MeriTalk News Briefs: Rep. Collins Removed From E&C, Summit Addresses Tech Diversity, Minnesota Election Security Funding

Welcome to MeriTalk News Briefs, where we bring you all the day’s action that didn’t quite make the headlines. No need to shout about ‘em, but we do feel that they merit talk.

Rep. Collins Removed From E&C Committee Following Indictment

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., removed Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Ryan’s decision came after Collins was indicted in federal court for insider trading and lying to authorities. Collins served on the powerful committee’s Health and Communications and Technology subcommittees. “While his guilt or innocence is a question for the courts to settle, the allegations against Rep. Collins demand a prompt and thorough investigation by the House Ethics Committee” Ryan said in a statement. “Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust. Until this matter is settled, Rep. Collins will not be serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”

Public and Private Sectors, Academia Discuss Tech Diversity

The Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus, led by Rep. Alma S. Adams, D-N.C., held the Inaugural Diversity in Tech Summit on August 8 and 9. The event, held at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, brought together more than 35 major tech companies and 25 HBCUs to discuss how to increase the number of minority employees at tech companies.

At the summit, tech leaders, lawmakers, and academics discussed how to improve STEM curricula, improve hiring and retention of minority workers, and develop partnerships between tech firms and HBCUs. Companies in attendance included Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, SAP, IBM, and Intel.

Minnesota Won’t Use Federal Election Security Funds for Midterms

Due to political maneuvering, state election officials in Minnesota won’t be using Federal election security funds ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Before the end of the 2018 legislative session in May, the Republican-controlled state house passed a measure that would allow state election officials to use the $6.6 million in Federal funding. However, legislators attached it to a $200 million omnibus spending bill that Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, refused to sign for reasons unrelated to the Federal funding. Dayton vetoed the bill and accused Republicans of “legislative gamesmanship” for including “policies and agency budget cuts that I had said I would not sign.” The election security funding was caught in the political crossfire and the state legislature won’t be able to approve the funds until 2019. “We need these funds,” said Minnesota’s Secretary of State Steve Simon, also a Democrat, in May. “The Russians attempted to hack our elections in 2016. We know they will be back in 2018. These federal dollars–not one penny of which adds to the tax burden borne by Minnesotans–are our best chance to further protect Minnesota’s best-in-the-nation elections systems.”

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