Restoring Healthy Forests

People use wood - to build homes, to make paper - and that wood needs to come from somewhere.  We can use wood from trees that are dead or dying, or from trees that are alive and healthy.  We can responsibly harvest wood here at home, abiding by environmental protections and creating jobs, or we
can get our wood from clear cuts in equatorial rainforests where the environment is far more fragile and environmental protection and labor laws are far weaker or even nonexistent. 

The Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act is a responsible, bipartisan bill that will enable - not require - federal land managers to utilize dead timber and responsibly restore the health and diversity
of our forests after a catastrophic event like a wildfire or hurricane.  It has been endorsed by organized labor, scientists, forestry professionals, firefighters, and conservation groups alike.  And according to a recent CBO estimate, it will actually save taxpayers $23 million over ten years.

Telecom Consumer Privacy Should Be Honored

The revelation that several telecommunications carriers are complicit in the NSA's once-secret program, raises the question as to whether these carriers are in violation of Section 222 of the Communications Act and the Commission's regulations implementing that section.  As you know, one of the principal purposes of Section 222 is to safeguard the privacy of telecommunications consumers.  I am aware of no exception in that statute or in the Commission's regulations for 'intelligence gathering purposes,' or any other similar purpose, that would permit the wholesale disclosure of consumer records to any entity.

For a copy of the letter sent to Chairman Kevin Martin of the Federal Communications Commission, check out  http://markey.house.gov/

Felons, Recidivists Should Not Be Permanent Residents

We have a right as a sovereign nation not only to protect our own borders, but to make sure the American people are not exposed to extraordinary danger that might occur if criminals are given a free ride, inadvertently, in this bill.

I don't believe the authors of this bill intended that felons, persons who were guilty of three successive misdemeanors, people who are under final orders of deportation or criminal absconders should receive
amnesty. I do not actually believe the authors of this bill intended to grant an amnesty or to forgive those crimes or to welcome those people into the United States. I believe these individuals, by virtue of the crimes they have committed, should not be accepted into the United States--and we certainly have a right to control who comes and who does not come, and I think these people have disqualified themselves by virtue of their criminal activity.

Protecting The Property Rights of Musicians

The constitutional protection for inventions and creative works has  allowed American innovation to thrive, fueling our economy and leading to the production of products that enrich our lives. It is the obligation of the United States to carry out the vision of our forefathers by continuing to foster an environment that respects and protects intellectual property rights.   While I strongly support technological innovation, the e-commerce marketplace only works if copyrights are protected and the creators and rightful owners are compensated.  The Perform Act addresses this issue by ensuring that
as technological innovation thrives, copyright laws are respected and the creators of content are fairly compensated.

Trained Agents, Not Troops, Solution To Controlling Border

As a 26 ½ year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, I have firsthand knowledge of the challenges of controlling the border. Placing U.S. troops on the border is not the right solution. For years, even the Department of Defense has opposed amendments to the annual Defense Authorization bill to place troops on the border.  To solve this problem, we need professional, trained Border Patrol agents who know the challenges we face on the border, we need to provide the Border Patrol with the technology and resources they need, and we must enforce existing immigration laws, including ending the policy of  catch-and-release and getting serious about interior enforcement

Part D Should Benefit Seniors and Not Drug Companies

Because President Bush and Congressional Republicans stubbornly refused to extend the arbitrary enrollment deadline, one million beneficiaries will be denied coverage this year and millions will have to pay financial penalties that will increase throughout their lifetimes.  With a benefit that was constructed by and for the drug companies, all beneficiaries continue to pay unnecessarily high prices under their plans.  We must now fix Part D by creating a uniform benefit that requires Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies for lower prices, like the VA does.

Improving the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a vital asset for working  families.  FMLA currently protects a worker’s job and continuation of  health insurance coverage while allowing up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new child or a seriously ill child, spouse, or parent. 

Unfortunately, FMLA does not cover part time employees. In 2005, two-thirds of the 24.7 million people working part-time were women, many of whom fulfilled essential family responsibilities in addition to their employment.  The Family Fairness Act would cover these employees and allow them to take the leave necessary to care for their family.  It is a much needed, overdue improvement to the FMLA.

Oil Exploration Partnership Not an Option

To enter into a partnership with a country for oil exploration, who has in the past expropriated American oil companies' properties in Cuba would be only to repeat a cycle of mistakes made in the past. It would be only to come into the fold of a dictator who does not observe or understand the rule of law.

I would suggest that the bill I have filed which tries to re-enact and tries to speak to the Cuban embargo that has been in place for many years, with good reason; that it would be strongly enforced against those who seek to invest in partnership with this illegitimate government, with this government that continues to be a threat to its neighbors, continues to be a hostile government to the United States.


Providing Incentives for Rural Health Care Providers

Many times the difference between life and death in how quickly you can access care. Knowing that and with the severe shortage of doctors in rural America, something has to be done to entice physicians to rural America. My bill will offer physicians a tax credit to locate their practices in underserved, rural areas of the country, which will increase access to care, which will save lives. Montana is particularly hard hit by the lack of doctors. Forty six of Montana’s fifty six counties are classified as frontier – 24 of those have fewer than two people per square mile and ten of those have less than one per square mile. However, what is even more striking is nine of these frontier counties have no doctors at all, and ten others have fewer than three. Consequently, a large percentage of Montanans must travel great distances simply to get basic medical treatment. That has to change, and it will with my bill.


Power Over D.C. National Guard Should Remain in District

The Mayor, who knows the city better than any federal official and works closely with federal security officials, should be able to call on the D.C. National Guard to cover events such as natural disasters or civil disturbances without relying on the President, who may be preoccupied with national matters. It does no harm to give the Mayor the authority. It could do great harm to leave him powerless to act quickly. If it makes sense that a governor would have control over the mobilization and deployment of the state National Guard, it makes the same sense for the Mayor of the District of Columbia, with a population the size of that of small states, should have the same authority.