H.R. 3691 – TRANSLATE Act

Sponsor: Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)

Cosponsor: Rep. Van Taylor (R-TX)

Synopsis: The TSA Reaching Across Nationalities, Societies, and Languages to Advance Traveler Education (TRANSLATE) Act is a bill to require the TSA to develop a plan to ensure that TSA material disseminated in major airports can be better understood by more people accessing such airports, and for other purposes.

Bill would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to make signage, video, audio, and online content more accessible to major airports’ travelers who do not speak English as their primary language.

Action: On 7/10/19, bill was introduced in House. On 9/11/19, it was reported by the Committee on Homeland Security. The bill was passed in the House on 9/26/19, on motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill agreed to by voice vote.

Sponsor Comments: “You shouldn’t have to worry about missing a flight just because you don’t speak English,” said Congresswoman Titus. “Making signs at airports easier to understand for non-English speakers and those with vision impairments is common sense. Las Vegas is an international city that thrives on tourism, and we must make sure that our airport is comfortable for all residents and visitors alike…That’s why I’m excited that this House is passing the TRANSLATE Act, which I introduced to make sure TSA goes the extra mile in Las Vegas and at airports all across the country to communicate with the traveling public.

“It’s a basic courtesy. I know we all appreciate seeing signs in English when we’re traveling abroad. So there’s no reason we shouldn’t make U.S. airports as welcoming as possible to those who don’t speak English or may be visually impaired.”

Jessica’s Take: According to the text of the bill, approximately 65,000 individuals living in the U.S. over the age of five speak English “not well” or “not at all.” And estimated 34.5% of Clark County residents speak a language other than English at home. Whereas most airports in other cities around the world display signage and other communications in several global languages — in Paris, for instance, signs often can be found in French, English, German and Spanish — the U.S. has remained staunchly English only. Yet as our cities become more a part of the global community, it makes sense to aid accessibility for international travelers. It’s likely the House of Representatives thought this the case when they passed the bill in late September. It has to clear the Senate hurdle next, and it might be wise to clean up our “unfriendly to non-Americans” image by passing it post haste.

H.R. 3874 – Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit of Equality Act of 2019

Sponsor: Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)

Synopsis: A bill to codify in law the Special Envoy position, require the State Department to document cases of human rights abuses and discrimination against LGBTI people around the world, and institute sanctions against foreign individuals who are responsible for egregious abuses and murders of LGBTI populations. Additionally, the bill ensures fair access to asylum and refugee programs for LGBTI individuals who face persecution because of their sexual orientation. 

Action: On 7/22/19, it was introduced in House and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Judiciary. On 8/12/19, it was referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

Sponsor Comments: “No person should suffer from discrimination because of who they are or whom they love,” said Congresswoman Titus. “Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. is failing to protect the rights of LGBTI people at home and abroad. This bill will help restore our role in promoting LGBTI rights around the world and punishing regimes that persecute people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Jessica’s Take: An impressive cohort of 61 all-Democrat cosponsors signed on to this act, which is another of Titus’ cleverly acronymed pieces of legislation (How do they do it? Is it a skill they learned in college?). The GLOBE Act comes as a direct response to this summer’s announcement by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo about the creation of the Commission on Unalienable Rights to advise the State Department on human rights. Several of the appointed commissioners have records on LGBTI issues that many find troubling. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has yet to appoint a State Department Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, a position established in 2015.

We know that in at least 68 countries (almost 40 percent of the world), same-sex relations and relationships are criminalized. Anti-LGBTI policies have been shown to result in violence, homelessness, depression and anxiety, health risks, substance abuse, suicide, HIV infection and much more. This legislation has support from the Council for Global Equality, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Immigration Equality Action Fund, CHANGE, PFLAG National, American Jewish World Service (AJWS), Center for American Progress, GLAAD, International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), Amnesty International USA, PAI, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Advocates for Youth, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), OutRight Action International, Church World Service (CWS), Equality California, and Silver State Equality.

However, as we have come to see, this issue has typically been divided by party lines and has historically found more sympathies on the left. A left-leaning House is likely to pass this one in a cake walk. The right-leaning Senate? Not so easy.

S. 2497/H.R. 4417 – Dependent Income Exclusion Act

Senate Sponsor: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

Senate Co-Sponsors: Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

House Sponsor: Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV)

House Co-Sponsors: Reps. Terri A Sewell (D-AL), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Dwight Evans (D-PA)

Synopsis: This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to exclude certain wages or self-employment earnings of a dependent of a taxpayer for purposes of determining the taxpayer's eligibility for premium tax credits used to purchase insurance on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchanges. To qualify for the exclusion, the dependent must be under 18 years of age or has not attained age 24 at a certain time in a calendar year and is a part-time student or apprentice or a participant in a job training program.

Action: On 9/18/19, bill was introduced in Senate, and on 9/19/19, it was introduced in the House and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Sponsor Comments: “Parents of students shouldn’t be financially punished when their child takes on a summer job or campus work-study program; disqualifying an entire family from premium tax credits sends the wrong message to kids who are working to pay for college,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My legislation will ensure middle-class families continue to qualify for the credits that keep their health insurance affordable. There’s more we must do to improve health care affordability for consumers, but this is an important first step. I’m proud to fight to ensure parents across the Silver State have access to affordable, quality health care for themselves and their kids.”

“I’m proud to work with members of Nevada’s delegation to support this commonsense legislation to make health insurance more affordable for hardworking families,” said Senator Rosen. “The Dependent Income Exclusion Act would protect working and middle class families from being penalized when their kids take on part-time jobs. We should be encouraging work experience and making health coverage more affordable — this bill does both.”

“We cannot simultaneously encourage a strong work ethic in our young people AND penalize their families by disqualifying them from helpful tax credits and access to affordable health insurance,” Congressman Horsford said. “Families with students in college or with young adults working to contribute funds to cover their expenses should not be barred from accessing tax credits that keep their health care affordable. Expanding access to quality health care for my constituents, and for Americans across the country, is my top legislative priority, and this bill is an important step toward a future where no one is denied the care they need.”

Jessica’s Take: When I was 15, I got my first part-time job bussing tables at a country club where my dad worked. From then on, I worked a series of jobs, from food service to retail and office work, frequently walking there from home until I could earn enough money to buy a car. The experience equipped me with an early glimpse into money management and a strong work ethic — two things adults like me often disparage Millennials for not having. Research shows that benefits of teens working include personal financial education, important professional experience, independence, a sense of personal responsibility, a beginning to a credit record and key work and life skills, not to mention the financial support it offers a family.

Yet the current law penalizes families for encouraging their children to work. Tax credits available under the ACA to subsidize health insurance premium costs are generally available for individuals with household incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the Federal poverty level (FPL). This leaves some middle-income consumers to pay their entire premium, and in some cases forces families to forgo coverage and remain uninsured.

This law would allow consumers to exclude the income of their dependents when calculating their eligibility for premium tax credits, so long as the dependent is enrolled at least part time in school or an apprenticeship, or participating in a job training program. For a family with kids in college who are working in the summer to put money toward tuition, or for a family with kids attending community college while working part-time, this would make insurance more affordable by increasing the credits they already get, or make them newly eligible for credits.

This legislation is supported by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Families USA and Protect our Care. I say, if we want to encourage a greater sense of responsibility in our youth, this might help.

H.R. 3342 – Health Providers Training Act

 Sponsor: Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV)

Synopsis: A bill to grant hospitals eligibility for the Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) Program to train Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and low-income individuals for positions in the health care field, which is expected to be in high demand or experience a labor shortage. HPOG participants can obtain a higher education, training, and support services needed to secure jobs that pay well in the health care field, giving Nevadans the opportunity to reach financial security.

Action: On 6/19/19, the bill was introduced in the House and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Sponsor Comments: “Our country faces a growing aging population, a rise in chronic diseases, and increased behavioral health conditions — all of which contribute to a substantial need for a dynamic healthcare workforce that can meet the demands of today and tomorrow,” said Congressman Horsford. “My bill is an investment in programs that make education and training in the healthcare field accessible. The Health Providers Training Act would allow hospitals like Centennial Hills and Summerlin Hospital Medical Centers to create opportunities for Nevadans to learn the required skills to become a nurse, medical aide, home health aide, or a number of other much-needed health care positions.”

Jessica’s Take: As an editorial in the Reno Gazette-Journal points out, “Baby boomers are fast approaching or in the midst of their retirement years. The market for in-home medical services is projected to grow from $108 billion in 2018 to $173 billion by 2026, according to Business Insider, outpacing every other medical sector.”

Furthermore, a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges indicates that about one million of America’s registered nurses are over the age of 50, meaning that about one-third will retire in the next decade or so. And limited capacity in nursing schools means that many students interested in the career must be turned away.

It’s precisely this kind of disconnect that makes Horsford’s bill a bit short-sighted. Licensing barriers lack of educators in the field make training these folks easier said than done. Horsford’s background as CEO of the Culinary Training Academy, where part of his work involved eliminating unemployment through workplace and vocational training, may be more attuned to such issues, and it certainly bridges an important gap, but one would hope that funding aligns with access to proper training and licensure.