U.S. Representative Steve King had a busy day on Capitol Hill, offering three bills that addressed courtroom transparency, English as the official language of the United States, and repealing federal laws that require the use of “prevailing wages” on government contracts.
First, the Fourth District congressman offered HR 917, the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act. It would allow broadcast media coverage of federal court proceedings. He issued the following statement afterward:
“From the founding of our nation we have opened up the machinery of government to the public. The people pay for the operations of government and their lives are directly affected by the decisions made by their leaders. That is why I have re-introduced the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act which allows for the much needed transparency of the decisions made in the federal judiciary every day that affect all of our lives. My bill also allows for a stellar education process for students studying law and for the general American people.
“My bill would allow presiding judges in appellate courts, including the Supreme Court, to permit electronic recording and broadcasting to the public of any court proceeding over which the judge presides. However, if the judge finds that the recording would constitute a violation of the due process rights of a party it would not be allowed.
“Cameras make for a more open and transparent government along with a more educated public. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make this a reality for the American people.”
A few hours later, King offered up his second bill, HR 997, which is a refiling of his English Language Unity Act. The bill would declare English as the official language of the United States, and establish a uniform English language rule for naturalization. It would also avoid misconstructions of the English language texts of the laws of the United States.
Following his reintroduction of that bill, he issued the following statement:
“There is no more unifying force in the world than a common form of communications currency. Every sovereign nation sate, including the Vatican, has at a minimum, an official language. It is essential that we make assimilation of our legal immigrants a top priority and learning English is an important first step in that process.
“My English Language Unity Act provides consistency among Americans by requiring all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English, establishes a uniform language requirement for naturalization and places an obligation on representatives of the federal government to encourage individuals to learn English.
“We are a nation strengthened by assimilation, and it is important we share one vision and one official language. English as the official language of our nation ensures as a nation we are bound together and all have the ability to achieve the American dream.”
But King wasn’t done. He also reintroduced his Davis-Bacon Repeal Act, which would repeal the requirement to use prevailing wages on federal public works projects. Afterward, he said the following:
“As a small business owner for 28 years, I saw firsthand the damaging effects Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates have on federal public works projects. Throughout my years in the construction industry I have paid Davis-Bacon wages, and I have been paid Davis-Bacon wages.
“The Davis-Bacon Act is a Depression-era wage law. It requires that each federal, public works contract, $2,000 and above, contains a clause setting the minimum wages to be paid to the workers employed to complete the project. Any contractors or subcontractors who participate in the project must pay their workers this ‘prevailing wage.’
“In most cases, Davis-Bacon wages are federal government mandated union scale wages, not a true ‘prevailing wage.’ Davis-Bacon artificially inflates the cost of federal contracts and restricts the ability of small businesses to compete for these contracts.
“My Davis-Bacon Repeal Act eliminates the federally mandated union pay scale under federal, public works contracts. Every dollar that American taxpayers send to Washington must be used as efficiently as possible, and every business – small or large, union or non-union – should have the ability to compete freely for federal construction projects.
“Davis-Bacon is bad for taxpayers and it is bad for small businesses and bad for workers needing a job. Repealing this outdated law would be a big step towards ensuring taxpayer dollars are being used wisely and efficiently.”