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A message from Senator Enzi

Hello. I hope you had a relaxing and festive Fourth of July and are keeping cool during the heat wave that has swept across the nation. If you received my first newsletter edition last month I hope it was helpful to know what the Senate in Washington is doing that affects you and our great state of Wyoming. My staff and I put together more information about happenings over the past month and what is to come. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you.

Headlines and Highlights

Military Insurance Sales

Enzi announced the unanimous approval of legislation he introduced to protect military personnel against individuals using deceitful practices to sell financial products. The Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act, S. 418, would halt abuses that have been taking place on military bases for decades.

Some financial services companies have been disguising, marketing and selling high cost periodic payment plan certificates solely to military personnel on military bases. These plans, nonexistent in the civilian market, are similar to mutual funds except that extremely high sales commissions rob investors of years of earnings and penalize them when they stop investing in the fund. Some insurance products that provide very low death benefits while charging very high premiums are marketed specifically to soldiers. Salespersons have disguised the product to appear endorsed by the Department of Defense or the federal government.

The bill would provide for state insurance regulator jurisdiction over the sale of insurance products on military bases. It would also require the Department of Defense to keep a list of individuals barred or banned from military bases because of abusive sales tactics. Military families would also be protected under the bill because it would prevent investment companies from issuing periodic payment plan certificates, an outdated form of mutual fund with high up front costs and penalties.

A conference committee can now be assigned to reconcile differences between the House and Senate version or the House can take up the Senate version.

Senate Passes Bill With Gun Rights Protections Amendment

The Senate passed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill that included an amendment originally co-sponsored by Enzi that would protect citizens against the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms during disaster recovery efforts. Enzi said that with yearly hurricane seasons and natural disasters that happen at the drop of a hat, Congress needs to ensure that law abiding citizens are allowed to carry legal firearms to protect their property and families. The amendment is in direct response to incidents of firearm confiscation after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The House of Representatives passed its version of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill and now the two versions will go to a Senate and House conference committee where the differences will be reconciled.  

Key Vote Summary

Workforce Investment Act 

The Senate approved the "Workforce Investment Act Amendments of 2005," S. 1021, a bill that will give states the flexibility to provide training for jobs in high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations needed to ensure America’s competitiveness in the global economy. Now the bill moves to the next step of appointing conference committee members to smooth out differences between the House version of the bill. Enzi said we are facing an economic challenge that threatens our ability as a nation to compete on the world stage, and that this bill would help our workers and employers remain competitive and close the skills gap that is putting America’s long-term competitiveness in jeopardy.

Flag Protection Amendment

Enzi was an original cosponsor of a resolution to prevent the desecration of the United States flag.The resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. The resolution received 66 of the 67 votes needed on the Senate floor. Enzi will continue seeking ways to protect our nation's flag.

On the Horizon

The Senate is debating S. 728, the Water Resources Development Act, which would provide the Secretary of the Army authority to follow through with 42 projects for water resources development, conservation and other purposes, with final passage expected later this week or early next week. Debate is also expected on the Gulf of Mexico production bill, that would open around eight million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to energy production. Also on the agenda are remaining appropriations bills with the defense appropriations bill first in line.

News Nuggets

* Enzi cosponsored S. 1988, the Stolen Valor Act, on July 10. The Act amends the federal criminal code to expand the prohibition against wearing, manufacturing, or selling military decorations or medals without legal authorization. It prohibits purchasing, soliciting, mailing, shipping, importing, exporting, producing blank certificates of receipt for, advertising, trading, bartering, or exchanging such decorations or medals without authorization.

* Enzi penned a letter to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chow stressing the need for a Job Corps Center in Wyoming. New Hampshire and Wyoming are the only two states in the country that do not have a center. Job Corps is a vocational and educational training center offered at no cost to at-risk young adults ages 16 to 24 to prepare them for a career. The Department of Labor administers the program to help young adults earn a high school diploma or GED, get help finding a better job, or learn a trade. The program is self paced and can take between eight months and two years depending on the career area of study. Students are provided with career counseling and transition support for up to 12 months after they graduate. Fremont County currently has an application pending to be home to a Job Corps Center.

* Gas prices are high. Enzi said if Wyoming residents are concerned about price gouging and fixing at gas pumps they can visit the Department of Energy’s gasoline price reporting system on the web. 

* Enzi spoke to a national audience through a live broadcast on the nationally-syndicated Small Buisness Advocate Show on July 12. Enzi addressed issues that affect small businesses such as small business health plans and the death tax.