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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

John Kline's Summer Vacation: 2005

In July 2005, John Kline made exactly one speech of any substance on the floor of the House. On July 12, he spoke in support of the "Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act of 2005," which mandated that small employers (defined as those with fewer than 100 employees and a net worth less than $7 million) should be fully and unconditionally reimbursed for court costs when they successfully mount a legal challenge to an OSHA enforcement action.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act. And I read it that way in the quotes for a purpose. The gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Norwood) mentioned earlier that we have heard language today that ranged on a wide variety of subjects, and I am not sure at all that they were talking about the issue before us today.

This legislation that is before us now is one of four bills under consideration today which reflects the commitment of the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Norwood) and me and my colleagues to improve the effectiveness of OSHA regulations and changes the environment that has hindered U.S. employers from creating and keeping more jobs.

I have listened to language today earlier this afternoon on these four bills that talked about us losing millions of jobs to China and elsewhere. The purpose of the legislation that we are talking about today is to, in fact, help create and keep jobs here in America. I will repeat what my friend from Georgia said earlier today, that the OSHA Small Employer Access to Justice Act levels the playing field for small business owners and encourages OSHA to better assess the merits of a case before it brings unnecessary enforcement actions to court against small business.

Loopholes in the current law make it possible for small businesses to be denied attorneys fees, and as my friends said, therefore, not even take the case to court because they simply cannot afford to defend themselves against a case brought against them by OSHA. This exacerbates the financial harm called by OSHA's sometimes dubious enforcement actions and discourages small business owners from seeking the restitution which rightly belongs to them. By closing this loophole, we ensure it is in everyone's best interest.

Here's a case where I actually agree with Kline. I believe in OSHA's mission; I believe it is important to have strict regulation and oversight to guarantee worker safety.

On the other hand, I also believe that OSHA should only take action against employers --- especially small employers --- when they have a solid case. Beyond ensuring simple fairness, so that small businesses have the option to challenge OSHA's findings when they believe it is unfair, this legislation will also force OSHA regulators and litigators to do their jobs better.

So, score this one as a plus for Kline. This bill passed the House by a 235-187 margin on July 12, but it appears no corresponding measure ever passed the Senate.

Kline finally returned to his first-term form after this, making speeches honoring the Memorial Rifle Squad at Fort Snelling and the Red Wing Shoe Company, and serving as Speaker Pro Tem once more on July 18.

Congress did not convene in August.

In September, Kline once again served as Speaker Pro Tem on September 13, and on September 20, he spoke in favor of extending his HEROES Act, which would otherwise have expired on September 30.

The House convened on 13 days in October; Kline didn't say a word during any of them.

On November 1, Kline spoke in favor of a bill naming a post office after Al Quie. On November 15 he once again served as Speaker Pro Tem. And on November 16 he spoke in favor of legislation restoring 1290 acres of tribal land which were seized in 1934 (800 acres of which have since been flooded by the Army Corps of Engineers) back to the Prairie Island Indian community. Good for him. The legislation passed by a voice vote.


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