Silicon Savvy Senate

Silicon Valley's newfound interest in Washington politics may be paying dividends. May 11-15 has been unofficially dubbed "Tech Week" in the Senate, and Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) hopes to pass several technology-friendly bills. Atop the list: closing a loophole in a 1995 securities litigation reform law that encourages investors to sue companies in state courts over gyrating stock prices. The law--passed under pressure from Silicon Valley--already restricts such suits in federal court. President Clinton, whose veto of the original bill was overridden by Congress, backs the change.

Another measure with bipartisan support would increase penalties for telecom companies that engage in "slamming," changing a customer's long-distance phone carrier without permission. Other possible "Tech Week" proposals: requiring schools and libraries with Internet access to install smut-prevention software; instituting a moratorium on Internet taxation; and loosening immigration rules for skilled high-tech workers.

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