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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today introduced the Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act of 2018.  Their bill will protect consumers’ online privacy and data by improving transparency, strengthening consumers’ recourse options when a data breach occurs and ensuring companies are compliant with privacy policies that protect consumers.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Requires terms of service agreements to be in plain language,
  • Ensures users have the ability to see what information about them has already been collected and shared,
  • Provides users greater access to and control over their data,
  • Gives consumers the right to opt out and keep their information private by disabling data tracking and collection,
  • Mandates that users be notified of a privacy violation within 72 hours,
  • Offers remedies for users when a privacy violation occurs,
  • Requires that online platforms have a privacy program in place.

“I don’t want to hurt Facebook, and I don’t want to regulate them half to death, either. But I have a job to do, and that’s protecting the rights and privacy of our citizens,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Our bill gives consumers more control over their private data, requires user agreements to be written in plain English and requires companies to notify users of privacy violations.  These are just simple steps that online platforms should have implemented in the first place.” 

“Every day companies profit off of the data they’re collecting from Americans, yet leave consumers completely in the dark about how their personal information, online behavior, and private messages are being used,” Sen. Klobuchar said.  “Consumers should have the right to control their personal data and that means allowing them to opt out of having their data collected and tracked and alerting them within 72 hours when a privacy violation occurs and their personal information may be compromised.  The digital space can’t keep operating like the Wild West at the expense of our privacy.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Randal Quarles, vice chairman of supervision for the Federal Reserve, today about discriminatory policies by Citigroup and Bank of America that threaten small business owners’ Second Amendment rights. 

“Citigroup and Bank of America have decided to make gun policy for the American people.  They’re denying small business owners their Second Amendment rights because of politics,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This is no different than the big banks refusing to do business with someone because they oppose abortion.  We don’t need red banks or blue banks.   Banks shouldn’t make decisions based on which button a small business owner pushed in the voting booth, especially when taxpayers – Republicans and Democrats alike - bailed them out after the 2008 financial crisis.”

 

 

A partial transcript of Sen. Kennedy’s questioning

Sen. Kennedy: Let’s suppose that a customer wants to exercise his First Amendment right to speak out against abortion.  Do you think banks ought not to do business with him?

Vice Chairman Quarles: That wouldn’t be my personal view.  As a supervisor, I’m not sure it would be my role to direct the bank on that question, but that wouldn’t be my personal view.

Sen. Kennedy: Would your answers be the same if the subject were climate change as opposed to abortion? 

Vice Chairman Quarles: Completely.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) discussed funding for Louisiana infrastructure projects with the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, R.D. James, at a meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations today.  In five minutes, Sen. Kennedy highlighted infrastructure projects across Louisiana that are integral to flood prevention and coastal restoration. 

Click here or the photo below to watch:

Highlights:

Federal Permit Process: “Since we have been talking, we have lost a football field of land in Louisiana.  You can debate the cause, but you can’t debate the fact that water is rising.  We’re spending a lot of our own money to do something about it, but the federal permit process is killing us. We need a little help navigating the federal bureaucracy.”

Maritime Commerce:  “Dredging is hugely important in my state.  We can’t maintain maritime commerce if you can’t get the boats in.  We’ve got to find the money for it.”

Comite River Diversion Canal:  “When the Comite River floods, it floods houses and businesses.  We want to build a canal from the Mississippi River to the Comite River to take some of the pressure off.  You have some extra money now, and it’s time to do something about it.”

Fresh Water Bayou Lock:  “The Fresh Water Bayou Lock is one of the top ten in the country in terms of commercial lockage.  We need to make sure projects like these have the funding they deserve.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent the following letters to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder urging them to reevaluate state contracts with Citigroup and Bank of America over Second Amendment infringements. 

“Citigroup and Bank of America have decided to make banking a red versus blue issue by trampling on the Second Amendment rights of small business owners.  I want to make sure Louisiana isn’t rewarding this behavior with state contracts,” said Sen. John Kennedy.  “Rather than impose its political agenda on law-abiding citizens, Wall Street banks ought to remember how taxpayers bailed them out after the 2008 financial crisis.”

April 18, 2018

           

The Honorable John Bel Edwards

Governor

State of Louisiana

P.O. Box 94004

Baton Rouge, LA 70804

 

Dear Governor Edwards:

 

            I am gravely concerned about Citigroup and Bank of America’s new commercial firearms policies.  This corporate overreach stands to hurt many small businesses in our state, who will lose their banking services for simply choosing to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment.  In response to these politically-motivated policies, I respectfully urge you to locate and terminate any contract between these banks and the state of Louisiana.

I find it disturbing that these government-chartered banks may be profiting from taxpayer-funded contracts at the same time that they are severing ties with Louisiana businesses.  During the financial crisis, Citigroup and Bank of America received taxpayer-funded bailouts worth $812.3 billion.  These days, not only does Citigroup have a lucrative contract with the federal government, but it has come to my attention that Bank of America may supply purchasing card and credit card processing services to several state agencies in Louisiana.  I ask that you confirm the existence of these or any other state contracts and outline your plans to cancel them.  Please know that I have already petitioned the General Services Administration to cancel Citigroup’s federal contract.

For background, these banks have rolled out new firearms policies that penalize banking clients who follow state and local law but do not adhere to these new corporate standards.  Citigroup’s new policy would place extralegal restrictions on the sale of guns and accessories.  Bank of America issued a similar policy aimed at gun manufacturers that produce “military-style firearms”.  These policies are an affront to responsible gun owners everywhere and, in my view, are downright offensive.

These corporate firearm policies affect small businesses, commercial and institutional clients, and even their credit card partners across our state.  It is unclear how many entities in Louisiana will lose their banking services.  I am hopeful that this disturbing trend in the banking industry can be stopped before we are left with red banks and blue banks.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request.  It is offensive that New York banks are taking taxpayer dollars with one hand, and using the other to come after Louisiana’s guns.

 

                                                                        Sincerely,

 

 

 

                                                                        John Kennedy

                                                                        United States Senator

 

cc:        Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne

 

The second letter to State Treasurer John Schroder is below:

 

April 17, 2018

           

State Treasurer John Schroder

Chairman

State Bond Commission

900 N. 3rd St.

Third Floor

Baton Rouge, LA. 70802

 

Dear Treasurer Schroder,

 

            I write today with grave concern about the firearm policies of Citigroup and Bank of America that stand to hurt many small businesses and consumers in Louisiana.  I respectfully urge State Bond Commission members to explore if Citigroup and Bank of America currently service state contracts or have business dealings with the commission.  There is no reason for these banks to profit from taxpayer-funded contracts while excluding Louisiana businesses from their banking services. 

For background, Citigroup announced their new U.S. Commercial Firearms Policy, which details how it will sever services with law-abiding businesses who do not adhere to the following practices:

1. Businesses cannot sell firearms to someone who hasn’t passed a background check.

2. They must restrict the sale of firearms to individuals under 21 years of age.

3. They cannot sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines. 

This policy now applies across Citigroup and affects small businesses, commercial and institutional clients, and even their credit card partners. I have inquired about the specific number of entities in our state that will lose banking services with Citigroup.    

Bank of America, the second largest bank in the country, followed suit and issued a similar policy that specifically targets gun manufacturers.  They will no longer underwrite or finance businesses that manufacture “military-style firearms”.  This is an affront to responsible gun owners everywhere and, in my view, is downright offensive.  I am hopeful that this disturbing trend in the banking industry can be stopped before we are left with red banks and blue banks.

            During the financial crisis, Citigroup and Bank of America received taxpayer-funded bailouts worth $812.3 billion.  These days, Citigroup has a lucrative contract with the federal government.  Please know that I have petitioned the General Services Administration to cancel this contract and will continue to fight for Louisiana citizens who choose to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment. 

            Thank you for your consideration of this important request.  It is offensive that government-chartered New York banks are coming after Louisiana guns.

                                                           

                                                            Sincerely,

 

 

                                                           

 

                                                            John Kennedy

                                                            United States Senator

 

cc:        Gov. John Bel Edwards

            Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser

            Sen. John Alario

            Rep. Taylor F. Barras

            Secretary of State Tom Schedler

            Attorney General Jeff Landry

            Sen. Eric Lafleur

            Sen. Jean-Paul J. Morrell

            Sen. John R. Smith

            Rep. Cameron Henry

            Rep. Neil Abramson

            Rep. James Morris

            Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne

 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R. La) issued the following statement about the passing of former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush:

“Barbara Bush was an inspiring and influential First Lady.  Becky and I are saddened by her passing, but we know that she left a powerful legacy.  Mrs. Bush helped champion countless humanitarian causes over the course of her life and touched the lives of millions around the world,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “It was, however, her work with literacy that distinguished her long philanthropic career.  Hopefully, her goal of universal literacy will be realized in the near future.  In recognition of her dream, I will ask that books from the Library of Congress be donated to a public school in Louisiana in her honor.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators John Kennedy (R-La.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced bipartisan legislation today to help expand economic opportunity for military veterans who are small business owners.  The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act would allow veterans to acquire equipment and property that the federal government no longer has a use for by adding them to the list of eligible recipients for federal surplus property.  The list already includes women and minority small business owners as well as Veterans Service Organizations.

“Our nation’s heroes deserve every bit of support we can give when they return home from their service,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “This bill empowers veteran entrepreneurs by increasing their access to affordable equipment and property.  Helping veterans’ small businesses succeed will help create jobs and grow our economy.  I will continue to work for the men and women who have devoted their lives to serve and protect our country.”

“When our veterans return home from their service, they deserve our full support as they transition back into civilian life, and that includes supporting their efforts to build and manage a small business,” said Sen. Duckworth.  “This bill will help veteran-owned businesses expand their operations, reduce costs, and create jobs across Illinois and around the country.  Our nation should be doing much more to help our veterans and I’ll be working with Senators Kennedy and Durbin and other members on both sides of the aisle to pass this legislation.”

“Part of honoring the sacrifice our nation’s veterans have made means supporting them when they return home,” said Sen. Durbin.  “That is why I am proud to join Senators Tammy Duckworth and John Kennedy in introducing the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act, which would encourage small business growth and give veterans opportunities to succeed at home.”

The General Services Administration (GSA) has overseen distribution of federal surplus property for 15 years in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and State Agencies for Surplus Property (SASP).  When there is no federal need for excess property, SASPs disburse the property to eligible recipients who otherwise may have been unable to acquire it.  This legislation is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the National Association of State Agencies for Surplus Property (NASASP).

 

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‘For years, Chinese companies have dumped inferior … seafood products into the American marketplace, and Louisiana industries have suffered.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump today asking that he place a tariff on Chinese crawfish and shrimp imported to the United States.  The text of the letter is below.

  

April 17, 2018

  

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write today regarding your efforts to impose tariffs on certain products made in China. I respectfully request that Chinese crawfish and shrimp be considered for addition to the product list if you decide to impose tariffs.  Including crawfish and shrimp would provide a much needed economic boost to the Louisiana seafood industry, which supplies the finest seafood in the world.  For years, Chinese companies have dumped inferior, sometimes fraudulent, seafood products into the American marketplace, and Louisiana industries have suffered as a result.  

The commercial seafood industry has a $2.4 billion annual impact on Louisiana’s economy but access to the Chinese market has been restricted by policies that discourage foreign competition.  If your administration must evaluate additional products subject to subsequent tariffs, I respectfully ask that you give full consideration to the inclusion of Chinese crawfish and shrimp.  Louisianans take great pride in their seafood, and this measure would reward hardworking Louisiana shrimpers, crawfish farmers, and consumers.  

Again, I am grateful for your consideration.  I would welcome the opportunity to share Louisiana’s great seafood with you and discuss this proposal’s benefits to my state.  Thank you for your service to America.

                                                                       

Respectfully,

 

 

 

John Kennedy

United States Senator

 

cc: The Honorable Sonny Perdue

      The Honorable Robert Lighthizer

      Director Larry Kudlow

 

 

 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) issued the following statement today on the strike against Syria:

“The of chemical weapons is immoral and a violation of international law.  The United States told Syria not to do it anymore and Syria did, so we responded on behalf of all civilized nations.  I congratulate President Trump, and I thank our allies the United Kingdom and France for joining with us.  Our strikes were restrained and strategic; they targeted only Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons and its manufacturing facilities.  The strikes targeted neither Russia nor Iran.  I hope Russia and Iran will change their minds and join with the United States and the world in condemning Assad’s butchery.  The only way for America to remain safe in a dangerous world is to remain strong and use our military might only when we have to.  At the same time, we have to act in a way such that our friends will trust us and our enemies will respect us.  I believe President Trump, Prime Minister May and President Macron have done that.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R. La) announced more than $4 million in FEMA grants today to help the East Baton Rouge School Board recover from the devastating floods in 2016.  Prescott Middle School is receiving $2.18 million to permanently repair seven buildings that were damaged in the 2016 floods.  Glen Oaks High School is getting $1.93 million to repair and renovate four buildings that were affected by the flood.

“These funds will go a long way toward rebuilding and updating our schools after the 2016 flooding,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board shouldn’t have to shoulder these costs.  They need to invest in educating students and preparing them for bright futures.”

“We appreciate the ongoing support and advocacy of Sen. John Kennedy and his role in securing FEMA funding to complete post-flood repairs at Prescott Middle and Glen Oaks High Schools,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Schools Supt. Warren Drake.  “Sen. Kennedy’s efforts have been vital in assuring the return of all students to a safe and restored learning environment.”

 

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WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Kennedy (R-LA), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and U.S. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Steve Scalise (R-LA) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation in the Senate (S. 2652) and House to award Washington state native, ALS champion, and former New Orleans Saints star Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his work through the Gleason Initiative Foundation to provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with the assistance they need to thrive, his advocacy for federal legislation ensuring people living with diseases such as ALS have access to speech generating devices, and his leadership in bringing together the single largest coordinated and collaborative ALS research project in the world.

“Steve Gleason is a national hero, and I’m proud to help introduce this legislation to award him the Congressional Gold Medal.  He was an outstanding athlete.  Saints fans will always remember his seven spectacular seasons with the team,” said Sen. Kennedy. “But it has been Steve’s work off the field that has truly distinguished him.  Since his diagnosis, Steve has done an incalculable amount of work to spread awareness for ALS.  He has been a beacon of hope and has been the definition of courage for all touched by this disease.  I can think of no better way to honor him.”

“Steve Gleason was a hero for Saints fans and now he is a hero for all Americans as he finds hope and meaning in overcoming disability and creating greater opportunity for others who are disabled,” said Dr. Cassidy.

“Few people make Washington state as proud as Steve Gleason, a Spokane native and WSU standout who not only excelled on the field, but who has gone on to make his biggest impact as a tireless advocate in the health world,” said Sen. Murray. “Together with his wife, mother, and everyone at their foundation, Steve has changed countless lives for the better and this legislation symbolizes the strong support Steve and Team Gleason have in the United States Congress.”

“Steve, a Spokane native, is a hero to me and to so many of us in Eastern Washington,” said Rep. Rodgers. “As a tireless advocate for those with ALS and other degenerative diseases, Steve has helped usher legislation through Congress to permanently provide access to important speech-generating devices for those who’ve lost their ability to communicate. He has chosen to fight back against ALS, and to undergo this very personal battle in the public eye to bring awareness to this disease and the people who it impacts on a daily basis. That’s why I’m proud to join in this effort to recognize Steve with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

“Steve Gleason is not just a beacon of hope in New Orleans, but across the country,” said Rep. Richmond. “His work on the field lifted the hearts of Saints fans, but his work off the field is actually improving lives. Steve is doing remarkable work and is truly an inspiration. Awarding him a Congressional Gold Medal would be the best way to honor him.”

“Just like the New Orleans Saints were an inspiration to the city when they returned to the Dome after Hurricane Katrina, Steve Gleason has been a hero in his own right for the city of New Orleans,” said Whip Scalise. “His spirit and determination serve as an inspiration to us all.”

“We strongly support the nomination of Steve Gleason for a Congressional Gold Medal,” said ALS Association President and CEO Calaneet Balas. “Steve’s efforts to successfully secure access to speech-generating devices was critical to all those who have ALS. Speech-generating devices aren’t a luxury for people with diseases like ALS - they’re a lifeline. These devices allow people living with ALS to communicate with healthcare professionals, loved ones, and their communities. We encourage Congress to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Steve Gleason – he is a national hero.”

“Steve Gleason is so deserving of this honor. He has inspired and challenged all of us to push the boundaries of technology to empower people with disabilities, even as he has waged his own battle against ALS,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “Steve is a huge reason we’ve pursued eye control solutions for Windows and wheelchairs, giving people with limited speech and movement independence through technology.”

“On behalf of the New Orleans Saints we extend our most sincere support for awarding Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Saints Owner Gayle Benson. “Along with his wife, Michel, and everyone at Team Gleason, they are courageously confronting ALS with an unwavering determination, unselfishly providing countless afflicted people with the latest in technology and services. Steve is leaving a truly indelible mark in American history.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. Before a medal is awarded, the legislation must be passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president.

Previous recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include Orville and Wilbur Wright, Thomas Edison, Jonas Salk, Irving Berlin, Robert Frost, Bob Hope, Walt Disney, Roberto Clemente, Sir Winston Churchill, John Wayne, the 1980 U.S. Summer Olympic Team, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Ruth and Billy Graham, Frank Sinatra, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus.

The legislation states in part:

The Congress finds the following:

(1) Stephen “Steve” Gleason was born March 19, 1977, in Spokane, Washington to Mike and Gail Gleason.

(2) Steve attended Gonzaga Preparatory School for high school where he excelled as both a football and baseball player.

(3) In 1995, Steve enrolled at Washington State University where he was a 2-sport athlete for the baseball and football teams and helped the Cougars football team advance to the 1997 Rose Bowl.

(4) In 2000, Steve signed a professional football contract with the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League as an undrafted free agent but later joined the New Orleans Saints in November of that same season.

(5) Steve would go on to play 7 more seasons as a member of the New Orleans Saints.

(6) Steve will always be remembered for his blocked punt on September 25, 2006, against the Atlanta Falcons, the night the Louisiana Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina in a game the Saints would win 23 to 3.

(7) In January, 2011 Steve was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, considered a terminal neuro-muscular disease.

(8) Following his diagnosis, Steve, with the loving support of his wife, Michel, began a mission to show that patients can not only live but thrive after a diagnosis of ALS and established The Gleason Initiative Foundation also known simply as “Team Gleason”.

(9) At the time of his diagnosis, however, Steve said there will be “No White Flags”, which has become the mantra of Team Gleason.

(10) The Gleason Initiative Foundation helps provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with leading edge technology, equipment and services, raises global awareness about ALS to find solutions and an end to the disease, and has helped hundreds of people with ALS experience life adventures they never thought possible after their diagnosis.

(11) Steve’s story and mission have been told by the NFL Network, ESPN, HBO, ABC, CBS, CNN, and many local media outlets, as well as in a 2016 documentary titled “Gleason”, which was heralded at the Sundance Film Festival and premiered across the country with Variety calling the production “an emotional powerhouse”. The documentary won several awards, including the 2016 Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Documentary.

(12) Steve was named 1 of 2 Sports Illustrated’s Inspirations of the Year in 2014, has been a keynote speaker for Microsoft and at 2 United Nations sponsored Social Innovation Summits, and received the 2015 George S. Halas Courage Award, given to a NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed.

(13) Steve helped advocate for the Steve Gleason Act of 2015 (Public Law 114–40; 129 Stat. 441), and the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act of 2017, H.R. 2465, 115th Congress (2017), which permanently ensures people living with diseases such ALS have access to speech generating devices regardless of their setting, whether at home or a healthcare institution.

(14) In 2014, Steve and Team Gleason hosted a global summit to bring together researchers, patients, caregivers, and all ALS stakeholders to create a plan to ultimately end ALS. That summit resulted in the single largest coordinated and collaborative ALS research project in the world, Answer ALS, which brings together nearly two dozen research institutions, 1,000 patients and 20,000,000,000,000 data points that are important to the project and that will define the unknown pathways that will lead to treatments or finally a cure.

(15) In 2015, Steve and Microsoft worked together to create a method for people who are completely paralyzed to navigate their power wheelchairs with their eyes. Today, Steve, Microsoft and all wheelchair manufacturers are working collaboratively to make it widely available to all who need this technology. In addition, Microsoft has also made eye tracking technology part of all Windows 10 products across the globe.

(16) In 2011, 10 months after his diagnosis, Steve and Michel made their most significant accomplishment, becoming parents to their son Rivers.

(17) Steve and Michel Gleason continue to fight to find a solution for ALS so they can share many years together and as parents to Rivers.

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