“Louisiana’s ports fuel much of the nation’s commerce. This critical funding is great news for Avondale, and, importantly, it will support jobs on the Westbank.”
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $9,880,000 in funding from the Department of Transportation to convert an aging wharf at the historic Avondale shipyard site to a modern cargo dock.
“Louisiana’s ports fuel much of the nation’s commerce. This critical funding is great news for Avondale, and, importantly, it will support jobs on the Westbank,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy in June wrote a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao asking her to consider Jefferson Parish’s application for the Avondale Dock Conversion Project.
This funding will support an estimated 2,000 new jobs, improve traffic flow and allow the Avondale Industrial Marine District’s port facility to handle cargo more effectively from the Westbank.
“This case is about fairness, plain and simple. Capitol Hill Baptist Church is right to ask that houses of worship receive the same treatment Mayor Bowser has given peaceful protestors under her coronavirus restrictions. . . . If the First Amendment gets trampled in our nation’s capital, it’s under threat everywhere.”
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, today joined fellow senators in filing an amicus brief supporting Capitol Hill Baptist Church’s position in the case of Capitol Hill Baptist Church v. Bowser.
“This case is about fairness, plain and simple. Capitol Hill Baptist Church is right to ask that houses of worship receive the same treatment Mayor Bowser has given peaceful protestors under her coronavirus restrictions. The First Amendment protects both religious expression and peaceful demonstrations.
“If the mayor believes one group can assemble safely, there’s no legitimate health reason to curb the freedoms of another group whose rights are equally sacred in the eyes of the Constitution. I hope the mayor stops discriminating against religious groups immediately and embraces the rights of every house of worship in Washington, D.C. If the First Amendment gets trampled in our nation’s capital, it’s under threat everywhere,” said Kennedy.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 7 on the motion for a preliminary injunction.
The Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government exercises oversight over the District of Columbia and its federal funding.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) led the brief. Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also joined the brief.
Mayor Muriel Bowser has issued an executive order banning outdoor church services of more than 100 individuals even if worshippers are socially distanced and wearing masks. Capitol Hill Baptist Church is located in Washington, D.C. and has complied with Mayor Bowser’s executive order prohibiting large scale gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Capitol Hill Baptist Church has applied for a waiver of the 100-person limit in order to hold services outside, but the mayor’s office denied its application, stating that waivers for houses of worship are being categorically denied. Since the executive order went into effect, however, Bowser and the District of Columbia have supported other large outdoor protests and gatherings.
The amicus brief argues that the District of Columbia’s denial of Capitol Hill Baptist Church’s waiver runs contradictory to the mayor and city’s approval of other large-scale gatherings and protests, and this selective enforcement infringes upon the church’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment.
The brief further argues that the District is intentionally treating houses of worship differently than other groups, and this violates the church’s Fifth Amendment right to due process by denying it equal protection under the law.
According to the brief, “the Mayor’s discrimination against houses of worship rests on a mistaken, and unconstitutional, premise that one particular exercise of free speech—a church’s desire to gather together and worship their God—is subordinate to other First Amendment-protected activities. This Court should enforce the First Amendment’s promise of free speech for all by issuing a preliminary injunction to prevent the Mayor and the District of Columbia from prohibiting outdoor religious services that adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.”
The brief also underscores the right to peaceful protests, citing Justice Alito, who wrote, “Public protests, of course, are themselves protected by the First Amendment, and any efforts to restrict them would be subject to judicial review.”
The text of the brief can be found here.
“Social media has many virtues, but too often it divides people by feeding them polarizing information—without their awareness or consent. . . . My bill would give Americans more control over their privacy and online experience.”
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) welcomed the introduction of the House companion of S.4756, the Don’t Push My Buttons Act. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) introduced the legislation, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is the bill’s lead co-sponsor.
“Social media has many virtues, but too often it divides people by feeding them polarizing information—without their awareness or consent. Platforms that incite conflict just to increase their ad revenue have a duty to inform users of that manipulation. My bill would give Americans more control over their privacy and online experience, and I applaud Congressman Gosar for introducing its companion in the House today,” said Kennedy.
“Tech companies are making users the product. Google and others are collecting user data and manipulating users, often unwittingly. Some may find content curation options convenient, but many users are creeped out and manipulated by data collection and content curation regarding personal habits, preferences, or beliefs. The Don’t Push My Buttons Act empowers users to choose, or decline, custom content curation based on collected personal data, empowering users to protect themselves from unwanted manipulation online,” said Gosar.
The Don’t Push My Buttons Act would narrow the scope of U.S. Code 47, Section 230 immunity by denying such immunity to platforms that use algorithms that attempt to optimize engagement by funneling information to users that polarizes their views, unless a user opts into such an algorithm.
The internet platform has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that a user of its service knowingly and intentionally elected to receive the content covered in this bill.
Oct 04 2020
Oct 01 2020
“I introduced the Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Zones Act to incentivize rebuilding and development projects in southwest and central Louisiana communities.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Zones Act to increase investment in communities hit hard by the category four storm.
“A month after Hurricane Laura struck, Louisianians are already rebuilding their homes and businesses. I introduced the Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Zones Act to incentivize rebuilding and development projects in southwest and central Louisiana communities,” said Kennedy.
The Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Zone Act would incentivize building and development projects in low-income areas impacted by the storm by allowing investors to defer and potentially reduce capital gains taxes on assets sold after Aug. 28, 2020. Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Funds would be the vehicle for investing in eligible low-income areas, which will spur economic development in areas devastated by the hurricane.
Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Zones are low-income census tracts in major disaster areas designated to receive individual assistance as a result of the Hurricane Laura federal disaster declaration. These Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Zones allow investors to temporarily defer and partially exclude taxes on previously earned capital gains.
Investors who reinvest those capital gains in Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Funds would not be taxed on those gains until they sell their investments or until the end of 2030. Gains from investments in Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Funds that are held for at least 10 years are excluded from tax.
This legislation also includes a sense of the Congress that capital gains rates should not be changed.
The bill text is available here.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) authorized Opportunity Zones across the country in 2017, and now the new Hurricane Laura Recovery Opportunity Zones Act will build on that program to provide the same favorable tax treatment for investors interested in helping communities recover from the storm.
On Aug. 28, 2020, President Donald Trump granted a major disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana, triggering the release of federal funds to help people and communities recover from Hurricane Laura, which occurred Aug. 22 to Aug. 27, 2020.
Sep 30 2020
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement after meeting today with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, nominated by President Donald Trump to join the U.S. Supreme Court:
“Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an impressive, thoughtful jurist with great respect for the Constitution. I’m thankful for the opportunity to speak with Judge Barrett today, and I look forward to hearing from her in the approaching committee hearings.”
Sep 30 2020
“If a close look at this pilot program shows that veterans are healthier when they use fitness monitors, it’s worth considering whether these efforts can be expanded through Medicare or private insurance. These fitness trackers may be a simple way to improve health care and lower costs for many Americans.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced a bill to determine whether a pilot program through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is delivering high-quality care to veterans by using wearable fitness monitors and whether the program should be expanded.
“Our veterans deserve incredible care, and I want to make sure they’re getting it. If a close look at this pilot program shows that veterans are healthier when they use fitness monitors, it’s worth considering whether these efforts can be expanded through Medicare or private insurance. These fitness trackers may be a simple way to improve health care and lower costs for many Americans,” said Kennedy.
The VA has operated a pilot program, VETERANS (Veteran Engagement Through Electronic Resources and Notifications Study), that provides Garmin and Apple Watches, FitBits or other wearable technology to veterans who have recently undergone surgery related to atrial fibrillation. The program also includes patients enrolled in weight management, cardiac rehabilitation and other programs. The devices help veterans monitor their heart rates and better track their overall health in coordination with the VA.
Because the program was not established through legislation, there is currently no report requirement related to the pilot program. This bill would require the Secretary of the VA to provide a report by the end of fiscal year 2022 on the pilot program’s findings to determine whether it is effective and whether the program could potentially be implemented through the Medicare system or other health care providers.
The bill text is available here.