The Leahy Letter -- February 7, 2012

Key Panel Thursday Advances Leahy Bill
To Renew And Strengthen Violence Against Women Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the law at the heart of ongoing efforts to correct and remedy domestic and sexual violence.

Senator Leahy, who chairs the panel, last year introduced the bill joined by Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). Senator Leahy’s aim is to strengthen and improve existing programs authorized under the landmark law to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and other offenses.

He worked closely with Vermont organizations in drafting the charter, which includes important provisions for Vermont such as an increase in all-state minimum funding for key grant programs and language to ensure that Vermont remains an eligible state under the definition of rural jurisdictions.

Senator Leahy said, “No other law has done more to stop domestic and sexual violence in our communities. As a prosecutor in Vermont I saw firsthand the destruction caused by domestic and sexual violence. Those were the days before VAWA, when too often people dismissed these serious crimes with a joke, and there was little, if any, help for victims. We have come a long way since then, but there is much more we must do.”

Key improvements included in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization

  • An emphasis on the need to effectively respond to sexual assault crime by adding new purpose areas and a 20 percent set-aside in the STOP state formula grant program and the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program;
  • Improvements in tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by training law enforcement officials, victim service providers and court personnel on identifying and managing high risk offenders and connecting high risk victims to crisis intervention services;
  • Measures to promote accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes;
  • Consolidation of programs and reductions in authorization levels and renewed focus on programs that have been most successful;
  • Technical corrections to updates definitions throughout the law to provide uniformity and continuity throughout the law.


Vermonters With Medicare Saved More Than $4.8 Million On Prescription Drugs In 2011

Senator Leahy hailed new tallies released on Thursday, showing that Vermonters with Medicare saved $4,849,624 on their prescription drugs in 2011 under health care reforms enacted through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

New totals released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focus on Medicare enrollees hit by the earlier prescription drug coverage gap – the so-called “donut hole -- that was created when the prescription drug benefit was added to Medicare.  On average, the 6,795 Vermonters affected by the coverage gap saved an average of $714 on the cost of their prescription drugs.

The health care reforms mean a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs and last year generated a 7 percent discount on covered generic medications for people who reached the coverage limit.  This discount will rise to 14 percent in 2012.  Nationwide 3.6 million Americans covered by Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs in 2011 under the ACA reforms, which are on the way to completely closing the coverage gap by 2020.  By 2021, Medicare beneficiaries will have saved an average of nearly $4,200 between 2011 and 2021, and those with high prescription costs could save as much as $16,000 in that same period.

Senator Leahy said, “These pocketbook benefits to Vermonters under the health care reforms are all the more important in today’s difficult economy.  These savings are lightening Vermonters’ financial burdens in ways that make a real difference.”

Guard Takes A Seat At The Table: General Craig McKinley Joins Joint Chiefs Of Staff Under Leahy Guard Empowerment Reforms

General Craig McKinley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, is pictured above with the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the armed forces at the State of the Union address on January 24. The speech was the first prominent public appearance of the Joint Chiefs since General McKinley joined their ranks. McKinley’s post on the nation’s top defense policy panel was mandated by recent legislation authored by Senator Leahy. In the back row from left to right are General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps; General Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force; Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., Commandant of the Coast Guard, and General Craig R. McKinley, Chief, National Guard Bureau. Front row from left to right, General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army; and Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations.



Privacy In The Internet Age: Senator Leahy Comments On Bid To Modify His Video Privacy Protection Law

The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), authored by Senator Leahy and enacted in 1988, is heralded as one of the nation’s model privacy laws. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law held a hearing on VPPA on Tuesday to examine the law’s suitability in a video consumer market increasingly dominated by video streamed over the Internet.

At the hearing, he said, “While it is true that technology has changed over the years, we must stay faithful to our fundamental right to privacy and freedom.  Today, social networking, video streaming, the ‘cloud,’ mobile apps and other new technologies have revolutionized the availability of Americans’ information.”

Click here to read Senator Leahy’s full statement from the hearing.  

Click here to watch video of the statement. 

News You Can Use: Hazard Mitigation Grant Deadline Is February 17, 2012

The deadline for Vermonters to apply for federal hazard mitigation grants is fast approaching. Originally listed as January 20, the deadline was extended to February 17 to accommodate cities and towns needing extra time finalize their applications.

Funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program are available to support projects to reduce the risk of future flooding. Federal funds cover 75 percent of the costs of selected projects with the remaining 25 percent covered by local funding.

For more information on the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, please click here

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David Carle: 202-224-3693