There is so much talk in politics lately about who is “winning”. What side, what people and what issue is currently “winning” has been covered and covered and covered by the media. But let’s talk about some issues where America is winning, not a political party or agenda.
Implementing renewable energy regulations and laws despite pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord.
Despite the United States officially pulling out of the Paris climate accord, many towns, counties, and states have implemented regulations which are either on par or more intensive than what the Paris climate accord would have required. This is making America win because clean energy leads to a clean, better, more profitable and less dependent future for all of us.
After Trump pulled out of the Climate deal, a few US states founded the United States Climate Alliance. The US Climate Alliance is a bipartisan group of states in the US committed to upholding the US objectives of the Paris climate accord – reduce carbon dioxide emissions 26–28% from 2005 levels by 2025 and meet or exceed the targets put in place by the federal Clean Power Plan. The alliance’s current members as of June 2017 are 359 US Mayors representing 66 million Americans and the following states: California, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon, Hawaii, Virginia, Minnesota, Delaware, Puerto Rico and most recently Colorado. Colorado signed onto this alliance the beginning of July at one of the states most treasured parks, Red Rocks, and also committed to the target of cutting carbon pollution at electricity power plants by 25 percent before 2025 and 35 percent by 2030 measured against 2012 levels.
South Miami, San Francisco and two small cities in California have passed legislation requiring owners of new homes or owners of existing properties who are increasing their square footage by 75 percent or more to install solar panels. California has led the way on this approach starting in 2012 with SB 535 which required 25 percent of carbon revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program to be spent on clean-energy investments that benefit environmentally vulnerable low-income communities. This year California introduced SB71 which would require the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to develop design guidelines for new construction that include energy conserving options. These guidelines include building envelope solar heat gain control mechanisms and alternative energy systems – like solar energy for space heating and water heating and load management strategies. In New York A8270, the Climate and Community Protection Act, crossed over in June. This bill makes state climate pollution reduction and clean energy commitments legally binding across all sectors including energy, buildings, and transportation, setting a path to 100% clean renewable energy by 2050.
There were also a few resolutions declaring days throughout the year to be focused on the environment and wild life; HRes266 designated April 15- April 23, 2017, as “National Park Week” and SRes.80 designated March 3, 2017, as “World Wildlife Day”.
HR.589, the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act, combines seven previously passed science bills to provide policy direction to the Department of Energy on basic science research, nuclear energy research and development, research coordination and a review of existing programs, and important reforms to streamline national laboratory management. HR.306, the Energy Efficient Government Technology Act, requires several federal agencies to coordinate to develop an implementation strategy for the maintenance, purchase, and use of energy-efficient and energy saving information technologies in an attempt to reduce energy consumption at federal government data centers.
HR.627, the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act, aims to have the Department of Energy (DOE) establish a clearinghouse to provide information regarding available Federal programs and financing mechanisms they could use to help initiate, develop and finance energy efficiency, distributed generation and energy retrofitting projects for schools.
Bills Aimed at Advancing Education Throughout the US
Teaching the youth and citizens of a country is one of the most important aspects of what makes a winning nation. Many bills this year were aimed at helping teachers and improving the education system overall.
CA SB807, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017, pertains to personal income taxes. The bill would allow for teachers on the job for at least five years to be exempt from paying state income taxes in hopes of increasing the number of teachers entering and staying in the profession. SRes.163 is a resolution recognizing the roles and contributions of the teachers of the United States in building and enhancing the civic, cultural and economic well-being of the United States. Across the United States, we are facing a teacher shortage and it is proven that good teachers lead to good, productive citizens.
Minnesota passed HF2 a $273 million bill with a 2 percent increase in education funding to be spent on the per pupil funding formula that covers general operating costs that school boards will have the power to decide how much to spend and where. The increased funding should substantially impact the schools, however there is a problem with the bill. The new system would let teachers get a 1-year license with no training beyond a bachelor’s degree if a school district vouches for their skills and can’t find a more qualified candidate. The bill also implements the LIFO (last in, first out) policy for layoffs which teachers unions’ are not happy about. Other people are hoping this change can help address the shortage in the total number of teachers and the improve overall lower percentage of teachers of color.
TX SB 215 calls for a reduction of standardized testing in elementary and middle schools. It would eliminate any tests not federally mandated. TX SB 216 calls for a statewide teacher pay raise, so as to meet the national average. It ensures that teacher salaries increase by at least $400 for the 2017-2018 school year and creates a $4,000 per teacher State aid.
Bills Advancing Women in Society
There have been many different legislative movements across the country that have been advancing and protecting women in society. Many of these issues have not been given adequate attention and impact the quality of life for nearly half of our population. Improving these areas definitely allows more people in America to win.
TX SB43 is aimed at curbing postpartum depression and the alarming rise in Texas mothers dying less than a year after giving birth. Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. US HR1174, the Fairness For Breastfeeding Mothers Act, would require publicly-accessible federally owned or leased buildings to provide designated private and hygienic lactation spaces open to the public for nursing mothers.
US HR2484, the Women, Peace, and Security Act, aims to ensure that the United States promotes the meaningful participation of women in mediation and negotiation processes seeking to prevent, mitigate or resolve violent conflict.
There are also three different resolutions for days that focus on women; SRes.60 designated May 5, 2017, as the “National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls”, SRes.76 expressed support for the designation of March 21, 2017, as “National Rosie the Riveter Day” and SRes.84 supported the goals of International Women’s Day.
There were also bills aimed at issues that disproportionately affect women more than men. US US HR1973 aimed to prevent the sexual abuse of minors and amateur athletes by requiring the prompt reporting of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities. US SRes159 recognized and supported the goals and ideals of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For more information on sexual assault and time statutes read this post. Finally, US SRes41 aimed to raise awareness and encouraged the prevention of stalking by designating January 2017 as “National Stalking Awareness Month”.
Bills Advancing Entrepreneurship in Society
There has been a massive movement all over the world toward entrepreneurship and US legislation is starting to reflect that. Small business is one of the life bloods to the American economy and promotes advancements in all industries, definitely one of America’s most winning qualities is the quality of our entrepreneurs.
The first bill important bill this year, US HR255 the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, was signed in February. This bill amends the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act to authorize the National Science Foundation to encourage its entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. US HR382, or 100 Years of Women in Congress Act, aims to amend the Department of Agriculture program for research and extension grants to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to redesignate the program as the “Jeannette Rankin Women and Minorities in STEM Fields Program”.
Building off of these bills, US HR39 or the Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional Talent (Talent) Act, was one of Obama’s last pieces of legislation passed. This bill was created to encourage the participation of successful entrepreneurs, executives and innovators in the public sector to lead to a more efficient, effective and people-centered government. US SRes165 celebrated April 30 through May 6, 2017, as “National Small Business Week” and commended the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses owners in the United States.
The Small Business Capital Formation Enhancement Act’s main focus was to create forums to provide a platform to highlight perceived unnecessary impediments to small business capital formation and address whether they can be eliminated or reduced. Each Forum seeks to develop recommendations for government and private action to improve the environment for small business capital formation consistent with other public policy goals, including investor protection. US HR1101, or the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2017, aims to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to allow small businesses to join together in association health plans (AHP) across state lines through bona fide trade associations to become larger purchasers of health insurance. For more information on what is currently going on with health care read this post.
With all of these great winning policies gaining traction and truly providing a climate for America to win, and continue to win in, shouldn’t we be focusing more on this? It doesn’t matter which political candidate or party is “winning” as long as America and the people that make this nation so great are winning first. What are other winning policies you have seen throughout this year?