Ron Klein releases his year in review
Congressman Ron Klein (FL-22) recently released his annual Year in Review, discussing some of the legislation he was involved in introducing to Congress in 2009 that he felt worked to address the critical issues of our nation.
“This year has brought real challenges, but with the dedication and resiliency of South Floridians, I believe strongly that we will move forward and prosper,” Klein said. “Throughout 2009, we have fought hard to turn our economy around, stand up for our veterans and institute fiscal responsibility. We have made progress, but there is still a great deal of work to be done. I look forward to working with my fellow South Floridians to tackle these issues and more in the coming year.”
Congressman Klein’s document focuses on key pieces of legislation that he felt were important to South Florida families. Some of the bills listed have completed the legislative process and been signed into law by the President, while others are still a work in progress. The full Year in Review follows.
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Getting our economy back on track
- Homeowners’ Defense Act. This year, Congressman Klein introduced the Homeowners’ Defense Act to improve the affordability and availability of homeowners’ insurance. This bill will address the problem of skyrocketing costs and bring down the cost of insurance for families in South Florida and across the country.
- Tax cuts. Congress took action to put money back in the hands of families and small businesses with widespread tax cuts. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a full 95 percent of American workers saw their taxes reduced. Over half of the total money spent on the Recovery Act was specifically designated for tax cuts to encourage businesses to make investments and hire more workers in our community.
- Standing up for Small Businesses. Congressman Klein believes that small businesses are the engine of our economy, and that they will be essential to recovery and job creation. That is why he supported unprecedented tax cuts and loan programs for small businesses, including reforms to make it easier for business owners to get loans and access to capital.
- Homebuyer Tax Credit. This successful program provided thousands of dollars in tax credits to encourage South Floridians to purchase new homes and jump-start our real estate market.
- Consumer Protection and Credit Card Reforms. In order to protect families’ retirement and college savings, the House took action this year to create a new consumer protection agency. We also made sure that the days of confusing and misleading credit card offers and contracts are over – from now on, consumers will have real rights when dealing with credit card companies.
- Equal Pay for Equal Work. Regardless of gender, South Floridians expect to be paid equally for equal work. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, passed this year, ensures that women will no longer be paid less than men for doing the same job.
Standing up for our veterans
- Wounded Warrior K-9 Corps. Congressman Klein authored legislation signed into law by President Obama to match wounded soldiers with service dogs. These animals make a real difference in our veterans’ lives by allowing them to go back to work and live independently, which is why this bill is an essential part of keeping our commitment to our veterans and their quality of life.
- VA Budget Reform. This year, Congress addressed a top priority of our local veterans’ organizations by ensuring timely and reliable funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
- Ensuring VA Benefits. Along with other colleagues, Congressman Klein authored and passed legislation to allow volunteers to assist military veterans and their families with critical services, including filing disability and healthcare benefit forms, job training and transportation to and from VA hospitals for medical care. This provision was inspired by meetings that Klein had with Broward and Palm Beach Veterans’ Advisory Groups. The veterans who serve on the Advisory Groups recommend new policies to address the needs of local veterans in South Florida. This provision passed the House of Representatives and the Senate and became law on April 21, 2009.
- Investing in Our Troops. Congress approved a pay raise for our men and women serving abroad, as well a substantial investment to ensure they receive the highest-quality health care when they come home. Supporting our veterans is not a Democratic or Republican issue – it is an issue we all believe in deeply as Americans.
- A Home to Call Their Own. In addition to new laws serving homeless veterans, we also made it easier for service members and veterans to buy their own home.
- Iran Sanctions. Congressman Klein fought for and ultimately passed tough new sanctions to crack down on the dangerous regime in Iran. His legislation states that businesses which invest in Iran’s key energy sector are not eligible for contracts with the U.S. government. Because of this bill, companies will have to certify that they do not do business with Iran before they can apply for federal contracts. This bill presents a simple choice: either do business with the U.S. government, or do business with Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable, and we will continue taking steps to ensure that threat never becomes a reality.
- Threats in our Backyard. This year, Congressman Klein called for and received hearings in the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the growing influence of Iran in Latin America. He also introduced legislation to label Venezuela a State Sponsor of Terrorism for its assistance to the FARC in Colombia and Iran and its terrorist proxies. This is a bipartisan issue that has been a priority for Florida legislators from both sides of the aisle.
- Meeting with Generals. In a one-on-one meeting with General David Petraeus in West Palm Beach, Congressman Klein received insight on the road ahead and specific strategies and tactics being utilized in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also able to meet with leaders like General Stanley McChrystal and Defense Secretary Robert Gates this year, ensuring proper oversight on our war in Afghanistan and urging them to closely monitor the movement of Al Qaeda into other countries.
Reforming our health care system
- The end of pre-existing conditions. The Affordable Health Care for America Act makes serious reforms to stop insurance company abuses. No longer will your insurance company be able to drop you because you get sick, or discriminate against you for a “pre-existing condition.”
- Strengthen and Protect Medicare. Congressman Klein worked with AARP, who endorsed the House health care reform bill, to strengthen and protect Medicare for our seniors. The bill closed the prescription drug “donut hole” and added years to the life of Medicare to ensure it will be there for future generations. As an essential part of his commitment to strengthen and protect Medicare, Congressman Klein authored an amendment to the House version of the health care reform bill that will ease the transition to a more efficient Medicare Advantage system. His amendment would allow current Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in South Florida to keep the plans they have now, as long as they like them.
- Keeping Our Kids Healthy. Through the State Children’s Health Insurance Plans, (SCHIP) Congress voted to provide cost-effective health coverage for 4 million more children and preserve coverage for 7 million children already enrolled.
Clean energy and environment
- Protecting the Everglades. This year, the South Florida Congressional delegation worked together in a bipartisan way to secure major federal support for protecting and preserving the natural wonder of the Everglades for the next generation.
- Clean Energy and Green Jobs. The House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a landmark piece of legislation to end our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and invest in clean, affordable alternative energy produced right here in America. These investments will create jobs in our community in innovative, cutting-edge fields.
- Harnessing the power of the Sunshine State. Congressman Klein worked with his colleagues to author and pass an amendment to help Florida become a national and global leader in solar energy research, development, and production.
- Investing in Next Generation Automobile Technology. Energy independence will require us to invest in new technology for automobiles. Congressman Klein helped pass legislation to make smart, fiscally responsible investments that will help catapult American technology over global competition. The legislation included important safeguards against duplicative research, while maintaining robust investments battery research and electrification.
- Pay-As-You-Go. As a deficit hawk, Congressman Klein strongly supported legislation passed this year to ensure the U.S. government follows the same rule as families across South Florida – only buy what you can pay for. This legislation requires future spending to be paid for up front so we can get to work bringing down our national debt.
- Reforming Wall Street. This year, the House passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to ensure that a financial crisis like the one that began last fall never happens again. This serious reform changes the way business is done on Wall Street, so their risky decisions will no longer threaten the savings and well-being of South Florida families.
- Stimulus Oversight. After writing a handbook for his constituents on how to access Recovery Act funds so that local cities and organizations in South Florida can get their fair share, Congressman Klein conducted a careful review of stimulus spending in his Congressional district. His website features an interactive, updated map to show what projects are being completed in our local neighborhood.
- Eye on the Sky. This year, Congressman Klein introduced bipartisan legislation to replace the failed hurricane tracking satellite known as QuikSCAT. This satellite long outlasted its useful life, and it is time to follow the recommendations of leading scientists and develop a next-generation satellite that can provide timely, accurate information to save lives when a hurricane approaches our community.
- Cops on the Beat. To keep our communities safe, Congress authorized new COPS grants that will put an additional 50,000 police officers on the street over the next five years.
- A Child Is Missing. Congressman Klein authored and passed the bipartisan A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center Act of 2009. This bill expands a successful South Florida non-profit into a national program that utilizes the latest technology to safely and quickly recover missing children and adults.
- Tough New Iran Sanctions Pass House, Klein Provision Cracks Down on Companies Doing Business with Iran
- Klein Bill to Provide Veterans with Service Dogs Passed by U.S. House
- Cong. Klein on passing health care reform
- House passes Klein’s Iran amendment
- Klein supports job bill in Congress
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