U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan introduced seven bills to kick off the 115th Congress, including measures focused on job creation and tax reform. The new session officially started at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Buchanan is co-chair of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation. His seven bills are outlined as follows:
- The Main Street Fairness Act, a key feature of the tax reform blueprint released by House Republican leaders, ensures that small businesses never pay a higher tax rate than large corporations.
- The Social Media Screening for Terrorists Act, which directs the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country.
- The Support Our Start-Ups Act, which makes it easier and less costly for an entrepreneur to start a new business. The bill would quadruple the amount of start-up costs small business owners can deduct from their federal income taxes, raising it from $5,000 to $20,000.
- The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act, which passed the U.S. House last Congress, aids Florida orange growers in their battle against citrus greening, which is decimating the citrus industry. The legislation provides tax incentives for farmers who cannot afford to replace trees affected by citrus greening. The bill passed the House in 2016, but did not pass the Senate before Congress adjourned.
- An amendment to the Constitution of the United States that requires Congress to balance the federal budget. Balancing the budget is an urgent priority as the U.S. is nearing $20 trillion in federal debt.
- The Thin Blue Line Act, which toughens penalties against anyone who murders police and other first responders. The bill would make the murder or attempted murder of a first responder an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.
- The SAFE Act, which permanently bans the killing of horses for human consumption in America. The bill also bans the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses where the animals are killed and then shipped overseas.
Due to the congressional redistricting process, the boundaries of Buchanan’s district have changed since the 114th Congress. The newly redrawn 16th district no longer includes Sarasota County south of Clark Road and instead picks up eastern and southern portions of Hillsborough County.