Darrell Issa

Darrell Issa

CALIFORNIA's 49th DISTRICT

Issa Introduces Two Resolutions Honoring Contributions of Veteran Service Organizations To Our Community

2017/07/20

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista), a former Captain in the U.S. Army, released the following statement after introducing two bipartisan resolutions (H. Con. Res. 70 and H. Res. 462) to recognize the patriotism and contributions of veteran service organizations to our community.
 
The first, H. Con. Res. 70, commends veterans’ service organizations for their work to ensure that veterans are laid to rest with the proper honor and ceremony they deserve. Every year, veterans service organizations like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Wounded Warrior Project and others, volunteer countless hours to ensure veterans receive the proper honors afforded to them at their funerals including taps, presentation of the flag, and the funeral detail of at least two uniformed members of the Armed Services.
 
The second, H. Res. 462, celebrates the contributions of generations of these organizations to support members of the Armed Services, their families and our communities as a whole. These organizations each year raise money to aid and enhance the lives of members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families by providing financial support with essentials such as rent, child care, utilities, and food, hosting “stand-downs” that focus on providing vital health and support services to homeless veterans, and strengthening their local communities by conducting food drives, visiting hospitals, and providing scholarships to local youth.

“The selfless men and women who serve these great organizations deserve to be recognized for their contributions to honor and support our nation’s veterans,” said Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista).  “I’m proud to introduce these resolutions to display the nation’s appreciation for the important work they do to improve the lives of veterans, their families and our community.”
 
The full text of the twin resolutions introduced today can be read here and here.
 
They are introduced with the support of 34 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle including Representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Bill Posey (R-FL), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Mimi Walters (R-CA), Paul Cook (R-CA), Stephen Knight (R-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Edward Royce (R-CA), Alex Mooney (R-WV), Fred Upton (R-MI), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Scott Perry (R-PA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Luis Correa (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (R-TX), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Chris Collins (R-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Bill Flores (R-TX), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Brian Mast (R-FL), Bruce Poliquin (ME-02), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Marsh Blackburn (R-TN), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Brian Babin (R-TX), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Robert Pittenger (R-NC), Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Scott Desjarlais (R-TN).
 
Background:
 
For nearly a century, veterans service organizations have served as a complementary and integral part of supporting members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. Veterans service organizations have representatives in all 50 States, territories and abroad.
 
Since their inception, veterans service organizations have proudly supported members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and the families of those who have served, volunteering millions of hours to provide honor and ceremony to those who have perished.
 
Auxiliary units of veterans service organizations have more than 1,000,000 members and are composed of wives, widows, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and granddaughters of veterans, as well as veterans themselves.
 
These organizations have raised money to aid and enhance the lives of members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families through financial support—providing assistance with essentials such as rent, child care, utilities, and food. 
 
Many of these organizations host “stand-downs” that focus on providing vital health and support services to homeless veterans. They strengthen their local communities by conducting food drives, visiting hospitals, and providing scholarships to youth.
 
Veterans organizations provide military honor ceremonies for fallen veterans and their families. They volunteer their services at facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs throughout the country to enhance the lives of veterans and their families.
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ICYMI: Washington Post Editorial Board Calls On Congress to Pass DUE PROCESS Act

2017/07/20

In today's issue of The Washington Post, the paper's editorial board calls on Congress to pass the DUE PROCESS Act, re-introduced this Congress by Congressman Darrell Issa, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and others on a bipartisan basis, to rein in civil forfeiture.

Their new editorial comes as the U.S. Department of Justice has announced it plans to ramp up civil forfeiture practices. The Washington Post writes:

"Mr. Sessions said he would instruct department officials to use an 'abundance of caution' for seizures involving vehicles and residences, where many mistakes have occurred. That’s not enough. Congress ought to consider legislation introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) with bipartisan support that would increase the government’s burden of proof before seizing assets."

For more information on the DUE PROCESS Act, click here.

The Washington Post's editorial is below.
 

Watch your wallets: Sessions just turned on the asset forfeiture spigot
By: The Editorial Board
http://wapo.st/2ueiXVZ

With a promise to use “care and professionalism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions has moved to expand a scandal-plagued program of asset forfeiture that allows law enforcement officials to seize money and goods from individuals suspected of crimes, in many cases without a criminal conviction or even a charge. While it is nice to pledge care and professionalism, aspects of this program have proved rife with abuse, and it must be reformed.

The logical foundation of asset forfeiture is recovering the proceeds of criminal activity, such as drug deals. “No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime,” Mr. Sessions declared in a speech Monday in Minneapolis to the National District Attorneys Association. Again, it is hard to argue with the principle. But in reality, as a Post investigation showed in 2014, asset forfeiture has turned out to be an opportunity for police to seize cash and valuables from drivers stopped for minor infractions, and it often can be extremely difficult for the innocent to recover their property. The bounty is often parceled out to law enforcement agencies, creating a perverse profit motive.

In 2015, the Justice Department under President Barack Obama announced curtailment of a kind of forfeiture that allowed local police to share part of their proceeds with federal authorities. This was known as “adoptive” forfeiture, under which state and local authorities would get the seizure cases processed, or “adopted,” under more permissive federal statues, rather than stricter state laws. The 2015 order all but ended adoptive forfeiture. Now, Mr. Sessions is turning the spigot back on, as a Justice Department policy announcement on Wednesday made clear.

The Post report in 2014 revealed onerous seizures from the innocent. In one case, a 40-year-old Hispanic carpenter from New Jersey was stopped on Interstate 95 in Virginia for having tinted windows. Police said he appeared nervous and consented to a search. They took $18,000 that he said was meant to buy a used car. He had to hire a lawyer to get his money back.

While asset forfeiture is justified in huge drug busts, its abuse in highway arrests and in grabbing small sums from people has gone too far. Mr. Sessions declared in his address to the Minneapolis group: “Helping you do your jobs, helping the police get better, and celebrating the noble, honorable, essential and challenging work you do will always be a top priority of mine.” Wouldn’t it be in service of these goals to curb wrongful asset forfeitures and put in place strong protections against further exploitation by police of innocent Americans?

The Justice Department is promising to implement such protections, and Mr. Sessions said he would instruct department officials to use an “abundance of caution” for seizures involving vehicles and residences, where many mistakes have occurred. That’s not enough. Congress ought to consider legislation introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) with bipartisan support that would increase the government’s burden of proof before seizing assets.

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Reps. Issa, Nadler Introduce Much-Needed Fix For 'Oldies' Copyright Battle

2017/07/19

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee for Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet (respectively), today introduced bipartisan legislation to close a long-standing gap in federal copyright law.
 
H.R. 3301, the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act (the CLASSICS Act) resolves uncertainty over the copyright protections afforded to sound recordings made before 1972 by bringing these recordings into the federal copyright system and ensuring that digital transmissions of both pre and post-1972 recordings are treated uniformly.

The CLASSICS Act serves as an update to the "pre-72 treatment" of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act – a broader music licensing bill introduced by Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Nadler earlier this Congress – and represents a broad consensus from a variety of stakeholders across the music landscape. 

Congressman Darrell Issa: “This an important and overdue fix to the law that will help settle years of litigation and restore some equity to this inexplicable gap in our copyright system. It makes no sense that some of the most iconic artists of our time are left without the same federal copyright protections afforded to their modern counterparts. This bill is the product of a great deal of work to build consensus across party lines and varying interests all-over the music and entertainment landscapes on how to best resolve this long-standing problem. I'm very proud of the work we've done here. It will go a long way helping bring music licensing laws into the twenty-first century.”
 
Congressman Jerrold Nadler: “For years, we have been working to ensure royalty payments for artists who recorded many of our great musical classics before 1972. The Fair Play Fair Pay Act set down a clear marker on the need to resolve the dispute over pre-72 music, as we worked toward a long-term solution that benefits multiple stakeholders. The bill we are introducing today updates this Pre-72 provision, once and for all guaranteeing royalty payments for our great legacy artists while providing certainty for digital music services. Hopefully, this new measure will serve as an example of the consensus that can be reached between the creators and distributors of music as we work to comprehensively update our music licensing laws. Many of these older musicians are past their working years and have no other way to make ends meet. I’m thankful to the supporters of this bill for recognizing that pre-72 recordings have value and that those who create it should be paid regardless of their age.”  

The bill is introduced with the support of stakeholders across the music and entertainment industry including American Association of Independent Music, the Recording Industry Association of America, Pandora, musicFIRST, the Internet Association, the GRAMMYs, SoundExchange, Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, American Federation of Musicians, the Content Creators Coalition, the Future of Music Coalition, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and the Living Legends Foundation.

In addition to Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Nadler, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tom Rooney (R-FL), and Ted Deutch (D-FL) joined as original co-sponsors of the legislation.

Text of the Legislation is Available Here

One-Pager On The Bill Is Available Here

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:


Congress made sound recordings eligible for federal copyright protection with the Sound Recording Amendment of 1971, but the law as passed only applied to works created on or after February 15, 1972. Sound recordings made before 1972 were excluded from federal copyright protection

This gap has meant that different recordings made before 1972 have been subject to an inconsistent patchwork of different laws, creating significant uncertainty for rights holders music creators, and distributors, including digital streaming services, who wish to be able to fairly compensate artists and utilize these recordings.

The differing treatment of pre and post 1972 was an inexplicable and arbitrary oversight on the part of Congress. The U.S. Copyright Office has expressed their bewilderment with the decision, writing in their recent report on federal copyright protections for pre-1972 sound recordings that “Congress did not articulate grounds for leaving pre-1972 sound recordings outside the federal scheme and there is very little information as to why it did so.”

This gap has meant that updates to copyright law and new protections extended to sound recordings under the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have excluded pre-1972 recordings. The most significant of these being the ‘safe harbor’ provisions for online piracy and ‘compulsory licenses’ made available for internet and satellite radio streaming.
 
Additional resources: In-depth overviews of this problem are available at Plagiarism Today, the Hollywood Reporter, and the US Copyright Office.

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What Artists Are Saying About Issa and Nadler's Fix for Pre-1972 Copyright

2017/07/19

Today Congressman Issa introduced a bill to fix a long-standing flaw in pre-1972 copyright. This is what the artists are saying about it.

Melissa Etheridge, Grammy Award winning American singer-songwriter

"I have found so much inspiration in the songs of the past, the songs I grew up with. The least – the very least – I could do is show them respect and honor them by urging Congress to fix the law so that they can get paid by digital radio. That’s why this bill is so important.”

Mary Wilson of The Supremes

"This is a great step forward for legacy artists. Thank you to Representatives Issa and Nadler for recognizing that music made before 1972 is just as important and valued as post-1972 music."

Carlene Carter, Singer-Songwriter

“It’s a travesty that artists who shaped our creative minds and inspired us to want to play music in the first place are not being acknowledged and compensated for the music they gave us.  I’m hopeful this important legislation will address this issue for all time."

Sam Moore, Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

"I am overjoyed and extraordinarily grateful for Congressmen Issa and Nadler's bipartisan relentless efforts to correct an inequality in the law that discriminates against myself and my peers-- the legacy artists who recorded our hit records prior to 1972. It is has been unfair and outrageous that the artists, such as myself, who recorded some of our country's most iconic music, have been forced to resort to lawsuits in order to get paid for the commercial use of their recordings. It is phenomenal that finally there is light shining at the end of this very long tunnel we've been looking at for so long. Knowing there is a consensus agreement to resolve any portion of this outrageous problem makes me proud and furthers my hope that I will still be alive to see the other issues Reps. Nadler and Issa have championed in the Fair Play Fair Pay Act come to similar positive bipartisan resolution and conclusion.”

Steve Cropper, legendary guitarist, songwriter, and producer

"The fact U.S., copyright protection does not apply sound recordings made prior to February 15, 1972 makes absolutely no sense.   Early rockers like me and my peers are on heavy rotation these days on popular oldies channels and on digital radio services.  And unlike many other platforms, we’re not compensated for it. How is that fair? It’s our music that attracting listeners and thus we should be paid.   I’m grateful for the leadership of Reps. Issa and Nadler and their efforts to fix this enormous injustice with this important bill.”  

Dave Koz, Smooth Jazz Saxophonist 

"Every artist making music today stands on the musical shoulders of those who came before them. I would not be doing what I do if it weren’t for the heritage acts I grew up listening to, idolizing and trying to emulate. The fact that these amazing artists are not getting compensated for their indelible work and profound influence is simply unfathomable to me, and must be fixed. I am grateful to the sponsors of this bill for finally trying to even the scales, as there is no future in music without honoring the past.”

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AP: Issa Says DOJ Move To Expand Asset Forfeiture "Troubling"

2017/07/18

Note: Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who sponsored legislation this year to tightly regulate asset forfeiture, told the AP that Sessions' move is "a troubling step backward" that would "bring back a loophole that's become one of the most flagrantly abused provisions of this policy."
 
"I'm glad that at least some safeguards will be put in place, but their plan to expand civil forfeiture is, really, just as concerning as it was before," Issa said. "Criminals shouldn't be able to keep the proceeds of their crime, but innocent Americans shouldn't lose their right to due process, or their private property rights, in order to make that happen."
 
US restoring asset seizures with conditions
Associated Press
By: Sadie Gurman
July 18, 2017
 
The Trump administration will soon restore the ability of police to seize suspects’ money and property with federal help, but The Associated Press has learned the policy will come with a series of new provisions aimed at preventing the types of abuse that led the Obama Justice Department to severely curtail the practice.
 
At issue is asset forfeiture, which has been criticized because it allows law enforcement to take possessions without criminal convictions or, in some cases, indictments. The policy to be rolled out Wednesday targets so-called adoptive forfeiture, which lets local authorities circumvent more-restrictive state laws to seize property under federal law. The proceeds are then shared with federal counterparts.
 
Former Attorney General Eric Holder significantly limited the practice in response to criticism that it was ripe for abuse, particularly with police seizures of small amounts of cash. Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to ease those restrictions, but also impose new requirements on when federal law can be used, a senior Justice Department official briefed on the policy said Tuesday.
 
The official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, was not authorized to discuss the changes before their unveiling.
 
Key changes include requiring more detail from police agencies about probable cause justifying a seizure before federal authorities get involved. Also, the Justice Department will have to decide more quickly whether to take on local seizures and also let property owners know their rights and the status of their belongings within 45 days of the seizure, faster than federal law requires.
 
Another key change will make it harder for police to seize less than $10,000 unless they have a state warrant, have made an arrest related to the seizure, have taken other contraband, such as drugs, along with the money, or the owner has confessed to a crime. Without at least one of those conditions, authorities will need a federal prosecutor’s approval to seize it under federal law.
 
Old rules set that threshold at $5,000, the official said. The old process rarely required a federal prosecutor’s sign-off, said Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor and expert on asset forfeiture and money laundering law.
 
Sessions’ support for asset forfeiture more is in keeping with his tough-on-crime agenda and aligns with his oft-stated view that the Justice Department’s top priority should be helping local law enforcement fight violent crime. Police departments use the seizures for expenses, and some agencies felt Holder’s restrictions left them without a critical funding source. When he forecast the rollback of the Holder provision at a conference of district attorneys, the announcement drew applause.
 
But an embrace of asset forfeiture follows bipartisan efforts to overhaul the practice, and as a growing number of states have made their own laws limiting its use.
 
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who sponsored legislation this year to tightly regulate asset forfeiture, told the AP that Sessions’ move is “a troubling step backward” that would “bring back a loophole that’s become one of the most flagrantly abused provisions of this policy.”
 
“I’m glad that at least some safeguards will be put in place, but their plan to expand civil forfeiture is, really, just as concerning as it was before,” Issa said. “Criminals shouldn’t be able to keep the proceeds of their crime, but innocent Americans shouldn’t lose their right to due process, or their private property rights, in order to make that happen.”
 
As of 2014, more than 20 states set restrictions either by requiring a criminal conviction, increasing the government’s burden of proof that property is linked to a crime, or other measures, said Darpana M. Sheth, an attorney at Institute for Justice, which represents defendants in forfeiture cases across the country. Requiring authorities to secure a criminal conviction before they can seize property is the only real safeguard against abuse, she said.
 
“The stories of people having small amounts of cash seized are more infuriating and puzzling to the public and seem to represent some greater injustice,” said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who studies the topic. Sessions’ changes will likely discourage small seizures or at least better document them, he said. But the broader, more pressing problems with asset forfeiture remain because police departments are still too reliant on taking private property as a way to foot their bills, he said.
 
Up to 80 percent of the proceeds from a seizure can be shared with local agencies under the Justice Department’s adoptive forfeiture program. More than $6 billion in forfeited funds has been shared with state and local law enforcement since fiscal year 2000, according to a scathing report in March from the department’s inspector general. It found weaknesses throughout the asset forfeiture program, including poor data collection and analysis, and inadequate training of local and state officers.
 
The new policy mandates more training for local officers whose departments engage in the program, the official said.
 
Cassella said Holder’s restrictions aimed to reserve scarce federal resources for sprawling, complex investigations where the ability to seize assets is critical. But he called it a “blunt instrument” that limited cooperation with state agencies. Sessions’ safeguards could go further, he said, but are “a step in the right direction.”
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Rep. Issa Responds to DOJ Plans to Increase Civil Forfeiture

2017/07/17

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) released the following statement after Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that the Department of Justice plans to roll out a new policy aimed at increasing police seizures of cash and property under civil forfeiture.

“This is a troubling decision for the due process protections afforded to us under the Fourth Amendment as well as the growing consensus we’ve seen nationwide on this issue,” said Congressman Darrell Issa. “Ramping up adoptive forfeitures would circumvent much of the progress state legislatures have made curb the misuse of civil forfeiture and expand a loophole that’s become one of the most flagrantly abused provisions of this policy. Criminals shouldn’t be able to keep the proceeds of their crime, but innocent Americans shouldn’t lose their right to due process, or their private property rights, in order to make that happen. I will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement and the Department of Justice to enact reforms like those laid out in the DUE PROCESS Act which my House colleagues and I re-introduced earlier this year.”

Congressman Issa earlier penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times calling for civil forfeiture reform. In the piece, he derided equitable sharing as a "federal loophole that lets cops go treasure hunting"  and asserted that civil forfeiture "stands in stark contrast to constitutional principles of due process and property rights."

He also is an original co-sponsor of the DUE PROCESS Act, which he and his colleagues introduced in the House of Representatives to curb civil forfeiture misuse at the federal level.

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House Passes Bill Strengthening U.S. Military, Including Rep. Issa's Federal IT Reforms

2017/07/14

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which included a key, bipartisan amendment led by Congressman Darrell Issa and Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) that would extend key measures of their Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which was signed into law in 2013. The Amendment would extend three provisions of their law to reduce duplication of efforts, increase transparency, reduce waste, and improve how the federal government acquires, implements and manages its information technology investments.
 
“This year’s NDAA helps rebuild America’s military and ensures our forces are ready to take on the threats of our ever-changing world,” said Congressman Darrell Issa. “It provides funding for long-overdue modernization efforts, a well-deserved pay raise for our troops, all while providing crucial increases for our missile defense and cyberwarfareprograms. I’m also thrilled the bill included our measure to extend key provisions from the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act. This will ensure agencies continue to be held accountable, that efforts in this program to cut waste continue, and that agencies will not be able to avoid reporting and transparency requirements by slow-rolling until the sunset. I’m proud of the work we’ve done on this great piece of legislation and hope the Senate will get it to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”
 
Among other provisions, the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018:

  • Fully funds a 2.4% pay increase for our troops
  • Boosts defense spending 10% over the previous year to $696.1 billion
  • Makes key investments in modernizing our military’s tools and equipment to ensure our troops have exactly what they need to keep us safe
  • Allocates an additional $2.5 billion to missile defense systems to protect our homeland from the threats posed by ICMBs from North Korea and Iran
  • Bolsters funding for impact aid to educate children of military families
  • Increases defensive and offensive cyber operations budgets by $1.7 billion to close critical gaps in cyberwarfare capabilities
  • Extends key provisions of Congressman Issa’s landmark federal IT reform measure, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, that were set to expire in 2018 and 2019. For more information on this amendment, please click here.

The bill also included key investments to help support Camp Pendleton including:

  • $61 million to upgrade the base's ammunition supply point
  • $24.6 million for a new ambulatory care center
  • $9.9 million to build new battalion company headquarters and team facilities
  • $7.2 million for a motor transport facility expansion
  • More more on the projects included, click here.

For a more thorough summary of the NDAA as a whole, please click here.

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House Enhances Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

2017/07/12

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista), a senior member of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees, released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed 3 measures to fight human trafficking.
 
“Human trafficking isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s a moral issue,” said Congressman Darrell Issa, “and we must do everything in our power to bring this despicable crime to an end. Here in Southern California, we’ve seen first-hand the heartbreaking impact of human trafficking. Sadly, San Diego remains one of the nation’s worst cities for child sex trafficking and estimates show that more than 8,000 people become victims of human trafficking in San Diego County alone each year. These measures contain important tools to help combat this terrible crime and bring its perpetrators to justice.”
 
The human trafficking bills passed today include:
 
H.R. 2664 – Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act, which ensures the Department of Labor effectively trains its employees to recognize and respond to the signs of human trafficking when they inspect workplaces for potential labor violations or in the course of their other roles and responsibilities.
 
H.R. 2480 – The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, which expands the Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants Program (Byrne JAG) to enable law enforcement to receive grants to specifically to develop and carry out programs that fight sex trafficking demand. 
 
H.R. 2200 – The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention Act, which reauthorizes funding for US international and domestic anti-human trafficking efforts, pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), which is set to expire on September 30, 2017.

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OC Register: Rep. Darrell Issa opposes proposed toll road extension scenarios in South County

2017/07/12

NOTE: "Issa, in a July 7 letter to the TCA, came out against potential 241 alignments being opposed by San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Mission Viejo and Ladera Ranch. Issa said those routes would divide communities, risk destroying community character and threaten added congestion on key thoroughfares."
 
Rep. Darrell Issa opposes proposed toll road extension scenarios in South County
July 11, 2017
OC Register
By: Fred Swegles
http://bit.ly/2sObUQI

South Orange County’s congressman says he agrees with residents in his district who don’t want their towns bisected by a toll road, and he is prepared to pursue a potential federal alternative – Camp Pendleton.

A key question, Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said, is whether the Transportation Corridor Agency’s Nov. 10 lawsuit settlement with environmental groups can be set aside, allowing a 241 Toll Road connection to I-5 at San Onofre.

Issa, in a July 7 letter to the TCA, came out against potential 241 alignments being opposed by San ClementeSan Juan CapistranoRancho Mission Viejo and Ladera Ranch. Issa said those routes would divide communities, risk destroying community character and threaten added congestion on key thoroughfares.

Issa’s letter came a day after Dan Bane, a San Clemente attorney, sent a letter to the TCA asserting that the lawsuit settlement violated California’s open-meeting law.

Bane said the TCA board approved the settlement in closed session, without public input. He said the settlement’s creation of an “avoidance area” – where the TCA would agree to never fund or build a road – could not be enacted without a public hearing and public input.

The TCA is evaluating potential 241 routes that are opposed by the Ladera Ranch Civic Council, Rancho Mission Viejo and two City Councils – San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente.

Another route option in the study is an alignment that would go behind all of the communities and behind the Richard and Donna O’Neill Conservancy to connect to I-5 at San Onofre, similar to a route that the California Coastal Commission and the Commerce Department rejected in 2008.

It would go through the newly designated avoidance zone on land that San Onofre State Beach leases from Camp Pendleton. But the park’s lease expires within five years, Issa said, and he believes the Navy Department would then facilitate a road alignment based on a 1987 memorandum still in effect.

Issa said such a road would comply with federal laws and could be designed to not adversely impact Camp Pendleton’s training mission, public recreation or the environment. It could provide additional mitigations to help the state park, he said, and the he believes the Coastal Commission – “misused in this case” – would not be insurmountable.

Issa’s letter came on the same day that the South Orange County Economic Coalition put out an e-mail inviting its members and the business community to send a form letter to the TCA asking for traffic relief.

“The southernmost part of Orange County is the only area that offers no alternate route to the often-congested I-5 freeway,” the letter said.

It continued, “I am disappointed that some communities and elected officials have chosen to either remain on the sidelines or literally throw roadblocks in the way of transportation alternatives, but I hope you understand that the vast majority of South Orange County residents want and need traffic relief solutions and that we strongly support the unrelenting efforts of TCA and its transportation agency partners.”

The letter advocated “infrastructure built responsibly that minimizes community impacts while allowing our customers, clients, employees, friends, family and neighbors to travel more freely, get to their job and get home to their families quickly.”

Issa, in his letter to the TCA, said “it is imperative that if an additional highway is to be constructed in this highly populous region, that it have as minimal an impact as possible on surrounding residents. The current proposals do not accomplish this objective and should be rejected outright.”

State Senator Patricia Bates and Assemblyman Bill Brough issued statements in June against the 241 route options, saying they “could irreparably harm the quality of life of affected communities.”

The Capistrano Unified School District board issued a resolution saying the district believes the current alignments “would irreparably impair” school sites and impact students.

Mission Viejo’s City Council released a support letter for “the TCA’s efforts to identify a balanced solution to relieving regional and particularly north-south traffic congestion, which we believe must include an SR-241 to I-5 connection.”

The letter said San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente have obstructed efforts and expressed hope they will join with other south county cities working to incorporate TCA “network connections through our cities to alleviate traffic congestion for the region.”

San Clemente Mayor Kathy Ward, who represents San Clemente on the TCA board, said the city is preparing a letter of response.

Ward said she felt the settlement process was not done properly and she would like to have been able to discuss its merits. “I found out about it the day it happened,” she said. “We didn’t even have time to read it. I don’t sign things I don’t read.”

The TCA board’s vote was 10-2, with Ward and San Juan Capistrano’s then-representative on the TCA board, Mayor Kerry Ferguson, dissenting.

San Juan Capistrano Councilman Brian Maryott, who now represents San Juan on the TCA board, had no comment when asked about the Issa and Bane letters. He said a challenge to the settlement agreement could involve litigation.

Regarding the 241 options, Maryott said “it’s pretty tricky to speculate about individual routes. With no real technical merit, they are just ideas. What is unfolding now is a feasibility study. I suspect that a number of these proposed alternatives are not going to make the cut as being practical or possible. But I don’t want to speculate on them individually.”

Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, coastal preservation manager at the Surfrider Foundation, which is a party to the settlement agreement, said she had not heard of a challenge. She suggested it is unlikely a new push for the 241 to I-5 within the San Onofre recreational lands would succeed.

“Any suggestion of going through the park would reopen a 15-year battle that involves millions of people who use the park and thousands of people who have vocally opposed a road through San Onofre State Park,” she said. “Both the Bush Administration and the State of California have summarily rejected a road through a state park.”

Read more in the Orange County Register here.

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Issa to TCA: Abandon Toll Road Extension Plans

2017/07/12

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is urging the California Transportation Corridor Agencies to reject all of the currently proposed routes to extend the 241 toll road through South Orange County. In a letter to TCA Chief Executive Officer Michael Kraman, Congressman Issa writes to express serious concerns about the impact of the proposed routes would have on our communities and ask that agency go back to the drawing board to come up with a better solution.
 
The Congressman writes, “While recent proposals may be well-intentioned to help ease traffic congestion on a notoriously packed section of I-5, the routes proposed today would effectively divide several of our cherished local communities. If allowed to move forward, the proposed routes risk destroying the very character of the communities that have drawn so many of us to call this area our home. The current proposals…should therefore be rejected outright.”
 
The Congressman’s letter comes as opposition has continued mounting against the controversial routes. City leaders, concerned citizens have increasingly united against the proposals citing concerns over the impact on the community.

A PDF of Congressman Issa’s letter is available here

July 7, 2017
 
Michael Kraman
Chief Executive Officer
Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA)
P.O. Box 57011
Irvine, CA 92619-7011
 
Dear Mr. Kraman,
 
As the federal representative for South Orange County, I write to express my strong opposition to the current proposals to extend the State Route 241 toll road as put forward on recent maps provided by TCA.
 
For more than 20 years, developers have considered various proposals to complete Route 241 in order to alleviate traffic congestion in the South Orange County region. Despite many years and long protracted battles, no solutions so far have earned the support of the communities directly impacted by the proposed construction.  
 
While recent proposals may be well-intentioned to help ease traffic congestion on a notoriously packed section of I-5, the routes proposed today would effectively divide several of our cherished local communities while threatening to create additional traffic congestion on key thoroughfares. If allowed to move forward, the proposed routes risk destroying the very character of the communities that have drawn so many of us to call this area our home.
 
After hearing numerous concerns from city officials and residents who would be impacted if a toll road extension was routed through their community, I cannot support any of these proposals and respectfully request that TCA return to the drawing board and find more desirable solutions to reduce traffic congestion in South Orange County.
 
While any proposed route will likely be met with a certain amount of resistance -- as these proposals have been for years -- it is imperative that if an additional highway is to be constructed in this highly populous region, that it have as minimal an impact as possible on surrounding residents. The current proposals do not accomplish this objective and should therefore be rejected outright.
 
I look forward to working with stakeholders in the area to find alternative solutions to reduce traffic congestion in the South Orange County area.  Please feel free to contact my office at (202) 225-3906 if you have any questions.  
 
Sincerely,


Darrell Issa
Member of Congress

###

 

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Contact Information

2347 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-3906
Fax 202-225-3303
issa.house.gov

Congressman Darrell Issa represents the people of California’s 49th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, a seat he has held since 2001. The 49th District includes Camp Pendleton, the largest Marine Corps training facility in the United States, and the northern portions of San Diego County and southern Orange County. Congressman Issa and his wife Kathy live in Vista, CA. They have one son, William, and celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in 2010.

As a senior in high school, Issa enlisted in the United States Army. Through his Army service, he received an ROTC scholarship and graduated with a degree in business from Sienna Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. Upon graduation, Issa was commissioned as an Army officer, and ultimately obtained the rank of captain. He completed his active-duty military service in 1980 and turned his interests to the private sector.

At the height of his career in business, Issa served as CEO of California-based Directed Electronics, a company that Issa founded and built in the mid-1990s to become the nation’s largest manufacturer of vehicle anti-theft devices, including the highly-successful Viper system. In 1994, Issa was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young and The San Diego Union Tribune. During his leadership of Directed Electronics, Issa served as chairman of the Consumer Electronics Association, an organization of 2000 companies within the consumer technology industry that hosts the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. When he stepped down as CEO to serve as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Directed Electronics employed nearly 200 people.

As a Congressman and leader in California grassroots politics, Issa has championed the cause of smart, efficient government, and has pushed legislation to balance the federal budget and promote transparency across the federal bureaucracy. In 2003, Issa was the architect behind the successful popular uprising to recall former Democratic California Governor Gray Davis.

Issa currently is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he serves as the Chairman. Previously, Issa served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Energy & Commerce Committee, and the Small Business Committee. As the holder of 37 patents himself, Issa has been vigilant about protecting the intellectual property rights of artists and other entrepreneurs to help protect America’s position at the forefront of innovation and creativity in the entertainment and technology industries. His successful efforts to fight human trafficking along the United States border has resulted in tougher laws, stiffer penalties, and more consistent enforcement. His watchful concern to guarantee that U.S. taxpayers receive the royalties they are owed from mineral interests on federal lands exposed fraud and mismanagement at the Mineral Management Service (MMS) in 2006.

In 2008, when Congress was asked to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in the wake of an historic financial crisis, Issa stood by his instincts as a businessman and opposed giving a blank-check bailout to Wall Street – he voted against all bailouts during the financial crisis. Refusing to give up and concede to those who favored a bailout-centered response to this and future financial failures, Issa put forward a proposal to create a bipartisan commission to uncover the root causes of the financial crisis. This idea was passed into law in early 2009 and the investigation commenced in January 2010. Issa expects the results will reveal government mistakes and protect U.S. taxpayers from future runaway government intervention in the financial and housing markets.

Recognizing his success as a Congressional watchdog of taxpayer dollars, at the beginning of the 111th Congress House Republicans tapped Issa to serve as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is the main investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives charged with the protecting the interests of U.S. taxpayers and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal bureaucracy. In the first year of his leadership, the committee has undertaken numerous detailed investigations of the Countrywide Financial VIP Program that benefited government officials with special reduced-rate mortgage loans, the illegal use of taxpayer dollars by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the decades-old misplaced government agenda to manipulate the U.S. housing market through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that created the housing crisis, the politicization of science at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a broad investigation into the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

As a fiscal conservative committed firmly to low taxes and free markets, Issa has opposed the rise of out-of-control government spending and fought tirelessly for the responsible, transparent use of taxpayer dollars. He’s pushed to achieve more whistleblower protections for those who report waste, fraud and abuse in the federal bureaucracy. And he’s offered substantive reform initiatives to open up government so that Americans know what’s happening in Washington and can become more democratically engaged in the day-to-day oversight of their government.


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