FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 23, 2015
Rep. Massie: Lorenz.Isidro@mail.house.gov (202-225-3465)
Rep. Pingree: Willy.Ritch@mail.house.gov (207-841-8400)
U.S. Representatives Massie and Pingree Introduce Bill to Revive Local Meat Processing
Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Representatives Thomas Massie and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced legislation to make it easier for small farms and ranches to serve consumers. The PRIME (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption) Act would give individual states freedom to permit intrastate distribution of custom-slaughtered meat such as beef, pork, or lamb, to consumers, restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, and grocery stores.
“As a producer of grass-fed beef, I am familiar with the difficulties small producers face when marketing directly to consumers,” said Rep. Massie, who owns 50 head of cattle. “Despite consumers’ desire to know where their food comes from, federal inspection requirements make it difficult for them to purchase food from local farmers they know and trust. These onerous federal rules also make it more difficult for small farms and ranches to succeed financially. It is time to open our markets to small farms and producers and give consumers the freedom to choose.”
"More and more people want locally produced food, but because of the way the system is set up for processing meat, farmers and ranchers sometimes end up sending their animals hundreds or even thousands of miles to a giant slaughterhouse,” said Rep. Pingree, who raises grass-fed beef at her island farm in Maine and is the lead Democratic sponsor for the legislation. "That is just crazy and defeats the whole point of locally produced food. If we can change the federal regulations a little to make it easier to process meat locally, it's going to help farmers scale up and give local consumers what they want."
“The PRIME Act is the first step to rebuilding local processing infrastructure, which can revive rural economies and enable communities to become more self-sufficient in meat production,” stated Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. “We applaud Representative Massie and Representative Pingree for taking on one of the bigger obstacles to a prosperous local food system.”
"Regulating sales of locally produced and sold meat at the state level has the potential to address a significant barrier to the growth of the local food system,” said Judith McGeary, Founder and Executive Director of Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance. "As an organization that represents both farmers and consumers, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance applauds this common-sense bill."
Current law exempts custom slaughter of animals from federal inspection regulations, but only if the meat is slaughtered for personal, household, guest, and employee use (21 U.S.C. § 623(a)). This means that in order to sell individual cuts of locally-raised meats to consumers, farmers and ranchers must first send their animals to one of a limited number of USDA-inspected slaughterhouses. These slaughterhouses are sometimes hundreds of miles away, which adds substantial transportation cost, and also increases the chance that meat raised locally will be co-mingled with industrially-produced meat. The PRIME Act would expand the current custom exemption and allow small farms, ranches, and slaughterhouses to thrive.
The PRIME Act (H.R. 3187), which is supported by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, is part of a series of “Food & Farm Freedom” initiatives championed by Massie, including The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (H.R. 525), the Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (H.R. 4307 in the 113th Congress), and the Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (H.R. 4308 in the 113th Congress). Rep. Pingree was the lead Democratic co-sponsor on both “Milk Freedom” bills. Rep. Massie has also been a staunch advocate for country-of-origin labeling of food.
Original co-sponsors of the PRIME Act include Reps Walter Jones (R-NC) and Jared Polis (D-CO).Read More
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) and U.S. Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Bill Foster (D-IL), Curt Clawson (R-FL), Scott Peters (D-CA), and Paul Gosar (D-AZ) held a joint press conference today to highlight the broad opposition to sweeping anti-patent legislation moving through Congress.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 9, the Innovation Act, before the House concludes legislative business in July. The Senate may take up S. 1137, the PATENT Act, this month or in the fall. H.R. 9 is strongly opposed by inventors, small businesses, venture capitalists, startup communities, and manufacturing, technology, and life sciences companies.
Senator Coons is the author of targeted patent legislation, the STRONG Patents Act, which Senator Vitter has co-sponsored.
“Passing the extensive patent reform being proposed in the House could hurt the very communities patents are meant to protect – innovators, small businesses, and job creators,” Senator Vitter said. “The past three years has seen drastic changes to the patent system. We shouldn’t further overhaul the entire patent system because of a few bad actors. Rather than a blanket overhaul that would cause more uncertainty, we need to strike the right balance and take a targeted approach that minimizes litigation abuse, protects end users, and empowers innovators at the heart of our economy.”
“The fact of the matter is that these two bills would be destructive to our innovation economy, and we're working hard to ensure they won't be treated lightly in either the House or the Senate,” said Senator Chris Coons. “A strong patent system is one of the critical ways we distinguish ourselves from competing economies around the world, and we cannot afford to rush into passing a bill that would further weaken our innovation economy, which is exactly what the Innovation Act would do by making broad changes that fail to protect all patent holders. I will continue working hard with colleagues from both parties in both the House and the Senate to shine a light on the significant flaws in H.R. 9 and the PATENT Act in the Senate."
“Abusive patent litigation requires a targeted approach, H.R. 9, the so-called ‘Innovation Act,’ is far from that,” said Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich). “The overly broad legislation could potentially weaken every single patent in America. It favors big businesses over small inventors and start-ups by including harmful provisions like presumptive fee shifting, expanded joinder, heightened pleading standards, and discovery limitations, yet it fails to prevent fee diversion or address the use of deceptive demand letters – two of the most significant solutions to address abusive patent litigation. As I have stated before, H.R. 9 would have unintended consequences that will harm legitimate patent holders and stifle innovation in America.”
“As a small inventor with 29 U.S. patents, I oppose H.R. 9, the so-called Innovation Act, because it threatens American inventors, particularly individual inventors and those working at small businesses and startups,” said Rep. Massie. “The bill attempts to “fix” a few isolated abuses of the patent system, but instead it sets forth a comprehensive overhaul of the existing legal framework that compromises the rights of all legitimate inventors. If Congress recklessly weakens our patent system by passing this bill, inventors’ very livelihoods will be threatened. Inventors will stop inventing, and as the role models for young inventors quietly fade into history, fewer young students will pursue this rewarding career path. A decade from now, Congress will lament the lack of interest among our nation’s youth in subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, arrogantly unaware that Congress itself destroyed it.”
“As a small business owner who started a company that supports hundreds of good manufacturing jobs, I have been on both sides of patent fights – asserting the patent rights of the company and defending patent claims brought against it,” said Rep. Foster. “So I understand the need for balance in our patent system. H.R. 9 would throw the system out of balance, making it almost impossible for garage inventors to even attempt to protect their intellectual property against established players with deep pockets. The so-called Innovation Act has the potential to stop small companies like ours before they can even get started.”
“What is clear is that the so-called ‘Innovation Act’ is the wrong approach and will undermine the entire patent system,” said Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52). “Instead we should craft patent reform legislation that actually fixes the problem and allows for innovators to develop their ideas free from frivolous litigation, gives inventors a clear and reasonable route of recourse when they are wronged, and brings our patent system into the 21st century.”
For Immediate Release Lorenz.Isidro@mail.house.gov Thursday June 11, 2015 (202) 225-3465 U.S. House Votes for Additional Restrictions on Surveillance WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed an amendment by Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to defund two surveillance “backdoors” that currently allow intelligence agencies access to Americans’ private data and correspondence without a warrant. The amendment, which is part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2685), passed 255-174. “The USA Freedom Act is not the last word on surveillance reform,” said Rep. Massie. “Backdoor surveillance authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act is arguably worse than the bulk collection of records illegally collected under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. This amendment is a much needed next step as Congress continues to rein in the surveillance state and reassert the Fourth Amendment.” “This amendment is the most meaningful step Congress can take to end warrantless bulk collection of US persons' communications and data,” said Rep. Lofgren. “We know that mass surveillance of Americans, as reported in the news, has taken place under the FISA Section 702 authority. This vote shows once again that the House is committed to upholding the Constitution and protecting Americans from warrantless invasions of their privacy. Enacting this amendment into law will benefit our economy, protect our competitiveness abroad, and make significant strides in rebuilding the public's trust.” Under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, Americans' private data and communications – including emails, photos, and text messages – can be collected by intelligence agencies, provided that data or communication at some point crosses the border of the United States. Given the current fluid nature of electronic communications and data storage, in which corporate and private server farms store Americans’ data all over the world, this loophole could allow intelligence agencies access to a vast swath of communications and data without warrant protection. Intelligence officials have confirmed to Congress that law enforcement agencies actively search the content of this intercepted data without probable cause, and have used evidence gathered to assist in criminal prosecutions. Government agencies have also reportedly coerced individuals and organizations to build encryption “backdoors” into products or services for surveillance purposes, despite industry and cryptologist claims that this process is not technologically feasible without putting the data security of every individual using these services at risk. The Massie-Lofgren Amendment would prohibit funding for activities that exploit these “backdoors.” An identical amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act last year passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 293-123 vote, but it was not included in the omnibus spending legislation that passed last December. The amendment is supported by a broad coalition of privacy and civil liberties groups as well as tech companies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Campaign for Liberty, Constitutional Alliance, Council on American-Islamic Relations, CREDO Mobile, Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, DownsizeDC.org, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, FreedomWorks, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Generation Opportunity, Google, Liberty Coalition, Media Alliance, New America's Open Technology Institute, OpenMedia.org, OpenTheGovernment.org, Project On Government Oversight, Public Knowledge, Restore The Fourth, RootsAction.org, Student Net Alliance, Sunlight Foundation, TechFreedom, and X-Lab. Other co-sponsors include Reps Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Conyers (D-MI), Poe (R-TX), Gabbard (D-HI), Jordan (R-OH), O'Rourke (D-TX), Amash (R-MI), Nadler (D-NY), Collins (R-GA), DelBene (D-WA), Labrador (R-ID), Pocan (D-WI), Farenthold (R-TX), Lieu (D-CA), and Sanford (R-SC).
For Immediate Release Lorenz.Isidro@mail.house.gov Thursday June 4, 2015 (202) 225-3465 House Passes Massie Amendment to Strengthen Privacy and Security WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an important anti-surveillance amendment sponsored by Congressman Thomas Massie, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX). The amendment was part of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which funds many government agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. The 383-43 vote represents a victory for electronic privacy advocates. Massie's amendment would prevent the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from cooperating with the NSA to weaken encryption standards for the purpose of facilitating electronic surveillance. “When our government weakens encryption software to spy on citizens, it puts everyone at risk. Hackers can exploit weak encryption to gain access to Americans' confidential health records and financial information," said Congressman Massie. "The NIST charter is to establish dependable standards, not to compromise standards for the purpose of spying." The House passed the underlying CJS appropriations bill, 242-183. The measure will require passage in the Senate before advancing to the President.
U.S. Representatives Lofgren, Massie, Eshoo & Polis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Enable Cell Phone & Wireless Device Unlocking
Bipartisan lawmakers reintroduce bill to permanently enable cell phone & wireless device unlocking
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to allow consumers to permanently unlock their cellphones, tablets, and other electronic communications devices in order to switch carriers. The Unlocking Technology Act of 2015 (H.R. 1587) expands and improves on cell phone unlocking legislation signed into law last year by allowing consumers to permanently unlock all their mobile devices and media in ways that do not infringe on existing copyrights.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act currently forbids consumers from sidestepping technical measures that prevent modifying copyrighted works — such as jailbreaking a tablet to run 3rd-party apps, bypassing digital rights management for archiving or disability access purposes, or unlocking a cell phone — regardless of whether there is any actual copyright infringement.
"This bill reflects how the American public views ownership of their electronic devices," said Representative Lofgren. "It’s simple – you should be free to unlock the mobile devices and media you legally purchase. If consumers are not violating copyright or other law, there's little reason to hold back the many benefits of unlocking. It’s time we allow people to permanently use their devices without interference."
"Everyone should be free to use their personal property as they see fit and choose their preferred technologies without penalty," said Representative Massie. "This bill rolls back excessive and out-dated prohibitions on otherwise lawful innovations that promote marketplace competition. I look forward to advancing this bipartisan effort with Reps. Lofgren, Polis, and Eshoo."
"Unlocking a cell phone or smart device gives consumers the freedom to choose the mobile technology and service that best suits them,” said Representative Eshoo, Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee. “It also unlocks potential and puts competition and consumer choice on equal footing in the vibrant mobile marketplace. This bipartisan legislation ensures consumers have this option—permanently. It’s a win for consumers, it’s a win for competition, and it’s a win for our mobile economy.”
"Consumers who are not under contract should be able to unlock their cell phones or tablets," said Representative Polis. "We should not have laws on the books that prohibit consumer choice and stifle competition in the marketplace. I am pleased to introduce this bill with Representatives Lofgren, Massie, and Eshoo which will permanently restore consumers' freedom to switch wireless carriers."
The Unlocking Technology Act improves on existing law by permanently allowing consumers to unlock all of their mobile devices – not only cell phones. Cell phone unlocking legislation signed into law last year merely reinstated a temporary exemption and still relies on the Library of Congress to renew it every three years, which it may choose not to do. The Unlocking Technology Act makes this cell phone exemption permanent and extends unlocking protections to all mobile devices.
The bill would also permit the use and sale of tools — like software apps — that enable unlocking for uses that do not infringe on copyright, and consumers would not be required to obtain permission from their carrier before switching to a new carrier. The legislation further requires that these changes be included in any international trade agreements.
U.S. Representatives Pocan & Massie Introduce Legislation to Repeal PATRIOT Act
Legislation Would End Unconstitutional Mass Collection of Personal Communications
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act (H.R. 1466). The legislation would repeal federal mass surveillance laws.
“The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state,” said Congressman Massie. "Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans. I am proud to co-sponsor Congressman Pocan’s bill and look forward to working with him on this issue.” “The warrantless collection of millions of personal communications from innocent Americans is a direct violation of our constitutional right to privacy,” said Congressman Pocan. “Revelations about the NSA’s programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans’ privacy. I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security- we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA’s dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change.”
The Surveillance State Repeal Act, H.R. 1466, offers a complete repeal of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, which the NSA has cited as the legal basis for its phone metadata harvesting surveillance program. Additionally, the bill repeals the FISA Amendments Act, which contains provisions for email data harvesting. H.R 1466 also makes retaliation against federal national security whistleblowers illegal and ensures any FISA collection against a U.S. person takes place only pursuant to a valid warrant based on probable cause.
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U.S. Representative Thomas Massie entered Congress in November 2012 after serving as Lewis County Judge Executive. He represents Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District which stretches across Northern Kentucky and 280 miles of the Ohio River.
U.S. Representative Massie attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. During school, he invented a technology that enabled people to interact with computers using their sense of touch, and leveraged that technology to found SensAble Technologies, Inc., which raised over $32 million of venture capital, created 70 jobs, and obtained 24 patents. The hardware and software he developed is now used to design automobiles, jewelry, shoes, dental prosthetics, and even reconstructive implants for wounded soldiers.
In Congress, Thomas serves on three committees: the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure has jurisdiction over roads, bridges, mass transit, railroads, aviation, maritime and waterborne transit. Thomas’s selection to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee puts him in a position to hold the federal government accountable to taxpayers. Further, Rep. Massie’s background from MIT and the high-tech business world makes him uniquely qualified to serve his state and country on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
Thomas lives on a cattle farm in Kentucky with his wife and high school sweetheart, Rhonda, and their four children.
He’s honored to be able to serve the citizens of Kentucky’s 4th District.
Let's pass this... and my bill to eliminate Federal Gun Free School Zones. http://t.co/O3gqN4Y9Ad
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"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much #liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson
Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and I just introduced legislation to make it easier for small farms and ranches to serve consumers. The
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The latest editorial from my friend and colleague, Representative Justin Amash ...
Today I met with members of the Patient Quality of Life Coalition to discuss palliative care. The Patient Quality of Life Coalition formed