GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), and Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) today sent a letter to Windstream underscoring the importance of providing increased access to broadband – particularly in rural areas – in the midst of COVID-19.
“As representatives of thousands of Windstream customers, we write today regarding the impact coronavirus has had on broadband access in rural communities throughout Georgia,” they wrote. “In the past, we have written to you regarding the inadequate internet service our constituents are receiving despite your company’s acceptance of federal dollars to expand access. While we know Windstream has upgraded some areas that are more populated and less rural, many of our constituents continue to struggle with poor broadband speeds.”
For years, Windstream customers across Georgia have consistently struggled to gain access to reliable broadband speeds. Congress has taken significant steps toward expanding rural broadband infrastructure in recent years, including securing federal funding to providers in rural areas. However, some carriers – like Windstream – have failed to provide adequate broadband speeds to consumers despite collecting taxpayer dollars. As this pandemic is forcing more and more Georgians to rely on the internet, access to reliable broadband is more critical than ever before.
“Due to the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of Georgians are being forced to work, learn, and recreate from home. This undoubtedly has increased the strain on the networks your consumers depend upon. Over the past several years, we have heard complaints of a network that is overburdened and cannot keep up during peak use. Even though we have been calling for increased internet access in rural areas for years, this moment in time shows that Windstream has yet to meet the mark.”
Read the full letter here.
Submitted By: D.A. King
While the political world is focused on the lunacy in Washington DC, conservative, pro-English voters in Georgia’s 14th congressional district may have an interest in Republican Congressman Tom Graves’ very curious and un-conservative anti-English stance.
HR 997 – the English Unity Act – was introduced last year in the U.S. House by conservative Steve King. The legislation establishes English as the official language of the United States. The bill is often falsely described as “English only” when in fact it is “English as official” – not “only.” Comprende?
Readers can learn more about the official English movement bt visiting the non-profit website, Pro-English.org
Also in the legislation:
*Naturalization ceremonies and official functions of the U.S. government, subject to exceptions, must be conducted in English.
*The bill declares that all citizens should be able to read and understand generally the English language text of U.S. laws.
*A person injured by a violation of this bill may obtain relief, including a declaratory judgment, in a civil action.
*English language requirements and workplace policies, whether in the public or private sector, shall be presumptively consistent with U.S. laws. Any ambiguity in U.S. laws shall be resolved in accordance with the rights retained by the people and the powers reserved to states under the Bill of Rights.
*The Department of Homeland Security shall issue a proposed rule for uniform testing of the English language ability of candidates for naturalization based upon the principles that: (1) all citizens should be able to read and understand generally the English language text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the laws of the United States; and (2) any exceptions to this standard should be limited to extraordinary circumstances, such as asylum.
The little known fact is that the United States has no official language, despite huge public support for official English. It is worth noting that the U.S. and Georgia Chambers of Commerce are stridently opposed to this nationally unifying concept.
Maybe that is why Graves has repeatedly refused to help with passage of this commonsense and voter-popular bill by co-sponsoring and is on record as telling political pundit Phil Kent that “this is not one of my top priorities right now.”
It wasn’t a priority last year or the year before either.
As readers no doubt are aware, all congressmen enjoy feedback and contact from constituents. Maybe readers can move support for official English up Congressman Tom Graves priority list with a respectful but firm phone call to his Washington DC office. The phone number there is 202) 225-5211.
It could very well be that Mr. Graves doesn’t think you know anything about this issue.
D.A. King of Marietta is president of the pro-English Dustin Inman Society. www.TheDustinInmanSociety.org
ICYMI: The Music Modernization Act Will Provide a Needed Update to Copyright Laws
WASHINGTON—This op ed by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) first appeared in The Hill on January 11, 2018.
I spent my northeast Georgia youth replaying tracks from “Bat Out of Hell” and “Hotel California.” And, of course, staples from Steely Dan. I welcomed the evolution from the 8-track to cassette to CD, but the LP and 45 vinyl predate even me. So, I was stunned to learn, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee—which has jurisdiction over intellectual property rights—that some of the copyright law governing music licensing was actually designed to regulate the player piano and has endured more than a century without meaningful update.
An overview of the music licensing landscape reveals that the status quo isn’t serving industry stakeholders, so the question becomes one of sustainability. Can music lovers count on a robust pipeline of tunes to carry them into the future? Absent substantive changes to the system that has disenfranchised creators, songwriters, publishers and even digital providers have their doubts. But efforts to unify these creators, digital streaming services and other key players around a path forward have faltered until recently. Very recently.
This December, countless hours of collaboration and cooperation came to fruition in a compromise that would be the most substantial update to copyright law since 1998. Today, our jeans pockets are more likely to be lined with iPhones than lint balls, yet the laws that currently regulate how tech giants like Spotify pay songwriters were cemented before the concept of digital streaming was born. The Music Modernization Act (MMA) would literally usher copyright laws into the 21st century.
The bill tackles four dimensions of music licensing. First, the bill addresses the fact that digital music companies regularly fail to pay songwriters and copyright owners properly for interactive streaming services. The trouble often arises from inefficiencies and information gaps.
Tech companies like Amazon Music, Spotify, and Google Play frequently file bulk Notice of Intentions (NOIs) with the Copyright Office that allow them to obtain a license for music for which they can’t locate ownership information. Since this process became available in 2016, some estimated 45 million NOIs have been filed with the Copyright Office.
This “bulk NOI” shortcut has taken millions of dollars in income out of the pockets of songwriters who rely on streaming services to find the proper owners of music and issue those owners prompt and appropriate payment. It’s also left tech companies legally exposed when they use music without knowing or paying its owners.
The MMA renovates the NOI process so that music creators get paid and digital companies reduce their liability and increase operational efficiencies. The legislation would establish a Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) that would accurately compensate songwriters for the mechanical royalties they earn through interactive streaming. In exchange, the collective would afford digital providers—which would fund the collective—with blanket usage licenses for songs.
The MLC would accomplish this by providing the digital services with efficient access to the information they need in order to know which songwriters to pay for which songs. Though songwriters have never had a seat at the music licensing table, both publishers and songwriters would sit on the board of the MLC to ensure it operates transparently.
The MMA also provides songwriters a chance to get fair-market mechanical royalty rates (the rate paid for the reproduction and distribution of a song) in the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) proceedings that set those rates every five years. As it stands, songwriters can’t set prices for their own work. Instead, CRB judges determine royalty rates based on an outdated test that has depressed rates for decades. The MMA changes the standard the board uses to a “willing buyer/willing seller” consideration. In other words, the CRB would set the rates to reflect the market value of the corresponding use of a song.
Finally, the bill improves the process through which performance royalty rates (the rate paid to song writers when their music is played for an audience) are set for BMI and ASCAP, the two largest performance rights organizations. Currently, ASCAP and BMI cases are each assigned to a respective judge. The MMA would implement a rotation of the judges who decide ASCAP and BMI cases and would enable the rate court judges to consider relevant market-based evidence when determining performance rates for songwriters. Again, this change moves the industry toward a fairer, freer market for music licensing, and that benefits music creators, music providers and music lovers alike.
The MMA is unprecedented not only for what it sets out to do, but for who has signed on. The Digital Media Association (DiMA)—representing Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Pandora, Rhapsody, Spotify and YouTube—and the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA)—representing U.S. music publishers and songwriters—both support the bill.
Songwriters groups including ASCAP, BMI, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, Songwriters of North America and others have also welcomed this legislation as a compromise that benefits a cross-spectrum of stakeholders.
So, too, have labels and artists, as reflected in the support of the Recording Industry Association of America, American Association of Independent Music, American Federation of Musicians, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, SoundExchange and the Grammys.
Knowing that today’s music ecosystem suffers under heavy-handed government intervention and defunct copyright policy, I’m grateful that my colleagues Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) look past partisanship toward solutions that will take music licensing from the dark ages into the digital age.
The agreement that creators and digital providers have struck also testifies to the leadership of Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who made copyright reform a priority for the House Judiciary Committee. As we look forward to a markup of the Music Modernization Act in the coming weeks, the question is not whether we have a viable resolution to an industry stalemate but whether we have the resolve to see that agreement through. I believe we do.
Rep. Doug Collins has represented Georgia’s 9th District since 2013. He is the Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference and a member of the Judiciary and Rules Committees.
Collins Praises House Passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Conference Report
WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives passed the conference report to H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This move sends the bill to the Senate for a final vote that would land the bill on the president’s desk. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, issued the following statement in response:
“Today’s vote in the People’s House helps turn promise and potential into reality. Republicans have confidence in the potential of the American worker to make our country grow again—that’s why they are the foundation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. We’re giving job creators more reasons to invest in America’s workforce, strengthening our economy and our communities. We’re making the IRS less ravenous and putting more money back in the hands of American families so that they can pursue more of their ambitions on their own terms. A decade of the status quo has guaranteed us only a stagnant economy. Republicans promised to reform a broken, bloated tax system so that Americans can chart a path out of economic anxiety and into economic empowerment. We’re keeping that promise today.”
Collins Statement on President’s Jerusalem Announcement
President Trump today recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) issued the following statement in response:
“I commend President Trump for officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reaffirming both the United States’ deep bond with Israel and the importance of Jerusalem to Judaism. Under the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, U.S. law states that our nation should locate its embassy in Jerusalem, but until now there has been no action to make that a reality. I have long supported such a move and believe it strengthens our relationship with Israel, while keeping the door open for continued negotiations toward a two-state solution.
“President Trump’s announcement brings our diplomatic policy toward Israel into alignment with our posture toward other sovereign nations around the world, which determine their own capitals. The president’s decision also affirms that Israel is the United States’ strongest ally, and he is right to act accordingly.”
Collins Votes to Extend Chip and Protect DSH Resources
WASHINGTON—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) joined the House of Representatives in voting today to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2022 and protect funding for rural hospitals.
The Championing Healthy Kids Act, H.R. 3922, uses offsets to fund CHIP and programs like community health centers while eliminating $5 billion in scheduled cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH). The bill includes a two-year extension of funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which focus on delivering health care to underserved populations through community-based and patient-centered models.
“The House’s bill would extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years while strengthening the program to help the children most in need of health care assistance. At the same time, it protects resources for northeast Georgia’s rural hospitals. I’m pleased that the legislation put forward by House Republicans charts a more cost effective—and therefore sustainable—path forward for serving some of Georgia’s most vulnerable populations,” said Collins.
At least seven hospitals in northeast Georgia serve residents with the help of DSH funding, including Elbert Memorial Hospital, Fannin Regional Hospital, Habersham County Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital, Stephens County Hospital and Union General Hospital.
*The original release mistakenly included Hart County Hospital, which merged into St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital, and North Georgia Medical Center, which should be Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
President Trump Signs NDAA, Collins TRICARE Language into Law
“PBMs keep their operations in the shadows in order to take advantage of patients and taxpayers. I worked to have this language included as part of the NDAA to help America’s service members and their families get the medicines they need while keeping drug prices appropriately competitive for patients and taxpayers under the TRICARE program.”
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump today signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. The NDAA included language authored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) to require pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to update their MAC pricing lists every seven days so that those lists reflect market prices accurately.
Without this provision, PBMs routinely wait weeks and months to update the MAC reimbursement lists, enabling them to underpay pharmacies and overcharge TRICARE.
“PBMs keep their operations in the shadows in order to take advantage of patients and taxpayers. I worked to have this language included as part of the NDAA to help America’s service members and their families get the medicines they need while keeping drug prices appropriately competitive for patients and taxpayers under the TRICARE program,” said Collins.
Collins’s provision can be found in section 714 of the NDAA and took effect immediately upon becoming law.
ICYMI: Collins Talks Tax Reform Progress with Fox News
WASHINGTON—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, joined “Happening Now” with Jon Scott today to discuss the progress Congress has made towards sending a tax reform bill to the president.
On the path ahead for tax reform:
“Tax reform is coming. The administration is on board. The House and the Senate are on board. We’re looking forward to staying focused on that . . . tax reform is on track.”
“You have a president who is engaged, a president who has said that this is good for our economy. He understands the working class and what they’re doing, and how they need the tax reform, and how our businesses need it to make us competitive across the globe.”
On Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s calling the tax reform plan “Armageddon”:
“Nancy Pelosi is the queen of hyperbole. . . . Here’s the problem—it’s a simple fact—she is in love with a government that likes to spend your money, so she’s going to say everything she can to keep as much money in Washington, D.C. to do what she wants to do . . .”
“[Republicans] believe that the American people and businesses are the ones that drive this country—not the federal government.”
ICYMI: A Second Special Counsel Would Boost the DOJ’s Credibility
WASHINGTON—This op ed by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) first appeared in RealClearPolicy on December 5, 2017.
Recently, the House Judiciary Committee conducted an oversight hearing of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that allowed representatives from both parties to question Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In response, some have asserted that appointing a second special counsel to investigate decisions made by the DOJ in 2016 would be a partisan maneuver, damaging the independence of the Department.
I too am concerned about preserving the independence of the Justice Department — which is precisely why Judiciary Committee Republicans have called for a special counsel to investigate matters outside the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The Judiciary Committee’s letters have been belittled as “a laundry list of Republican grievances about Clinton and former FBI director James B. Comey.” But they document persistent and unanswered questions about the independence of the DOJ, and specifically whether it may have been compromised under the Obama administration. These letters are themselves tools of oversight to be used on behalf of the millions of Americans whose democratic government owes them answers.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s independent e-mail server warranted a DOJ investigation, even if former Attorney General Loretta Lynch provided one in name only. (Actually, she failed to deliver even that, instructing former FBI Director James Comey to call the investigation a “matter.”) Americans are well-stocked with outstanding questions about how the DOJ handled these issues, and the specter of favoritism still looms over the Obama DOJ. The possibility that the department made decisions to aid a political candidate is a potential threat to democracy — one that deserves a DOJ investigation today just as it did in 2016.
At the same time, I recognize that some of my friends across the aisle lack confidence that a Republican-appointed DOJ would conduct such an investigation impartially. Hearing those concerns, I submit that a second special counsel offers Americans the opportunity to pursue answers to these questions without even the appearance of partisan impropriety. After all, independent counsels are like dentists: They scare everyone who hasn’t flossed.
Concerns about DOJ investigations and appointing special counsels too often come to us frosted in hyper-partisan language. This obscures the crux of the liberal argument against the move: Neither the DOJ under Attorney General Jeff Sessions nor an independent special counsel is capable of investigating Clinton. According to this logic, there exists no credible path for investigating potential favoritism on the part of America’s chief law enforcement officials. It would follow that the world’s strongest democracy is impotent when it comes to pursuing objective, unfettered, non-partisan accountability of its own federal agencies.
As a member of the committee charged with exercising oversight of the entire Department of Justice and the representative of approximately 700,000 Georgian voices, I have a bit more faith in the checks and balances that undergird our justice system — including the utility of the special counsel position.
Party loyalty aside, the DOJ made many decisions last year that have led to a host of unresolved questions, and the American people deserve answers. For example, why did former Attorney General Lynch direct former FBI Director Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the Clinton investigation? Why did Mr. Comey prepare a statement ending the investigation into former Secretary Clinton before interviewing 17 key witnesses, including the former secretary herself?
These and other questions about the independence of the DOJ continue to cast a shadow on our nation’s justice system. By addressing them directly, a second special counsel could strengthen the DOJ’s credibility, reestablishing its reputation as a non-partisan agent of justice.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) is Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference and a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Collins Helps House Pass Bill to Protect Medicare Access
WASHINGTON—Today Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) helped the House of Representatives pass H.R. 849, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2017, legislation that would repeal an Obamacare provision that threatens seniors’ access to care.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare, established the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which can be empowered to cut Medicare spending and services without Congressional or administrative oversight. The ACA designed the board to be comprised of fifteen unelected officials, and the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act would repeal the ACA provision that created the IPAB.
“The Obama Administration’s move toward socialized medicine gave the Independent Payment Advisory Board broad power to limit access to Medicare for senior Americans. Concentrating such power in the hands of a few bureaucrats risks our neighbors’ access to care, and the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act would correct this flaw by repealing the IPAB. This bill would instead protect seniors’ access to health care and encourage meaningful reforms to make Medicare sustainable.
“I am thankful for Congressman Roe’s leadership on this issue and am proud to join my colleagues in voting to repeal this dangerous board,” said Collins.
Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) introduced H.R. 849, and Collins co-sponsored the bill.
Martin, Ga. – On Monday, Jan. 22, the statewide Georgia affiliate of Our Revolution, the organization created to continue pushing the policy goals of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, endorsed Joshua McCall in his bid to unseat Congressman Doug Collins in the Georgia 9th Congressional District. His candidacy will now be passed up to the national organization for consideration.
“I’m running for congress for two reasons. First, Bernie Sanders’ grassroots organization inspired me to examine what forces were limiting political possibilities in our country. I realized, unfortunately, that many of those forces were in the party that I belonged to,” said Candidate Joshua McCall.
He continued, “I’m also running because parts of our government are dangerously close to fascism. Branches of it prey on racial fears and offer simple solutions through state violence. I am running not only to unseat Doug Collins, but in the process, speak to the people of this district and unite them behind a Christian and humanist ethic.”
McCall joins Savannah-based candidate Lisa Ring as the only currently endorsed congressional candidates in the state. The endorsement includes volunteer coordination and the possibility of national endorsement and fundraising.
Our Revolution Georgia State Committee Member, Vice President of the Young Democrats of Georgia, Hall County Board of Elections Member, and former candidate for State House Michelle Sanchez Jones said of the endorsement, “The Republican Party has purported to represent north Georgia for a generation now, and, outside of the governor’s backyard, we deserve more from our government. Our hospitals need more money. Our classrooms need more teachers. We need the tools to help those struggling with opioid addiction. The burden of supporting our communities falls disproportionately on our churches and faith institutions. It’s time we got our money’s worth from Washington, and Joshua McCall is exactly the man to help make that happen.”
Background: Consideration of endorsement by the national organization requires prior endorsement from a local affiliate. Our Revolution has numerous affiliates throughout the state whose leadership jointly approve endorsements – with deference given to the chapter closest to the district in question. McCall’s endorsement represents the agreement of affiliates and leadership from Savannah to Atlanta, Athens to Henry County.
Collins Praises Rural Broadband Executive Order
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump today signed an executive order focused on improving high-speed internet access in rural America. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced the Gigabit Opportunity (GO) Act to support this priority last June and issued the following statement in response to the president’s order:
“Once again, President Trump is making a smart, strong investment in rural America with his executive order directing resources to develop broadband infrastructure in underserved areas. For too long, communities on the wrong end of the digital divide have had to pursue educational attainment and business development with their hands tied behind their backs by copper DSL cables.
“I’m grateful that our president understands that innovation fuels our economy and that high-speed internet access has become a prerequisite to sustainable economic growth. I introduced the Gigabit Opportunity Act because northeast Georgians have been waiting for meaningful infrastructure investments to bring high-speed internet to rural areas, and today’s executive order helps move us closer to that goal.”
Collins Urges Corps of Engineers to Expedite Review of Hart State Park Proposal
WASHINGTON—Today Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging it to expedite its review of the proposal regarding Hart State Park. The complete letter is available below:
WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives today passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, issued the following statement in response:
“This afternoon, the People’s House reaffirmed its confidence in American workers and families by passing comprehensive tax reform. The last three decades empowered the IRS to dig its tentacles deeper into the wallets of our neighbors, and we acted to reverse that trend today.
“Middle-class Americans and job creators deserve relief from burdensome taxes and the opportunity to pursue more of their ambitions on their terms. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act can deliver on both fronts on behalf of our nation’s families and future.”
Gainesville Students to Attend Air Force and Naval Academies
GAINESVILLE, Ga.—Two students from northeast Georgia have been offered admission to a U.S. military academy. Cameron Sturdivant will join the class of 2022 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Chase Nufer will attend the U.S. Naval Academy.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) nominated these students to the military academies because of their integrity and track record of accomplishment in the community.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Cameron and Chase, who have dedicated themselves to servant leadership roles early in life. I look forward to their success in Colorado Springs and Annapolis as they reflect the strong character of northeast Georgia,” said Collins.
Sturdivant is the son of Ms. Chere Rucker. He attends Gainesville High School and is following in the footsteps of his brother, Mr. Donovan Moss, who is currently a senior at the Air Force Academy.
Nufer, son of Mr. Peter & Ms. Heidi Nufer, is the captain of the baseball team at Forsyth Central High School and a member of the National Honor Society.