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Fri, Oct 28, 2016 15:39
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Once again, let's pass a bill to find out what's in it

The old axiom that no one wants to see sausage or laws being made too often proves accurate.
That's a sad commentary on both counts for today's society.
Think about it.
For many of us, our parents – and certainly our grandparents – were not the least bit squeamish about knowing how the food they and their families ate was processed. A generation or two ago it was not at all uncommon for fathers – and mothers – to be familiar with field dressing fish, wild game or livestock raised for human consumption.
Granted, in many instances it was simply a matter of survival. Farm-raised chickens, sheep, hogs and cattle represented not only their market value, but also food on the table.
It seems to me that a generation or two ago we also were a lot less squeamish when it came to demanding more of our lawmakers. Certainly, we would have better – and fewer – new laws today if all of us were paying attention.
Unfortunately, we do not pay attention.
Rest assured, many congressional lawmakers appreciate our collective indifference. And that explains a lot. It really does.
Consider the recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on House Resolution 3309, the so-called Innovation Act, or, as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, calls it, the anti-Innovation Bill.
Rohrabacher, obviously, opposed the bill, as did 90 other voting members of Congress last week. For the record, the bill passed by a 325-91 vote.
Among those in support were southern Ohio Republican lawmakers Mike Turner of Dayton and Brad Wenstrup of Cincinnati. Another Ohio Republican, Rep. David Joyce opposed the bill.
But what really caught my attention in the alphabetical sequence of "no" votes were these members of Congress: Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat, John Garamendi, a California Democrat, and Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican.
Any time I see two or more liberal members of Congress on the same page as two or more conservative members of Congress, I have to ask: What gives?
(For the full vote, go to
Voting against House Resolution 3309 were 27 Republicans and 64 Democrats. That in and of itself ought to make the legislation worthy of some public discussion. But, much like the un-Affordable Health Care Act, this is yet one more piece of Washingtonian bullspit that must be passed in order to know what's in the pudding.
Let me ask you: Do you know anything about H.R. 3309?
I didn't think so.
The bill's supporters call it a "patent troll" protection act.
California Congressman Rohrabacher disagrees; but more importantly, he also disagrees with the legislative process on the bill.
"If the bill is bad, the process being used to stifle debate and ram this down our congressional throats is even worse,” Rohrabacher said.
According to his website, Rohrabacher said his colleagues have been denied a fair process in which credible opponents from academia, industry, and small inventors themselves were given little opportunity to air their views.
He said studies have shown that most patent infringement cases are not frivolous.
Instead, he said, small inventors will be discouraged from defending their intellectual property rights against large corporations who can afford to lose lawsuits.
“This schedule suggests the fix was in,” Rohrabacher said. “The clear message to little inventors: give thanks for your intellectual property rights, because you may not have them by this time next year.
“These so-called villainous trolls are patent holders, or companies who represent patent holders. They are engaged in defending their rights against the infringement of those patents that they own.”
Last week, Rohrabacher asked his House colleagues to delay a vote until next year.
They didn't.
The bill's main sponsor is House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.
Goodlatte said last week that, "We must put an end to abuse of the patent system and make the necessary changes to ensure that it serves its constitutional purpose: protecting innovators and their inventions."
He added that even the White House supports reform.
Once again, let's hurry up and pass this before we know what's in it.
Rohrabacher says the bill contains “the most sweeping changes to the American patent system in history.”
He also said the "impetus behind the rush to a vote comes from mega-multinational corporations that have been trying for decades to neuter U.S. inventor protections in the face of global competition."
Whatever bad aspects of H.R. 3309 there may be, we'll never know from the members of the House chamber.
Again, it's not so much the law as the process. Congress has to eat, too, I suppose.
Maybe they're just not as particular about cleanliness as I am.

Rory Ryan is Senior Editor, North American Desk, at Paperitalo Publications and the owner of The Highland County Press in Hillsboro, Ohio. He can be reached by email at or

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