this information.”
- Kennedy today introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval to the CFPB rule to implement Dodd Frank Section 1071, which amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA).
- Kennedy introduced the Transparency in CFPB Cost-Benefit Analysis Act to ensure that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) does not establish regulations that would foist unreasonable costs or harms onto taxpayers, financial entities or consumers.
- Kennedy introduced the Small LENDER Act to block the Biden administration’s CFPB from requiring community banks and lenders to collect and report social data—such as race, gender and ethnicity—from borrowers.
Watch the full exchange here.
Kennedy, Braun, Hassan introduce bipartisan bill to fix part of Medicare billing structure, saving billions
Jun 12 2023
WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced a bipartisan bill to fix part of the Medicare billing structure that allows hospital systems to charge high hospital rates for care received at off-campus outpatient facilities.
“Hospitals are gaming the system to charge Louisiana patients and taxpayers more for out-patient, off-site care. That’s wrong, and I’m proud to work with Sens. Braun and Hassan to make it right by correcting Medicare’s billing policy,” said Kennedy.
“Hoosiers know our health care system is broken, and one problem we can fix right now is services at off-campus outpatient facilities being billed to Medicare at higher hospital rates. Fixing this problem will save taxpayers 40 billion over the next decade, and this bill will apply some of those savings to fixing our nursing shortage by creating a new program to pay for training,” Braun said.
“Granite Staters who have been going to the same doctor for years are experiencing sticker shock when a hospital acquires a doctor’s office or clinic and all of a sudden starts charging extra fees for the same services. Our bipartisan bill takes on the health care industry to eliminate unfair fees, lower costs for patients, and save taxpayer dollars—and then we use those savings to invest in the health care workforce. Lowering health care costs for Americans is a bipartisan priority, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense bill,” said Hassan.
Due to Medicare’s billing structure, even if care is received at an off-campus outpatient facility, patients can receive bills that treat the care as if it was provided at a main hospital campus. This means the providers are charging patients and Medicare higher “hospital” rates when patients aren’t receiving in-patient care.
The consequences of this artificial price hiking are expanding as hospitals acquire more and more small physician-owned practices and off-campus facilities. In 2020, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that, over the next decade, taxpayers will pay close to $40 billion in excess Medicare costs due to exorbitant facility fee payments.
A provision in the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act makes these price inflations possible because that law established “site-neutral” payments under Medicare for services received at off-campus outpatient departments, but it exempted most hospitals.
The SITE Act would end the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act’s site-neutral exceptions. It would also prevent off-campus emergency departments from charging higher rates than on-campus emergency departments when standalone emergency facilities are located in close proximity to a hospital campus.
The bill would require health systems to establish and bill using a unique National Provider Identifier number for every off-campus outpatient department. It would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to treat outpatient departments as subparts of the parent organization and to issue these subparts unique provider identifiers. The SITE Act would also remove liability for services rendered for payers who are not billed in accordance with this section’s requirements.
The bill would use a portion of the overall savings from this fix to help fill the nursing shortage by creating a graduate nursing education program that would provide payments for training costs.
Text of the SITE Act is available here.
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $1,042,016 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid.
“Hurricane Laura battered Lake Charles, and Louisianians are still rebuilding. This $1 million will go toward the cost of demolition as Lake Charles works toward a full recovery,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $1,042,016 to Lake Charles, La. for emergency protective measures to demolish private structures that Hurricane Laura damaged.
Jun 08 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Tracking Bad Actors Act to create a public database of people who have committed financial crimes or have civil liability for financial misdeeds. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) is an original cosponsor of the bill.
“Financial fraudsters prey on everyday investors like vultures, and Americans deserve to know who has a track record of breaking securities laws. The Tracking Bad Actors Act would help expose these offenders to protect American families and workers from financial fraud,” said Kennedy.
“People in Wyoming deserve to know if their financial manager or accountant has broken the law. The Tracking Bad Actors Act will give consumers much needed transparency into the financial sector. I’m proud to partner with Senator John Kennedy on this commonsense legislation to protect Wyoming investors from those with bad intentions,” said Lummis.
The Tracking Bad Actors Act would require the federal government to create a public database of bad actors convicted or held criminally or civilly liable for securities violations. This database would allow investors and brokerage firms to guard against people known to have engaged in fraud.
This information would be made available to the public, free of charge. To the extent practical, the bill would require the database to contain all enforcement actions agencies have taken.
The database would be operational within three years of the bill’s becoming law.
Text of the Tracking Bad Actors Act is available here.
WASHINGTON – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today introduced the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which would prevent veterans from losing their Second Amendment right to purchase or own firearms when they receive help managing their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.
“Every veteran who bravely serves our country has earned VA benefits, and it’s wrong for the government to punish veterans who get a helping hand to manage those benefits. Veterans who sacrificed to defend our Constitution shouldn’t see their own rights rest on the judgment of unelected bureaucrats—but right now, they do. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act would prevent government workers from unduly stripping veterans of their right to bear arms,” said Kennedy.
“Veterans should not have to choose between seeking help from the VA to manage their benefits and forfeiting their Second Amendment rights. Our nation’s policies should encourage veterans to utilize the services provided by the VA, rather than driving them away by denying them their due process,” said Moran.
Under current law, the VA is required to send a beneficiary’s name to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) whenever a fiduciary is appointed to help a beneficiary manage his or her VA benefits.
Ultimately, VA employees decide whether veterans receive help from a fiduciary.
Kennedy’s bill would prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from transmitting a veteran’s personal information to NICS unless a relevant judicial authority rules that the beneficiary is a danger to himself or others.
Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) also co-sponsored the legislation.
The bill text is available here.
Kennedy introduces SPAC Act to protect investors by increasing transparency surrounding blank-check firms
Jun 08 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Sponsor Promote and Compensation (SPAC) Act, which would provide greater transparency for investors involved with Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), also known as blank-check companies.
“Celebrities are often the public face of SPACs, helping the companies sell shares to hardworking Americans who may not understand the risks associated with SPACs. So, it’s right and fair that SPACs should disclose how theirs sponsors get paid and how that affects the value of the shares that main street investors are holding. My bill would require this kind of transparency,” said Kennedy.
SPACs raise investor funds through an initial public offering (IPO) with the goal of acquiring and merging with a private company within a two-year window. The SPAC formula is attractive because it permits companies to go public on a U.S. stock exchange without the delays and demands of a traditional IPO, allowing them to avoid liability and disclosure regulations.
Fifty percent of all IPOs in the U.S. in 2020 involved SPAC structures, and SPACs raised $82 billion in the same year. In the first three months of 2021, SPACs outpaced traditional IPOs, raising $95 billion in that time.
When a SPAC proposes a merger with a private company, current SPAC shareholders can choose to redeem their original SPAC shares for money plus interest rather than participate in the merger by acquiring new shares in the merged company. If a SPAC fails to complete a merger within two years of its creation, it liquidates and returns all funds to its shareholders, with interest.
Wall Street executives, celebrities and other public figures often serve as the founders and sponsors of SPACs. They act as the public face of the company, use their influence to fundraise through share offerings, promote the company and help identify a private company with which to merge.
Most SPAC sponsors award themselves “founder shares” that convert into public shares after the merger between the SPAC and a private company. The founder shares typically represent as much as 20 percent of the total share value of the company.
This type of compensation does not exist as part of traditional IPOs. When SPAC sponsors convert the shares that they receive in the merged company, the public’s shares of that company are diluted and lose value. The valuation of SPAC shares may fall even further if a SPAC sponsor chooses a weak company with which to merge.
Some market experts have called for SPACs to make their compensation structures more explicit in order to protect retail investors.
Within 120 days of its enactment, the SPAC Act would require the SEC to issue rules on enhanced disclosures for SPACs during the initial public offering stage and the pre-merger stage to make those disclosures more transparent to investors, especially main street investors. These measures would help investors make more informed decisions about a company’s shares.
Text of the SPAC Act is available here.
Jun 08 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $2,006,964 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid.
“I’m grateful to see this $2 million being used to help the folks at Houma’s Leonard Chabert Medical Center repair their facility,” said Kennedy.
The FEMA aid will fund the following:
- $2,006,964 to the Ochsner Clinic Foundation at the Leonard Chabert Medical Center to repair damages as a result of Hurricane Ida.
Kennedy joins Rosen, Boozman bill to address health care provider shortage by pausing interest accrual during residency
Jun 08 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has cosponsored the Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) introduced the REDI Act to allow medical professionals serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program to defer their student loans without interest accruing while they complete those programs.
“Louisianians need more access to affordable doctors and dentists. By pausing interest accrual while health care providers finish their training, we can enable more qualified professionals to care for people who are most in need,” said Kennedy.
This bill does not erase debt or bail borrowers out. Rather, the legislation would simply defer the interest medical and dental students pay on their loans until after they have completed their residencies.
Medical residencies typically last three to 10 years. Doctors and dentists often earn modest salaries during residency, while their debt grows rapidly as interest accrues.
As a result of this debt burden, many residents pursue lucrative fields of practice over areas that are in higher demand, such as primary care.
Since this bill represents only a deferment, this bill would not add to the deficit.
The bill text is available here.