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Ron W.
Democrat OR

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  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Ron Wyden

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    WYDEN (for himself and Mr. Merkley): S. 132. A bill to improve timber management on Oregon and California Railroad and Coos Bay Wagon Road grant land, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.



    Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today I reintroduce a bill that will end the gridlock on the Oregon and California, O&C, lands found in my home State. I am pleased that my colleague Senator Merkley is joining me in this effort. Last Congress, I introduced this legislation, which went on to be reported out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee after continued work with stakeholders and resulting modifications. I feel that a great deal of progress was made in the last Congress to find a solution for these lands in Oregon, but Congress ran out of time to complete work on this bill. That's why I am back at it here today. The bill I introduce today is intended to advance the progress made, adopting the modifications from the bill that was reported out of Committee, and paving the way to pass legislation regarding management of these lands.

    My legislation will end decades of uncertainty and broken forest policy with a science-driven solution that moves past the decades old timber wars. It does this by using science to guide management of the O&C lands while upholding bedrock federal environmental laws. This bill provides the jobs that Oregonians need, certainty of timber supply that timber companies require, and continued environmental protections that our treasures deserve.

    First, my legislation divides the O&C lands, with roughly half set aside for forestry emphasis and the other half for conservation emphasis, to put a stop to the uncertainty and conflicting priorities that have contributed to federal management failure on these lands and produce wins on both sides of the historic timber conflict. The forestry emphasis lands will employ proven forestry practices, known as ``ecological forestry,'' to mimic natural processes and create healthier, more diverse forests. Modeling using Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service analysis confirms that ecological forestry will more than double the harvest on O&C lands, producing approximately 400 mmbf on the landscape covered by this bill.

    On the conservation side, my bill provides permanent protections for approximately 1.35 million acres of land, while designating wilderness lands, wild and scenic rivers, and other special areas. It creates 87,000 acres of wilderness and 252 miles of wild and scenic rivers. All told, this would be the single biggest increase in Oregon's conservation lands in decades. That includes special areas protected for recreation, which is an increasingly important part of our rural economy, and is responsible for 141,000 jobs in Oregon alone. Perhaps the most important conservation win in the bill is the first-ever legislative protection for old growth on O&C lands and the designation of Late Successional Old-growth Forest Heritage Reserves.

    The approach of dividing the lands into conservation and timber emphasis and protecting old growth will provide clear management direction for the landscape and take the most controversial harvests off the table. Significantly, the bill streamlines and front loads environmental analysis into two large scale environmental impact statements--one each for moist and dry forests--that will study 5 years of work in the woods, rather than a single project. It does this while upholding the Endangered Species Act and other bedrock environmental laws.

    Critical to the bill is the belief that forest policy should be dictated by science, not lawyers. The forestry principles used in this bill are based on the work of Drs. Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin, two respected Northwest forestry scientists, and built off of forestry approaches used around the globe. The bill also establishes the first ever legislative protections for O&C streams thanks in large part to the work of one of the Northwest's foremost water resources experts, Dr. Gordon Reeves. The Northwest Forest Plan's stream protections are extended to key watersheds and four drinking water emphasis areas, with additional lands designated for conservation, to protect drinking water. Science also guides how the agency can treat trees near streams and a scientific committee will evaluate stream buffers and reserves in areas dedicated to timber harvests, increasing or decreasing the boundaries as needed to address the ecological importance of streams. This [[Page S102]] acknowledges that one size does not fit all.

    Most important is the fact that I will continue to advance efforts to secure a new future for the O&C lands. My bill certainly doesn't provide everything all sides want, but it can get everyone what they need. I look forward to working with Congressmen DeFazio, Walden and Schrader and our colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives to pass an O&C solution into law.

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN (for himself, Mr. Merkley, Mrs. Boxer, and Mrs. Feinstein): S. 133. A bill to approve and implement the Klamath Basin agreements, to improve natural resource management, support economic development, and sustain agricultural production in the Klamath River Basin in the public interest and the interest of the United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

    Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today I rise to reintroduce a bill that would authorize the implementation of three landmark agreements that settle some of our country's most complex and contentious water allocation and species preservation issues. Water management crises this century have plagued the Klamath Basin, leading to devastating water years for communities throughout the Basin. Overcoming that adversity, stakeholders including State and Federal agencies, tribes, farmers and ranchers, and environmental groups, have spent years coming together to hammer out solutions. They swallowed hard and worked together to bring costs down and deliver economic certainty and stability for the Basin in the name of the greater good.

    Last year, I introduced the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2014 to finally authorize the three historic agreements reached by Basin partners--the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, and the Upper Basin Agreement. I was deeply disappointed that the bill did not get passed into law last Congress, delaying the implementation of these important agreements and creating even more uncertainty and anxiety for stakeholders in the Basin.

    Inspired by the perseverance and dedication demonstrated by the stakeholders, today I once again bring forward this bill, the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act of 2015, to put a rubber stamp on the historic agreements and finally help heal the Klamath Basin. With this bill, the Basin will no longer be known for persistent drought, water disputes, and conflict, but rather for the dedicated and enduring collaborative efforts that have honed in on a sustainable and more economically certain future; an example that other regions can emulate for their watershed challenges. I continue to express my gratitude to the interested groups who came to the table and formed partnerships, engaged in conversations, made agreements and concessions, and ultimately found a path forward.

    I'm pleased to be joined by my colleagues Senators Merkley, Boxer and Feinstein on this bill. Senator Merkley has worked tirelessly to encourage and support the years of conversations and collaborative efforts of the countless stakeholders who have committed to finding a balanced solution. Senators Boxer and Feinstein have provided unwavering support for the communities impacted by unprecedented drought in the Klamath Basin, which spans Oregon and California, while also reaffirming the need to support fish and wildlife. Together, we are committed to working with our colleagues in the Senate and House to advance this bill and get it signed by the President.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN (for himself, Mr. Merkley, Mr. McConnell, and Mr. Paul): S. 134. A bill to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

    Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today I am pleased to be joined by Senators Merkley, McConnell, and Paul in introducing the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015.

    I introduced this bill during the 113th Congress with these same colleagues to amend a regulation that is holding America's economy back. I am committed to empowering American farmers and increasing domestic economic activity, and that is exactly what this bill will do.

    The United States is the world's largest consumer of hemp products, yet it remains the only major industrialized country that bans hemp farming. As the United States imports millions of dollars of hemp products, such as textiles, foods, paper products and construction materials, American farmers who could grow hemp right here at home are unable to profit from this growing market. This is an outrageous restriction on free enterprise and does nothing but hurt economic growth and job creation.

    The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would amend the definition of ``marihuana'' in the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp, allowing American farmers to produce domestically the hemp we already use. Industrial hemp is a safe, profitable commodity in many other countries, and I've long said that if you can buy it at the local supermarket, American farmers should be able to grow it. This commonsense bill would end the burdensome restrictions on industrial hemp and is pro-environment, pro-business, and pro-farmer.

    I encourage my colleagues to take the time to learn about the great potential for farming industrial hemp in the United States, and to understand the real differences between industrial hemp and marijuana. Under our bill, industrial hemp is defined as having extremely low THC levels: it has to be 0.3 percent or less. The lowest commercial grade marijuana typically has 5 percent THC content. The bottom line is that no one is going to get high on industrial hemp. And to guarantee that won't be the case, our legislation allows the U.S. Attorney General to take action if a state law allows commercial hemp to exceed the maximum 0.3 percent THC level.

    I urge my colleagues to join Senators Merkley, McConnell, Paul, and me by cosponsoring and ultimately passing this important bill.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 134 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015''.

    SEC. 2. EXCLUSION OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP FROM DEFINITION OF MARIHUANA.

    Section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) is amended-- (1) in paragraph (16)-- (A) by striking ``(16) The'' and inserting ``(16)(A) The''; and (B) by adding at the end the following: ``(B) The term `marihuana' does not include industrial hemp.''; and (2) by adding at the end the following: ``(57) The term `industrial hemp' means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.''.

    SEC. 3. INDUSTRIAL HEMP DETERMINATION BY STATES.

    Section 201 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 811) is amended by adding at the end the following: ``(i) Industrial Hemp Determination.--If a person grows or processes Cannabis sativa L. for purposes of making industrial hemp in accordance with State law, the Cannabis sativa L. shall be deemed to meet the concentration limitation under section 102(57), unless the Attorney General determines that the State law is not reasonably calculated to comply with section 102(57).''.

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN: S. 135. A bill to prohibit Federal agencies from mandating the deployment of vulnerabilities in data security technologies; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

    Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today I am reintroducing legislation that I introduced at the end of the last Congress along with a bipartisan group of colleagues in the House of Representatives. We call it the Secure Data Act, because it is designed to help protect the sensitive data of American citizens [[Page S103]] and businesses from being compromised by foreign hackers. And I believe it will also help protect and promote the American digital economy at a time when growing the number of family-wage jobs is so important both to Oregonians and to people across the country.

    Hardly a week goes by without a new report of a massive data theft by computer hackers, often involving trade secrets, consumers' financial information, or sensitive government records. It is well known that the best defense against these attacks is strong data encryption and more secure technology systems.

    This is why I and many others have been troubled by suggestions from senior officials that computer hardware and software manufacturers should be required to intentionally create security holes, often referred to as back doors, to enable the government to access data on every American's cell phone and computer, even if that data is protected by strong encryption. The problem with this proposal is that there is no such thing as a magic key that can only be used by good people for worthwhile reasons. There is only strong security or weak security.

    Americans are rightly demanding stronger security for their personal data. And requiring companies to build back doors into their products would mean deliberately creating weaknesses that hackers and unscrupulous foreign governments could exploit. The results of this approach can be seen elsewhere--in 2005, citizens of Greece discovered that dozens of their senior government officials' phones had been under surveillance for nearly a year. The eavesdropper was never identified, but the vulnerability was--it was built-in wiretapping features intended to be accessible only to government agencies following a legal process.

    Mandating back doors would also remove incentives for innovation. If you're required to build a wall with a hole in it, you aren't going to invest a lot of money in developing better locks. And these mandates could also do enormous harm to U.S. technology companies that are working hard to overcome the damage that has been done by recklessly broad surveillance policies and years of deceptive statements by senior government officials.

    This legislation would expressly prohibit the government from mandating that tech companies build security weaknesses into their products. I would note that similar legislation from Representatives Massie and Lofgren passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote of 293-123 in June of last year. So, I look forward to working with colleagues on a bipartisan basis to advance this bill, and to receiving feedback and input from colleagues and interested stakeholders, so that it can be further improved as it moves forward.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 135 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Secure Data Act of 2015''.

    SEC. 2. PROHIBITION ON DATA SECURITY VULNERABILITY MANDATES.

    (a) In General.--Except as provided in subsection (b), no agency may mandate that a manufacturer, developer, or seller of covered products design or alter the security functions in its product or service to allow the surveillance of any user of such product or service, or to allow the physical search of such product, by any agency.

    (b) Exception.--Subsection (a) shall not apply to mandates authorized under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (47 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.).

    (c) Definitions.--In this section-- (1) the term ``agency'' has the meaning given the term in section 3502 of title 44, United States Code; and (2) the term ``covered product'' means any computer hardware, computer software, or electronic device that is made available to the general public.

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN (for himself and Mr. Brown): S. 136. A bill to amend chapter 21 of title 5, United States Code, to provide that fathers of certain permanently disabled or deceased veterans shall be included with mothers of such veterans as preference eligibles for treatment in the civil service; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

    Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, our country has asked a lot of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines throughout its history and it will continue to do so as long as the world looks to America for leadership in crises. These brave men and women don't join the military looking for public accolades and all they ask in return for their many sacrifices is for the government to honor its commitments to them-- something I have certainly always tried to do.

    Of course our men and women in uniform and our veterans aren't the only folks who make sacrifices in the name of national security. From child care, to household repairs and bills, to legal issues, our military families are called on to provide support in innumerable ways as their loved ones serve and deploy. While we hope and pray that all those sent abroad return safely to the arms of their loved ones, we know that this isn't always the case. When servicemembers return home wounded or weakened as a result of combat, it is our military families who step up to take care of their son or daughter, husband or wife. When servicesmembers do not return, it is our military families who endure that searing pain that comes with such a terrible loss.

    It is an understatement to say that government cannot take away that pain; but what government can, and must, do is honor that sacrifice. One way we do that is by extending certain benefits to the families of those who are killed or permanently and totally disabled in action. Today, along with Senator Brown, I am introducing the Gold Star Fathers Act to update one of those benefits.

    The Office of Personnel Management currently allows unmarried mothers of fallen soldiers to claim a 10-point veterans' preference when applying for Federal jobs. Our legislation would simply extend this preference to unmarried fathers of fallen soldiers. Updating this preference is about fairness and recognizing that fathers, too, share in the sacrifice that their family has made for this country. Updating this preference will also expand opportunities for Gold Star families to bring their dedication and compassion into the federal government, where it can be put to great use.

    Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Fathers have incurred a debt that Congress cannot ever hope to repay. All we can hope to do is ensure that these sacrifices are acknowledged and honored. It is my hope that the Senate will pass this legislation swiftly.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 136 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Gold Star Fathers Act of 2015''.

    SEC. 2. PREFERENCE ELIGIBLE TREATMENT FOR FATHERS OF CERTAIN PERMANENTLY DISABLED OR DECEASED VETERANS.

    Section 2108(3) of title 5, United States Code, is amended by striking subparagraphs (F) and (G) and inserting the following: ``(F) the parent of an individual who lost his or her life under honorable conditions while serving in the armed forces during a period named by paragraph (1)(A) of this section, if-- ``(i) the spouse of that parent is totally and permanently disabled; or ``(ii) that parent, when preference is claimed, is unmarried or, if married, legally separated from his or her spouse; ``(G) the parent of a service-connected permanently and totally disabled veteran, if-- ``(i) the spouse of that parent is totally and permanently disabled; or ``(ii) that parent, when preference is claimed, is unmarried or, if married, legally separated from his or her spouse; and''.

    SEC. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    The amendment made by this Act shall take effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN (for himself and Mr. Cardin): S. 137. A bill to amend title 31, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate tax return preparers; to the Committee on Finance.

    Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, if you go to get your hair cut, your barber or [[Page S104]] stylist must be licensed. If you need to get the locks on your home repaired or replaced, the locksmith needs a license. But if you have someone prepare your tax return, there is no requirement that the preparer meet any minimum competency standard. It is time for that to change so taxpayers are protected when they file their taxes.

    On April 8 of last year, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to discuss ways to protect taxpayers from incompetent, unethical and fraudulent tax return preparers. There is no question the tax code is overly complex and confusing. For that reason among others, more than 80 million Americans pay someone else to prepare their income tax return each year.

    That's why it was so alarming to learn that most paid tax return preparers don't have to meet even basic standards of proficiency or competence to prepare someone else's tax return.

    A series of investigations by the GAO and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, TIGTA, illustrated some of the problems with incompetent tax return preparers. As a consequence, the IRS took steps to require paid tax return preparers to demonstrate they have the know- how to provide the taxpayer with a service he or she can reasonably rely upon.

    I am proud to say my home state gets this issue right. Tax preparers in Oregon study, pass an exam and keep up with the changing landscape of the tax code in order to maintain their licenses, and those standards work. The GAO took a look at the system a few years ago and found that tax returns from Oregon were 72 percent likelier to be accurate than returns from the rest of the country. That puts fewer Oregonians at the mercy of unscrupulous preparers and reduces the risk of the dreaded audit.

    These independent analyses, combined with too many taxpayer horror stories of identity theft, refund and liability errors, and audit challenges, demonstrated clearly that a lack of basic tax return preparer competency standards is a serious consumer protection issue. Today, I am introducing legislation that will help restore standards to protect American taxpayers.

    This legislation, the Taxpayer Protection and Preparer Proficiency Act of 2015, which I am pleased to introduce with the distinguished Senator from Maryland, Mr. Cardin--will grant the IRS the ability to move forward with the type of education and examination program contemplated under the 2011 Circular 230 program, specifically, the Registered Tax Return Preparer, RTRP, Program.

    Testing and minimum competency requirements have been clearly shown to be effective at reducing error, fraud and tax preparer incompetence.

    We need to protect American taxpayers, and this bill helps do just that.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 137 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Taxpayer Protection and Preparer Proficiency Act of 2015''.

    SEC. 2. REGULATION OF TAX RETURN PREPARERS.

    (a) In General.--Subsection (a) of section 330 of title 31, United States Code, is amended-- (1) by striking paragraph (1) and inserting the following: ``(1) regulate-- ``(A) the practice of representatives of persons before the Department of the Treasury; and ``(B) the practice of tax return preparers; and'', and (2) in paragraph (2)-- (A) by inserting ``or tax return preparer'' after ``representative'' each place it appears, and (B) by inserting ``or in preparing their tax returns, claims for refund, or documents in connection with tax returns or claims for refund'' after ``cases'' in subparagraph (D).

    (b) Authority to Sanction Regulated Tax Return Preparers.-- Subsection (b) of section 330 of title 31, United States Code, is amended-- (1) by striking ``before the Department'', (2) by inserting ``or tax return preparer'' after ``representative'' each place it appears, and (3) in paragraph (4), by striking ``misleads or threatens'' and all that follows and inserting ``misleads or threatens-- ``(A) any person being represented or any prospective person being represented; or ``(B) any person or prospective person whose tax return, claim for refund, or document in connection with a tax return or claim for refund, is being or may be prepared.''.

    (c) Tax Return Preparer Defined.--Section 330 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection: ``(e) Tax Return Preparer.--For purposes of this section-- ``(1) In general.--The term `tax return preparer' has the meaning given such term under section 7701(a)(36) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

    ``(2) Tax return.--The term `tax return' has the meaning given to the term `return' under section 6696(e)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

    ``(3) Claim for refund.--The term `claim for refund' has the meaning given such term under section 6696(e)(2) of such Code.''.

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN: S. 138. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a tax incentive to individuals teaching in elementary and secondary schools located in rural or high unemployment areas and to individuals who achieve certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.

    Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today, I am introducing the Incentives to Educate American Children, the ``I Teach'' Act, which would provide a $1,000 refundable tax credit to elementary and secondary school teachers who teach in schools located in rural or impoverished areas. It would also provide a $1,000 credit to teachers who achieve National Board certification, and provide National Board certified teachers serving in rural or impoverished schools a $2,000 credit. It was previously introduced in the 113th Congress by Senator Rockefeller.

    U.S. classrooms are increasingly filled with less experienced teachers, as older teachers retire and the retention rate among young teachers continues to decline. According to the most recent data, 1.7 million teachers, representing 45 percent of the workforce, had less than 10 years of experience. Policy makers need to take steps to ensure that students have the most qualified and best trained teachers possible.

    Nearly a third of public schools in the United States are in rural areas. And rural schools often face challenges that others don't, like smaller tax bases and higher recruitment costs, which means they often have less money for classroom materials and salaries. Department of Education data show that rural school districts have the lowest base salaries for starting teachers, a trend that continues even as teachers move to the top of the local salary range. Rural schools face these challenges across the country.

    The most recent study by the Education Trust found that high schools with high poverty rates are twice as likely to have teachers who are not certified in their fields than high schools with low poverty rates. The same study found that schools serving impoverished areas have a higher percentage of first year teachers. Rural schools face similar problems.

    According to the Department of Education, Oregon faces a shortage of certified teachers for the 2014-15 school year in subject areas such as math, science, Spanish, special education, English as a second language, and bilingual education. A major deterrent to pursuing a master's degree in teaching is the soaring cost of tuition, which, especially for those candidates with strong science and math backgrounds, drives them into other fields instead of educating the next generation of scientists and researchers.

    In other words, due to the high cost of education and teachers' salaries which have failed to keep pace, additional incentives through the tax code could encourage highly qualified individuals to look to or continue to pursue teaching as a viable profession. I urge my colleagues to support this important bill.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 138 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, [[Page S105]] SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Incentives to Educate American Children Act of 2015'' or the ``I Teach Act of 2015''.

    SEC. 2. REFUNDABLE TAX CREDIT FOR INDIVIDUALS TEACHING IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS LOCATED IN HIGH POVERTY OR RURAL AREAS AND CERTIFIED TEACHERS.

    (a) In General.--Subpart C of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after section 36B the following new section: ``SEC. 36C. TAX CREDIT FOR INDIVIDUALS TEACHING IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS LOCATED IN HIGH POVERTY OR RURAL AREAS AND CERTIFIED TEACHERS.

    ``(a) Allowance of Credit.--In the case of an eligible teacher, there shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by this subtitle for the taxable year an amount equal to the applicable amount for the eligible academic year ending during such taxable year.

    ``(b) Applicable Amount.--For purposes of this section-- ``(1) Teachers in schools in rural areas or schools with high poverty.-- ``(A) In general.--In the case of an eligible teacher who performs services in a public kindergarten or a public elementary or secondary school described in subparagraph (B) during the eligible academic year, the applicable amount is $1,000.

    ``(B) School described.--A public kindergarten or a public elementary or secondary school is described in this subparagraph if-- ``(i) at least 75 percent of the students attending such kindergarten or school receive free or reduced-cost lunches under the school lunch program established under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, or ``(ii) such kindergarten or school has a School Locale Code of 41, 42, or 43, as determined by the Secretary of Education.

    ``(2) Certified teachers.--In the case of an eligible teacher who is certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for the eligible academic year, the applicable amount is $1,000.

    ``(3) Certified teachers in schools in rural areas or schools with high poverty.--In the case of an eligible teacher described in both paragraphs (1) and (2), the applicable amount is $2,000.

    ``(c) Eligible Teacher.--For purposes of this section, the term `eligible teacher' means, for any eligible academic year, an individual who is a kindergarten through grade 12 classroom teacher or instructor in a public kindergarten or a public elementary or secondary school on a full-time basis for such eligible academic year.

    ``(d) Additional Definitions.--For purposes of this section-- ``(1) Elementary and secondary schools.--The terms `elementary school' and `secondary school' have the respective meanings given such terms by section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

    ``(2) Eligible academic year.--The term `eligible academic year' means any academic year ending in a taxable year beginning after December 31, 2015.''.

    (b) Conforming Amendments.-- (1) Paragraph (2) of section 1324(b) of title 31, United States Code, is amended by inserting ``, 36C'' after ``36B''.

    (2) The table of sections for subpart C of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 36B the following new item: ``Sec. 36C. Tax credit for individuals teaching in elementary and secondary schools located in high poverty or rural areas and certified teachers.''.

    (c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall apply to academic years ending in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015.

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN (for himself, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Markey, and Mr. Brown): S. 139. A bill to permanently allow an exclusion under the Supplemental Security Income program and the Medicaid program for compensation provided to individuals who participate in clinical trials for rare diseases or conditions; to the Committee on Finance.

    Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the bipartisan Ensuring Access to Clinical Trials Act of 2015. I would like to begin by thanking Senators Hatch and Markey for joining me in cosponsoring this legislation. I would also like to thank the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for working with me on this important issue since 2010.

    This bill is simple: it would remove a sunset that exists for a law we passed in 2010 making it easier--and more likely--for people receiving Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid to participate in rare disease clinical trials. As I explained in 2010, we wanted to proceed carefully when altering how compensation for participating in clinical trials is treated for SSI and Medicaid purposes. That is why we included a 5 year sunset and asked GAO to report on how the law is working. Five years have passed and GAO has issued its report.

    GAO's frank assessment is that not a lot is known about how the law may or may not have affected the decisions an SSI recipient makes about participating in clinical trials. At the same time, GAO provided important context about factors affecting a decision to participate, such as time and travel. The GAO report suggests that the law has removed a barrier to participation for the individuals that rely on SSI and Medicaid's safety net, and GAO's consultation with the National Institutes of Health, the National Organization of Rare Diseases, and the Social Security Administration did not identify any negative aspects from the change in the law.

    That is comforting and important, and it is reason enough to make this law permanent. We all know what's at stake and how it's often difficult to find participants for rare disease clinical trials. This law has helped increase the number of people who can participate and, hopefully, be a part of the effort to improve treatments and find cures.

    I urge my colleagues to support this legislation so that recipients of SSI and Medicaid can have the same opportunity to participate in clinical trials as individuals who do not rely on these important safety net programs. I look forward to working with my colleagues on passing this bill soon.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 139 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Ensuring Access to Clinical Trials Act of 2015''.

    SEC. 2. ELIMINATION OF SUNSET PROVISION.

    Effective as if included in the enactment of the Improving Access to Clinical Trials Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-255, 124 Stat. 2640), section 3 of that Act is amended by striking subsection (e).

    ______ By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself, Mr. Portman, Mr. Cornyn, Mrs. Gillibrand, and Mr. Kirk): S. 140. A bill to combat human trafficking; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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