The Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, Portable Fuel Container Safety Act, and Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act all passed the Senate Commerce Committee today
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced today that three of her bills have passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee. The Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, introduced with Senator John Hoeven (R- ND), would help prevent carbon monoxide-related deaths by encouraging states to require carbon monoxide detectors in homes and establishing a grant program to help states and tribes carry out carbon monoxide education programs. The Portable Fuel Container Safety Act, introduced with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), would prevent fire accidents by directing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to establish a standard for flame arrestors to be used in portable fuel containers. The Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act, introduced with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), would require the Department of Commerce to study the underlying factors driving the current “startup slump,” a 40 year low in rates of entrepreneurship in the U.S.
Klobuchar also included an amendment to Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) Harvesting American Cybersecurity Knowledge through Education (HACKED) Act, which also passed the Commerce Committee today. The amendment, based on Klobuchar’s bipartisan Cyber Security Exchange Act with Senator John Thune (R-SD), would establish a public-private cyber security professionals exchange program to recruit experts in private sector and academia to do limited tours of duty in the federal government of up to two years. Additionally, agencies would create a program for government computer experts to do tours of duty in the private sector to learn best practices, which can then be applied to help further secure government computer systems and critical infrastructure.
“Consumers deserve products that meet strong health and safety standards—keeping people safe is the cornerstone of our job as senators. My legislation will put in place better, commonsense safeguards so we can address the dangers of accidental death by carbon monoxide poisoning and fire accidents,” Klobuchar said. “My legislation to identify and evaluate the reasons for the lag in new business startups also passed the Commerce Committee today. Entrepreneurs drive innovation, which powers our economy, and we need to understand the reasons for today’s ‘startup slump’ in order to turn it around. I look forward to all three of these bills passing the full Senate and becoming law to improve consumer safety and strengthen our economy.”
The Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, named for two young brothers from Kimball, Minnesota who died from carbon monoxide poisoning, would empower the CPSC to encourage tougher standards to help ensure carbon monoxide detectors are safe and reliable. According to the Center for Disease Control, at least 430 people in the U.S. die each year from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and approximately 50,000 people are forced to seek medical attention for accidental CO poisoning. Especially dangerous is the risk of poisoning associated with running an automobile engine in an attached garage or burning charcoal in the house. Currently, the CPSC has voluntary standards, set by Underwriters Laboratories. The Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act would authorize the CPSC to provide resources to states to encourage states to require residential CO detection devices and establish a federal grant program to help states and tribes carry out a CO education program.
The Portable Fuel Container Safety Act would direct the CPSC to put forth a standard requiring Flame Mitigation Devices (FMD) like flame arrestors to be used to prevent fire accidents. Under current standards, flammable or combustible liquids can ignite within their containers causing more than 160,000 fires, injuring nearly 4,000 people, and killing 454 each year. Flame arrestors can help prevent these types of accidents, but currently there is no requirement for them to be used for the consumer containers found in most homes and for everyday use. The Portable Fuel Container Safety Act would establish safety standards to help prevent these tragic accidents. The legislation is endorsed by the American Burn Association, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Association of State Fire Marshalls and the National Fire Protection Association.
The Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act would require the Secretary of Commerce to work with partners at all relevant government agencies to conduct a comprehensive study into the underlying factors driving the current “startup slump.” Economists have identified several factors that may explain the reasons for the slowdown in entrepreneurship, including demographic changes caused by an aging workforce, increased industry concentration, increased risk-aversion following the last recession, difficulties related to access to capital (particularly difficulties encountered by underserved populations, minorities, and women), the concentration of venture capital in only a few cites, record levels of student loan debt, and difficulties faced by entrepreneurs in making use of federally funded research and innovation. In conducting the study, the Secretary will be required to consult with leaders and utilize key data sets housed at the Census Department, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, and Small Business Administration—in addition to consulting with entrepreneurs and representatives from consumer, community, and entrepreneurship advocacy organizations. The Secretary will be required to consider each of the potential factors identified above and will be required to make distinctions between industries, which economists believe may be affected by disparate factors. The Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act is supported by the Center for American Entrepreneurship, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, Small Business Majority, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier this year, Klobuchar and Scott launched the bipartisan Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus to address the most pressing issues facing entrepreneurs and serve as a forum for collaboration and coordination. The caucus will also serve as a clearinghouse for proposals from interested groups who wish to share their ideas with policymakers who are committed to supporting our nation’s entrepreneurs.