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March 26, 2008: Rep. Lewis introduces Consumer Product & Food Safety Legislation

In This Issue

  • Rep. John Lewis introduces H.R. 5636, the Consumer Product and Food Safety Act of 2008
  • Rep. John Lewis Leads Hearing on Drought: Introduces Legislation to Produce Comprehensive Answers to Southeast's Water Needs
  • Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • House Passes "Paul Wellstone Mental Health & Addiction Equity Act of 2007"
  • Upcoming Events
  • Rep. John Lewis introduces H.R. 5636, the Consumer Product and Food Safety Information Act of 2008

    Our food must be safe to eat.  The products we buy must be safe to use.  Yet, they are often—too often—not safe. 

    Last year, there were more than 400 food and product recalls.  The Georgia Department of Education recalled meat products from 28 school districts.  During the winter holiday season, many Georgians were concerned that a well-intended gift might endanger the life of a love one. 

    And what happens when products are discovered to be unsafe?  Currently, there is no collective federal public information campaign to inform Americans about food and product safety recalls.  There is the expectation that a press release or internet announcements along with moderate outreach efforts are sufficient to get the word out. The websites (www.recalls.gov and http://www.importsafety.gov/recalls/recalls.html) are incomplete and by no means user-friendly.  Many American consumers are appropriately frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed with the cross-jurisdiction maze of food and product safety 

    That is why I introduced H.R. 5636, the Consumer Product and Food Safety Information Act of 2008.  This bill;
              

    • Designates the Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairperson with the task of coordinating each agencies’ public outreach plan;
    • Ensures that agency with statutory authority over food and product safety must issue quarterly reports of recent recalls;
    • Outlines that these reports should include clear description of the recalled item, where it was manufactured and distributed, why it was recalled, and what the consumer should do;
    • Charters a broad public distribution campaign of the recall pamphlet to State and Local authorities, public libraries, and public service announcements; and
    • Demands that every agency website include prominent links to comprehensive product recall lists and details.

    Rep. John Lewis Leads Hearing on Drought: Introduces Legislation to Produce Comprehensive Answers to Southeast’s Water Needs.

    On, Tuesday, March 11, 2008 the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing titled “Comprehensive Watershed Management and Planning – Drought Related Issues in the Southeastern US.”

    I led the entire Georgia delegation in requesting this hearing, and was pleased that I had the opportunity to testify before the Committee on this critical issue.

    The Governors of Alabama, Florida and Georgia were all invited by the Committee to testify on behalf of their states and to comment on the recent collapse of the tri-state negotiations. I am disappointed that all three Governors declined the Committee’s invitation to appear since it is so important that we bring all stakeholders together in a comprehensive fashion.

    This hearing was crucial since the availability of water affects all Americans living in the southeastern region of this country, and so much of the negotiation regarding this precious resource has occurred behind closed doors.  This hearing was an opportunity to bring this discussion out in the open so that the people and the Congress can see and hear what the challenges are in this area.  Regardless of the problems, we must be committed to finding the answers.

    I think the hearing made it plain that there are too many parties working on this problem from too many different directions.  We need to bring all the stakeholders together and develop a comprehensive solution that answers the needs of all the parties involved.  It may require compromise and negotiation, but it must be done.

    In conjunction with the hearing, I introduced legislation which directs the Army Corps of Engineers to study long-term water management for the entire southeastern United States.  Water knows no political boundaries and is not defined by state lines or corporate mandates. This objective, scientific review can be used by the governors to develop an immediate solution, and it can be used by the Congress and the federal government as a means to develop more effective, updated water management policy in the Georgia, Alabama and Florida, as well as the rest of the nation.

    WATCH TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE HEARING WEBCAST

    Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

    As Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, I am committed to holding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accountable and make sure the IRS is being fair to taxpayers and working efficiently. 

    On March 4th I held a hearing that examined the work of the IRS.  With the tax filing deadline fast approaching on April 15, I questioned acting-Commissioner, Linda Stiff, about identity theft, free tax clinics, economic stimulus tax rebates and other issues that are important to all taxpayers. 

    I am concerned about advertisements in Atlanta about economic stimulus rebate checks that were scams targeting the elderly in attempts to steal their identity.  This is shameful.  I asked what was being done to prevent this abuse and was assured that the IRS and their partners in the community were taking steps to make people aware of these schemes.

    In cases where taxpayers are involved in a dispute with the IRS, I wanted to make sure that there are places to turn for people with low incomes and who are having trouble paying their bills.  I have supported the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) grant program, which provides grants so organizations can provide legal help resolving a dispute with the IRS. 

    These are among the dozens of issues I am working on, including support for getting modest-income people to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and my continued opposition to the IRS debt collection program.  When I hear about issues in Atlanta, I will bring them right to the IRS in a hearing like this.  Please do not hesitate to contact my office so that I can assist you with the IRS or another federal department or agency.


    House Passes “Paul Wellstone Mental Health & Addiction Equity Act of 2007”

    Too often health insurance does not cover the whole person.  On March 5th, Congress acted to protect the rights and well-being of those suffering from mental illness and addiction disorders.  Many Americans face increased premiums and additional out of pocket expenses because the illness from which they suffer afflicts their mind.  This discrimination against people suffering from mental illness and addiction disorders is unacceptable.  I happen to believe that health care is a right and this is an important step in the fight to ensure that all Americans have access to medical coverage. 

    By a vote of 268 – 148, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1424, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health & Addiction Equity Act of 2007 to ensure that insurance companies who offer coverage for mental illness treat mental and physical illnesses the same, including the requirement that co-payments, deductibles and lifetime treatment limits are the same for both mental and physical illness.  It also prohibits discrimination based on diagnosis and guarantees equity in out-of-network coverage. 

    I am proud to be an outspoken supporter of this legislation – WATCH MY SPEECH ON THE HOUSE FLOOR

     


    UPCOMING EVENTS:

    IRS to host “Super Saturday” on March 29th to Help Retirees, Veterans and Low-Income Workers Receive Economic Stimulus Payments 

    The Internal Revenue Service and its partners will open locations on Saturday, March 29, in an effort to reach those Americans who are eligible for the economic stimulus payment but who normally are not required to file an income tax return.

    IRS employees will help prepare the Form 1040A returns for low-income workers, retirees, disabled veterans and others. IRS field assistance personnel also will visit nursing homes and similar locations to prepare returns.
    A list of IRS offices and partner sites in Georgia providing assistance on Super Saturday is available by calling the IRS Hotline, 1-800-906-9887, for free assistance locations.  If taxpayers have economic stimulus questions on March 29, they can call 1-866-234-2942. These phone services are available on March 29 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. local time.
    Locations in and around the Atlanta Metro Area:

    Address

    Facility

    Hours

    Atlanta
    (Peachtree Summit FB)
    401 W. Peachtree St. NW
    30308

    IRS

    9 a.m.-
    3 p.m.

    Atlanta
    Hightower Manor
    2610 MLK Drive SW
    30311

    Hightower Manor

    TBD

    Atlanta
    477 Windsor Street
    30312

    The Center for Working Families

    10 a.m.-
    3 p.m.

    Atlanta
    Marion Road

    Marion Road

    TBD

    Decatur
    2340 Clifton Springs Road
    30034

    Beulah Missionary Baptist Church

    9 a.m.-
    1 p.m.

    The IRS encourages everyone who is required to file a tax return to do so prior to the April 15 deadline to enable the agency to process the return and to calculate stimulus payment eligibility and amounts. Taxpayers who already have filed a tax return can calculate their potential payment amounts by visiting www.irs.gov.

    The IRS reminds taxpayers that they can get their stimulus payments faster by using direct deposit when they file their tax return.

    In addition, the IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically. For people who normally are not required to file a tax return, the IRS and the Free File Alliance have a special program set up to allow for free electronic filing. For those with computer access, IRS Free File –Economic Stimulus Payment is available at IRS.gov.

    Also, people should be wary of unsolicited e-mail or telephone calls from anyone claiming to be from the IRS. Don't click on any links. Instead, forward the email to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , and then delete it. Use the same email address to report unsolicited telephone calls. The only official IRS Web site is located at www.irs.gov.

     
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