May 12, 2016

WASHINGTON – Today the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the global voice of the tech sector, announced it is recognizing Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) as recipients of its top honor, the 2015 ITI Tech Legislator of the Year award. The award recognizes four lawmakers each year, a Republican and Democrat from both the House and Senate, who are selected by a majority of ITI member companies for their demonstrated commitment to advancing policies that support innovation and technology.

"We’re proud to honor these lawmakers who have distinguished themselves for their leadership on policy priorities that are critical to the tech sector,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “In a town with entrenched partisanship, they worked to find bipartisan solutions to strengthen cybersecurity, encourage the development of Internet of Things technologies, improve our tax code, and grow our economy.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). In presenting the award, ITI noted Sen. Portman’s leadership in advancing key tax priorities for the tech sector. In order to spur tax reform efforts in the 114th Congress, Sen. Portman participated in the bipartisan Finance Committee Tax Working Group by co-chairing the International Tax Working Group. In December 2015, Sen. Portman supported the tax extender package that made the economic growth and job creating research and development (R&D) tax credit permanent as part the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Sen. Portman was also lauded by the tech group for supporting the tech sector’s legislative priorities such as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 and the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.

“I’m honored to receive this award from a group as respected as ITI," Sen. Portman said. "There is no doubt that our current tax code is a drag to not only innovators, but anyone who wants to do business and create jobs in the U.S. I look forward to continue working with ITI’s membership to push forward tax reform that encourages innovation, creates jobs, and spurs economic growth.”

“Sen. Portman is respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and is a leader when it comes to finding common-ground solutions,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “We’re proud to recognize Sen. Portman for his leadership in untangling a broken tax code, incentivizing R&D efforts to develop new technologies, and opening markets to grow the U.S. economy.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). In presenting the award, ITI noted Sen. Schatz’s leadership in advancing pro-innovation policies as the top democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. Sen. Schatz was one of only four senators to initially encourage his Senate colleagues to proactively engage on the Internet of Things (IoT), stressing the need for a cautious, constructive, and bipartisan approach. He is a lead co-sponsor of the bipartisan Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) ACT, which directs a number of federal agencies to provide recommendations for ensuring the full development of the IoT. He has also been a strong supporter for several key tech priorities during the 114th Congress, including the USA Freedom Act of 2015, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, and the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.

“I am honored to accept the 2015 ITI Legislator of the Year Award,” said Senator Schatz. “ITI represents the most innovative tech companies in the world. Their work is woven into every aspect of our modern world and impacts every sector and every policy debate in some way. Whether we are working on education policy, defense, healthcare, transportation – we can no longer separate tech from all these issues. That is why what ITI does matters now more than ever and their voice is critical to our debates in Congress. I look forward to continuing to work with ITI to create policies that promote American innovation and global leadership.”

“Sen. Schatz has quickly emerged as a leading Senate voice who understands tech and is engaged to advancing bipartisan policies that spur new advances and grow our economy,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “We appreciate his leadership on a range of our top issues like strengthening cybersecurity and advancing the Internet of Things which will become key platforms for the future of innovations like smart transportation systems and cities.”

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). In presenting the award, ITI noted that as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology, and as a member of the Committees on Homeland Security, Rep. Hurd has been a leading advocate and ally for the technology sector. Most notably, in early 2016, Rep. Hurd successfully pushed for the renegotiation of problematic provisions agreed to at the 2013 Plenary meeting of the Wassenaar Arrangement, a multi-national agreement which imposed strict export controls on a number of commonly used cybersecurity products. He has also been an important voice in the current encryption debate, actively working to educate his colleagues on the role encryption plays as an essential privacy and security solution. In the 114th Congress, Rep. Hurd supported key legislative priorities for the tech sector, including the Trade Act of 2015, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, and the USA Freedom Act of 2015.

"It's an honor to be able to take my real life experiences and use them in Congress to promote innovation in the tech sector and provide oversight for federal agencies. The cyber and tech industries are skyrocketing in my hometown of San Antonio, directly impacting job growth and the economy in my district. Championing this growing tech hub is a key priority for me and I'm grateful to be recognized by ITI for the impact my work has had in Congress," said Hurd.

“It’s a testament to Congressman Hurd’s leadership that in a time of entrenched polarization he helped foster a greater understanding of encryption’s role in security and forged a bipartisan solution to a very complicated cybersecurity issue that will serve to strengthen cyberspace,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “We’re very pleased to recognize his leadership in removing barriers and promoting policies so our most innovative companies can develop new innovations that create jobs and supercharge our economy.”

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.). In presenting the award, ITI noted Rep. DelBene has championed many issues essential to the growth and competitiveness of the technology sector. In the 114th Congress, Rep. DelBene voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act of 2015, the Judicial Redress Act of 2015, and supported Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) as part of the Trade Act of 2015. Furthermore, Congresswoman DelBene continues to address some of the most challenging issues facing our sector. She is the co-sponsor of the bipartisan Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Communication (ENCRYPT) Act of 2016 and the Wi-Fi Innovation Act. She is also the co-founder of the House Congressional Internet of Things (IoT) Caucus, which aims to protect consumers while also ensuring Congress enables a policy environment that allows new IoT technologies to thrive.

“Updating our laws for the digital age has been one of my top priorities in Congress, because after spending more than a decade in the tech industry, I have seen firsthand the transformational power of innovation for our communities and our economy,” DelBene said. “It’s truly an honor to receive ITI’s Tech Legislator of the Year award and I look forward to continuing to work together on the issues that bring us together, from ensuring we have a STEM-educated workforce to protecting Americans’ online privacy.”

“Since being elected, Congresswoman DelBene forged her credentials as a respected tech leader in Congress,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “Whether it is creating new trade opportunities for our products overseas, ensuring the safety of our online networks, or fostering the potential of IoT technologies, she is a champion for building bipartisan solutions that are key to the future.”

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