Kevin Cramer

Kevin Cramer

NORTH DAKOTA

Cramer: Proposed FCC Rules Will Stifle Innovation, Harm Small Video Operators

2016/05/05

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Kevin Cramer is leading a bipartisan group with 60 other Members of Congress in objecting to proposed regulations, known as the set-top box rules, mandating pay TV companies such as cable and satellite television providers share their raw video programming with third-party set-top box competitors.

In a letter sent today to Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Members of Congress objected to the additional burden these new regulations will impose on pay TV providers. They highlighted their concern over the economic hardship this regulation would impose on small businesses and their consumers. 

“If the FCC wants to stifle innovation and competition, imposing another government mandate on cable operators is the way to do it,” said Cramer.  “The FCC’s set-top box proposal fails to acknowledge that cable providers are already seeking new innovative technologies for their customers.  In my state of North Dakota, small video operators do not have teams of lawyers whose sole purpose is to meet new FCC compliance standards. Instead of more unwieldy regulations, Chairman Wheeler should focus on helping providers bring more competition into the video marketplace.”  

One small family-owned cable business in North Dakota is among the pay TV providers to express concern about this proposal.  “We truly appreciate the efforts of Rep. Cramer and all Members of Congress who recognize that the FCC's efforts on the set-top box market will add hundreds of millions of dollars of regulations on small businesses and create widespread confusion among our consumers,” said Roy Sheppard, president of Cable Services, Inc., headquartered in Jamestown, N.D.  

“As a family-owned cable business in North Dakota since 1964, we have participated in the constant evolution of technology to serve the needs of our customers at affordable prices,” said Sheppard.  “The FCC should let the market work as it is doing today to give consumers the video and broadband choice that they want.”

Sheppard praised Cramer and the other Members of Congress objecting to this proposed rulemaking.  “They know that when Washington regulates, small companies and communities, and consumers served by small companies like ours, are hurt the worst.”  

Cramer serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC and the telecommunications industry. Prior to his election to the House of Representatives in 2012, he spent 10 years as a North Dakota Public Service Commissioner. The response period for the proposed rulemaking ends May 23. The FCC has indicated a final rule will be issued before the end of 2016. 

http://cramer.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/cramer-proposed-fcc-rules-will-stifle-innovation-harm-small-video 

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Cramer: Federal Regulators Have No Answer for Need for Devastating Mining Rule

2016/05/03

BEULAH, N.D. – Congressman Kevin Cramer told Department of Interior officials touring the Freedom Mine today that he questioned their sincerity in developing the new proposed Stream Protection Rule that will be released this year.  The rule imposes more and stricter regulations on all coal mining and creates a nationwide standard for enforcement that does not take into account the varying geographical characteristics of different regions of the country.   

Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider led the tour of Office of Surface Mining (OSM) staff in the tour today, which was also attended by Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann.

“OSM is writing a rule for the coal mines in the east that is being applied across the nation,” said Cramer.  When asked what the problem is they are trying to fix, Schneider said she couldn’t answer that question.

Cramer said as it is written the new proposed rule will be devastating to North Dakota’s lignite mining industry. “To me this is another attack by the Obama Administration’s war on coal that seeks to put all coal mines out of business. When this Administration isn’t creating solutions in search of problems, it is apparently destroying private industry solely for political objectives.  It’s a sad day for our Republic when a senior official within the Department of Interior can’t (or maybe won’t) explain the purpose of such an important rule, promulgating fundamental changes to how we mine coal in North Dakota. They are also completely ignoring a generation of institutional knowledge gained by the North Dakota Public Service Commission, needlessly harming jobs, capital and our economy.”      

Cramer sent a letter last week requesting Interior officials provide North Dakota stakeholders all technical reports, data, analyses, comments received and drafts relative to environmental reviews, and draft and final environmental impact statements.  It also instructs them to meet with relevant North Dakota stakeholders to further discuss the impacts of this new rule on the state’s mining industry, pursuant to report language within the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, signed into law by President Obama last December. 

“It is clear that Office of Surface Mining (OSM) officials did not take the hydrologic and geologic conditions of North Dakota into account when drafting these new stream protection rules,” said Cramer.  “Our unique characteristics specific to North Dakota’s geography and lignite mining practices deserve to be better understood before this proposed rule is finalized.”

Cramer was a North Dakota Public Service Commissioner for 10 years prior to being elected to Congress in 2012, managing the State Primacy Surface Mine Coal Reclamation Act portfolio during his tenure.  “I know firsthand how new federal rules can disrupt a state’s commerce and industry when they don’t take into account the unique characteristics of an area,” Cramer said.  “It doesn’t appear to me that OSM officials drafting this rule have complied with the language the House inserted in the Appropriations bill. As it is written it places undue burdens and expense on coal miners. Instead of addressing environmental issues with ‘a one-size-fits-all regulation,’ I believe these concerns are more efficiently addressed by the states and policed by the industry.”

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Cramer: Rural Healthcare Telemedicine Bill Passes House Committee with Broad Bipartisan Support

2016/05/03

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill sponsored by Congressman Kevin Cramer that increases broadband accessibility to skilled nursing homes in rural areas has been passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. H.R. 4111, the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, addresses the gap in health information technology broadband connectivity that impacts skilled nursing facilities, including several in North Dakota.  Cramer made his remarks at the hearing prior to the committee action Thursday, where it passed by a voice vote. 

H.R. 4111 amends the Communications Act of 1934 to include skilled nursing facilities as among the types of health care providers that may request support from a telecommunications carrier under the Universal Service Fund.

“It would be hard to overstate the importance of the ability for rural healthcare facilities, especially skilled nursing facilities, to have access to these funds to bring this type of opportunity,” Cramer told the committee.  “The opportunity that technology provides for greater access for patients in rural America, especially skilled nursing facilities, adds to quality of life, scores favorably, and can prevent greater healthcare problems, saving even more money.  It’s a pleasure to be part of something that is this positive.”

At a hearing on the bill last month, Dan Holdhusen, director of government relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, testified about how this legislation would bring to skilled nursing homes in rural areas the necessary telecommunications and information services at rates that are reasonably comparable to those charged for similar services in urban areas. The Good Samaritan Society operates 10 of North Dakota’s 80 skilled nursing facilities.

Cramer said he looks forward to voting for its passage on the House floor in the coming months. “This bill is yet another example of how access to much-needed health care in rural areas is a bipartisan issue. This bill, if passed into law, will give North Dakota skilled nursing facilities one additional tool necessary to increase the quality of life for their residents and prevent long-distance travel for health care.”

In addition to Cramer, H.R. 4111 is sponsored by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA). 

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Cramer: HALOS Act Will Remove Barriers for Startups Seeking Investors

2016/05/02

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Legislation that has been passed by the House of Representatives will benefit startup companies seeking investors, according to Congressman Kevin Cramer.  H.R. 4498, the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS Act), amends the Securities Act of 1933 to ensure that startup companies do not inadvertently violate Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations governing general solicitation of potential investors. The bill passed the House by a vote of 325-89 Wednesday.

“There are so many barriers to entry for startups, it’s time to modernize the Securities Act of 1933,” said Cramer.  “The HALOS Act amends the Securities Act to clarify that certain startup companies are able to give presentations about their company and host events like demo days, for example, without violating various SEC investment solicitation bans.  This bill knocks down some of the barriers to entry for startups and it is more than an appropriate rollback of some of the rules,” said Cramer. 

Under the Securities Act of 1933, any offer to sell securities must either be registered with the SEC or meet an exemption. SEC Regulation D contains three general rules for providing exemptions from the registration requirements, allowing some companies to offer and sell their securities without having to register the securities with the SEC. One such exemption is Rule 506 of Regulation D, which allows companies to offer securities for sale up to 35 non-accredited investors and an unlimited number of accredited investors, as long as the company does not market its securities through general solicitations or advertising.

Angel investors are general wealthy individuals who are often actively involved in the startups they back, and are not typically professional investors.  In 2014, angels invested approximately $24 billion in over 73,000 startups and are responsible for 90 percent of the equity investment that startups receive. Corporations like Amazon, Costco, Facebook, Google, and Starbucks were all first funded by angel investors.

 

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Cramer Congratulates Carson Wentz in House Floor Speech

2016/04/29

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer congratulated Bismarck native and North Dakota State University Bison quarterback Carson Wentz on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this morning for being the No. 2 pick in the National Football League draft.

Wentz was chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles last night in the first round of the draft.  A transcript of Cramer’s remarks are below:

Forgive me for being proud, Mr. Speaker, but today my 750,000 fellow North Dakotans and I are standing a little taller as we celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of one exceptional young man. 

Last night every television in North Dakota was tuned in to the NFL Draft to see who the lucky team would be who gets North Dakota State University quarterback Carson Wentz.  The Philadelphia Eagles used their second overall pick to pick Carson. 

Cheers and tears of pride and admiration for the most famous Bison football player ever expressed a sense of state patriotism.  NDSU’s record of five consecutive FCS football championships took a back seat to one special Bismarck native.  And rightfully so.  Carson Wentz is more than a 6-foot-5 super athlete.  He is a man who takes God’s incredible gifts and works them with an ethic of worship. His mind and heart are as big as his frame.  And his pride is not in himself but in his team, in his school, in his community and in his state. 

We are happy for the good people of Philadelphia, knowing that Pennsylvania is gaining much more than a great football player.  They are gaining a great citizen. Congratulations Eagles, and God bless you on your new adventure, Carson Wentz.  And thanks for being a great ambassador for North Dakota.  

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Cramer: Email Privacy Act Ensures Fourth Amendment Protections Apply to New Technologies

2016/04/28

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  The first update in 30 years  to email privacy laws was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday. H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act, revises the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that was first passed in 1986. It requires the government to get a probable cause warrant from a judge before obtaining private communications and documents stored online with companies such as Google, Facebook, and Dropbox.

The bill codifies the Sixth Circuit Court ruling in U.S. v. Warshak, which held that Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures require that the government must first obtain a warrant before accessing emails stored with cloud service providers. 

“H.R. 699 is a big win for user privacy,” said Cramer, who was a co-sponsor of the bill.  “The past three decades have brought significant technology advances, especially with the internet, email and cell phones.  This bill ensures that Fourth Amendment protections are applied to the use of today’s technologies. It recognizes that while technology has dramatically changed how we communicate, the Constitution remains the same.”

Cramer said that current law allows the government to access email that is more than six months old without a warrant. “Technology has changed dramatically since 1986. There was no Google, Facebook, Twitter, or cloud computing. Social networking in the 1980s meant passing a note to a friend in class. Today, social networking means posting on friends’ Facebook walls or liking their photos on Instagram. The way we communicate today requires Fourth Amendment protections.”

Key provisions of H.R. 699 are:

Warrant requirement: The bill creates a uniform warrant standard for law enforcement to obtain the content of communications in criminal investigations. ECPA warrants will continue to be executed with the provider since, as with any other third-party custodian, the information is stored with them. It allows the provider to notify its customers of receipt of a warrant, court order, or subpoena, unless the provider is court ordered to delay such notification.

Remote Computing Services: The bill maintains current law that delineates which remote computing service providers – or cloud providers – are subject to the warrant requirement for content in a criminal investigation. ECPA has traditionally imposed heightened legal process and procedures to obtain information for which the customer has a reasonable expectation of privacy, namely emails, texts, photos, videos, and documents stored in the cloud.

Allows Law Enforcement to Access Public Information: ECPA currently makes no distinction between content disclosed to the public, like an advertisement on a website, versus content disclosed only to one or a handful of persons, like an email or text message. The result is that law enforcement would be required to obtain a warrant even for publicly-disclosed content. The bill clarifies that commercial public content can be obtained with process other than a warrant.

Maintains Congress’s investigative power: The bill clarifies that nothing in the law limits Congress’s subpoena authority to obtain information from third parties in furtherance of Congressional oversight.

 

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Cramer Praises Midco Initiatives at Rural Broadband Caucus Briefing Today

2016/04/28

 

April 27, 2016           

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer delivered an opening statement at a briefing of the Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus today, which focused on strengthening rural economics through broadband deployment.

Cramer welcomed one of the participants, Justin Forde of Fargo, who is director of public affairs at Midco, a regional provider of cable television, Internet and telephone service to North Dakota, South Dakota, and several communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  He talked about the gigabit Internet service initiative Midco is deploying to every community it serves, regardless of population, throughout North Dakota.

“Every day, Midco and many other rural telcos are working tirelessly to deploy lightning-fast broadband to their customers,” said Cramer.  “They understand that high-speed Internet is essential to living in rural America in the 21st century.”

Cramer compared the importance of broadband today to the development of the railroad and highway systems of the past that brought new opportunities to rural America. “With ongoing discussions in Washington on how to decrease the ‘digital divide,’ our Caucus can provide insight into how we can enact more meaningful broadband policy for rural America in the future.”

In February, Cramer, along with Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), founded the 34-member bipartisan Rural Broadband Caucus. They now co-chair the group, whose purpose is to facilitate discussion, educate Members of Congress and staff, and develop policy solutions to the digital divide that exists in rural America.

As part of this divide between urban and rural America, over half of all rural Americans lack access to this basic standard of broadband service. In 2015, the FCC updated its broadband benchmark speeds to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. According to the FCC, using this updated benchmark, the 2015 report finds that 55 million Americans – 17 percent of the population – lack access to advanced broadband.

 

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CRAMER: HOUSE VOTES TO INCREASE ACCOUNTABILITY AND OVERSIGHT OF INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

2016/04/21

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2016 

202-225-2611

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the passage of five bills in the House of Representatives this week that increases accountability and oversight of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

This legislation addresses criminal wrongdoing by IRS employees targeting conservative organizations, requires Congressional approval on how user fees collected by the IRS are spent, suspends the hiring of IRS employees who have not paid their taxes, prohibits rehiring former IRS employees who had previously been dismissed for misconduct, and bans the payment of bonuses to employees until a comprehensive customer service strategy is approved by Congress.

“In this week when all Americans were required to file their income taxes, the House is addressing the ineptitude and culture of corruption at this rogue agency,” said Cramer. “The IRS has betrayed the public trust with mismanagement and scandal. The bills we passed this week are badly needed and basic. They address practices that would never fly in North Dakota and shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in Washington.”

Here is a summary of the bills passed this week which Cramer supported.

H.R. 4903.  Since early 2011, the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Ways and Means have investigated evidence of possible criminal wrong-doing by IRS employees, including Lois Lerner, the former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, relating to the targeting of conservative organizations. H.R. 4903 prohibits the IRS from using funds to target United States citizens for exercising any rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.

H.R. 4885 - IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act. The IRS collects user fees for a variety of programs and services, and under current law has authority to allocate money from its user-fee account as the agency sees fit, without Congressional approval or appropriation. The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight investigation found that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 the IRS deliberately diverted resources away from taxpayer services and towards other agency functions, including implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The bill repeals the provision of current law that allows the IRS to spend user fees collected by the agency without Congressional approval or appropriation. It requires that all IRS user fees collected be deposited into the general fund of the Department of the Treasury, and be subject to Congressional appropriations.


H.R. 1206 – No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act.  In April 2015, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reported that of the 1,580 IRS employees found to be willfully noncompliant with tax laws between 2004 and 2013, only 39 percent were terminated, resigned, or retired. This is despite current law which requires the IRS to terminate an employee who willfully fails to file a federal tax return or willfully understates federal tax liability. This bill suspends the hiring of new IRS employees unless the Treasury Secretary certifies that no IRS employees have serious tax delinquencies with respect to their own tax obligations. If the Secretary cannot make such certification, the Secretary must submit a report explaining why it cannot certify, outlining the remedial actions that would be necessary to make such certification, and indicating the time that would be required to complete those actions.


H.R. 3724 - Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2015.  As part of the basic obligation of public service, all federal employees are required to comply with legal and financial obligations. Employees of the IRS are subject to the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch as well as additional rules applicable to the Department of the Treasury. In February 2015, the Treasury Inspector General (IG) for Tax Administration released a report that found hundreds of former employees with “prior substantiated conduct or performance issues ranging from tax issues, unauthorized access to taxpayer information, leave abuse, falsification of official forms, unacceptable performance, misuse of IRS property, and off-duty misconduct.” In addition, the IG found that one in five of the rehired employees with a record of prior misconduct had performance issues when they returned to the IRS. This bill prohibits rehiring any individual who was previously employed by the IRS but was removed for misconduct or whose employment was terminated for cause.


H.R. 4890 - According to the Internal Revenue Service’s Strategic Plan for FY2014-2017, the delivery of high quality and timely service to reduce taxpayer burden and encourage compliance is identified as goal number one. According to the Taxpayer Advocate, the IRS was only able to answer 37 percent of calls last year during the 2014 filing season, and those callers who managed to get through had to wait on hold an average of 23 minutes. This was a marked drop off compared to the 2013 filing season when 71 percent of calls were answered and there was an average hold time of 14 minutes. The Commissioner of the IRS expects to answer between 47 and 50 percent of calls this year for the 2015 filing season. H.R. 4890 places a ban on payment of bonuses to IRS employees until the Department of the Treasury submits to Congress a comprehensive customer service strategy that has been reviewed and approved by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

 

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Cramer and DeLauro meet to settle up on NCAA Hockey National Championship Wager

2016/04/21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 20, 2016

202-225-2611

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer met with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in his office Wednesday to settle up on the friendly wager they made on the outcome of the NCAA Hockey National Championship game in Tampa, Florida, Saturday, April 9. 

The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the Quinnipiac University Bobcats of Hamden, Conn., to clinch their eighth national title by a score of 5 to 1.  

DeLauro delivered to Cramer’s staff beer from the No Worries Brewing Company in Hamden, Conn.  In the unlikely event that the Bobcats would have won, Cramer would have treated DeLauro’s staff to a box of Chippers chocolate covered potato chips from Widman’s Candy Shop in Grand Forks.

During their meeting, Cramer and DeLauro shared with each other how important hockey, especially at the NCAA collegiate level, is to the constituents in their districts.

Cramer congratulated the UND team on the national championship in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on April ­­13.  

 

 

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Cramer Praises News of First Foreign Export of North Dakota Bakken Crude

2016/04/19

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 18, 2016

202-225-2611

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement following today’s news from the Hess Corporation that it has exported the first shipment of North Dakota oil since Congress lifted the ban on exporting crude oil last December. The ban was lifted as part of the year-end omnibus appropriations bill.

“This first shipment of 175,000 barrels of Bakken crude is the beginning of using North Dakota’s energy resources as a tool of peace, just like we have exported agriculture products to our friends around the world for decades. As I often said during the long fight in Congress to lift this ban, exporting America’s crude oil will strengthen ties with our allies around the world. It will create new markets for American oil and stabilize domestic production. And, it will ensure more jobs in oil-producing states like North Dakota and across the nation.”

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Contact Information

1032 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2611
Fax 202-226-0893
cramer.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Energy and Commerce

Kevin Cramer was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. He serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings appointed Kevin Cramer to three sub-committees including Energy and Mineral Resources, Public Lands and Environmental Regulation and Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith appointed Mr. Cramer to the Energy Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over such science as hydraulic fracturing and clean coal technologies, and as Vice-Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, which has general and special investigative authority on all matters within the jurisdiction of the full-committee. Congressman Cramer also serves along with Rep. Bill Owens (NY-21) as Co-Chairman of the Northern Border Caucus, fostering continued growth in the U.S.-Canada relationship.

Cramer has a distinguished career in public service. In 1991, Kevin was elected Chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, making him the youngest member of the Republican National Committee. From 1993 to 2000, he served in Governor Ed Schafer’s cabinet, first as State Tourism Director from1993 to1997, then as State Economic Development & Finance Director from 1997 to 2000. From 2000 to 2003, Kevin was Executive Director of the Harold Schafer Leadership Foundation, which connects emerging leaders from the University of Mary with community business leaders. In 2003, then-Governor John Hoeven appointed Kevin to the Public Service Commission, and in 2004 he was elected to the position, gaining over 65% of the vote. He was re-elected in 2010 with 61.5% of the vote in a three-person contest.

As North Dakota Public Service Commissioner, Cramer helped to develop and oversee the most dynamic economy in our nation. He worked to ensure North Dakotans enjoy some of the lowest utility rates in the nation, enhancing their competitive position in the global marketplace. An energy policy expert, Cramer understands our country’s energy security is integral to our national and economic security.

A strong advocate for the free market system, Cramer has a proven record of cutting and balancing budgets, encouraging the private sector through limited, common sense regulations and limited government.

Cramer has a B.A. degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, a Master’s degree in Management from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, and was conferred the degree of Doctor of Leadership, honoris causa, by the University of Mary on May 4, 2013. He is a native of Kindred, North Dakota where he received all of his primary and secondary education. Kevin and his wife, Kris, have two adult sons, Ian and Isaac, two adult daughters, Rachel and Annie, a seven-year-old son, Abel, and a new granddaughter, Lyla.


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