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MADISONVILLE, La. – Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced the bipartisan Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act to address the lack of broadband internet and other emerging information technology resources in rural areas by improving Small Business Administration (SBA) programs.

“Louisiana depends on broadband more each day. I’m proud to partner with Sen. Shaheen to expand access to broadband and other technological resources for small businesses so that they can continue to support the jobs our economy depends on,” said Kennedy.

“Small businesses are engines of economic growth and the heart of communities across New Hampshire, they need tools to boost their resilience moving forward. Reliable broadband is key to their success, particularly in rural parts of our state and country,” said Shaheen. “I’m reintroducing this bipartisan bill to improve SBA programs that expand access to broadband services, particularly in underserved and rural areas. This would build on the historic investments I helped secure as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law that will close the digital divide and improve the success of small businesses and families alike.”

The Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act would:

  • Direct the SBA Office of Investment and Innovation to designate a senior employee to serve as the broadband and emerging information technology (BEIT) coordinator.
  • Provide SBA employees with BEIT training to help small businesses use such technologies.
  • Report on the SBA’s work related to broadband and other emerging information technologies.
  • Require the SBA Chief Counsel for Advocacy to evaluate the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses.
  • Authorize small business development centers to help businesses access and use BEIT.

The bill text is available here.

 

Watch the report here

MADISONVILLE, La. – A recent investigation has highlighted Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) work to make hospital prices clear to patients before they pursue treatment. InvestigateTV’s analysis found that, despite the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) attempt to make hospital prices clear to the public, many hospitals have not complied with the agency’s Hospital Price Transparency Final Rule.

The rule went into effect in 2021 and requires hospitals to share their pricing information online, yet many hospitals have not provided patients with straightforward access to pricing for routine services. Kennedy has authored a bill, the Hospital Transparency Compliance Enforcement Act, that would incentivize hospitals to share this information by doubling the current penalties for noncompliant hospitals to as much as $11,000 per day.

In the report, Kennedy criticizes CMS for failing to enforce the rule effectively and says the agency has the authority to penalize hospitals that are “playing games” with consumers.

“I’ve gone to these hospital websites. They either don’t post their prices, or it would take Dog the Bounty Hunter to find out where on their website they’ve posted it. You've got to click here and click there and click there, and then click there to get there, and then it’s written in a foreign language,” said Kennedy.

Background:

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 hospitals found 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. 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.

Find the investigation’s report here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $17,687,490 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid. 

“Louisiana has been hit hard by storms in recent years, and this $17.7 million will help our people with some much-needed repairs,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $7,427,852 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board for school facilities repairs resulting from Hurricane Laura.
  • $7,181,775 to the Greater Lafourche Port Commission for repairs to the Port Lafourche public boat launch resulting from Hurricane Zeta.
  • $3,077,863 to the Diocese of Houma Thibodaux for mold remediation in school buildings related to Hurricane Ida.

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $1,731,397 in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for Louisiana disaster aid.

“Hurricane Ida struck south Louisiana badly, and I am grateful to see that this $1.7 million will support Louisianians’ efforts to rebuild,” said Kennedy. 

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $1,731,397 to the South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association for damages to the Old Bridge Road Submarine Electrical Utility Crossing as a result of Hurricane Ida.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $5,540,986 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana flood protection. 

“I’m glad to see that this $5.5 million will help Louisianians in Ascension and Calcasieu Parishes protect their homes and businesses from flood damage,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $2,821,146 to fund the elevation of 19 residential properties located throughout Ascension Parish.
  • $2,719,840 to fund the elevation of seven properties and the acquisition of four residential properties located throughout Calcasieu Parish.

 

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – The Senate has passed an anti-fentanyl trafficking bill that Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, helped champion. The Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act would combat the nation’s opioid crisis by targeting the supply chain from chemical suppliers in China to drug cartels in Mexico.

The FEND Off Fentanyl Act would reinforce current law and direct the Treasury Department to target, sanction and block the financial assets of transnational criminal organizations. 

“In New Orleans, 94 percent of overdose deaths now involve fentanyl. Mexican cartels are buying the chemicals to make this drug from China and trafficking it into our country through the southern border. The House must move quickly to pass this life saving legislation, which would cut off the drug flow at the source,” said Kennedy.  

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is leading the legislation. 

The legislation would:

  • Declare that the international trafficking of fentanyl is a national emergency.
  • Require the president to sanction transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels’ key members engaged in international fentanyl trafficking.
  • Enable the president to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property of fentanyl traffickers to further law enforcement efforts.
  • Enhance the ability to enforce sanctions violations thereby making it more likely that people who defy U.S. law will be caught and prosecuted.
  • Require the administration to report to Congress on actions the U.S. government is taking to reduce the international trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids.
  • Allow the Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering.
  • Require the Treasury Department to prioritize fentanyl-related suspicious transactions and include descriptions of drug cartels’ financing actions in Suspicious Activity Reports.

MADISONVILLE, La. – The Senate has passed a pro-law enforcement bill that Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, helped champion. The Recruit and Retain Act would address the nation-wide shortage of law enforcement officers, increase recruitment and address workforce challenges.

The legislation would boost the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants to address onboarding costs and hiring challenges. The bill would create a new program encouraging partnerships between schools and police departments. That program would strengthen the hiring pipeline that connects students to law enforcement career opportunities.

“The Recruit and Retain Act offers a commonsense solution to police shortages in Louisiana and across the nation. This crucial bill will help communities hire more officers and support these public servants long term. With crime surging around the country, the House should send this to President Biden’s desk as soon as possible,” said Kennedy. 

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) co-led the legislation, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are cosponsors, along with Kennedy.

The Recruit and Retain Act has received national endorsements from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs Association, R Street Institute and the Peace Officers Research Association of California. 

Text of the legislation is available here.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $24,486,053 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid.   

“This $24.5 million will make a difference for Louisianians in Jefferson and Jefferson Davis Parishes as they continue to recover from Hurricanes Ida and Laura,” said Kennedy. 

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $22,385,253 to Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for 138kV transmission line restoration as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,100,801 to the Jefferson Parish Public School System for repairs resulting from Hurricane Ida.

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, applauded the Senate’s passing of the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act (FEPA) of 2023 as part of the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act.  

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sponsored the bill, and Sens. Tom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are original cosponsors, along with Kennedy.

“Our bipartisan bill would help protect Americans from bad actors in other countries who demand bribes as the price of doing business abroad. The Senate passed this long-overdue solution quickly, and the House should do the same so that American businesses can compete on a level, ethical playing field,” said Kennedy. 

This bill would protect U.S. firms from corrupt foreign officials because such officials often demand bribes as a prerequisite for doing business in their countries. The FEPA would make such demands illegal, which would ensure that U.S. companies remain competitive in international contexts. 

Under the FEPA Act, penalties for soliciting bribes would include a fine of up to $250,000 or three times the value of the bribe (whichever is greater) and a prison sentence of up to 15 years.  

The FEPA would: 

  • Commission the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute foreign officials who request or receive a bribe from a U.S. individual or corporation, or from any person while in U.S. territory.
  • Require that the DOJ issue an annual report that summarizes major enforcement actions, analyzes the effectiveness of efforts to shield U.S. businesses from bribery demands and addresses foreign governments’ efforts to prosecute people who solicit bribes from Americans.

 

 

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $29,799,944 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Louisiana disaster aid. 

“This $29.8 million will help Louisianians in Jefferson Davis and Calcasieu Parishes and in southeast Louisiana recover from Hurricanes Laura and Ida,” said Kennedy.

The FEMA aid will fund the following:

  • $22,234,359 to Jefferson Davis Electric Cooperative Inc. for 69kV transmission line restoration as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $2,867,231 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board for building repairs at R.W. Vincent Elementary School as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,911,840 to the Calcasieu Parish School Board for building repairs at TS Cooley Elementary School as a result of Hurricane Laura.
  • $1,541,074 to the South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association (South Louisiana Electric) for damages to their underground Buquet electrical utility crossing as a result of Hurricane Ida.  
  • $1,245,440 to the Calcasieu Parish Voluntary Council on the Aging, Inc. for building replacement required as a result of Hurricane Laura.