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Re. James Sensebrenner
By Anne Gallagher
House Science Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., has introduced the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 1999, which would amend the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 and return the federal government's emphasis on IT funding to basic research.
The bill focuses on grants for long-term basic research, with priority areas addressing high-end computing, software and network stability, fragility and security. It also permanently extends the research and development tax credit, and requires the National Science Foundation to research and report to Congress on encryption availability in foreign countries.
The bill would establish a $95 million program to award grants to colleges for internships at IT companies. To participate, a company must commit to providing 50 percent of the cost of the internship program.
Referring to the tax credit, Sensenbrenner said: "As federal discretionary spending for R&D is squeezed, incentives must be used to invigorate America's investment in private sector innovation, so that we can expand our global leadership in high technology."
The tax credit, which expired June 30, has been extended repeatedly since first being enacted in 1981. Sensenbrenner said the credit should be made permanent to provide a stable planning foundation for private firms and to encourage capital formation.
"Annual extensions of this credit have created uncertainty in the research community and some argue that due to this uncertainty, private industry has failed to conduct long-term research projects," he said.
The Clinton administration announced plans to relax controls on the export of high performance computers.
The White House is permitting export of computers with a performance level of 12,300 MTOPS for commercial users, and 6,500 MTOPS for military users. The military user restriction is short of what the industry lobby had hoped for. It pushed for the 12,300 threshold to be accepted for all users.
Meanwhile, Congress still has to take up whether to change the export policy on super computers to countries that are classified as tier-three countries, those considered to pose serious proliferation threats.
Representatives from the securities industry are lobbying Congress to make changes to rules governing use and acceptance of electronic signatures and electronic records.
Forty states have enacted legislation to recognize the validity of electronic signatures, but no two states have the same law.
Testifying on Capitol Hill June 24, securities industry officials pressed House lawmakers to move swiftly on the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (HR 1714) to provide more legal continuity.
"Without baseline federal legislation such as HR 1714, Schwab and others will be left facing a patchwork of inconsistent laws and regulations by the states that pose perhaps the single greatest barrier to the use and development of electronic signature technology and the continued evolution of e-commerce," W. Hardy Callcott, general counsel at Charles Schwab, told the House Commerce Subcommittee on Finance and Hazardous Materials.