Capitol Hill

House unveils cyber bill and signals bipartisan compromise

House intelligence committee leaders unveiled a bipartisan cybersecurity bill Tuesday amid signs of broad agreement on long-sought legislation that would allow private companies to share with the government details of how they are hacked, without fear of being sued. The information sharing is badly needed, backers say, so that government agencies can help the private sector defend itself against sophisticated cyberattacks, many of which are undertaken by intelligence agencies in countries such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

Merkley, Franken Introduce Legislation To Promote Education in STEM

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) today introduced legislation designed to increase student access to courses in STEM education subjects and provide additional resources to recruit, train, and support teachers of these subjects.

Bill Would Limit Use of Student Data

In an effort to ease parent and teacher concerns, two congressmen are planning to introduce a bill on Monday. Called the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, it would place limits on how education technology companies can use information about kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

Bill in Congress would establish manufacturing universities

A bipartisan bill that would designate 25 manufacturing universities across the country and give each one $20 million over four years to step up advanced manufacturing in engineering programs was introduced Wednesday in Congress by lawmakers. The funds would be used to improve engineering programs, especially those related to manufacturing. With these grants, universities could support students with cooperative education and apprenticeships.

Esty sponsors engineering education grant program

Rep. Elizabeth Esty is the lead sponsor of a bill to link engineering education to high-tech manufacturing through specific grants to colleges and universities with engineering programs. The Manufacturing Universities Act would provide grants of up to $5 million annually over four years for college-level programs.

Senate Small Business Committee finds consensus on patent reform

Significant consensus was reached between representatives of small business and universities at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on March 19, 2015. The hearing was held to take testimony relating to proposed reforms to the U.S. patent system. The day’s discussion prompted Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) to make the comment that the argument over whether there is any need to diminish the rights of patent owners has been “turned on its head.”

Congressional Visits Day 2015 - @STEMontheHill

Congressional Visits Day 2015 (@STEMontheHill) kicked off yesterday and was a huge success. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (AL) and U.S. Representative Donna Edwards (MD-4) received the 2015 George E. Brown Award for Science Leadership for their vision in promoting public policies that benefit science and engineering. On March 18th, participating SETWG Organizations will conduct Hill visits throughout the day. Follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #setcvd.

Pictured at left is U.S. Representative Donna Edwards (MD-4) with students and teachers from Prince Georges County Public Schools. Photo: @AdobePolicy

For more information about Congressional Visits Day and @STEMontheHill, visit

Stop patent trolls from preying on innovation

Trolls force businesses to make a difficult decision: righteously fight back but pay lawyers millions of dollars over several years, or pay hundreds of thousands of dollars as a “license” to make the troll go away. Kinze faced this situation in 2012 when we were sued by a company that owned patents titled “Electronic Proposal Preparation System” and “Electronic Proposal Preparation System for Selling Computer Equipment and Copying Systems.” We managed to reach a solution that kept legal bills low while not giving in to demands.

Senator Hatch: It’s Time to Kill Patent Trolls for Good

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) penned an op-ed in Wired on Monday outlining his must-haves in any patent reform legislation. Those include increased pleading standards, demand letter reform, a fee shifting provision, a customer stay provision and another that would ensure the recovery of legal fees. In the face of some criticism to the broad approach, he said: "I have repeatedly been told that a multi-pronged approach that tackles each of these issues is needed to effectively combat patent trolls across all levels of industry."

Senate panel approves controversial cybersecurity bill

Approved by a 14-1 vote, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) aims -- by providing expanded legal liability protections to companies sharing data -- to encourage US companies to share information about security breaches with each other and government agencies. Supporters argue that the legislation is necessary to reduce the impact of an uptick in the theft of customers' personal information.

In a turnabout, key congressional critic backs NSF peer review

A political dispute involving the National Science Foundation (NSF) that has taken on near-biblical importance within the scientific community may be inching closer to resolution. A new statement from Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), the chair of the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives that oversees NSF, appears to be a significant softening of his long-standing criticism of NSF’s grantsmaking process.

Casey, Rubio Introduce Bipartisan Computer Science Education and Jobs Act

"Our students must be equipped with skills that lead to employment in today's global economic marketplace, as well as a strong foundation should they choose to continue their education in a postsecondary setting," said Rubio in the statement. "An increasing number of jobs require or will require a foundational knowledge of computer science and related fields, and the Computer Science Education and Jobs Act ensures greater access to this kind of learning. This bill can help advance today's K-12 education into the 21st century and provide our students with the skills they need to succeed."

Durbin: Boost research funding $100 billion by ending sequestration caps

A $100 billion boost in research funding would result from a bill backed by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Durbin announced Monday he plans to introduce the legislation to lift federal budget caps — known as sequestration — in order to increase funding for basic scientific research, citing China’s outpacing the United States in such spending during the past decade.

Top Economists, Conservative Activists Warn Congress Not To Mess With Patents

Academics and activists joined forces this week to pressure Congress not to move forward on patent reform, claiming the legislation would disrupt innovation to solve a non-existent problem. In recent weeks, both the House and the Senate have introduced bills designed to discourage abusive patent litigation, known as “patent trolling,” in response to claims that frivolous patent cases discourage innovation and force U.S. businesses to spend billions of dollars every year defending themselves in court.

Innovation Act Update

Congressman Goodlatte’s Innovation Act stands a good chance of being approved by both the House and the Senate in the new Congress. Moreover, President Obama previously expressed a willingness to sign such patent reform legislation. In light of the likelihood that the Innovation Act or some version of it becomes law, this paper provides a detailed description of its contents.


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