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Sheldon Whitehouse on Technology

Democratic Jr Senator, previously attorney general


Create new infrastructure to renew economy

Hinckley favors cutting the business tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Senator Whitehouse blamed the Bush administration for the economic situation that Rhode Islanders face. He favored innovation, manufacturing and creating new infrastructure as key ways to renew Rhode Island's economic landscape. The senator vowed if he was re-elected, Rhode Island's unemployment rate could drop to around six percent at the end of his second term.
Source: Examiner.com on 2012 R.I. Senate debate , Oct 23, 2012

Voted YES on authorizing states to collect Internet sales taxes.

Congressional Summary: The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 authorizes each state to require all sellers with sales exceeding $1 million in the preceding calendar year to collect and remit sales and use taxes, but only if complying with the minimum simplification requirements relating to the administration of such taxes & audits.

Opponent's Argument for voting No (Cnet.com): Online retailers are objecting to S.743, saying it's unreasonable to expect small businesses to comply with the detailed--and sometimes conflicting--regulations of nearly 10,000 government tax collectors. S.743 caps years of lobbying by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent big box stores. President Obama also supports the bill.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. COLLINS. This bill rectifies a fundamental unfairness in our current system. Right now, Main Street businesses have to collect sales taxes on every transaction, but outbecause -of-state Internet sellers don't have to charge this tax, they enjoy a price advantage over the mom-and-pop businesses. This bill would allow States to collect sales taxes on Internet sales, thereby leveling the playing field with Main Street businesses. This bill does not authorize any new or higher tax, nor does it impose an Internet tax. It simply helps ensure that taxes already owed are paid.

Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. WYDEN: This bill takes a function that is now vested in government--State tax collection--and outsources that function to small online retailers. The proponents say it is not going to be hard for small businesses to handle this--via a lot of new computer software and the like. It is, in fact, not so simple. There are more than 5,000 taxing jurisdictions in our country. Some of them give very different treatment for products and services that are almost identical.

Whitehouse says, "Whitehouse (D-RI)"

Reference: Marketplace Fairness Act; Bill S.743 ; vote number 13-SV113 on May 6, 2013

Voted YES on $23B instead of $4.9B for waterway infrastructure.

Vote on overriding Pres. Bush's veto. The bill reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States. The bill authorizes flood control, navigation, and environmental projects and studies by the Army Corps of Engineers. Also authorizes projects for navigation, ecosystem or environmental restoration, and hurricane, flood, or storm damage reduction in 23 states including Louisiana.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill lacks fiscal discipline. I fully support funding for water resources projects that will yield high economic and environmental returns. Each year my budget has proposed reasonable and responsible funding, including $4.9 billion for 2008, to support the Army Corps of Engineers' main missions. However, this authorization bill costs over $23 billion. This is not fiscally responsible, particularly when local communities have been waiting for funding for projects already in the pipeline. The bill's excessive authorization for over 900 projects and programs exacerbates the massive backlog of ongoing Corps construction projects, which will require an additional $38 billion in future appropriations to complete. This bill does not set priorities. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: Veto override on Water Resources Development Act; Bill Veto override on H.R. 1495 ; vote number 2007-406 on Nov 8, 2007

Facilitate nationwide 2-1-1 phone line for human services.

Whitehouse co-sponsored facilitating nationwide 2-1-1 phone line for human services

A bill to facilitate nationwide availability of 2-1-1 telephone service for information and referral on human services & volunteer services. Congress makes the following findings:

  1. The FCC has assigned 2-1-1 as the national telephone number for information and referral on human services.
  2. 2-1-1 facilitates critical connections between families seeking services, including community-based and faith-based organizations.
  3. There are approximately 1,500,000 nonprofit organizations in the US [which would be listed in the 2-1-1 service].
  4. Government funding supports well-intentioned programs that are not fully utilized because of a lack of access to such programs.
  5. A national cost-benefit analysis estimates a net value to society of a national 2-1-1 system approaching $130,000,000 in the first year alone.
  6. While 69% of the population has access to 2-1-1 telephone service from a land line in 41 States, inadequate funding prevents access to that telephone service throughout each of the States.
  7. 2-1-1 telephone service facilitates the availability of a single repository where comprehensive data on all community services is collected & maintained.

Introductory statement by Sponsor:

Sen. CLINTON: In the immediate aftermath of the devastation of September 11, most people did not know where to turn for information about their loved ones. Fortunately for those who knew about it, 2-1-1 was already operating in Connecticut, and it was critical in helping identify the whereabouts of victims, connecting frightened children with their parents, providing information on terrorist suspects, and linking ready volunteers with victims.

Every single American should have a number they can call to cut through the chaos of an emergency. That number is 2-1-1. It's time to make our citizens and our country safer by making this resource available nationwide.

Source: Calling for 2-1-1 Act (S.211 and H.R.211) 07-HR211 on Jan 9, 2007

Require websites to police for copyrighted materials.

Whitehouse co-sponsored PIPA: PROTECT IP Act

Congressional Summary:Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or the PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA (in the House, Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA) :

OnTheIssues Notes: SOPA and PIPA, proponents claim, would better protect electronic copyright ("IP", or Intellectual Property). Opponents argue that SOPA and PIPA would censor the Internet. Internet users and entrepreneurs oppose the two bills; google.com and wikipedia.com held a "blackout" on Jan. 18, 2012 in protest. An alternative bill, the OPEN Act was proposed on Jan. 18 to protect intellectual property without censorship; internet businesses prefer the OPEN Act while the music and movie industries prefer SOPA and PIPA.

Source: HR3261/S968 11-S968 on May 12, 2011

Overturn FCC approval of media consolidation.

Whitehouse co-sponsored overturning FCC approval of media consolidation

Congressional Summary:Disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on February 22, 2008, relating to broadcast media ownership. Declares that the rule shall have no force or effect.

Proponents' Argument in Favor:Sen. DORGAN: The FCC loosened the ban on cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. We seek with this resolution of disapproval to reverse the FCC's fast march to ease media ownership rules. The FCC has taken a series of destructive actions in the past two decades that I believe have undermined the public interest. [Now they have given] a further green light to media concentration.

The FCC voted to allow cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the top 20 markets, with loopholes for mergers outside of the top 20 markets. The newspapers would be allowed to buy stations ranked above fifth and above.

The rule change was framed as a modest compromise. But make no mistake, this is a big deal. As much as 44% of the population lives in the top 20 markets. The last time the FCC tried to do this, in 2003, the Senate voted to block it.

This rule will undercut localism and diversity of ownership around the country. Studies show that removing the ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership results in a net loss in the amount of local news produced in the market as a whole. In addition, while the FCC suggests that cross-ownership is necessary to save failing newspapers, the publicly traded newspapers earn annual rates of return between 16% and 18%.

This Resolution of Disapproval will ensure this rule change has no effect. This is again a bipartisan effort to stop the FCC from destroying the local interests that we have always felt must be a part of broadcasting.

Source: S.J.RES.28&H.J.RES.79 2008-SJR28 on Mar 5, 2008

Other candidates on Technology: Sheldon Whitehouse on other issues:
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Lincoln Chafee
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Mark Zaccaria

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Page last updated: Aug 12, 2014