DC Dispatch: Iowa legislature grapples with TikTok and tech issues

Iowa lawmakers touched on technology and TikTok this week with hearings that highlighted an ongoing focus on China.

Lawmakers also worked to block emissions testing for livestock production while promoting ethanol and advancing healthcare and agricultural technology.

TikTok, hearings in China

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks attended the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s barbecue of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.

“There are serious, bipartisan concerns about TikTok’s affiliation with ByteDance and the Chinese Communist Party, its security measures, and its content moderation. The committee has invited Mr. Chew for an open and honest dialogue, but unfortunately we have not been given sufficient reason to believe that his company is doing enough to protect its users,” said Miller-Meeks. “Mr. Chew has a long way to go before any of us are convinced that TikTok is not sharing data with the CCP or manipulating content to harm our children.”

Additionally, Ernst, along with Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, introduced a bill that would “deny federal funding to any person or entity that has an agreement, partnership, or endorsement relationship with TikTok,” according to a press release.

“Make no mistake – TikTok is an insidious platform armed by the Chinese Communist Party to spy on Americans and negatively influence our children,” Ernst said. “This law rightly ensures that American taxpayers will not be forced to foot the bill for ads that bolster the CCP’s toxic platform.”

Also this week, Rep. Ashley Hinson attended the second House Select Committee hearing on the Chinese Community Party, which focused on the genocide of the Uyghur ethnic group in China’s Xinjiang region.

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Grassley introduces the fuel octane calculation

Sen. Chuck Grassley, along with Sen. Joni Ernst and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, re-introduced a bill that “would use higher octane ratings [ethanol] Fuels to improve engine efficiency and performance,” says a press release.

“Instead of continuing to buy more oil from foreign adversaries, we should increase the use of ethanol made by biofuel producers right here in the United States,” Grassley said. “The Next Generation Fuels Act would help put America back on the energy independence path while relieving the pain at the pump.”

The bill would “set a minimum research octane rating (RON) standard of 98 for gasoline” and “require the new high-octane fuel to use low-carbon sources.” Most gas stations offer a typical octane rating of around 91 in their fuel.

“Iowa families need solutions to stretch every dollar, and indigenous Iowa biofuels stand ready to ease the pain at the pump,” Ernst said. “This sensible legislation lowers costs for consumers, lowers carbon emissions, supports our farmers and producers and brings us one step closer to energy independence.”

Ernst is committed to blocking livestock emissions monitoring

Ernst and Sen. John Thune, RS.D., have re-introduced a bill that would ban the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from monitoring methane emissions from livestock, according to a news release. The bill would block any new methane monitoring funds from the Inflation Mitigation Act.

“It’s no surprise that Biden’s radical EPA wants to regulate every aspect of our agribusiness, from the waters on our farmlands to the emissions from our cows,” Ernst said. “Americans cannot afford onerous and unfounded regulations that drive up costs for ranchers and consumers.”

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The Feenstra bill would expand high-tech agricultural research

Rep. Randy Feenstra, along with Rep. Haley Stevens, introduced a bill to expand federal scientific research to include “quantum molecular simulation and modeling.”

According to a press release, the Quantum in Practice Act would amend the National Quantum Initiative Act, which is pending reapproval. Republican Senator from Indiana Todd Young and Democratic Senator from Georgia Raphael Warnock have introduced a corresponding bill in the Senate.

“From fertilizer production to materials manufacturing, quantum computing has untapped potential to reduce input costs for our farmers, improve energy storage, and create more effective medicines for patients,” Feenstra said. “Thanks to scientific ingenuity, there are limitless opportunities for our rural communities to harness the power of quantum computing to strengthen our agricultural sector, streamline fertilizer production and improve our 4th District way of life.”

maternal health

Grassley also reintroduced the Healthy Moms and Babies Act, a bill designed to improve maternal and child health care, with Maggie Hassan, Senator from the Democratic Republic of New Hampshire. According to data from the CDC, the maternal mortality rate in America has increased significantly in recent years.

“We need better support for pregnant mothers and their babies. The Healthy Moms and Babies Act will provide quality, coordinated care to our most vulnerable mothers,” Grassley said. “Through 21st century technology and community-based efforts, we can prevent maternal deaths and high-risk pregnancies—regardless of a mother’s zip code or economic background.”

According to a press release, the bill would “support outcomes-based, community-based prevention and stillbirth prevention activities and expand the maternal health workforce.” In addition, the bill aims to “modernize maternal healthcare through telemedicine to support women of color and rural women” and “improve.” [the] Understanding the social determinants of health in pregnant and postpartum women.”

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Miller-Meeks introduces drug competition bill

Miller-Meeks introduced a bill aimed at reducing prescription drug costs by accelerating approval of “interchangeable biological products approved for use in medicines,” according to a press release.

Republican Rep. Greg Murphy of North Carolina and Democratic Rep. Nanette Barragán of California and Annie Kuster of New Hampshire are co-sponsors of the Biologics Competition Act, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate its approval process for the drugs.

“As drug prices continue to skyrocket, we must do everything we can to make life-saving drugs more affordable for those in need,” Miller-Meeks said. “Our bill will encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to expedite the approval process for biosimilar products that can be used interchangeably in place of more expensive drugs.”