Public Policy

  • July 23, 2014

    Miami Beach Bans Styrofoam Food Containers

    The city of Miami Beach, Florida, on Wednesday outlawed styrofoam food containers in all city facilities, including parks and beaches, as well as at sidewalk cafes, becoming the first municipality in the state to pass such a ban.

  • July 23, 2014

    FTC Commissioner Calls For Balanced Approach To 'Big Data'

    Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen urged her colleagues to take a “humble regulatory approach” to tackling the privacy concerns raised by the aggregation and analysis of large data sets that takes into account both the benefits and the risks of big data initiatives.

  • July 23, 2014

    SEC Wins Few Friends With Money Market Fund Rules

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission took significant action on Wednesday when it narrowly passed contentious and complex new rules around money market funds, but in the process its efforts seemed to please no one and possibly opened the door for critics to mount a legal challenge.

  • July 23, 2014

    Senate Commerce Chair Targets 'Callous' Cruise Industry

    Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., slammed the cruise industry Wednesday for its “shocking callousness and disregard” when things go wrong at sea, urging colleagues to support his bill to provide greater protections for cruise passengers.

  • July 23, 2014

    ACA Birth Control Mandate To Get New Opt-Out Process

    The Obama administration won cautious praise on Wednesday from its legal adversaries in litigation over the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate after disclosing that it will alter an opt-out process that religious nonprofits say makes them complicit in immoral activities.

  • July 23, 2014

    O'Malia's Move To ISDA Stokes Revolving-Door Debate

    Two days after announcing his resignation from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Scott O'Malia said he would be picking up immediately as CEO of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, prompting a public outcry over perceived conflicts of interest between the agency and the lobbying group and resurfacing old concerns about the industry's revolving door.

  • July 23, 2014

    USPTO Defends Inter Partes Reviews As Constitutional

    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office fired back Wednesday in Virginia federal court at a suit by a patent licensing company and an inventor claiming that the USPTO's inter partes review process is unconstitutional, by arguing that the process meets constitutional muster and that the Federal Circuit has rejected two similar suits.

  • July 23, 2014

    Proposed IRS Budget Cuts Could Jeopardize US Tax System

    Republican lawmakers irate over allegations the Internal Revenue Service illegally scrutinized conservative groups' tax-exempt applications recently pushed legislation through the House of Representatives to lop nearly $1.5 billion from the agency's budget, drawing criticism from attorneys who say the move spites Congress as well as the IRS.

  • July 23, 2014

    10th Circ. Won't Rehear Colo. Taxpayer Bill Of Rights Suit

    A divided Tenth Circuit decided against rehearing a lawsuit brought by Colorado legislators and educators challenging the constitutionality of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, enabling the suit against the governor to proceed, but not without sharp dissent.

  • July 23, 2014

    Tech Group Rallies Behind Obama's Procurement Chief Pick

    The Information Technology Industry Council threw its weight behind President Barack Obama's nomination of Anne Rung for administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, saying her procurement experience at the U.S. General Services Administration could benefit contractors in the telecommunications, information technology, and defense industries.

  • July 23, 2014

    States Threaten To Sue FCC Over City-Run Broadband Projects

    An organization representing state legislatures said Tuesday that it would sue the Federal Communications Commission if the agency tried to override state laws that bar local municipalities from building their own broadband networks to compete with private ISPs.

  • July 23, 2014

    Fla. Appeals Court Won't Lift Stay On Gay Marriage Ruling

    A gay couple in Florida who last week secured a trial court decision overturning a state ban on same-sex marriages were denied their appeal Wednesday of the judge's decision to stay the ruling while the state appeals.

  • July 23, 2014

    IRS Issues Guidance For Money Market Fund Redemptions

    The Internal Revenue Service released a procedure on Wednesday outlining cases when the agency should not treat the redemption of money market fund shares as a so-called wash sale, a type of transaction on which the IRS disallows claiming losses.

  • July 23, 2014

    Lawmakers Say Bill To Block Ariz. Casino Could Bring Suits

    Lawmakers raised concerns at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday that proposed legislation aimed at blocking a controversial Arizona casino, which is being spearheaded by an Indian tribe, could open the federal government up to constitutional taking and breach of contract claims.

  • July 23, 2014

    4 Years After Dodd-Frank, Insurance Regulation Still In Flux

    In the four years since it became law, the Dodd-Frank Act has shaken up a 150-year-old state-based system for overseeing insurers, but the dust has yet to settle, and the roles of regulatory players — both new and old — remain uncertain in this evolving space. This is Part 4 of a five-part series on the four-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Act.

  • July 23, 2014

    Farmworkers' Challenge To DOL Prevailing Wage Policy Axed

    Several migrant farmworker organizations lost their challenge to the U.S. Department of Labor's implementation of a wage policy that allows employers to use private surveys, rather than publicly available data, to set wage levels, with a Pennsylvania federal judge ruling Wednesday that their claims were not ripe for a decision.

  • July 23, 2014

    Pa. Municipality Sued Over Seismic Testing Ordinance

    Gas industry service provider Geokinetics USA Inc. on Tuesday sued a Pennsylvania municipality in federal court to challenge a local ordinance preventing it from conducting seismic testing on more than 200,000 acres in Greene County.

  • July 23, 2014

    Small Biz Research Funds Boost DOD Innovation, Panel Told

    The House Small Business Committee heard Wednesday from government witnesses supporting efforts to strengthen the recently reauthorized Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which have improved the U.S. Defense Department and other agencies' access to cutting-edge research.

  • July 23, 2014

    SEC Bans FINRA Deals Requiring Record Expungements

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a securities industry rule that bans arbitration settlements between brokers and investors that require the investor to consent to erase the complaint from the public record, according to a notice posted Wednesday.

  • July 23, 2014

    Senate Confirms New Nuclear Security Administration Deputy

    The Senate on Wednesday confirmed former Pentagon administrator Madelyn Creedon as the No. 2 official in the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.

Expert Analysis

  • Employers May Have Opportunity In ACA Legislative Flaw

    Robert C. Christenson

    Employers still on the fence in terms of providing qualifying health care coverage for their employees see new hope in the D.C. Circuit's ruling in Jacqueline Halbig v. Burwell because the case points to a possible legislative flaw that would exempt employers in 36 of the 50 states from the "pay-or-play" tax that underlies the Affordable Care Act, says Robert Christenson of Fisher & Phillips LLP.

  • FTC Report's Impact May Not Be Limited To Data Brokers

    Phyllis B. Sumner

    In calling for greater transparency among data brokers in their collection practices, a recently issued report from the Federal Trade Commission will likely push the agency to scrutinize organizations that use the services of or share information with data brokers in order to accurately and fully disclose such practices, say attorneys at King & Spalding LLP.

  • Wind River Reservation May Shape Tribal CAA Jurisdiction

    Bart J. Freedman

    Public and private entities, including the state of Wyoming, have raised an issue of first impression as to whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to determine an Indian reservation's boundaries under the Clean Air Act — the result could lead to a departure from established regulatory principles and should be of interest to entities operating on or near reservations, say attorneys at K&L Gates LLP.

  • Costs And Benefits Of Opting Out Of Texas' Workers' Comp

    Janet A. Hendrick

    Because Texas' workers' compensation is a "no fault" program, employees of subscribers are rarely allowed to sue their employer for damages in connection with work-related injuries, however employees of nonsubscribing employees may bring negligence and related claims as a result of on-the-job injuries, says Janet Hendrick of Fisher & Phillips LLP.

  • OPINION: CFPB Should Not Weaponize Consumer Complaints

    Brett M. Kitt

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's cavalier attitude toward the privacy risks associated with publishing consumer complaint narratives in their raw form is particularly troublesome given that, in a prior policy statement, it committed to refrain from doing so without a proper study, says Brett Kitt, of counsel with Greenberg Traurig LLP and former senior counsel for the CFPB.

  • Inside The Proposed DFARS Business Systems Rule

    Susan Booth Cassidy

    The U.S. Department of Defense proposal to amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement does not address the ambiguities and risks inherent in the current rules governing business systems compliance, but it does create a new dynamic among contractors, their private auditors, and the government, say attorneys at Covington & Burling LLP.

  • The Promise And Problem Of Genomic Marketing

    Ivan J. Wasserman

    Genomic scientific advances have brought the promise of "personalized medicines" to consumers, creating opportunities for marketers that have in turn brought the attention of the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, say Ivan Wasserman and La Toya Sutton of Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP.

  • How To Respond To CFPB Civil Investigative Demands

    Alice S. Fisher

    Since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau became operational its initial enforcement actions have focused on mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and debt relief organizations, however more recent actions show the bureau is expanding its reach toward other industries and products — a trend we expect to continue, say attorneys at Latham & Watkins LLP.

  • Combating Calif. Drought With More Recycled Water

    Alison B. Torbitt

    The obvious participants in California's recycled water program will be municipal wastewater treatment plants that already have the equipment and expertise to comply with treatment regulations — the program may even prove a good source of extra income for such facilities while they save scarce freshwater sources, says Alison Torbitt of Nixon Peabody LLP.

  • 5 Takeaways From Latest US Sanctions Against Russian Cos.

    Alexandra Lopez-Casero

    The latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russia’s oil, natural gas and financial industries is a dramatic departure from how the United States has applied targeted sanctions in the past, and raises several questions, say Alexandra Lopez-Casero and D. Grayson Yeargin of Nixon Peabody LLP.