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A few interesting bills sponsored or co-sponsored by Kerry yesterday

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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-05-06 01:27 PM
Original message
A few interesting bills sponsored or co-sponsored by Kerry yesterday

14. S.2499 : A bill to provide for the expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the life and assassination of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sponsor: Sen Kerry, John F. (introduced 4/4/2006) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Latest Major Action: 4/4/2006 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

5. S.RES.421 : A resolution calling on the Government of Afghanistan to uphold freedom of religion and urging the Government of the United States to promote religious freedom in Afghanistan.
Sponsor: Sen Durbin, Richard (introduced 4/4/2006) Cosponsors (10)
Latest Major Action: 4/4/2006 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.

15. S.2500 : A bill to enhance the counseling and readjustment services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. (introduced 4/4/2006) Cosponsors (3)
Committees: Senate Veterans' Affairs
Latest Major Action: 4/4/2006 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

21. S.2506 : A bill to require Federal agencies to support health impact assessments and take other actions to improve health and the environmental quality of communities, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Obama, Barack (introduced 4/4/2006) Cosponsors (3)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 4/4/2006 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-05-06 01:32 PM
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1. Speech introducing the Bill concerning MLK

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today, on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, I am pleased to join with my colleague in the House, Congresswoman CYNTHIA MCKINNEY to introduce the Martin Luther King, Jr., Record Collections Act. This act will ensure the expeditious disclosure and preservation of records relevant to Dr. King's life and death. Fully releasing these records--many of which are not subject to disclosure until 2038--will shed significant light on a turning point in American history. My friend, Representative JOHN LEWIS, explained its necessity quite eloquently:

I, too, was the subject of unwarranted FBI surveillance during the Civil Rights Movement. Because we do not know this part of our history, it is clear that we are beginning to repeat it. Recently, we became aware of the administration's domestic spying program that has targeted peace groups that are carrying on the nonviolent action of Dr. King. It is time that we know our history, and passage of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Records Act will take us one step closer to uncovering that history.

Judge Joseph Brown, the last presiding judge in James Earl Ray's post-conviction relief proceedings, also supports this legislation. He believes that it is important to:

..... fully release the still classified historical record surrounding the life and death of the late Dr. King. In light of the disturbing records and documents that came to light in James Earl Ray's petition before me and in consideration of the recent furor over the power and authority granted to certain officials under the guise of the Homeland Security Act, it might prove most illuminating to review the historical record relative to the exercise of purportedly similar power and authority by the U.S. officials 40 years ago. The American public, the citizens of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave deserve this access to the historic record surrounding the life and death of Dr. King.

Our legislation will create a Martin Luther King Records Collection at the National Archives. This will include all records--public and private--related to the life and death of Dr. King, including any investigations or inquiries by Federal, State, or local agencies. The records will be organized in a central directory to allow the public to access them online from anywhere in the world. The documents will be overseen by a review board consisting of at least one professional historian, one attorney, one researcher, and one representative of the civil rights community.

The MLK Records Review Board, a five-member independent agency, will be responsible for facilitating the review and transmission of all related records to the Archivist for public disclosure. Members will be nominated by the President and approved with the advice and consent of the Senate. It will have the power to direct government offices to locate and organize related records and transmit them for review or release. It will also have the power to investigate the facts surrounding the transmission

or possession of records, take testimony of individuals in order to fulfill their responsibilities, request the Attorney General to subpoena private persons or government employees to compel testimony or records and require agencies to account in writing for any previous or current destruction of related records. In addition, the Board can request that the Attorney General petition any court in the U.S. or abroad to release any sealed information or physical evidence relevant to the life or death of Dr. King, and to subpoena such evidence if it is no longer in the possession of the government. The MLK Records Review Board will also be required to provide annual reports to Congress, the President, the Archivist, and all government agencies whose records have been reviewed, and to the public. The Board must terminate its work no later than 5 years from the passage of the Act unless it votes to extend for an additional 2-year term.

The reason for having such a Board is to ensure that someone is responsible for finding all relevant records and that the records do not disclose any sensitive information. It is particularly important to have a Board like this given recent revelations by the New York Times that the government has begun removing thousands of declassified documents on a wide range of historical subjects from public access at the National Archives. There has perhaps never been a more urgent time to bring the records on Dr. King into the light of day. According to the National Archives, about 9,500 records totaling more than 55,000 pages have been withdrawn from the public shelves and reclassified since 1999. We need to ensure that the records relating to the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., do not suffer the same fate. They are too important to us at this point in American history.

Dr. King challenged the conscience of my generation, and his words and his legacy continue to move generations to action today. His love and faith is alive in the millions of Americans who volunteer each day in soup kitchens or in schools, and those who refused to ignore the suffering of thousands they'd never met when Hurricane Katrina destroyed lives and communities. His vision and his passion are alive in churches and on campuses when millions stand up against the injustice of discrimination or the indifference that leaves too many behind.

The best way to honor the memory of Dr. King is to finish his work at home and around the world. And the first step to furthering his legacy is to know the full body of it. I hope that my colleagues will join me in this very important effort: to preserve and learn from records relating to the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-05-06 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Yeah, now that is cool!
I like this. I especially like it at a time when another Government is trying to get away with domestic spying. Some groups never learn.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-05-06 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
2. Cool! Thanks.
I am waiting for the text on the PTSD bill (S.2500)
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-05-06 05:27 PM
Response to Original message
4. Health impact assessments!!!
Oooh, I really like that one. That's the way to get people to make the connection between environment and health and health care. When business doesn't run a clean business, we pay through higher health costs. It's time to factor that in.
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