Building on his successful effort to encourage the Federal Communications Commission and cell phone carriers to work together and build a database of stolen smart phones to prevent them from being reactivated, Sen. Mark Udall continues to lead the fight to help pass the Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act. The recently introduced bill, a version of legislation Udall previously cosponsored, would create up to a five-year prison sentence for tampering with a cell phone's unique identification number, similar to how the vehicle identification number (VIN) system deters car theft. This common-sense legislation will help deter thieves from committing cell phone theft, an often violent crime.
'Mobile carriers and the Federal Communications Commission already partnered together and took strong steps to discourage violent cell phone theft by creating a ‘do not activate' database for stolen phones. But without a federal criminal penalty for altering a phone's unique ID these efforts at combating property crimes have no teeth,' Udall said. 'My legislation ensures that if thieves try to get around the no-reactivation rule by altering a phone's unique ID, they will face time in prison. Smart deterrence prevents stolen cell phones from becoming black market gold.'
Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement following the president's national security policy speech today at the National Defense University:
'I commend the president for his effort to define the boundaries of U.S. counterterrorism operations and for stating a commitment to increased accountability. In acknowledging the U.S. citizens targeted in these operations and in outlining standards for lethal action, he has shown responsiveness to concerns about a lack of transparency in the 'war on terror.' While this is helpful and important, more needs to be done.
'In addition, the president referred to new policy guidance he has signed establishing a framework that governs the U.S. use of force against terrorists. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I will be reviewing this guidance carefully to ensure that it keeps with our values as a nation.
'I am pleased that President Obama specifically acknowledged that the CIA's detention and interrogation program 'compromised our basic values,' but I am disappointed he did not mention the importance of declassifying the Senate Intelligence Committee's 6,000-page study reviewing that program.
'The CIA's program and the prosecution of the post-9/11 'war on terror' led to many of the problems we see today at Guantanamo Bay, which the president correctly notes 'has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.' I applaud President Obama's renewed call to close this facility. This will not be easy — the lack of an actionable plan to close Guantanamo is the reason that many in Congress have been reluctant to support transfers of detainees. But I pledge to work with the president to come up with a comprehensive plan that will enable this country to move beyond Guantanamo and all that it represents.'
A strong advocate for Americans' constitutional liberties and government transparency, Udall has led the push for the president and his administration to correct the record on the CIA's detention and interrogation program and declassify the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's extensive 6,000-page report on the program.
Udall also led the push during CIA Director John Brennan's confirmation hearing in pressing the then-nominee to commit to declassifying the committee's report and correcting the public record on the effectiveness of the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques and detention measures. He called Brennan's Senate confirmation in March 'only the beginning' of this effort.
Udall also has criticized statements made by former Bush administration officials on the effectiveness of the detention and interrogation program. Recently, Udall decried a video presentation to be shown at the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum that leaves the false impression that the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques resulted in intelligence that prevented terrorist attacks in the United States.
Following the expanding use of privately owned unmanned aerial systems (UAS), Mark Udall introduced the Safeguarding Privacy and Fostering Aerospace Innovation Act today to ensure that Americans' privacy rights are respected and federal laws address this emerging technology. Udall, a leading voice for the safe and responsible development of UASs, said his legislation will ensure that the inevitable development of private-sector drones is done responsibly and does not violate Americans' privacy rights.
'Unmanned aerial systems have the potential to create jobs and literally reshape numerous industries in Colorado and across the nation. But the only way the public will embrace the use of private drones is if these innovative, job-creating technologies do not compromise our privacy rights,' Udall said. 'UAS technology is already being used in Colorado and every other state — and its use will only expand in the years to come. The Safeguarding Privacy and Fostering Aerospace Innovation Act updates our laws to address this emerging technology and protect Americans' privacy rights.'
The Safeguarding Privacy and Fostering Aerospace Innovation Act will make it illegal for an individual or business to conduct surveillance of another person using UAS technology with several common-sense exceptions, including if the person has consented or if the person is in a public place. The bill also requires that UASs, like airplanes, are clearly marked with the name, address and telephone number of the owner.
'There is currently no federal legislation to address the growing privacy threat of drone surveillance,' said Amie Stepanovich, director of the Domestic Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. 'Senator Udall's bill provides nationwide privacy protections to prevent people from using drones to stalk or harass others.'
'The future growth of the UAS industry is critical for the Colorado economy,' said Tom Bugnitz, CEO of the Colorado Association for Manufacturing Technology. 'Sen. Udall's legislation is a significant step in addressing the public and private concerns surrounding UAS development, and is an important piece of legislation for ensuring Colorado's continued leadership in this important industry.'
Udall, who recently led a bipartisan letter asking the Federal Aviation Administration to select Colorado as one of six planned UAS testing sites, started developing his bill earlier this year to ensure personal privacy laws keep up with the innovative and emerging private-sector applications of UASs.
The introduction of the Safeguarding Privacy and Fostering Aerospace Innovation Act also follows a recent U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that included testimony from experts on the domestic use of drones, including a representative of the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.
Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is a longtime and steadfast defender of Americans' constitutional liberties. Earlier this year, he successfully urged the IRS to abandon the use of warrantless searches of Americans' private electronic communications. And earlier this month, Udall decried the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI's decision to execute similar warrantless searches. Udall also was part of the bipartisan group of senators who successfully pushed the White House to provide access to the Department of Justice opinions outlining the legal basis for the targeted killing of Americans.
Udall Introduces Proposal to Strengthen Wildfire Prevention, Ensure Fires Are Treated the Same as Hurricanes, Tornadoes, FloodsMark Udall's Senate Member Office (D-CO) posted a Press Release on May 23, 2013 | 11:46 am - Original Item - Comments (View)
Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill today aimed at fundamentally changing how the Federal Emergency Management Agency confronts and prevents wildfires in Colorado and throughout the West. Udall's deficit-neutral amendment, which Sen. Michael Bennet has co-sponsored, places wildfires on par with other natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and tornadoes for which states are eligible to receive 15 percent of total FEMA disaster funds to support mitigation projects.
'Wildfire threatens entire communities in Colorado and throughout the West. My amendment will ensure that wildfires are treated the same as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters that also threaten lives and homes across the United States. My amendment also ensures that Colorado receives FEMA support to mitigate wildfire risks and address the damage wildfires do,' Udall said. 'Colorado experienced two of its most devastating wildfires in recent memory last year. My amendment helps ensure that mitigation dollars will be available to proactively reduce risk and help protect Colorado communities from catastrophic wildfire and post-fire flooding.'
Udall also co-sponsored the following bipartisan amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill to help Colorado's communities with strengthened wildfire mitigation and forestry policies:
- To improve stewardship contracting liability provisions that he fought to include in last year's Farm Bill, encouraging public-private partnerships that create Colorado jobs, reduce fuel loads on public lands and allow the private sector to turn the problem of excess biomass into profit.
- To reauthorize and expand Good Neighbor authority, which has helped Colorado agencies facilitate restoration along the wildland-urban interface. It is set to expire September 30, 2013.
- To authorize the U.S. Forest Service to modernize its large air tanker fleet at no cost to taxpayers.
Udall successfully fought for provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill, which the U.S. House of Representatives did not take up, which would have benefited Colorado's farmers and ranchers. Those provisions he supported were included in the 2013 Farm Bill base bill, including those to strengthen and reinstate livestock disaster programs, improve crop insurance to protect against disaster, support specialty crop growers without crop insurance, and strengthen conservation efforts to prevent another Dust Bowl.
Udall also led the fight last year to strengthen the forestry title by doubling the annual mitigation funding for bark beetle mitigation in Western forests.
Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) took to the U.S. Senate floor to urge Congress to quickly enact their bipartisan, sensible plan for...
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Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, welcomed Xcel Energy's move today to spur development of a power plant run on forest biomass. The project, if approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, would turn excess biomass and beetle-killed timber into electricity.
'From Colorado's traditional timber industry to biomass energy projects, Colorado is showing the nation how we can turn brown trees into a new kind of green. This new proposal from Xcel Energy is the latest example of how Colorado is a model for a balanced and innovative energy policy — and smart forest management,' Udall said. 'I look forward to seeing this idea considered further and I applaud Xcel Energy's work to create jobs and improve the health of our spectacular national forests.'
Udall has been a strong proponent of woody biomass projects. Last year, he welcomed the U.S. Forest Service's partnership with J.R. Ford and the Pagosa Land Company to extract forest material designated by the U.S. Forest Service for removal to promote forest health and convert the material into electricity. Udall also has heralded the efforts of private companies, like Montrose Forest Products, that are creating jobs by turning beetle-kill and other forest products into commercial lumber.
Udall also is traveling the state this year to connect with Colorado energy industry officials, local leaders and the public to highlight how Colorado's balanced approach to energy development and innovation is a model for the country. As part of his tour, Udall has visited the National Wind Technology Center in Louisville and the Elk Creek Mine and methane-capture project in Somerset.
Following news of rising sexual assaults in the military and allegations against sexual assault prevention officers, Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, vowed to press military leaders, Congress and Colorado's military community to take decisive action to eliminate sexual assaults committed by military personnel. Udall will work with his colleagues on the committee to put forward solutions to help the military hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable while protecting survivors from retaliation and harassment.
'As a father, a Coloradan and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am angered by the failure to stem the tide of sexual assaults in the military. The good order and discipline of our armed forces and the safety of our troops is being threatened from within. We need to make clear that there will be zero tolerance for these horrific crimes and the people who commit them — just as we should in civilian society,' Udall said. 'I will work with my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee to ensure that this year's National Defense Authorization Act takes bold and productive action to solve this problem. Senators from both sides of the aisle have been collaborating on a number of proposals to address the issue. We need policies that preserve cohesion and morale by ensuring that military survivors of sexual assault are confident they will be protected by their chains of command and that their perpetrators will be effectively prosecuted.”
Udall will co-sponsor a number of bills to address the problem, while also pushing for provisions to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act. He will co-sponsor a bipartisan bill from Senators Patty Murray and Kelly Ayotte that establishes a special military counsel to provide legal advice and assistance for any military sexual assault victim who requests it; require cases to be automatically referred to the first general or admiral in the chain of command to ensure greater oversight; and allows cases to be shifted outside the immediate chain of command if conflicts of interest arise.
Udall also will co-sponsor a bill from Senators Claire McCaskill and Amy Klobuchar to require a comprehensive review of and formal minimum levels for the training, qualifications and experience of Department of Defense personnel responsible for sexual assault prevention and response. In last year's National Defense Authorization Act, Udall supported the establishment of a panel of experts that will provide recommendations for reducing the numbers of sexual assault from the military.
Dear Fellow Coloradan,
Our constitutional right to be free from 'unreasonable searches and seizures' applies regardless of whether we are talking about letters kept in a desk or emails stored online. Even though the way we connect as Americans has changed - with emails, tweets and Facebook replacing more traditional forms of communication - our constitutional right to privacy must remain protected.
New technology has the potential to change our lives for the better, but our laws must evolve with those technologies to ensure our right to privacy is respected. Unfortunately, some federal government agencies are justifying warrantless searches of your electronic communications using a loophole in the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. That's not acceptable to me or to the Coloradans I represent.
Up until last month, the Internal Revenue Service relied on an outdated law to claim that it didn't need a search warrant to read your private online communications. I was outraged when I learned that. I led the charge against this wrongheaded policy and, with your support, I successfully got the IRS to back down. Only weeks later, I again fought attempts by the Department of Justice and the FBI, to pursue this same constitutionally unsound course.
It is clear that we must update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect Americans' constitutional right to privacy. Be a citizen 'cosponsor' and join with me in urging Congress to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
I have been proud to lead the fight for your constitutional rights on this issue and many others. Let us speak with a united voice in telling Congress that we need to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to maintain our constitutional rights in the digital age.
Udall, Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge Interior Department to Release Mineral Royalties to Western StatesMark Udall's Senate Member Office (D-CO) posted a Press Release on May 17, 2013 | 1:34 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, joined a bipartisan group of Western senators to ask the administration to restore mineral leasing revenues to Colorado communities that depend on those funds to run local governments, schools and community services. The automatic budget cuts, commonly called 'sequestration,' have forced the U.S. Department of the Interior to cut more than $109 million in mineral royalties to states, including $8.4 million for Colorado, this year. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) also signed the bipartisan letter.
'Federal mineral leasing revenues provide critical support to communities like Greeley, Rifle and Durango that are grappling with the effects of energy development, from repairing roads used by energy-sector traffic to supporting schools that educate the children moving there,' Udall said. 'Even with sequestration, these effects do not go away. The Obama administration must ensure that Colorado communities receive the money they are due under the Mineral Leasing Act. Anything less is unacceptable.'
Udall and his colleagues' request follows a precedent set by a similar situation when the Interior Department implemented the Fiscal Year 1986 sequester, which directed revenues sequestered in revolving trust and special fund accounts to be made available in subsequent fiscal years.
Udall has consistently called for a fiscally sensible path to reduce the federal budget deficit, but also to avert the across-the-board cuts from sequestration. He recently introduced a plan with Republican Senator Susan Collins to urge Congress and the president to find a bipartisan way to strategically reduce the deficit without balancing the budget on the backs of hardworking, middle class Americans. He has also led efforts in Congress to give the armed forces and the rest of the executive branch the flexibility to strategically implement the indiscriminate sequester cuts.
To read the bipartisan letter, click HERE or scroll below:
The Honorable Sylvia Burwell
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20503
Dear Director Burwell:
We write to you about the Department of the Interior's (DOI) recent decision to sequester revenue under the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA).
On March 22, 2013, DOI notified states that it would sequester over $109 million in revenue under the MLA and other statutes during the remainder of FY 2013. DOI explained that its decision to sequester these funds was 'in accordance with the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, as amended.' We have heard from our states, including the Western Governors' Association, all of whom have significant concerns about the sequestration of MLA revenues. However, we understand that current law accords these funds special status and specifically makes them available for obligation in FY 2014. We ask you to confirm that DOI will in fact make the sequestered MLA revenue available to the states in FY 2014 and to ensure that DOI does so as soon as possible.
As is the case now, the United States faced a growing debt crisis during the 1980s. In response, Congress passed the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (BBEDCA) of 1985. Under this legislation, DOI sequestered revenue under the MLA in FY 1986. However, we understand that DOI made the sequestered MLA revenue available to the states in FY 1987. It is our understanding that DOI relied on section 256(a)(2) of the BBEDCA which states that:
Any amount of new budget authority, unobligated balances, obligated balances, new loan guarantee commitments, new direct loan obligations, spending authority (as defined in section 401(c)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974), or obligation limitations which is sequestered or reduced pursuant to an order issued under section 252 is permanently cancelled, with the exception of amounts sequestered in special or trust funds, which shall remain in such funds and be available in accordance with and to the extent permitted by law, including the provisions of this Act. (emphasis added).
In short, DOI determined that the BBEDCA did not permanently cancel MLA revenue owed to states but that such revenue fell within the exception provided in section 256(a)(2). In subsequent years, Congress passed a series of changes to the BBEDCA which effectively amended and redesignated section 256(a)(2) as section 256(k)(6). Section 256(k)(6) states that:
Budgetary resources sequestered in revolving, trust, and special fund accounts and offsetting collections sequestered in appropriation accounts shall not be available for obligation during the fiscal year in which the sequestration occurs, but shall be available in subsequent years to the extent otherwise provided in law. (emphasis added).
Like section 256(a)(2), section 256(k)(6) provides that amounts sequestered in trust and special fund accounts shall be made available in subsequent fiscal years. While Congress has since made further changes to the BBEDCA, there is nothing in current law that would authorize DOI to apply section 256(k)(6) any differently to MLA revenue sequestered under the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. In fact, section 302 of the BCA explicitly states that: 'Any reductions imposed under [the March 1st sequester] shall be implemented in accordance with section 256(k).' For that reason, DOI should make available in FY 2014 MLA revenue sequestered in FY 2013, just as it made available in FY 1987 MLA revenue sequestered in FY 1986.
MLA revenue is the economic lifeblood of many states and local communities across rural America. States, such as Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, use MLA revenue to address, among other things, impacts from energy and mineral production. If MLA revenue sequestered in FY 2013 is not returned to the states, local communities across the West will experience severe hardships. We therefore ask that you ensure that DOI makes available in FY 2014 MLA revenue sequestered in FY 2013 and that it does so as soon as possible.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your prompt response.
Just-Filed Protests Could Delay U.S. Forest Service's Acquisition of Next-Generation Tankers Until After 2013 Wildfire SeasonMark Udall's Senate Member Office (D-CO) posted a Press Release on May 17, 2013 | 12:00 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
Following news that a private air tanker company has protested the U.S. Forest Service's recent contract awards for up to seven next-generation tankers, Mark Udall called on the federal government to override the protests because Colorado lives and homes are at stake. Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has fought to acquire these new air tankers, said this latest round of protests would delay the U.S. Forest Service's acquisition of these crucial air tankers until after the 2013 wildfire season.
'Wildfire season is coming, and I refuse to force Colorado communities to watch as preventable and containable wildfires are allowed to threaten lives and homes simply because of contractors' squabbles. Make no mistake about it: This is an emergency, and this shortsighted protest will leave the U.S. Forest Service with outdated, Korean War-era air tankers to fight modern mega-fires,' Udall said. 'That's why I am calling on the U.S. Forest Service to override the protest filed this week and move forward with its next-generation air tankers contracts. Lives and homes are at stake, and I refuse to stand idly by as red tape suffocates any chance of the U.S. Forest Service finally acquiring these much-needed air tankers.'
Following the contract awards earlier this month, Udall cautioned private contractors that 'Needless and costly delays will leave the Forest Service to fight modern mega-fires in the coming months with Korean War-era planes.'
Udall has been a leading voice for ensuring that Colorado and the West have adequate resources to prepare for the threat of wildfire, including pressing the U.S. Air Force to quickly transfer and repurpose excess aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service to fight wildfires. Udall also pushed to pass a bipartisan amendment to the U.S. Senate's 2014 budget to allocate $100 million more for wildland firefighting and he successfully secured federal funds to repair drinking-water supplies damaged by 2012's Waldo Canyon and High Park fires.