Political briefs – Aug. 7

Staff report


PORTMAN JOINS SENATORS IN INTRODUCING BILL TO PROTECT CONSCIENCE RIGHTS OF AMERICANS – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) and twelve other senators in introducing the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, a bill that would ensure that organizations, private businesses, institutions of higher education, health care providers, and insurance companies are not forced to sponsor insurance coverage that violates their religious or moral beliefs.

“Our nation was founded on the notion that the government cannot infringe on religious liberties,” Portman stated. “Our bill will ensure that we’re upholding the Constitutional right to religious freedom and preserving the rights of conscience for all Americans.”

Specifically, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act provides an exemption from the burdensome Obamacare Health and Human Service ((HHS) mandate, and ensures that individuals and health care providers are not forced with the choice of violating their conscience or paying a fine. The bill would prohibit any action by the federal government and any state or local government receiving federal financial assistance to subject a health professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, an accountable care organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan to discriminate on the basis that the entity refuses to participate in abortion-related activities.

The bill creates a cause of action for any violation of the abortion discrimination prohibition. It gives federal courts jurisdiction to prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of such prohibition by issuing any form of legal or equitable relief, including injunctions and orders preventing the disbursement of all or a portion of federal financial assistance until the prohibited conduct has ceased.

FOLLOWING REPORTS OF NEW DELIVERY MECHANISMS FOR POWDERED CAFFEINE, BROWN AND COLLEAGUES URGE U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION TO BAN RETAIL SALE OF DEADLY PRODUCT – Following a New York Times report that detailed the prevalent use of caffeine inhalers to deliver powdered caffeine, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) renewed his efforts to ban the sale and marketing of the deadly product before more individuals are harmed. While the State of Ohio enacted legislation to ban the sale of powdered caffeine in Ohio, the product is still readily available in neighboring states and online.

“Powdered caffeine harms and even kills individuals who accidently ingest too much of this dangerous product. And now, companies are coming up with new ways to give individuals a jolt to get through their day,” said Brown. “Left unregulated, this substance and related delivery devices pose a serious risk to public health. It’s time to get this product off shelves and out of online stores.”

Brown led a letter along with five of his Senate colleagues this week urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the sale and marketing of powdered caffeine for retail use. U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) cosigned the letter.

BROWN ANNOUNCES PASSAGE OF RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THE CREATION OF HISTORICALLY BLACK LAND-GRANT COLLEGES – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced passage of a Senate resolution he cosponsored that recognizes the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act – legislation passed on August 30, 1890 that led to the creation of 19 historically Black Federal land-grant educational institutions. The resolution also designates August 30, 2015 as “1890 Land-Grant Institutions Quasquicentennial Recognition Day.” Brown, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, helped Central State University secure designation as an 1890 land-grant institution through the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Our nation’s agriculture industry has benefited greatly from its partnerships with historically Black Federal land-grant colleges,” said Brown. “Institutions like Central State University have had an important role in promoting agriculture research and education and I’m proud to recognize their many achievements and contributions.”

“I want to thank Senator Brown and Senator Boozman for leading this resolution. I was honored to join my fellow 1890 Presidents in Washington last month to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act. Central State University has a rich history and I am proud of the achievements of our students, faculty and staff. I look forward to working with Senator Brown and his colleagues on the Higher Education Act reauthorization to further strengthen the foundation of CSU and help win the educational race of the 21st century,” said Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, President of Central State University.


Staff report

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