2015 - Day 1

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84 | 2015 INTERNATIONAL CES DAILY | JANUARY 6-9, 2015 CESWEB.ORG #CES2015 CEA Looking Ahead To A New D.C. Dynamic In 2015 BY JIM BARRY "T rolls, Taxes and Trade," continue to be among the top priorities for the Consumer Electronics Association's government affairs staff as the calendar turns from 2014 to 2015. And this year there's a new legislative equation in the nation's capital with the Republicans taking control of both houses of Congress for the f rst time in eight years. "We're optimistic looking ahead to 2015," Michael Petricone, CEA Se- nior Vice President of Legislative and Government Affairs, said last month. "The election shuff ed the deck and really shook up Washington. That's a good thing, because the last year was really frustrating for anyone trying to get things done." To be sure, the recent era of gridlock has had a slowing if not stif ing effect on many areas of the Innovation Economy which is critical to the nation's eco- nomic future. Now, Petricone said, there's incentive for both Congress and the President to make progress on legislative initiatives, including the ones that are important to the Innovation Economy, CE industry and CEA's members. "The Republi- cans are eager to show that, 'given the keys to the car,' they are capable of lead- ing. President Obama of course would like to leave a legacy of accomplishment, so there is reason for all to move forward on some of these issues on which there are actually many areas of agreement." The "Patent Troll" issue has been particularly frustrating because the House of Representatives passed the Innovation Act, a common-sense bill aimed at ending abusive patent litigation a year ago -- in December 2013. President Obama declared his support then and said he'd sign it. Since then, the Sen- ate has delayed, resulting in a staggering cost to the American economy In fact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid single handedly held the legislation up by not even allowing the Senate to bring it to a vote. "The patent troll problem is within Congress' power to f x," Petricone notes. "Most policymakers agree on the need for reform but it's going to be a tough f ght. As expected, the trial lawyers and patent troll lobby are f ght- ing hard to block any reform. Nevertheless, we hope to get a bill passed by Congress in 2015." Taxes and immigration are two more areas that need congressional atten- tion to spur the innovation economy. CEA supports legislation to allow skilled workers who come to the U.S. for school in STEM subjects to remain in the country rather than forcing them to leave as is now the case. When President Obama announced his intention to use executive action on immigration issues, CEA applauded, but encouraged a complete over- haul. "U.S. global competitiveness is being threatened by our outdated legal immigration policies, costing our economy hundreds of thousands of jobs a year," noted CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, at the time. "We urge the White House and the next Congress to work together toward a legis- lative solution that decouples bipartisan, high-skilled immigration reform from overall reform efforts." Tax reform would also benef t innovation and bring much needed money – by most estimates some $2trillion – back to this country for investment. "The U.S. is the only industrialized country that taxes income when it is returned to the country, even if it's been taxed already overseas, Petricone notes, " the repa- triation of these funds could be a spur to much needed job growth. On the environmental front CEA continues to take a the lead in support- ing sensible energy eff ciency standards and recycling efforts. Through www. greenergadgets.org CEA helps consumers f nd recycling centers near them, and get the information they can use to buy greener devices – important considerations given that Americans will buy more than $200 billion in new electronic products this year, making responsible disposal crucial. There's much good news on this subject too with new products almost universally using less energy than their predecessors, and re- cycling of used devices on the rise. The 2014 edition of CEA's bi-annual "Recycling and Reuse Study" showed that more than four- fifths of consumers think recycling used electronics is important to them. Another hot button issue in 2014 – gov- ernment surveillance and security of elec- tronic files – affects us all and has strong implications for the industry and many individual CEA members. There was hope in many circles that the USA Freedom Act which was considered by Con- gress failed to pass the Senate in November would be a step ahead in this area. There's sure to be more action in the new Congress since the Patriot Act which addresses this area expires in June unless it's renewed. CEA's Shapiro expressed disappointment at the Senate's failure to advance the Freedom Act and encour- aged Congress to reform the government's surveillance procedures to protect expectations of privacy while combatting terrorism. CEA continues to champion the cause of companies breaking new ground in the Innovation Economy whether they are members of the association or not. The association has spoken out in favor of new companies in states where leg- islators have attempted to hamstring disruptive technologies. Petricone points out that supporting and defending the innovative companies and the sharing economy can also be good policy for elected off cials. "It's going to be diff cult to tell a young person that they can't use lodging like airbnb or ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft," he said. "And Millennials vote!" Also good news for CEA this year's balloting was that 54 of the 59 candidates who were supported by CEAPAC were elected or re-elected, Petricone noted. CEAPAC is the industry political action committee that supports candidates – regardless of party aff liation – who support innovation and champion causes important to the consumer electronics industry. Among the representatives re-elected is Congressman Darrel Issa (R.CA). In the new Congress, Issa has been appointed Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. Many in the consumer electronics industry know Issa as the founder of Directed Electron- ics and the former Chairman of CEA. Of course the rapid pace of innovation in consumer electronics means there's no shortage of new issues for legislators and regulators to address – Net neu- trality, promoting safe use of in-vehicle electronics, spectrum access and allo- cation, and promoting fair use while protecting copyrights. Many from Wash- ington will come to CES to see the newest technology. Once again CEA's government affairs staff will kick off the discussion at CES with "Innovation Policy" sessions where tech entrepreneurs and policy makers will weigh in on patents, privacy, e-waste, drones and other hot-button topics. Jim Barry, a 36-year industry veteran journalist, is the Media Spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association. WASHINGTON WATCH

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