Committee Focuses on College Sports Compensation
A federal law is needed to address competitive fairness and protections for students, Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, which includes 14 Division One colleges, told lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday.
“Athletes being recruited by multiple universities in multiple states need to understand one clear standard,” he said.
College sports stars may be a step closer to getting compensation for their names and likenesses. Just don’t look for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to dictate those standards, senators on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee signaled.
“I oppose the Congress fully deferring to the NCAA on just coming up with the rules on name, image, and likeness,” said Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the panel’s ranking member, at a committee hearing Wednesday.
The NCAA’s governing board in April endorsed changing the rules to allow third parties—but not colleges themselves—to compensate student athletes for their names, images, and likenesses. The association’s three divisions have been asked to craft rules to take effect in the 2021-22 academic year.
A patchwork of state rules would be problematic, yet the NCAA itself hadn’t adequately addressed questions involving name, image, and likeness, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said.
“This issue has gotten away from you,” she told representatives of the the NCAA and college athletic programs at the hearing. Even with NCAA rules in the works, the association and member colleges want national standards that preempt new state laws.
From Sports Illustrated
Middle Seats? What to Expect if You Fly
US airlines had stopped selling the not-coveted middle seat for months, both to ensure social distancing and because of a lack of passengers. But with a modest rebound in flying, that is changing.
American Airlines disclosed last week that "customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1." This change comes even as the number of Covid-19 cases rises in many states. United has been willing to sell every possible seat throughout the pandemic. Both said they would notify passengers when a flight has more than 70% of its seats booked, and allow them to change to a less crowded flight. But that won't necessarily allow passengers with limited flexibility to avoid crowded flights.
The empty seats had been a result of low demand for air travel combined with airline policy meant to encourage people to feel safe about flying. But on Sunday there were 634,000 people passing through TSA checkpoints at US airports, which was 24% of the traffic on the same day last summer. That's the highest total since late March and is seven times as many people as were screened the low point in mid-April.
Fauci Warns of 100,000 Daily Cases
The nation’s top public health officials warned Americans on Tuesday that the U.S. is on track to see 100,000 new cases of Covid-19 a day if behaviors don’t change
“The numbers speak for themselves. I’m very concerned,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee today. “Clearly we are not in total control right now.”
Fauci said he wouldn’t be surprised to see new cases rise by 100,000 per day if recent surges don’t turn around, up from the current level of about 40,000 per day. As for the number of deaths, “it is going to be very disturbing, I guarantee you that,” he said.
Fauci and other committee witnesses cited indoor gatherings as a major cause of recent virus spikes, singling out bars in particular.
The U.S. has recorded more than 2.6 million Covid-19 cases in total, with more than 126,000 deaths due to the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
From BBC News
Vaccine by Year’s End? Who’s First in Line?
Several drugmakers are racing to complete clinical trials of vaccine candidates, with some expecting to wrap up in months what previously tended to take years. The Food and Drug Administration published standards this week for approving a vaccine, saying any candidate has to be at least 50% more effective than a placebo.
Fauci said that he is “aspirationally hopeful” that a vaccine for Covid-19 will be ready in early 2021, though he cautioned that there’s no guarantee that a safe vaccine will be developed.
The President remained more optimistic, saying three vaccine candidates are “looking really, really good” in trials. President Trump says three more vaccines will begin trials “shortly,” while the military is standing by, ready to distribute vaccines.
And who gets it first? Food and agriculture workers should be among the first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine once it’s developed, industry groups urged as lawmakers consider how to manage what’s likely to be a rush for access.
“It ought to be a scientific and health decision on what the priorities are,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said this week. “But it would sure help agriculture if it brings certainty to the food supply chain.”
From Bloomberg (BGOV) reports
Rubio Seeks Federal Help for Schools on COVID Testing
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said he wants the federal government to assist states with “pool testing” for colleges, schools, emergency responders, and health-care workers. “This will allow them to conduct exponentially larger number of tests regularly” and identify and stop outbreaks, Rubio said in a tweet.
In a separate tweet, Rubio says focus shouldn’t be on daily number of positive cases or hospitalizations since “many positives won’t get sick & many hospital admissions unrelated to & not being treated for COVID.” Instead, HHS should require hospitals to report COVID admissions and how many of those patients need the ICU, Rubio says.
From Bloomberg and Sen. Rubio’s office
No More Time on Taxes Without Filing for Extension
“After consulting with various external stakeholders, we have decided to have taxpayers request an extension if more time is needed,” Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin says in statement.
NOTE: In March, IRS extended the April 15 deadline to July 15 due to Covid-19; Mnuchin had said he was considering a second deadline extension.
“The IRS understands that those affected by the coronavirus may not be able to pay their balances in full by July 15, but we have many payment options to help taxpayers,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says in statement. From CNBC
Cleaning up Lead Contaminated Water Lines
House lawmakers on Wednesday approved a significant amendment to the infrastructure package that would devote billions of dollars over the next five years to help reduce lead in water, particularly in environmental justice communities.
The Democratic standalone measure would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act by authorizing $4.5 billion per fiscal year through fiscal 2025 for comprehensive lead service line replacement projects, with priority given to communities of color who are especially exposed to environmental pollution.
The language would shift the cost burden from low-income communities to the federal government to help clean up contaminated water lines.
From Bloomberg (BGOV) reports
Refinery Exemptions Still On Hold
The EPA is still waiting on Energy Dept assessments of dozens of refinery requests seeking retroactive exemptions from a federal requirement to use biofuel, Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Wednesday.
The EPA submitted applications to the Energy Dept for review as it assesses whether refineries face “economic harm” and qualify for relief under the Renewable Fuel Standard law.
“There’s a number of issues around that,” Wheeler told reporters on a conference call, noting petitions go back to years for which biofuel compliance credits have expired. “There’s questions about whether they can show economic harm and what the remedy would be, but we’re waiting to see what the Dept of Energy says about small refinery exemptions,”
Note: Refineries have filed at least 52 applications with EPA seeking retroactive biofuel-blending waivers going back to 2011.
From Brownfield Ag News