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MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), released the following statement upon the passing of Gov. Buddy Roemer.

“Louisiana weeps. Buddy was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He was immeasurably talented. All he ever wanted to do was make Louisiana better, and he did. That meant making the right people mad, but he understood that. When I count my blessings, I count Buddy twice.

“More than anything, Buddy loved his family. Becky and I are honored to count his family and loved ones as our friends. We are so sad to lose this Louisiana warrior, and we are praying for everyone who was blessed to know and love him.”

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned the cancellation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I women’s golf regional in Baton Rouge, La. The NCAA scheduled this year’s tournament to occur at Louisiana State University’s University Club, but eventually canceled it, claiming that several inches of rainfall made the course “playable but not championship level.”

“The cancellation of the tournament is concerning for several reasons. First, there appear to have been multiple windows during the scheduled tournament when the athletes could have played. . . . Second, the players and their coaches were comfortable with the conditions and did not think they posed any risk to their safety. Third, the tournament has not been rescheduled,” wrote Kennedy. 

“This cancellation appears to be yet another example of how women’s sports are increasingly undervalued in this country. In Washington, D.C., ongoing efforts to undermine Title IX opportunities for women’s athletics would open competition to biological men who identify as women. The inaccurately named ‘Equality Act’ is one such effort. Our daughters and sisters must have opportunities equal to those of men to demonstrate their athletic ability without having their achievements diluted by unfair competition or mismanagement,” continued Kennedy.

“With all this in mind, I request a response detailing whether the NCAA is considering rescheduling the women’s tournament before the upcoming championship. If not, please detail what the NCAA will do to ensure female athletes do not face such an unfair result in the future,” Kennedy concluded.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) Reform Act, which would expand the concealed-carry rights of qualified law enforcement officers.

“America’s police officers protect communities when they’re on- and off-duty. The LEOSA Reform Act would make Louisianians safer by expanding concealed-carry rights for off-duty and retired cops in public places—so brave officers can protect and serve without unnecessary red tape,” said Kennedy.

The bill builds on the original LEOSA of 2004, which gives qualified officers, whether active, retired or no longer working in law enforcement, the right to carry concealed firearms in any U.S. state or territory, regardless of state or local laws. However, the original legislation contains numerous exceptions, including bans on concealed-carry rights on certain state, local and federal government property.

The LEOSA Reform Act will expand the original bill by allowing qualified officers to carry their concealed firearms in the following locations:

  • State, local and private property otherwise open to the public,
  • National parks, and
  • Certain federal public access facilities.

The bill would also allow qualified officers to carry magazines that are not prohibited by federal law and to carry their concealed firearms in gun-free school zones. It would also alleviate other undue burdens on concealed-carry rights.

Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have co-sponsored the LEOSA Reform Act.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The LEOSA Reform Act has support from numerous law enforcement organizations, including:

  1. The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI
  2. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
  3. The National Association of Police Organizations
  4. The Fraternal Order of Police
  5. The Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service
  6. The FBI Agents Association
  7. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
  8. The Sergeants Benevolent Association of the New York City Police Department
  9. The National Sheriffs Association
  10. The Port Authority Retired Police Association of New York and New Jersey
  11. The San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association
  12. The ATF Association
  13. The FBI National Academy Associates
  14. San Jose Police Officers Association
  15. Air Marshal Association
  16. Peace Officers Research Association of California
  17. Association of Federal Narcotics Agents
  18. USAF Police Alumni Association
  19. International Union of Police Associations
  20. Retired Police Association of the State of New York
  21. United States Marshals Service Association
  22. Association of Former New Jersey State Troopers
  23. Major Cities Chiefs Association
  24. The International Association of Chiefs of Police
  25. The National District Attorneys Association

Text of the LEOSA Reform Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) today introduced the Save the Liberty Theatre Act of 2021, which will allow the city of Eunice to restore its historic Liberty Theatre. 

“The Liberty Theatre has delighted both the people of Eunice and tourists for decades. This historic theater has hosted silent films, live bands and other entertainment over its beautiful history. I’m thankful to partner with Congressman Johnson to introduce the Save the Liberty Theatre Act of 2021 so the city of Eunice can cut through the red tape and get this Cajun gem up and running again,” said Kennedy. 

“The Liberty Theatre has been a staple of Louisiana’s Cajun community for nearly 100 years, and today, I am proud to be joined by Senator Kennedy in introducing legislation to allow the City of Eunice to proceed with its efforts to restore the theatre as an important center of culture and tourism. With a proper restoration, this special landmark can be enjoyed for generations to come. I will be working with my colleagues to make sure this bill gets the consideration it deserves in the House of Representatives,” said Johnson.

The National Park Service owns a section of the Liberty Theatre that provides a handicap accessible entrance, but this ownership interest in the property is hindering efforts to restore the theater. The Save the Liberty Theatre Act of 2021 would grant Eunice full ownership of the theater property so the city can begin restoration efforts.

Text of the Save the Liberty Theatre Act of 2021 is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and other Republican senators in calling on President Biden to cut off negotiations with and refrain from giving sanctions relief to Iran, in light of that nation’s support of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The letter comes in the wake of Hamas’s launching hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians and cities.

“As you know, Palestinian terrorist groups launched more than 1,000 rockets targeting Israel over the last few days alone. This includes the first rockets aimed at Jerusalem since 2014. While the United States and countries around the world condemned these rocket attacks, Iran resoundingly supports this aggression. Shortly after the attacks began, and as they continued, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted that Palestinians should unite to ‘use the tools of their disposal’ to attack Israel, which he recently called not a nation, but a ‘terrorist garrison,’” Kennedy and the senators wrote.

The senators explained that the U.S. designated Hamas as a terrorist organization more than 20 years ago, which means America cannot grant any assistance to the group. The U.S., however, is actively negotiating with Iran, a country that has consistently backed Hamas financially and materially. The senators warned that any money in sanctions relief that the U.S. might give to Iran would likely support Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

“We call on you to immediately end negotiations with Iran, and make clear that sanctions relief will not be provided. Doing so would demonstrate a firm commitment to our closest ally in the region and to our own security interests,” the senators continued. 

“The United States must not do anything to enrich Israel’s enemies, such as by offering sanctions relief to a regime that seeks to destroy Israel. As a longtime friend of the Jewish State, we also urge you to unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend itself against any and all terrorist attacks,” the lawmakers concluded.

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) in introducing the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, which would allow rural homeowners, renters and small businesses to more easily access disaster relief in the wake of a natural disaster.

“Natural disasters don’t discriminate: They destroy homes and affect lives in rural communities just as in big cities. The people of Louisiana experienced this firsthand during last year’s historic hurricane season. The Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act would make it easier for people in rural communities to access much-needed federal assistance to recover from natural disasters. We cannot allow bureaucracy to block or delay help to those who desperately need it,” said Kennedy.   

“Under the current system, disaster victims in rural communities have experienced significant delays in relief funding brought on by bureaucratic red tape. This bipartisan legislation aims to fix that. The Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act will make critical resources available for rural small businesses affected by natural disasters,” said Risch. 

Under current law, bureaucratic roadblocks prevent small businesses and homeowners in rural communities from accessing Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance following a natural disaster. This legislation creates a waiver at no cost to taxpayers allowing rural communities to more readily access and secure SBA disaster assistance in the case of a presidentially-declared disaster.

Co-sponsors of this bill include Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

Reps. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) introduced the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act in the House.

Text of the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today asked the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to hold oversight hearings on the federal government’s response to the SEACOR Power tragedy. The SEACOR Power, a commercial lift boat, capsized this April in the Gulf of Mexico, killing six crewmembers. Seven crewmembers remain missing.

“It is clear that communication between the vessel operator and crewmember families was all too infrequent during search and rescue operations and that Congress must close gaps in existing vessel response plan regulations. Details of the immediate response from the [U.S. Coast Guard] and subsequent search and rescue efforts deserve to be heard on the record in a Congressional setting. Testimony from SEACOR Marine, the operator of the SEACOR Power, will help clarify why the lift boat was traveling through such severe weather in the first place,”wrote Kennedy.

“The capsizing of the SEACOR Power is the worst disaster to strike the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010. We must ensure the federal response was timely and adequate. . . . There is an urgent need for clarity as loved ones of the lost crewmembers desperately seek answers. I stand ready to support all efforts to conduct oversight hearings in the relevant authorizing committee and appropriations subcommittee,” Kennedy concluded.

Following the SEACOR Power tragedy, Kennedy introduced the Vessel Response Plan Improvement Act, which would require commercial vessels to provide timely notifications to the crew’s family members throughout search and rescue operations. 

The letter is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing the Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act, which would help small businesses mitigate property damage from future disasters.

“No one knows better than a Louisianian how to prepare for natural disasters, and this bill will make it easier for our small businesses to prevent loss. Too often, hardworking Americans are forced to weather storms first and federal bureaucracy second. I’m thankful to work with Sen. Rubio and colleagues to pass the PREPARE Act before another historic hurricane batters our state,” said Kennedy.

Small businesses in America should be able to prepare for unplanned disasters. The PREPARE Act would allow small businesses the opportunity to invest in mitigation before a disaster strikes, saving businesses and taxpayers money, as well as reducing potential property damage,” said Rubio.

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency statistics, approximately 50 percent of small businesses close indefinitely following a disaster, and every $1 spent on mitigation saves taxpayers $6.

The PREPARE Act would:

  • Create an updated Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program for small businesses to proactively take out a low-interest loan (up to $500,000) to implement mitigation measures to protect their property from future disaster-related damage,
  • Authorize $25 million annually (FY2021 to FY2025),
  • Task the Small Business Administration (SBA) with establishing and carrying out an advertising and outreach program related to pre-disaster mitigation,
  • Task SBA with issuing guidance to ensure borrowers purchase and maintain insurance coverage over the duration of the loan,
  • Require SBA to conduct initial reporting and a program evaluation annually thereafter, and
  • Increase, from 20 to 30 percent, the limit on existing SBA Physical Business Disaster Loans a borrower may use towards post-disaster mitigation.
Text of the PREPARE Act is available here.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has earned the National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU) Taxpayers’ Friend Award for his 2020 voting record. The NTU gives this award to lawmakers with voting records that promote low taxes, economic freedom and limited government. Only four senators earned this award in 2020.

“I am honored to receive the Taxpayers’ Friend Award. At a time when Washington seems to try to spend its way out of every problem, I will keep fighting to save Louisianians’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and to get the most out of every cent spent,” said Kennedy.

“The pandemic created unprecedented challenges for our nation—and for taxpayers. Despite these difficult circumstances, taxpayers should know that Sen. Kennedy continued to support fiscal discipline and responsible governance. Now more than ever, we need leaders like Sen. Kennedy to get our nation’s finances back in order and help restore our prosperity. National Taxpayers Union thanks Sen. Kennedy for his efforts on behalf of the people who pay government’s bills,” said Pete Sepp, President of NTU.

NTU publishes an annual scorecard that calculates a lawmaker’s voting record regarding fiscal responsibility. NTU considers every vote that impacts tax, spending, trade and regulatory policy, and grants the Taxpayers’ Friend Award to lawmakers with high scores. This year, Kennedy received an “A” grade. By comparison, the average Senate score was a “D.”

Read NTU’s 2020 scorecard here.

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) bipartisan Improving Mental Health Access for Students Act. The legislation requires colleges and universities to provide the contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Text Line and a campus mental health center on student identification cards. The bill passed the Senate in the 116th Congress by voice vote.

“Many Americans have known and loved someone who suffers with depression or anxiety. It’s a particular problem for our young people, and the global pandemic has only made a tough situation worse for too many college and university students. When students need help, many of them don’t know where to find it. The Improving Mental Health Access for Students Act would help ensure that students always have easy access to mental health resources. I hope the House sends it to the president’s desk immediately,” said Kennedy.  

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for young Americans, and a majority of cases of mental health issues begin by age 24. The global pandemic has made the situation more difficult: Roughly a quarter of college students say their depression has gotten worse during the pandemic. Over half of students do not know where to find help.

Colleges and universities can easily add the contact info for suicide hotlines and other mental health resources to student identification cards by updating existing templates or providing new basic identification stickers.  

Text of the Improving Mental Health Access for Students Act is available here.