FAST FACTS: Higher education reform and opportunity (Hero) act

HERO Act (Higher education reform and opportunity act) 

  • “The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act would not only make the cost of higher education more affordable, but also make it easier for students to customize their own education and gain the specific skills they need to compete in today’s economy,” Senator Lee, January 9, 2014.
  • Empowers states to develop their own accreditation systems to accredit colleges, individual courses within colleges, apprenticeship programs, and curricula.
  • Any state-accredited educational institution, program, or course would then be eligible for federal funding such as student loans.

Heritage Research

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Fast Facts: EXPAND Act

Energy Exploration and Production to Achieve National Demand (EXPAND) Act

  • Opens up access to leasing, exploration, and production in more areas in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and the Alaskan Coastal Plain.
  • Allows states to develop programs that satisfy applicable federal laws to produce energy on federal lands.
  • Removes special tax breaks for all energy sources, including oil, gas, coal, and nuclear, which would spur energy technologies to be competitive.
  • Repeals the ethanol mandate.
  • Streamlines licensing and construction requirements for nuclear power plants and reforms the refinery permitting process.

Heritage Research

Nick Loris, “10 Ways the EXPAND Act Would Take the Energy Market in the Right Direction,” Issue Brief, February 4, 2014, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/02/10-ways-the-expand-act-would-take-the-energy-market-in-the-right-direction.

You can read more about Heritage Action’s policy plan by downloading the Heritage and heritage Action book:  “Opportunity for All and Favoritism to None”. 

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Fast Facts: PATH Act

Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act

  • Voted out of the House Financial Services Committee
  • Ends the dominance that the federal government has on the housing finance system by dissolving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Ends the taxpayer subsidies of Fannie and Freddie by phasing out their failed taxpayer-backed business model over a five-year transition period.
  • Returns the Federal Housing Administration to its traditional mission: serving first-time homebuyers and those with low and moderate incomes and ensuring it will be able to insure loans to any qualified borrow-ers if ever faced with another economic crisis.
  • Removes regulatory barriers to private capital to attract investment and encourage innovation.

Heritage Research

Support From Others

  • Wall Street Journal Editorial: “Hensarling unveiled legislation to close down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, add much-needed discipline to the Federal Housing Administration, and clear away regulatory barriers to more private housing capital.” Editorial, “Housing Reform Breakout,” The Wall Street Journal, July13, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324425204578597883614289330.
  • PATH Act is supported by Freedom Works, the National Taxpayers Union, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, and Heritage Action.

You can read more about Heritage Action’s policy plan by downloading the Heritage and heritage Action book:  “Opportunity for All and Favoritism to None”. 

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Fast Facts: RAISE Act

The RAISE Act (Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees Act)

No governing agenda would be complete without addressing hardworking Americans’ need for more take homepay. That is especially important today, as the Great Recession, as well as rapidly advancing technology, has resulted in serious, continuing challenges for American workers.

While many conditions are beyond the government’s (or anyone’s) control, the fact is the government today artificially inflates the problems facing working Americans with misguided rules, regulations, and policies that make it harder than necessary for workers to thrive.

The RAISE Act would address one of these barriers. Currently, federal labor law supports union efforts to create wage ceilings on union members. As a result, unionized workplaces are often not allowed to give productive employees pay raises without re-opening negotiations with union bosses. This means that no matter how hard an employee works, he or she faces unnecessary barriers to getting a raise, even when his or her employer would like to reward that hard work with a raise. And this is not a simple matter of contract law between two private parties – this is an artificial concept explicitly supported by federal law.

The RAISE Act would fix this flaw in federal statute. It would allow employers to give their employees raises even if their union contract discourages it. Workers who work hard and provide value to their employers should be able to receive a raise; and the government should stop standing in their way.

Key Heritage Research

You can read more about Heritage Action’s policy plan by downloading the Heritage and heritage Action book:  “Opportunity for All and Favoritism to None”. 

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The Importance of Persistent Activism

“I call, write, and email my members of Congress all the time and I never get a real answer from the staff or intern who answers the phone.  I don’t see the point in contacting them and wasting my time. I feel like because I never get an answer, my voice is never heard.”

Does this sound familiar?

It is important to know that regardless of whether a staff member gives you a definitive answer, your ideas and concerns are being heard.

Here is what typically happens when you call a Congressional office.

The staff member will answer the phone and take note of your concern. Pithy, fact-based inquires about where your representative stands will always go further than yelling or resorting to abusive comments. If the staff member reveals very little information on where the representative stands on an issue, do not lose hope. Your voice has been heard.

Throughout the day, a staff member will receive hundreds of calls and emails on a variety of topics.  Staffs update and maintain a quick tally on the most talked about issues.  Depending on the quantity of those constituent interactions, the member of Congress, Chief of Staff, or Legislative Director will identify concerns that are also most important to a district.  If a certain issue reaches a particularly high volume of call-ins, a member will have no choice but to defend his or her position and issue a response.

Now you might be saying, “Well I track their actions in Congress, contact them on issues that they will be voting on, and still I receive no answer.”  This means more inquires about these issues are needed.  New names and addresses flowing into their offices raises the level of concern for those members. The staff will assume constituents are becoming increasingly educated on these issues and that the grassroots in their district is organized and motivated. When members lack control over the narrative in their district, they know the status quo has been threatened.

All jobs require persistence and dedication to achieve a successful outcome. Congressional accountability is no different. Calling, emailing, writing – these are all critical in the fight for lasting accountability.

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