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Tiberi Announces the Founding of the Congressional Microbusiness Caucus

Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA) announce the founding of the bipartisan Congressional Microbusiness Caucus.

The Small Business Administration considers microbusinesses to be any firm with one to nine employees. There are 3.7 million microbusinesses in the United States, providing 10.8 percent of private –sector jobs and making up 75.3 percent of all private-sector employers.

The purpose of the Congressional Microbusiness Caucus is to define and elevate the narrative of microbusinesses in Congress and provide a forum for microbusiness owners to have constructive conversations about obstacles and regulatory barriers preventing entrepreneurs from starting and scaling their business in the United States. The Caucus seeks to empower U.S. microbusinesses in an effort to strengthen competitiveness, foster economic growth, and promote entrepreneurship in America by holding briefings and other events to facilitate discussion on relevant issues.

The founding co-chairs of the Congressional Microbusiness Caucus are Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA).

“Microbusinesses are today’s mom and pop shops with an even greater potential for success thanks to advancements in technology. It is remarkable that with a click of a mouse or on a smart phone, a one-person business can potentially reach millions of customers across the country and globe,” said Rep. Tiberi. “We must ensure that burdensome government regulations and other barriers to growth aren’t holding them back. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this caucus to advance solutions to empower our microbusinesses and entrepreneurs to succeed and contribute to a thriving economy.”

“Technological and entrepreneurial innovation is accelerating at an unbelievable rate, and even though there are immense challenges ahead of us to ensure that our country works in a way that benefits everyone, this is an exciting time to be a participant in the American economy. The very nature of work is changing, and microbusinesses are a driving force behind that. Congress must stand ready to rapidly respond to the needs of workers and employees of micro businesses. Our economy will be stronger for it,” said Rep. Ryan.

“This new bipartisan Microbusiness Caucus will provide entrepreneurs with a platform for their voices to be heard in Washington,” Rep. Eshoo said. “Microbusinesses are becoming a critical piece of our national economy’s backbone, constantly creating new jobs and fostering innovation. While this new business paradigm brings its own set of policy implications and challenges, the Caucus will help navigate those challenges and allow businesses to thrive and promote economic growth.”

“I am pleased to join with my colleagues in the formation of the Congressional Microbusiness Caucus where we will work together on commonsense policies that provide small start-ups and innovative initiatives the opportunity to begin, thrive, and grow. We know that women comprise about one-third of business owners so this is also a way to expand opportunities for women business owners. It is critical that we forge policies where small business owners can develop and boost our economy and create new jobs to provide opportunity throughout all of our communities. We can be a hub for initiatives to allow our entrepreneurs to have a voice for commonsense policies for microbusinesses,” said Rep. Comstock.

Secretary Zinke Takes Immediate Action to Advance American Energy Independence

WASHINGTON – March 29, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed two secretarial orders to advance American energy independence. The Secretary’s orders foster responsible development of coal, oil, gas, and renewable energy on federal and Tribal lands and initiate review of agency actions directed by President Trump’s executive order entitled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” Secretary Zinke also signed a charter establishing a Royalty Policy Committee to ensure the public receives the full value of natural resources produced from federal lands. In signing the historic actions on energy independence, Secretary Zinke was joined by Members of Congress from western states and other stakeholders.

“Today I took action to sign a series of directives that put America on track to achieve the President’s vision for energy independence and bringing jobs back to communities across the country” said Secretary Zinke. “American energy powers our national and local economies. But for too many local communities, energy on public lands has been more of a missed opportunity and has failed to include local consultation and partnership. Today’s orders allow for Americans to benefit from safe and environmentally responsible development on federal lands and put America on track for energy independence.”

Secretarial Order 3348 overturns the 2016 moratorium on all new coal leases on federal land and ends the programmatic environmental impacts statement that was set to be completed no sooner than 2019. Based upon the Department’s review of Secretarial Order 3338, the order notes that, “the public interest is not served by halting the federal coal program for an extended time, nor is a PEIS required to consider potential improvements to the program.” The order notes that the federal coal leasing program supplies approximately 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States and is critically important to the U.S. economy.

Secretarial Order 3349 implements review of agency actions directed by the President’s Executive Order signed yesterday on energy independence. It also directs a reexamination of the mitigation and climate change policies and guidance across the Department of the Interior in order to better balance conservation strategies and policies with the equally legitimate need of creating jobs for hardworking American families. In particular, the order sets a timetable for review of agency actions that may hamper responsible energy development and reconsideration of regulations related to U.S. oil and natural gas development.

In an effort to ensure the public continues to receive the full value of natural resources produced on federal lands, Secretary Zinke also signed a charter establishing a Royalty Policy Committee to provide regular advice to the Secretary on the fair market value of and collection of revenues from Federal and Indian mineral and energy leases, include renewable energy sources. The Committee may also advise on the potential impacts of proposed policies and regulations related to revenue collection from such development, including whether a need exists for regulatory reform. The group will consist of up to 28 local, Tribal, state, and other stakeholders and will serve in an advisory role.

Secretary Zinke added that, “It’s important that taxpayers get the full value of traditional and renewable energy produced on public lands and that we ensure companies conduct environmental reviews under NEPA and have reclamation plans.”

Secretary Zinke issued the following statement regarding the President’s executive order on energy independence:

“American energy production benefits the economy, the environment, and national security. First, it’s better for the environment that the U.S. produces energy. Thanks to advancements in drilling and mining technology, we can responsibly develop our energy resources and return the land to equal or better quality than it was before. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Middle East, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty it is better to develop our energy here under reasonable regulations and export it to our allies, rather than have it produced overseas under little or no regulations. Second, energy production is an absolute boon to the economy, supporting more than 6.4 million jobs and supplying affordable power for manufacturing, home heating, and transportation needs. In many communities coal jobs are the only jobs. Former Chairman Old Coyote of the Crow Tribe in my home state of Montana said it best, ‘there are no jobs like coal jobs.’ I hope to return those jobs to the Crow people. And lastly, achieving American energy independence will strengthen our national security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil and allowing us to assist our allies with their energy needs. As a military commander, I saw how the power of the American economy and American energy defeated our adversaries around the world. We can do it again to keep Americans safe.”

BROWN INTRODUCES PROPOSAL TO BRING DOWN PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES

Legislation Follows Letter Brown Sent to President Trump Outlining Steps to Bring Down Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined his colleagues in launching a major push to improve the Affordable Care Act by bringing down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, one of the major cost drivers in our health care system.

An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that prescription drug prices are too high and that we need action to lower prices. The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act would help ensure that drug companies put patients before profits and bring some much-needed relief to families and seniors. The bill includes language authored by Brown to increase access to biosimilar drugs, providing additional competition in the marketplace and making them more affordable, and language to tax the windfall profits of drug companies when they drive up the cost of drugs without cause overnight.

“We can’t ask Ohioans to choose between paying for medicine and putting gas in the tank or food on the table,” said Brown. “President Trump said he wanted to lower drug costs and we’re offering concrete proposals to make that happen.”

This important legislative package, which is supported by a wide range of organizations and patient advocacy groups, was introduced today by U.S. Sens. Al Franken (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

The proposal seeks to tackle prescription drug costs by increasing transparency and accountability, boosting access and affordability of key drugs, spurring innovation, and increasing choice and competition. The legislation follows specific steps Brown outlined to Trump in a December 2016 letter outlining specific steps his Administration should take to help Congress reduce prices for working Americans.

The legislation is supported by:

· The American Medical Student Association (AMSA)

· AFSCME

· Housing Works

· MoveOn

· National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

· National Physicians Alliance

· Other98

· PFAM: People of Faith for Access to Medicines

· Public Citizen

· Social Security Works

· Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)

· AFT

· Doctors for America

· Center for Medicare Advocacy

· Alliance for Retired Americans

Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act

Title I: Transparency

Section 101: Drug manufacturer reporting.

To better understand how research and development costs, manufacturing and marketing costs, acquisitions, federal investments, revenues and sales, and other factors influence drug prices, this section requires drug manufacturers to disclose this information, by product, to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who, in turn, will make it publicly available in a searchable format.

Section 102: Determining the public and private benefit of copayment coupons and other patient assistance programs.

To better understand how patient assistance programs affect drug prices and the extent to which drug makers are using independent charity assistance programs to drive up profits, this section requires independent charity assistance programs to disclose to the IRS the total amount of patient assistance provided to patients who are prescribed drugs manufactured by any contributor to the independent charity assistance program. It also requires a GAO study on the impact of patient assistance programs on prescription drug pricing and expenditures.

Title II: Access and Affordability

Section 201: Negotiating fair prices for Medicare prescription drugs.

Medicare is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs in the country but, unlike Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it is not allowed to leverage its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices and bring down costs. This section would allow the Secretary of HHS to negotiate with drug companies to lower prescription drug prices, and directs the Secretary to prioritize negotiations on specialty and other high-priced drugs.

Section 202: Prescription drug price spikes.

Prescription drugs are priced in the United States according to whatever the market will bear and are sometimes subject to drastic and frequent price increases without apparent justification. This makes drugs increasingly unaffordable and creates significant uncertainty for patients’ and insurers’ budgets. This section requires the HHS Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) to monitor changes in drug prices and take steps to prevent drug manufacturers from engaging in price gouging.

Acceleration of the closing of the Medicare Part D coverage gap.

This section closes the Medicare Part D prescription coverage gap in 2018, two years earlier than under current law, providing faster financial relief to seniors, and requires drug manufacturers to pay a larger share of the costs during the coverage gap.

Section 204: Importing affordable and safe drugs.

This section allows wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies, and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs manufactured at FDA-inspected facilities from licensed Canadian sellers and, after two years, from OECD countries that meet standards comparable to U.S. standards.

Section 205: Requiring drug manufacturers to provide drug rebates for drugs dispensed to low-income individuals.

This section restores prescription drug rebates for seniors who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and extends these rebates to other Medicare patients in Medicare low-income-subsidy plans.

Section 206: Cap on prescription drug cost-sharing.

For plan years beginning in 2019 and later, this section caps prescription drug cost sharing at $250 per month for individuals and $500 a month for families enrolled in Qualified Health Plans and employer-based plans.

Title III: Innovation

Section 301: Prize fund for new and more effective treatments of bacterial infections.

This section creates a $2 billion prize fund at the National Institutes of Health to fund entities that develop superior antibiotics that treat serious and life-threatening bacterial infections and to fund research that advances such treatments and is made publicly available. In order to receive prize funds, recipients must commit to offering their products at a reasonable price, share clinical data, and take steps to promote antibiotic stewardship.

Section 302: Public funding for clinical trials.

This section creates a Center for Clinical Research within the NIH to conduct all stages of clinical trials on drugs that may address an existing or emerging health need.

Section 303: Rewarding innovative drug development.

This section amends various exclusivity periods awarded by the FDA to brand-name pharmaceutical companies in an effort to accelerate competition in the generic and biologics market. First, the bill modifies the New Chemical Entity (NCE) exclusivity period to allow FDA to accept a generic drug application for the branded product after three years rather than five. Second, this section would add in a requirement that products awarded the 3-year New Clinical Investigation Exclusivity must show significant clinical benefit over existing therapies manufactured by the applicant in the 5-year period preceding the submission of the application. Third, this section reduces the biological product exclusivity from 12 years to 7 years.

Section 304: Improving program integrity.

This section would terminate any remaining market exclusivity periods on any product found to be in violation of criminal or civil law through a federal or state fraud conviction or settlement in which the company admits fault.

Title IV: Choice and Competition

Section 401: Preserving access to affordable generics.

This legislation would make it illegal for brand-name and generic drug manufacturers to enter into anti-competitive agreements in which the brand-name drug manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to keep more affordable generic equivalents off the market.

Section 402 and 403: 180-Day exclusivity period amendments regarding first applicant status and agreements to defer commercial marketing.

This section enables FDA to take away the 180-day generic drug exclusivity period from any generic company that enters into anti-competitive pay-for-delay settlements with brand-name drug manufacturers.

Section 404: Increasing generic drug competition.

This section introduces new reporting requirements and financial incentives to promote and sustain competitive generic markets.

Section 405: Disallowance of deduction for advertising for prescription drugs.

This section eliminates the tax breaks drug companies receive from the federal government for expenses related to direct-to-consumer advertising.

Section 406: Product hopping.

This section establishes a definition for the term “product hopping” and instructs the FTC to submit a report to Congress on the extent to which companies engage in these anti-competitive practices and their effects on company profits, consumer access, physician prescribing behavior, and broader economic impacts.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Contact: Jenny Donohue/Rachel Petri

(202) 224-3978

BROWN URGES EDUCATION DEPARTMENT TO PROTECT STUDENTS AND TAXPAYERS FROM FAILING FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES

New report shows Department failed to predict Corinthian’s collapse, allowed the for-profit to continue receiving taxpayer dollars

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown this week called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to maintain protections for students and taxpayers against for-profit colleges and implement new recommendations to further protect Ohioans.

The Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that Federal Student Aid (FSA) failed to identify Corinthian Colleges’ weak financial situation and allowed the failing for-profit to continue receiving taxpayer-funded Title IV student aid dollars without restriction, In response, Brown wrote to DeVos urging her to implement OIG’s recommendations and maintain existing protections for students and taxpayers.

“When Corinthian collapsed amid dozens of lawsuits and investigations from state and federal officials, it was the largest failure of an institution of higher education in American history. There were clear warning signs that the school’s instability posed a critical risk to students and taxpayers, but the Department’s failure to properly identify Corinthian’s financial instability and seek protections to guard against potential taxpayer losses associated with its closure meant tens of thousands of students’ lives were disrupted and taxpayers lost hundreds of millions of dollars,” wrote Brown in the letter. “It is now your responsibility to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again and that proper protections are in place for students and taxpayers.”

The OIG report released late last month reveals that the Department ignored clear signs that Corinthian was manipulating its finances in order to appear more financial stable. The Department also failed to place sanctions on Corinthian, including requiring a letter of credit, once the manipulation was discovered. In response to these findings, OIG outlined recommendations to improve processes for identifying at-risk schools and mitigating losses for students and taxpayers, including strong enforcement of Borrower Defense regulations and aggressive oversight by the Enforcement Unit.

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

March 28, 2017

The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos

Secretary

Department of Education

400 Maryland Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary DeVos:

We write today regarding the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) recently released report, “Federal Student Aid’s Processes for Identifying At-Risk Title IV Schools and Mitigating Potential Harm to Students and Taxpayers.” The February 24 report outlines stunning failures in the Department’s oversight of Corinthian Colleges, Inc., in the years preceding the company’s collapse and ultimate bankruptcy – failures that allowed Corinthian to continue participating in the federal student aid program without restriction – and makes important recommendations for improving oversight of financially risky schools. We seek your commitment to implement the report’s recommendations and maintain current protections for students and taxpayers.

Financial composite scores, calculated using a variety of financial indicators, are one of the tools the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) has to determine the financial stability of schools participating in the Title IV student aid program. When a school has a failing financial composite score, it is required to submit a Letter of Credit (LOC) equal to at least 10 percent of the school’s Title IV funds in the most recent fiscal year. An LOC is a guarantee from a financial institution assuring the availability of funds to the federal government should a school unexpectedly or abruptly close. These funds help cover the cost of loan cancellations and refunds so that taxpayers are not left with the bill. As OIG noted, “Students and taxpayers both rely on FSA…to ensure that Title IV schools are fiscally and operationally sound.”

In the case of Corinthian, the Department notified the company in February 2012 that it had a failing Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 financial composite score. This set off months of informal and formal appeals by Corinthian and painfully slow responses from the Department. OIG found that, “In total, about 18 months passed between the time that FSA first notified Corinthian that it had calculated a failing composite score for FY 2011 and FSA’s final decision on Corinthian’s appeal.” Corinthian ultimately lost the appeal, but no taxpayer protections were put in place because, by that time, their FY 2012 composite score had been calculated as passing. As a result of this inexplicably long timeline, the Department did not require Corinthian to post an LOC for FY 2011, which, according to the report “allowed Corinthian to avoid posting an LOC for FY 2011 even though one was warranted.”

As it turned out, Corinthian didn’t have a passing composite score for FY 2012 either. While reviewing Corinthian’s appeals in FY 2011, the Department found that Corinthian manipulated its score by taking out short term loans of around $40 million to “increase its composite scores to a passing level.” Despite having discovered this manipulation in FY 2011, the OIG found that the Department “did not review the school’s underlying financial information for FY 2012 and FY 2013 to ensure that the practice did not continue.” In and of itself, Corinthian’s composite score manipulation should have resulted in immediate sanctions or penalties by the Department. Instead, the Department let Corinthian completely off the hook – imposing no sanctions for the manipulation and not requiring an LOC for its failing composite score. When that happens, as the OIG report makes clear, “taxpayers are exposed to the risk of significant loan discharges and potential harm to students increases.”

It is now your responsibility to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again and that proper protections are in place for students and taxpayers. The OIG report noted several areas where the Department has made significant improvements in its processes to prevent a repeat of the Corinthian debacle, but also laid out additional steps that should be taken. For example, the OIG states that “the borrower defense regulations make it easier for FSA to obtain financial protection (LOC or set-aside) from Title IV schools that may be at increased risk of potential closure.” As such, we ask for your response to the following questions about how to protect students and taxpayers:

Will you fully implement the recommendations made by OIG in the report, including but not limited to detecting and preventing the manipulation of composite scores?

Will you enforce the borrower defense regulations without amendment or delay, which OIG noted will improve FSA’s processes for “identifying Title IV schools at risk of unexpected or abrupt closure” and “mitigating potential harm to students and taxpayers”?

Will you maintain the Student Aid Enforcement Unit, created in February 2016, and ensure it has the proper leadership and resources to aggressively investigate allegations and complaints made against institutions of higher education that pose a risk to students and taxpayers?

When Corinthian collapsed amid dozens of lawsuits and investigations from state and federal officials, it was the largest failure of an institution of higher education in American history. There were clear warning signs that the school’s instability posed a critical risk to students and taxpayers, but the Department’s failure to properly identify Corinthian’s financial instability and seek protections to guard against potential taxpayer losses associated with its closure meant tens of thousands of students’ lives were disrupted and taxpayers lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

This report provides you with a clear roadmap of common sense steps to ensure proper oversight and accountability of institutions of higher education and protect students and taxpayers. We look forward to your response by May 18.

Sincerely,

BROWN INTRODUCES PAID SICK LEAVE, FAMILY LEAVE LEGISLATION

Senator Gives Update on Plan to Restore the Value of Work

As part of his ongoing effort to restore the value of work in America, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave legislation. Earlier this month, Brown outlined his plan to make hard work pay off again, and over the next several months, Brown will be introducing legislation to implement his plan.

· The Healthy Families Act would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to care for a family member and to address personal medical needs.

· The FAMILY Act would create an insurance plan that provides workers up to 12 weeks of time off from work to tend to family and medical crises. During those 12 weeks, workers are able to earn up to 66 percent of their income capped at $1,000 per month.

“This plan is about updating our economic policies, our retirement policies, and our labor laws to reflect today’s reality,” said Brown. “These are two important first steps we can take to invest in our workforce, and ensure that hard work is rewarded. We can’t build a strong economy without a strong middle class.”

Brown’s plan will make hard work pay off once again by doing four things:

1. Raising workers’ wages and benefits

2. Giving workers more power in the workplace

3. Making it possible for more workers to save for retirement

4. Encouraging more companies to invest in their workforces

Brown, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, also highlighted his plan as a way to support American workers and promote economic growth during a committee hearing on Tuesday.

Brown was joined on the call by Karen Franz of Cincinnati, who wrote into Brown’s office to support paid sick leave legislation. Ms. Franz was diagnosed with a rare and serious illness and was forced to miss several months of work. Because her employer allowed her to bank paid sick leave, she was able to maintain her employment.

“I was fortunate my employer allowed me to bank my paid sick and vacation time, but many workers are not as lucky as I was. It’s important that we have paid sick leave so that workers can take care of themselves without the threat of losing their jobs,” said Franz.

Brown and his office have been working on this plan since the fall of 2015. Some of the policies outlined in Brown’s plan are new ideas. Others Democrats have talked about before, but they’ve never been laid out as part of a broader agenda to restore the value of work for all Americans.

Summary

WORKING TOO HARD FOR TOO LITTLE:

A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America

Read the complete plan here.

1. Raise workers’ wages and benefits:

Raise the federal minimum wage to $15.

Pay overtime to executive, administrative, and professional workers making less than $47,476.

Make sure workers are able to earn up to seven paid sick days.

Establish 12-weeks of paid family and medical leave through a national paid leave fund.

2. Give workers more power in the workplace:

Provide workers in key service sectors with advanced notice of their schedules.

Expand collective bargaining rights to give workers a stronger voice in the workplace.

Redefine what it means to be an independent contractor by preventing large employers from using the independent contractor classification to get around labor laws and boost profits. Specifically, require employers with more than 500 independent contractors and $7.5 million in annual receipts to pay employer payroll taxes for independent contractors.

Crack down on wage theft. Wage theft can take many forms, including: forcing people to work off the clock, refusing to pay workers the minimum wage, denying workers overtime pay even after working more than 40 hours a week, stealing workers’ tips, or knowingly misclassifying workers to avoid paying fair wages.

Fight back against employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes and fair wages by strengthening IRS enforcement authority.

3. Make it possible for more workers to save for retirement:

Expand access to retirement programs for part-time workers, low-wage workers, and small business owners.

Create better retirement savings opportunities for independent contractors.

Give workers a tax credit to match their retirement contributions.

4. Encourage companies to invest in their workforces:

Require corporate freeloaders to reimburse taxpayers when their employees have to rely on federal assistance programs because their wages are too low.

Give companies a tax break when they commit to staying in the U.S., hiring in the U.S., and providing good wages and fair benefits for their workers.

Ohio Awards Certification to the New Albany Police Department for adopting standards

COLUMBUS – The New Albany Police Department (Franklin County) has adopted and implemented state standards established by the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board as part of the state’s efforts to strengthen community and police relations.

More than 500 agencies employing over 27,000 officers (in all 88 counties, representing 79 percent of all law enforcement officers in Ohio and most of Ohio’s metropolitan departments) are either certified or in the process of becoming certified by meeting standards for the use of force, including deadly force, and agency recruitment and hiring.

The standards are the first of their kind in Ohio and were developed by the Collaborative in August 2015.

The state has partnered with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help certify Ohio’s nearly 960 law enforcement agencies on a process to ensure that they are in compliance with Ohio’s new standards.

The first list of all Ohio compliant agencies will be published by the end of March.

For more information on the Ohio Collaborative, the certification process for law enforcement and the complete list of agencies who have been certified, please visit: http://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/ohiocollaborative/

NEW REPORT – SEX AND LABOR TRAFFICKING IN THE UNITED STATES REDEFINED IN THE TYPOLOGY OF MODERN SLAVERY

Polaris Defines 25 Types of Modern Slavery in the United States, breaking down previous frameworks

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 29, 2017)—Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and help survivors restore their freedom, released a new report today, The Typology of Modern Slavery, that breaks down instances of sex and labor trafficking into 25 distinct categories, detailing the unique trafficker profile, recruitment tactics, victim profile, and method of control for each different subset of modern slavery.

The report, which is based off the largest data set on human trafficking ever publicly compiled and analyzed in the United States, restructures previously conceived frameworks around sex and labor trafficking, offering a new, more effective look at the causes and potential solutions to modern slavery in the U.S.

VIEW THE REPORT HERE: www.polarisproject.org/typology

In The Typology of Modern Slavery, Polaris’s research team proposes a classification system that identifies 25 distinct types of human trafficking in the United States, including:

Escort Services

Illicit Massage, Health, and Beauty

Outdoor Solicitation

Residential

Domestic Work

Bars, Strip Clubs, and Cantinas

Pornography

Traveling Sales Crews

Restaurants and Food Service

Peddling and Begging

Agriculture and Animal Husbandry

Personal Sexual Servitude

Health and Beauty Services

Construction

Hotels and Hospitality

Landscaping

Illicit Activities

Arts and Entertainment

Commercial Cleaning Services

Factories and Manufacturing

Remote Interactive Sexual Acts

Carnivals

Forestry and Logging

Health Care

Recreational Facilities

“One of the primary challenges to ending modern slavery has been the lack of data to understand the problem,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. “The Typology of Modern Slavery offers a new map to understand how human trafficking manifests throughout the country.”

“Perpetrators of human trafficking often operate in the shadows, making it a challenge to interrupt the systems that support them,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman. “This report provides a comprehensive look at the typology of modern slavery that will help prosecutors protect victims and pursue criminals.”

“These are the tools that survivors and advocates need to revolutionize a movement and put an end to modern slavery,” said Rebecca Bender, survivor advocate and CEO/Founder of the Rebecca Bender Initiative. “With a better understanding, we will have a better chance to help people fight these systems of control and oppression.”

“Polaris analyzed more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking to develop a classification system that identifies 25 types of modern slavery,” said Jennifer Penrose, Data Analysis Director at Polaris. “From escort services to traveling sales crews, the ways humans are exploited differ greatly, as do ways to combat the problem.”

The report relies on data gathered from Polaris-operated hotlines between December 2007 and December 2016. During that time period, Polaris received reports of 32,208 cases of potential human trafficking and 10,085 potential cases of labor exploitation. The Typology report offers the next step in creating a world without slavery. Polaris invites survivors, practitioners, and experts in the field to help refine this classification system and make it even more accurate and robust by contributing cases, data, and firsthand experiences beyond those included in the report.

Funding for the Typology report was provided through a grant from Google, a longtime partner to Polaris and supporter of anti-human trafficking work throughout the world. On Monday, Polaris was awarded the 2017 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation, which recognizes organizations that disrupt the status quo, drive sustainable large-scale change, and are poised to create an even greater impact in the world.

People can receive help or report a tip of suspected human trafficking in the United States by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or by sending a text to Polaris at “BeFree” (233733).

Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systematically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world’s leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do – helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.

Release: New Poll Shows Ohioans Overwhelmingly Support Loan Reform

95% of those polled favor reforms that cap interest rates as proposed in recently introduced legislation

March 29, 2017 – A newly released poll commissioned by the The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that Ohio residents have an overwhelmingly negative view of the payday loan industry and strongly favor proposed reforms. A $300 payday loan costs a borrower $680 in fees over five months, because lenders in Ohio charge an average annual percentage rate of 591 percent.

Among other results, the poll, done by WPA Opinion Research, shows that:

· 62% of Ohioans polled have an unfavorable impression of payday lenders.

· 78% said they favor more regulations for the industry in Ohio, which has the highest borrowing rates in the nation for the short- term loans.

· 95% said they believe the annual interest rate on payday loans in Ohio should be capped at rates lower than what is now charged, while 80% said they would support legislation that caps the interest rate on payday loans at 28% plus an allowable monthly fee of up to $20.

A bipartisan bill – HB123 – was recently introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives by Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) and Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield). The bill calls for capping interest rates on payday loans at 28% plus monthly fees of 5% on the first $400 loaned, or $20 maximum.

“This poll reinforces the strong belief that Ohioans who use these short term loan products are being harmed by an industry that charges borrowing costs that are obscenely high and unwarranted,” said Rep. Koehler. “The Ohio Legislature needs to pass our recently introduced legislation that would result in much fairer costs for Ohioans who choose to use these products in the future.”

The poll shows that negative views of the payday loan industry in Ohio cuts across party lines, with the following unfavorable ratings:

· Democrats, 72%

· Republicans, 62%

· Independents, 59%

In 2008 the Ohio Legislature voted to cap payday loan annual percentage rates at 28 percent. The payday loan industry mounted a $20 million campaign to pass a statewide ballot referendum overturning the legislation. The payday loan industry outspent reform proponents by a margin of 38-1, but Ohio voters easily upheld the new law that limited fees and costs the payday lenders could charge. Nearly two thirds of Ohioans who cast ballots voted to uphold the reforms.

Rebuffed at the ballot, the payday loan industry then found loopholes in the new law that allow them to ignore it, despite the strong mandate from Ohio voters. That’s why another piece of legislation that eliminates the loopholes has now been introduced.

“The time has come to enact fair reforms on the payday loan industry in Ohio,” said Rep. Ashford. “Having the highest interest rates in the nation is not a good distinction for Ohio. All we are seeking is fairness and affordability, so that working families who use these financial products are no longer taken advantage of by these outrageous fees and interest rates.”

HB123 has now been referred to the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee.

Joel Potts, Executive Director of the Ohio Jobs and Family Services Directors’ Association, said the poll results highlight the problems with payday lending in Ohio as it currently exists. “In the job and family service system, we see firsthand the struggles of those trapped in the payday loan system. For too long, we have turned our backs on the excessive fees being imposed on the working families who are struggling to make ends meet. We need reform, and House Bill 123 will accomplish that, ensuring credit continues to be available to those in need and leaving more money in the pockets of the wage earner so that they can afford to pay for other necessities.’’

A summary of the poll can be viewed here: http://www.wparesearch.com/ohiopaydaylending/

OHIO DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CEDAR POINT TO DISCUSS RIDE SAFETY

Inspectors will demonstrate rigorous inspection process

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (Mar. 29, 2017) – In conjunction with the State of the State Address in Sandusky, Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Cedar Point executives and amusement ride safety inspectors will be available to take questions and demonstrate a typical ride safety inspection at Cedar Point. The event will take place at Cedar Point, near the GateKeeper roller coaster, on April 4th from 2–3 p.m.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture continues to ensure the safety of all amusement rides within the state of Ohio; a staple of summertime entertainment. Ohio boasts one of the best ride inspection programs in the country.

Statement by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Introduction of SB 119

DeWine issued the following statement regarding the introduction of SB 119 sponsored by Senators Bob Hackett (R-London) and Jay Hottinger (R-Newark).

“I have been a consistent supporter of having health care providers follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for prescribing opiates. Opiates are powerful drugs that treat pain, but we now know how addictive they are. By following the CDC’s recommendations, I believe we will help curb the potential for medication to be abused and for Ohioans to become addicted,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Staff Reports