Congress at Work: Offshore Jobs for U.S. Workers, Money for North Korean Refugee and Human Rights Programs, and a New $1 Coin Honoring American Innovation

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The Congress at Work series of articles is designed to give you a glimpse of various types of legislation currently under consideration. While either the Senate or the House of Representatives may initiate a bill proposal, be aware that many bills never become law. They may never make it out of committee, be blocked by a Senate filibuster, be delayed, lack sufficient votes, never be agreed upon by the two houses, or be vetoed by the president.

Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 (H.R. 5956) – This bill is related to the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, which stated that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must reduce the number of Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) transitional worker (CW) permits each year, with the goal of ceasing all permits by the end of 2019. However, over the past five years, there has been increasing demand for CW permits resulting from economic expansion largely due to the construction of casinos and hotels. H.R. 5956 authorizes an increase in the percentage of U.S. workers for CNMI work permits. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) on May 24 and signed into law by the president on July 24.

North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2061) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on April 6, 2017, and signed into law by the president on July 20, 2018. H.R. 2061 authorizes funding of $10 million a year from 2018 to 2022 and also reinstates and extends human rights and democracy programs under the North Korean Human Rights Act through 2022. The purpose of these programs is to promote human rights, democracy, and freedom of information in North Korea as well as provide humanitarian assistance to North Korean refugees.

American Innovation $1 Coin Act (H.R. 770) – Introduced by Rep. James Himes (D-CT), this bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue $1 coins commemorating innovation and innovators from each state, each U.S. territory, and the District of Columbia. Starting in 2019, the Treasury will issue four coins per year over a 14-year period in alphabetical order by jurisdiction. Coin designs may not feature the bust of any person nor the portrait of any living person. The bill was introduced on January 31, 2017, and signed into law by the president on July 20, 2018.

Swan Lake Hydroelectric Project Boundary Correction Act (H.R. 219) – Sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), this bill authorizes the Department of the Interior to modify the boundary of the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2911) and convey to the state of Alaska any additional land necessary for the project. The bill was introduced on January 3, 2017, and was signed into law by the president on July 20, 2018.

To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project (H.R. 2122, 2292, 951, 447, 446; S. 490) – The bills in this series were sponsored by various Republican Congressmen and women from several different states. Although the initial legislative Acts were enacted in previous years, each of these bills authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend the time period for starting construction on their respective hydroelectric projects. The bills were signed into law on various days in July by the president.

Small Business Investment Opportunity Act of 2017 (H.R. 2333) – Sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA), this bill amends the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 by increasing the Individual Leverage Limit from $150 million to $175 million. The Individual Leverage Limit stipulates how much capital can be deployed to a small business by a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program that has only one fund under management. It was last increased in 2009 from $137 million to $150 million. The bill was introduced on May 3, 2017.  The bill was introduced on May 3, 2017, and was signed into law by the president on June 21, 2018.