Curtis, Neguse Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Study Soil Health on Public Lands

Curtis, Neguse Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Study Soil Health on Public Lands

August 2, 2019

Washington, DC— Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Joe Neguse (D-CO), members of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced legislation to initiate a study on the state of soil health on public lands. The Study on Improving Lands (SOIL) Act will direct the National Academies of Science to study the impacts on soil health on our public lands and the role that strong soil health can play in carbon capture and sequestration. 

 

“As we look at ways to improve the state of our environment and ensure its sustainability for future generations, we must rely on science to guide our decisions,” said Curtis. “I am proud to introduce the bipartisan SOIL Act with my friend Representative Neguse, to study the importance of soil health to sequester carbon and be responsible stewards of our federal lands. I am confident the results of this study will help guide land managers and policymakers as we continue to work to find solutions to environmental challenges.”

 

“Our nation’s public lands have an untapped potential to combat climate change and that starts with soil health. Healthy soil and sustainable farming practices play a vital role in carbon sequestration,” said Neguse. “This bill is a great first step in ensuring we have the necessary scientific evidence to inform future legislation. Along with investment in new technologies, we must also invest in the health of our planet’s natural carbon sinks. It is our duty to explore all possible solutions to the climate crisis.” 

 

Statement of Support:

 

Dr. Dale McCall, President of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union:

“Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s grassroots policy supports the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices that enhance environmental quality, and make the most efficient use of nonrenewable and on-farm resources. Our members also prioritize actions to sustain the economic viability of farm operations, enhance the quality of life for farmers and society, and where appropriate, integrate natural biological cycles and controls to protect the resource base on which agriculture depends. RMFU encourages long-term research, development and advancement in production methods focused on soil health.” 

 

Background

 

Currently, there is little data on the health of the soil that covers nearly 640 million acres of public land across the United States. The Study on Improving Lands (SOIL) Act seeks to rectify this by providing Congress with the sufficient scientific data needed to make informed decisions and draft impactful legislation. 

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Curtis, Neguse Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Spur Telehealth Innovation

Curtis, Neguse Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Spur Telehealth Innovation

July 29, 2019

Washington, DC— Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act, legislation that would encourage telehealth innovation and promote expanded access to healthcare services in rural and urban areas through telehealth and digital services. Currently, Medicare covers limited telehealth services, setting a poor industry standard, discouraging innovation, and restricting access to specialized care. Bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

“Telehealth innovation is critical to expanding cost-effective healthcare access in a state like Utah, where care is often unavailable or difficult to access for rural communities,” said Curtis. “The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act will help incentivize healthcare organizations and providers to find innovative ways to deliver care to Utah families at a lower cost. Technology provides great potential to enhance connectivity between healthcare professionals and their patients and I’m pleased to work with willing partners on both sides of the aisle to find healthcare solutions for rural communities across Utah and around the country.”

“For constituents across my district, and especially those in rural areas, this bill will mean more access to quality healthcare, better health outcomes, and a more efficient healthcare system overall,” said Neguse. “I have heard about the importance of expanding access to telehealth from countless constituents and providers alike. This bill will help grow access to these critical services while also improving quality of care. I am pleased to work with Representative Curtis to bring together values from both sides of the aisle to enhance access to care for citizens across our country.”

“All Coloradans deserve access to health care services regardless of whether they live in rural or urban areas. The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act would allow Medicare to expand coverage of telehealth services and increase access for people living in rural America,” said Gardner. “It would also incentivize the healthcare industry to develop new technologies that could potentially reduce costs and improve patient health. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to advance this commonsense legislation that will help rural Coloradans access better care.”

“We must ensure that people living in rural areas have equal access to quality health care. This bipartisan, bicameral, commonsense legislation would expand telehealth services to Michigan seniors and families in rural and underserved communities,” said Peters. “This effort has the potential to improve health outcomes and lower health care costs by reducing the number of expensive emergency room visits, hospitalizations and readmissions.”

“Intermountain Healthcare is completely committed to utilizing telehealth and digital tools to expand access to healthcare in the Intermountain West.  Telehealth is a valuable tool that can decrease the cost of care and enhance services in rural communities where specialty care is not available.  We are supportive of any legislation that helps increase access to telehealth services in our communities,” said Jim Sheets, Intermountain Healthcare Vice President, Outreach Services.

Background:

  • Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow eligible hospitals to apply to test expanded telehealth delivery models through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Center (CMI). CMI is an existing program that tests new service models to reduce Medicare and Medicaid expenditures. 
  • Directs the Secretary of HHS to review telehealth models through a CMI independent evaluator, for cost, effectiveness, and improvement in quality of care without increasing the cost of healthcare delivery.
  • If the telehealth model improves quality of care without increasing spending or decreases Medicare spending, then that specific telehealth model will be covered through the greater Medicare program. 

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Curtis Declares Impending Medical Device Tax “Devastating” for Utah

Curtis Declares Impending Medical Device Tax “Devastating” for Utah

July 27, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT) spoke on the House floor, decrying a medical device tax set to be implemented in January 2020. The tax places onerous burdens on Utah medical device manufacturers, an industry that contributes approximately $5 billion annually to the Utah Economy as it pioneers innovative medical technologies that help patients live longer and healthier lives.

“Although Congress has come together on a bipartisan basis time and time again to delay its implementation, the continuous threat of heavy, onerous taxation has stifled job growth among medical technology innovators and has delayed cutting-edge research that could potentially lead to breakthroughs in patient care and treatment. The impact would be devastating in Utah, where the MedTech industry employs thousands of Utahns and contributes approximately $5 billion annually to our economy.”

The Congressman’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against the Medical Device Tax.

Utah has earned a reputation as a thriving hub for innovation and life sciences, leading the nation in technology breakthroughs. Each year, medical device manufacturers in Utah pioneer new, exciting medical technologies that help patients live longer and healthier lives.

That culture of collaboration and innovation has been threatened by the Medical Device Tax—a tax on device manufacturers that has stalled medical technology investment across the country. 

Although Congress has come together on a bipartisan basis time and time again to delay its implementation, the continuous threat of heavy, onerous taxation has stifled job growth among medical technology innovators and has delayed cutting-edge research that could potentially lead to breakthroughs in patient care and treatment.

As it stands today, this tax will come into effect January 1, 2020. The impact would be devastating in Utah, where the MedTech industry employs thousands of Utahns and contributes approximately $5 billion annually to our economy. One local company estimated that the tax will cost them over $7 million dollars—money that would otherwise be reinvested into workforce and technology development.

As we approach this January deadline, I call upon my colleagues to come together and finally repeal this tax on innovation once and for all.”

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Curtis, Haaland Lead Bipartisan SOAR Act In The House

Curtis, Haaland Lead Bipartisan SOAR Act In The House

July 25, 2019

Washington, DC— Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Deb Haaland (D-NM), members of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act, legislation that would make outdoor recreation more accessible to everyone by streamlining the permitting process for outfitters, educational organizations, and community groups. 

“The SOAR Act will make it easier for Utahns, and those visiting our great state, to enjoy our public lands and the outdoors,” said Curtis. “I am proud to be the Republican leader of this bipartisan effort, along with Democratic Congresswoman Haaland and my colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee. It is clear why this common-sense legislation has garnered support by outdoor recreation and conservation groups alike. A more efficient permitting system benefits everyone.”

“Our country is full of beautiful places that everyone should have access to, but right now the permitting process is creating a barrier for folks who wish to enjoy the outdoors with guidance,” said Haaland. “So, Representative Curtis and I are fixing that problem with a bill that will make it easier for groups to help people get outside and while supporting the jobs in New Mexico’s nearly $10 billion outdoor recreation economy.”

Statements of Support:

The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act is supported by a broad coalition of organizations, including for-profit outfitters and guides, non-profit outfitters and guides, university recreation programs, and volunteer-based clubs.

Utah Guides and Outfitters

“Utah Guides and Outfitters is excited to endorse the introduction of the “Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act,” and we thank Representatives Debra Haaland (D-NM) and John Curtis (R-UT) for their co-sponsorship of this bill and their efforts to protect small businesses and public lands.  We are a group of small businesses that provide access to the backcountry and wild places of Utah. The SOAR Act provides a certain and streamlined process for obtaining the permits we need to operate our businesses.  It is a common-sense approach to permitting that will help us in our efforts to protect these precious resources while we also provide access and educate our guests about Utah’s unique and beautiful public lands.”

Western River Expeditions

“I would like to personally thank Representative Haaland and Representative Curtis for their Sponsorship of the SOAR Act.  It represents an unprecedented consensus among key stakeholder groups and provides necessary and overdue reform to the permitting process for guides, outfitters and educational groups.  The SOAR Act will provide stability for small businesses that are primarily located in rural communities, and that are critical to those local economies,” said Brian Merrill, President & CEO.

America Outdoors Association

“Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act provides common-sense strategies to improve the general public’s access to public lands. It reduces the costs associated with the permitting processes to enable individuals, families and youth groups the opportunity to enjoy America’s wilderness and backcountry under the supervision and care of outfitters and guides. Many Americans do not have the skills or knowledge to access these areas safely.  This legislation improves access to these areas.  America Outdoors applauds both Representatives Haaland (NM-01) and Curtis (UT-3) for sponsoring this legislation.”

REI

“This Legislation will provide significant relief to outfitters and organizations who lead people outside across the country,” said Rebecca Bear, Director, REI Outdoor Programs and Experiences. “REI applauds representatives Haaland, Curtis, DeGette, Stewart, Gallego and Gianforte for co-sponsoring this legislation.”

Outdoor Industry Association

“Today only twenty percent of America’s children go outside on a weekly basis. To turn the tide on the future economic and health problems this trend will likely lead to, OIA fully supports the bipartisan SOAR Act,” said Patricia Rojas-Ungar, Vice President of Government Affairs for Outdoor Industry Association. “The SOAR Act will ease children’s and families’ access to the outdoors by improving the bureaucratic processes for issuing recreation permits on our nation’s public lands. We want to thank Representatives Haaland (D-NM) and Curtis (R-UT) for their leadership on this issue essential to our children’s future.”

The Wilderness Society

“Americans need more opportunities to visit and enjoy our nation’s treasured public lands and waters,” said Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy at the Wilderness Society. “The SOAR Act will provide those opportunities. We applaud Representatives Haaland and Curtis for introducing legislation to help more people get outdoors and enjoy public lands.”

YMCA of the USA

“Outdoor recreation helps children build positive relationships and develop a sense of achievement and belonging. It is an essential part of the Y’s approach to youth development,” said Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA. “The current process for recreational permitting is complicated and restrictive. This legislation will simplify the process, enabling the Y and others to share nature’s wonders with many more kids and families and instill in our youth a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors. We thank Representatives Haaland and Curtis for their passionate leadership in easing the recreational permitting process for our public lands.”

Angler’s Covey (fly fishing outfitter from Colorado Springs, CO)

“As a small outfitter, the complexity of the current permitting process has created barriers to business growth,” said David Leinweber, Owner-President of Angler’s Covey Inc. and Chairman of the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance. “The SOAR act will provide needed relief and allow my business to expand.”

Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education

“The Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education is thankful to Ms. Haaland and Mr. Curtis for introducing the SOAR Act,” said Jeannette Stawski, Executive Director. “This important legislation will better facilitate access to enable educational institutions, military welfare and morale organizations, and municipalities to do the incredibly important work of introducing people to outdoor recreation on public lands.”

The Mountaineers

“The Mountaineers have been getting people outside responsibly for over a century, and we strongly believe in the importance of connecting people to place through outdoor recreation,” said Tom Vogl, CEO of the Mountaineers. “This bill will improve numerous permitting processes that currently act as barriers to people experiencing the outdoors. We fully support this work that will help more people recreation responsibly on public lands.”

American Mountain Guides Association

“Outdated regulations in the permitting system have made it time-consuming, unpredictable, and in many cases— impossible—for outdoor organizations and businesses to provide outdoor experiences on public lands,” said Alex Kosseff, Executive Director at the American Mountain Guides Association. “The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act removes old roadblocks to facilitated outdoor recreation and enables more Americans to get outside and enjoy public lands.”

National Outdoor Leadership School

“Creating more opportunities for people from all walks of life to have educational and recreational experiences outdoors is what NOLS is about,” said John Gans, NOLS President.” We are proud to be a part of this broad effort to reduce barriers to our shared public lands. In an increasingly urban society, it is essential that our citizens have opportunities to visit and come to know their public lands.”

Members of the outdoor industry and the conservation community supporting the bill include:

Aerie Backcountry Medicine; Alaska Alpine Adventures; Alaska Guide Collective; America Outdoors Association; America Walks; American Alpine Club; American Alpine Institute; American Fly Fishing Trade Association; American Hiking Society; American Horse Council; American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education; American Mountain Guides Association; American Sportfishing Association; Angler’s Covey; Appalachian Mountain Guides; Archery Trade Association; Association for Experiential Education; Association of Marina Industries; Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE); Avid4 Adventure; Big City Mountaineers; Chicks Climbing and Skiing; Choose Outdoors; Colorado Mountain School; Colorado River Outfitters Association; Colorado Wilderness Corporate and Teams; Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides; Dude Ranchers Association; Estes Park Rock Climbing; Exum Mountain Guides; Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association; Holiday River Expeditions; Idaho Mountain Guides; Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association; International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association; Kent Mountain Adventure Center; Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce; Los Alamos Mountaineers; Mazamas; Middle Fork Outfitters Association; Moab Desert Adventures; Montana Alpine Guides; Montana Mountaineering Association; Montana Outfitters and Guides Association; Montana Wilderness School; Mountain Skills Rock Guides; Nantahala Outdoor Center; National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds; National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds; National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs; National Marine Manufacturers Association; National Outdoor Leadership School; National Shooting Sports Foundation; New Mexico Council of Guides and Outfitters; New Mexico Wild; New River Mountain Guides; North Carolina Outward Bound School; Open Lands Consulting LLC; Oregon Outfitters and Guides Association; Outdoor Alliance; Outdoor Industry Association; Outdoor Recreation Roundtable; Outdoor Research; Outward Bound USA; Red River Adventures; Red Rock Climbing Guides; REI; Rising Tide Associates; RV Dealers Association; RV industry Association; Sawtooth Mountain Guides; San Luis Valley Great Outdoors; Santa Fe Climbing Center; Seneca Rocks Climbing School; Sierra Mountain Center; Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance; Specialty Equipment Marketing Association; Suntoucher Mountain Guides; The Mountaineers; The Mountain Guides; The Wilderness Society; Transforming Youth Outdoors; Utah Guides and Outfitters Association; Washington Trails Association; Washington Trails Association; West Virginia Professional River Outfitters; Western River Expeditions; Western Spirit Cycling; Wilderness Education Association; Worldwide Outfitters and Guides Association; Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association; YMCA of Greater Seattle; YMCA of Los Angeles; YMCA of the USA.

Background

The SOAR Act streamlines and improves the recreational permitting process for federal agencies by:

  • Improving the process for issuing recreation permits by directing the agencies to eliminate duplicative processes, reduce costs, shorten processing times and simplify environmental review;
  • Increasing flexibility for outfitters, guides and other outdoor leaders by allowing them to engage in activities that are substantially similar to the activity specified in their permit;
  • Making more recreation opportunities available by directing the agencies to offer more short-term permits and create a program for sharing unused permit service days between permit holders;
  • Increasing system transparency by directing agencies to notify the public when new recreation permits are available and requiring the agencies to provide timely responses to permit applicants;
  • Simplifying the permitting process for trips involving more than one land management agency by authorizing the agencies to issue a single joint permit covering the lands of multiple agencies;
  • Reducing permit fees and cost recovery expenses for small businesses and organizations by excluding certain revenue from permit fee calculations and establishing a simple 50-hour cost recovery fee exemption for permit processing;
  • Providing new protections for Forest Service permit holders by recognizing seasonal demand fluctuations and waiving permit use reviews in extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the permit holder (wildfire, etc.);
  • Helping control liability insurance costs for permit holders by allowing them to use liability release forms with their clients; and
  • Reducing barriers to access for state universities, city recreation departments, and school districts by waiving the permit indemnification requirement for entities that are prohibited from providing indemnification under state law.  

US House cosponsors of the SOAR Act include Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-AZ.), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Mike Simpson (R-IN.), Joe Neguse (D-CO.), Greg Gianforte (R-MT.), Debbie Dingell (D-MI.), and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA.). 

The US Senate companion to the SOAR Act was introduced by US Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and cosponsored by US Senators Angus King (I-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), James Risch (R-ID), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Steven Daines (R-MT).

The full bill text is available HERE.

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Curtis Champions High-Skilled Immigration Bill

Curtis Champions High-Skilled Immigration Bill

July 15, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT) spoke on the House floor to advocate for HR 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, legislation that he co-authored to eliminate the per-country caps for employment-based visas and shift to a first come, first served process. After he spoke, the legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support 365-65.

“Current limitations in our immigration system are forcing talented engineers who have trained in our universities to remain on temporary visas or leave entirely for competing countries while important jobs go unfilled and economic opportunities are lost. This legislation will create a first-come, first-serve system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs—regardless of where they were born.”

The Congressman’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in strong support of the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act. In recent years, Utah has witnessed incredible growth in tech and innovation, bringing thousands of jobs and strengthening our economy. However, one problem I consistently hear from our tech leaders is the need for more high-skilled workers.

Even as we work to strengthen STEM education and bolster the number of home-grown engineers and programmers, the demand continues to outstrip the supply here at home. Current limitations in our immigration system are forcing talented engineers who have trained in our universities to remain on temporary visas or leave entirely for competing countries while important jobs go unfilled and economic opportunities are lost.

This legislation will create a first-come, first-serve system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs—regardless of where they were born.

As these companies expand operations with greater output from high-skilled workers, they create countless more American jobs.

Mr. Speaker, with the debate around our broken immigration system growing increasingly challenging in recent years, I’ve been thrilled to see the bipartisan groundswell of support around this effort. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.”

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Reps. Curtis, Fudge Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Community College Graduation Rates

Reps. Curtis, Fudge Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Community College Graduation Rates

June 21, 2019

Washington, DC—Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), introduced the Time to Completion Act of 2019, legislation that will provide information that is essential for students and families to better evaluate the performance of colleges and universities. Specifically, the bill extends the graduation rate benchmark requirements under the Higher Education Act (HEA) to better reflect community college success.

“While representing the youngest congressional district, I am constantly seeking ways to improve educational opportunities for students,” said Curtis. “I am proud to partner with my colleague, Congresswoman Fudge, to introduce bipartisan legislation that will increase transparency and enable students to make more informed decisions for themselves and their families regarding higher education.”

“It is critical that we understand that many students take the non-traditional path to obtain their degrees,” said Fudge. “Students working while attending classes, part-time students, and students with children face unique challenges that can contribute to longer times for program completion. I am proud to introduce legislation that will properly count every student earning a degree and allow potential enrollees to make more informed decisions when choosing an institution of higher learning.” 

Statements of Support

The Time to Completion Act has been endorsed by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and other organizations.

Deneece G. Huftalin, President, Salt Lake Community College.

“Salt Lake Community College and community colleges across the nation play a critical role in providing opportunities for students to succeed in their educational pursuits. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of community college students who earn certificates or degrees are classified as “drop-outs” because they don’t complete their studies in the timeframe currently prescribed by the federal government, a timeframe that doesn’t take into consideration that the majority of community college students attend part-time and as a result take longer to graduate. We join community colleges in applauding and thanking Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and Congressman John Curtis for their leadership on this important issue. The Time to Completion Act will ensure that the millions of community college students who graduate with certificates or degrees are appropriately recognized by the federal government as college completers.”

Background

The bill extends the graduation rate benchmark to six years or 300% of the “normal time” it takes to complete a higher education program. Increasing the graduation rate benchmark will provide information that is essential for students, families, and policymakers to better evaluate the performance of colleges and universities by:

  • Improving federal graduation rate measurements to better reflect community college success;
  • Enabling prospective students to better assess their likelihood of finishing community college programs;
  • Retaining key existing measurements and allowing relevant comparisons to be made about changes in institutional performance; and
  • Creating a more comprehensive and detailed account of institutional performance than required by the system currently in place. It also rationalizes and streamlines relevant Higher Education Act (HEA) provisions and regulatory practices.

The legislation allows the current, 150%, graduation rate benchmark to be retained, and for a larger window to be employed to capture more community college successes.

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