Capital Roundup

A SAFE Bet<@VM>Credit for Teaching New Tricks<@VM>Permanent Press<@VM>Standards, The Next Generation<@VM>Hastert: I Hear You

Dick Armey

— David Silverberg

Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., has reintroduced his Security and Freedom through Encryption Act. Chief co-sponsors are Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; House Ma-jority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas,and Minority Whip David Bonior, D-Mich.

The bill attempts to guarantee the right of citizens to choose their preferred method of encryption and prohibits government-mandated back doors into computer systems. It also relaxes export controls on U.S. encryption products.

At its reintroduction Feb. 24, the bill had 205 co-sponsors, including majorities on the Judicial and International Relations committees, according to Goodlatte.

Last year, the bill died in the Rules Committee, but this year that committee's chairman has retired, and the new chairman, Rep. David Drier, R-Calif., is a co-sponsor.

Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., another co-sponsor, was optimistic about the bill's chances of passage this year: "This is legislation that will move pretty quickly," he said at a press conference on the bill. "All of the stars are aligned."

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has introduced the Information Technology Training Act, which would provide tax credits to employers who train or retrain workers in the information technology field.

Employers would receive business tax credits of 20 percent a year or up to $6,000 per worker for training.

Larger tax credits would be available to businesses that retrain workers in designated enterprise or empowerment zones, or from areas designated as federal disaster regions.

At introduction, the bill had seven Democratic co-sponsors and one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., has introduced legislation making the research and development tax credit permanent. The credit is intended to encourage private sector R&D and is especially important to the high technology industry.

Congress first enacted an R&D tax credit in 1981 and has extended it nine times through legislation. The current credit expires June 30. Eshoo's bill, introduced Feb. 24, would make it permanent.

In proposing the bill, Eshoo cited a Coopers & Lybrand study estimating that a permanent credit would result in an additional $41 billion in R&D expenditures by 2010 and add $13 billion annually to the country's productive capacity.
U.S. and European executives reachedan agreement last month on third-generation wireless standards during talks in Washington.

The meeting of the electronics, electrical, information technology and telecommunications sectors was held under the auspices of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue and hosted by the Washington-basedInformation Technology Industry Council .

The group expressed support for the industry-led standards-making process within the International Telecommunication Union, and there was broad consensus that governments should facilitate use of the spectrum and not make technology choices in the standardization process.

There was also a broad expectation that any intellectual property rights problems should be resolved by the private companies.

In addition, there was agreement to support operators' expressed needs for backward compatibility with existing systems, global roaming, modular deployment for a smooth transition to 3G, cooperation to ensure successful introduction of 3G services and adherence to a time schedule set by the ITU.
In a March 1 speech to the U.S. Telephone Association's Telco Leadership Roundtable in La Quinta, Calif., House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., emphasized his endorsement of the political agenda of local telephone exchange carriers.

Saying that he sympathized with the frustrations of local exchanges in seeing the 1996 Telecommunications Act implemented by the Federal Communications Commission, Hastert said, "There are many things the FCC needs to do to fulfill the congressional intent of the act, and I know you are working hard on reaching an agreement for a sound universal service plan, decreased regulations and much-awaited long-distance access. I understand your concerns and goals, and I will continue to work to see them addressed."

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