Public Policy RSS

  • April 17, 2014

    DOJ Says Texas Is Ducking Discovery On Voting Rights

    The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday accused Texas of blocking the federal government’s discovery in a Voting Rights Act suit challenging an allegedly discriminatory redistricting plan the state adopted in 2011, claiming that the state refused to provide legislative documents.

  • April 17, 2014

    How To Avoid SEC’s Coming Cybersecurity Crackdown

    In a recently released blueprint, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission outlined steps it expects banks and other financial firms to take to safeguard their online data, leaving Wall Street scrambling to avoid an expected crackdown. Here, attorneys offer steps companies can take to escape the regulator’s wrath.

  • April 17, 2014

    DOD Finds Holes In NSA's Security Clearance Handling

    A new U.S. Department of Defense inspector general's report roundly criticized four DOD intelligence agencies over weaknesses in their handling of contractor securities clearances, finding deficiencies in the agencies' policies, record keeping and information sharing.

  • April 17, 2014

    FCC Chairman Defends Proposed Limits In Spectrum Auction

    The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday defended his proposal to restrict the amount of low-frequency broadcast television spectrum that top wireless providers can purchase in a planned auction, a day after AT&T Inc. threatened to not participate in the auction if such limits are adopted.

  • April 17, 2014

    DOL Urges 9th Circ. To Revive Tip-Pool Rule

    The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday urged the Ninth Circuit to overturn an Oregon federal judge's ruling that the agency exceeded its authority when it issued a rule barring back-of-house restaurant workers from employer-mandated tip pools.

  • April 17, 2014

    US Would Nab $1.4T Under Obama Budget Plan, CBO Says

    The U.S. will receive an extra $1.4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years and cut its deficit by $1 trillion if Congress fully enacts President Barack Obama's 2015 budget, according to a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office on Thursday.

  • April 17, 2014

    ITC Launches Probes Into Environmental Goods Duties

    The U.S. International Trade Commission on Thursday said it was launching two investigations into the economic effects of removing duties on environmental goods, as well as trade information and estimates for some of those products.

  • April 17, 2014

    CMS Balks At Advice To Trim Hospital Outpatient Payments

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has rejected recommendations in a report released Thursday to trim reimbursements for surgeries performed in outpatient hospital settings, prompting a rare rebuke from the Office of Inspector General, which accused the agency of shirking its budget-oversight duties.

  • April 17, 2014

    FDA Approves Stronger Warning Labels For Opioids

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday it has approved stronger warning labels for all extended-release and long-acting opioid painkillers, saying the drugs should only be used by patients with severe long-term pain.

  • April 17, 2014

    Min. Wage Increase Could Cost Businesses $15B, CBO Says

    The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated on Thursday that a bill introduced by Senate Democrats aimed at raising the minimum wage, would require private employers to pay an extra $15 billion in 2017 to workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

  • April 17, 2014

    Christie Taps Seton Hall Law Dean As Ombudsman

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday acted on the recommendation of a Gibson Dunn report clearing him of involvement in "Bridgegate" and appointed the dean of the Seton Hall University School of Law to serve as an ombudsman for the governor's office.

  • April 17, 2014

    DOD Tells Military To Prioritize Saving Energy

    The Department of Defense revamped its energy policies Wednesday, formally directing all military services and agencies to diversify energy sources where possible, improve energy efficiency of weapons and facilities, and build energy-saving goals into major defense contracts.

  • April 17, 2014

    EU Lawmakers Clear Antitrust Damages Litigation Plan

    European lawmakers on Thursday signed off on a proposal to make it easier for individuals and businesses to sue for antitrust damages, paving the way for plaintiffs to gain greater access to evidence while shielding leniency filings from disclosure.

  • April 17, 2014

    EU Advances Rule To Reduce Plastic Bag Use By 80%

    European Union lawmakers on Wednesday passed draft rules requiring member states to cut plastic bag usage in half by 2017 and by 80 percent before 2019, citing concerns about water pollution and damage to aquatic ecosystems.

  • April 17, 2014

    Calif. Voters Want Biz Property Assessed More Often

    A poll released Thursday shows that most California voters say a state property tax law should be changed so business and commercial properties are always assessed when they are transferred or sold — a move that will increase tax burdens on businesses.

  • April 17, 2014

    Mass. Lawmakers Approve $12.6B Transportation Bond Bill

    The Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved a $12.6 billion transportation bond bill Thursday, paving the way for financing major expansion projects including the Green Line extension to Medford, a South Coast commuter rail link and the expansion of Boston’s South Station.

  • April 17, 2014

    ACA Sign-Ups Hit 8M In Win For Health Care Industry

    President Barack Obama announced Thursday that 8 million Americans found private health insurance during the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period, a big win for drugmakers, insurers and hospitals that helped bankroll the law and ended up with more new customers than most expected.

  • April 17, 2014

    US, EU May Expand Russian Sanctions

    As U.S. and European Union officials meet with their Ukrainian and Russian counterparts to ease the region's ongoing tension this week, momentum is building on both sides of the Atlantic to again expand sanctions on Russia, with EU lawmakers putting the nation's energy sector in their crosshairs.

  • April 17, 2014

    Vt. Senate OKs Controversial GMO Labeling Measure

    Vermont edged closer to becoming the first state to require mandatory labels on genetically modified food when its Senate approved a labeling bill Wednesday in the absence of a binding rule from federal regulators on the controversial foods.

  • April 17, 2014

    SEC Unveils Layout For Cybersecurity Examinations

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has outlined a plan to conduct a series of examinations of Wall Street firms in order to assess their readiness to prevent and respond to attacks on cybersecurity, according to documents released Wednesday.

Expert Analysis

  • 'Venting And Flaring' Rule May Spur EPA Regs On Methane

    Luke D. Johnson

    While the Bureau of Land Management's venting and flaring rule may be focused on the government's possible loss of resources from the energy industry's use of public land, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be expected to focus more directly on methane itself. Potential regulations should be on the industry's radar, whether suppliers are operating on federal land or not, says Luke Johnson, a policy director with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP and former BLM deputy director for policy and programs.

  • Mobile Enforcement Continues To Be APPealing To FTC

    Alysa Z. Hutnik

    Since the Federal Trade Commission announced its first enforcement action involving a mobile app back in 2011, the commission has actively brought privacy cases against app developers under Section 5 of the FTC Act. Oftentimes, the FTC's actions came from a disconnect between the privacy policies and actions a mobile app or device took, which may have resulted from an update without alerting consumers, say Alysa Hutnik and Crystal Skelton of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP.

  • No More Export Licenses For Russia: Tips For Exporters

    Alexandra Lopez-Casero

    Most media coverage about the Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia has focused on the decision to blacklist prominent Russian officials, but the more pressing issue for many U.S. exporters is the significant move by the U.S. government to stop issuing export licenses for dual-use and defense items to Russia, says Alexandra Lopez-Casero of Nixon Peabody LLP.

  • Connected Cars Collide With Consumer Privacy

    Nancy Libin

    Some predict "connected cars" will generate revenue of more than $25 billion in 2014 and more than $130 billion in 2019. But before automakers, mobile app developers and others in the connected car ecosystem can cash in, legislators and regulators have difficult data privacy issues to address, says Nancy Libin, a partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP and former chief privacy and civil liberties officer of the U.S. Department of Justice.

  • CFTC Data Will Be A Powerful Tool For FERC Enforcement

    Terry S. Arbit

    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently signed two long-awaited memoranda of understanding, the lower-profile information-sharing one, which provides FERC with “large trader data” in the CFTC’s possession, being the more significant. Regulators achieved a significant victory by including surveillance purposes in the memo — it was a long time coming and provides FERC with a potent tool for surveilling the natural gas and power markets, say attorneys at Norton Rose Fulbright.

  • Antitrust Guidance On Cybersecurity Reaffirms Old Approach

    Jamillia Ferris

    Though the antitrust agencies’ recent policy statement on cybersecurity information-sharing is consistent with prior guidance, it is significant. It is not likely that cybersecurity legislation will become law anytime soon, and this statement responds to industry’s concerns by clearly establishing that properly designed and executed cyberthreat information-sharing does not raise antitrust concerns, say Jamillia Padua Ferris and Paul Tiao of Hunton & Williams LLP.

  • The 6 Most Important Changes To Russian Pledge Rules

    Alexey Kukharev

    Among the most significant changes being made to the Russian Civil Code is the introduction of the security trustee concept, which will strengthen syndicated lending and asset-backed security structures involving Russian collateral, and will bring the Russian legal system into harmony with the most developed legal systems in the world in this area, says Alexey Kukharev of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

  • Sweet Or Sour Development? EPA Tightens Tier 3 Gas Program

    Brenna K. Finn

    Gasoline sulfur levels have dropped up to 90 percent from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 2 Gasoline Sulfur Program, and the EPA's recently issued notice for the Tier 3 Program will further reduce gasoline sulfur content. However, it does not take much for a refinery to exceed the 10 ppm sulfur standard, and a stronger incentive may exist for refiners to generate and bank credits for their own future use, say Laura Riese and Brenna Finn of Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP.

  • Calif.'s Small Step Toward 'Redevelopment 2.0'?

    Laurie N. Gustafson

    More than two years after Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Legislature dissolved the state's 400-plus redevelopment agencies, the governor has begun addressing their replacement by proposing to revise and expand the use of infrastructure financing districts. The proposal, however, appears to be only a small step toward “Redevelopment 2.0,” with many expressing concerns that the new tax-increment financing tools may not be as effective as redevelopment, says Laurie Gustafson of Sedgwick LLP.

  • Inside Calif.'s De Facto Moratorium On Well Stimulation

    Michael N. Mills

    California's SB 4 requires the state's Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources to develop a permitting scheme to regulate the use of well-stimulation practices, including hydraulic fracturing. However, the division's interim regulations have created more problems than they've solved and established a de facto moratorium that the state Legislature and governor rejected in 2013, say Michael Mills and Chelsea Huffman of Stoel Rives LLP.