Public Policy

  • May 23, 2015

    Senate Passes Temporary Highway Funding Bill

    The U.S. Senate on Saturday passed a bill to extend current highway funding for a further two months, as lawmakers continue to debate suggested tax tweaks and other proposals to fund the many billions of dollars needed for a longer-term extension.

  • May 23, 2015

    Senate Leaves NSA Spy Program In Limbo With Rejected Votes

    The U.S. Senate on Saturday left the fate of the National Security Agency's bulk collection program for domestic telephone “metadata” and other domestic surveillance programs in limbo, rejecting competing proposals to either overhaul those programs or to temporarily extend them.

  • May 22, 2015

    Tribes Urge FCC To Fix Broadband Divide

    The National Tribal Telecommunications Association has urged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to tackle the “embarrassing digital canyon” of broadband service between tribal communities and urban America as part of long-term reform plans for rate-of-return carriers.

  • May 22, 2015

    Senate Passes 'Fast-Track' Trade Bill

    The U.S. Senate passed legislation Friday to restore the White House's Trade Promotion Authority, after rejecting a proposed amendment on currency manipulation that had threatened to scuttle the bill.

  • May 22, 2015

    NJ Pols Urge Rutgers To Nix Marine Seismic Testing

    New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Democratic U.S. Rep Frank Pallone on Friday urged Rutgers University to halt seismic testing the college is leading this summer in the Atlantic Ocean, citing a threat to the state's natural resources, commercial fisheries and summer tourism.

  • May 22, 2015

    Ex-Mass. Utilities Atty Joins Regulators Group As Asst. GC

    The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners has hired a former Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities attorney to serve as assistant general counsel to represent the association on energy matters, the group announced recently.

  • May 22, 2015

    AAO Work Site Ruling Still Troubles Attys, Despite Guidance

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued guidance this week that clarified exceptions to a recent Administrative Appeals Office decision on H-1B work site changes, but attorneys say despite a new compliance grace period the ruling could still cause headaches for consulting companies and employers whose workers telecommute.

  • May 22, 2015

    Texas Senate Passes Bill Raising Bar On Asbestos Claims

    The Texas State Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would require plaintiffs alleging asbestos damages against a bankrupt company to file a trust claim before lodging a suit, while giving asbestos courts more leeway to stay a trial in such a case, clearing a final hurdle before the bill is sent to the governor's desk to be signed into law.

  • May 22, 2015

    Immigration Judge Shortage Spawns Record Backlog

    Understaffed and underfunded, federal immigration courts are not equipped to handle the influx of new cases they receive each year, pushing an already large backlog into an all-time high of over 445,000 cases, according to a report Thursday.

  • May 22, 2015

    Calif. Water Board OKs Delta Farmers' Water Cutback Plan

    California's Water Resources Control Board on Friday approved a voluntary plan from farmers and other water-rights holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to cut back their water usage by 25 percent in exchange for a promise that they won't face further rationing during the growing season.

  • May 22, 2015

    Measure Easing VA Medical Pot Rule Clears Senate Panel

    Veterans would be allowed to discuss medical marijuana prescriptions in states where it's been legalized with their U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doctors under an amendment to a $77.6 billion funding bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

  • May 22, 2015

    SEC Subpoenaed For Docs On Ex-Judge's Intimidation Claims

    An in-house judge at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered the agency to produce documents and correspondences related to a former SEC judge’s claims that she was pressured to rule in favor of the enforcement division.

  • May 22, 2015

    Senate Intelligence Head Rolls Out NSA Reform Alternative

    The head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday waded into the heated debate over the looming expiration of certain Patriot Act provisions by offering an alternate proposal that would allow the National Security Agency to continue collecting domestic phone records in bulk until 2017.

  • May 22, 2015

    Texas House OKs Bill To Punish Bad Faith Patent Demands

    The Texas House on Friday unanimously passed a bill allowing the state’s attorney general to bring suit against nonpracticing entities that send misleading demand letters, as well as creating a possible $50,000 civil penalty for bad faith patent infringement claims.

  • May 22, 2015

    Fast H-1B Extensions May Resume Before Late July

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services could resume premium processing of petitions seeking to extend the stay of H-1B workers earlier than the planned July 27 date, the agency said Friday, taking a wait-and-see approach as it implements a new work authorization rule.

  • May 22, 2015

    Senate OKs Bill To Keep $1.7B VA Hospital Project Going

    The Senate on Friday greenlighted stopgap legislation to allow construction to continue on a troubled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital project near Denver that has seen costs balloon to $1.7 billion.

  • May 22, 2015

    EPA Demands States Tighten Startup, Shutdown Regs

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put 36 states on notice Friday that their regulations governing emissions from large industrial pollution sources during startup, shutdown and malfunction periods are inadequate, in a final action that stemmed from litigation brought by environmentalists.

  • May 22, 2015

    Texas Leaders Strike $3.8 Billion Tax Cut Agreement

    Texas leaders announced Thursday they have reached an agreement for $3.8 billion in tax cuts, in a package that would cut the business tax by 25 percent and is intended to cut property taxes, but without a House-proposed sales tax reduction.

  • May 22, 2015

    Cable Assoc. Praises FCC Decision To Collect Satellite Fees

    The American Cable Association on Friday applauded the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to collect a new regulatory fee from direct broadcast satellite providers such as Dish Network Corp. and DirecTV that could generate $4.1 million in revenue for the agency.

  • May 22, 2015

    Bill Would Bar US Entry For Some Foreign Pregnant Women

    A House bill just introduced would bar some foreign women who are pregnant from entering the United States temporarily as either tourists or as workers.

Expert Analysis

  • NYC Employers Should Check Themselves Before Employees

    Holly H. Weiss

    In making decisions about which employees to conduct credit checks on in light of recent amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law, city employers should analyze the job responsibilities for each employee to ensure an employee's actual job responsibilities fall within one of the law's exceptions, say attorneys at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP.

  • Power Continues To Flow Toward Calif. Plaintiffs Via PAGA

    Joshua R. Dale

    Since its enactment in 2004, California's Private Attorney General Act is clearly gaining strength as a tool for plaintiffs' employment attorneys, as evidenced by the recent suit against 99 Cents Only Stores over "suitable seating." In light of this trend, employers should aggressively preempt potential bases for claims against them over nonmonetary violations of the state labor code, says Joshua Dale of Michel & Associates PC.

  • No Consensus On CEQ Draft Guidance For NEPA Reviews

    Elizabeth A. Lake

    Despite its intended goal of reducing "litigation driven by uncertainty," the White House Council on Environmental Quality's revised draft guidance regarding National Environmental Policy Act reviews avoids providing direction on determining when greenhouse gases and climate change impacts are significant, and its consideration of upstream and downstream impacts is particularly vague, says Elizabeth Lake of Holland & Knight LLP.

  • 47 Years Of The Fair Housing Act: Where We Stand

    Scott Badami

    Last month marked the 47th year since the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act and it remains important for professional apartment management to know about fair housing priorities at both the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — particularly when recent national events have raised the profile of racial divisions in our country, says Scott Badami of Fox Rothschild LLP.

  • New Food Recall Guidance May Signal Tougher FDA

    John Fuson

    To date, the U.S Food and Drug Administration has made only light use of its mandatory recall authority, but by offering new draft guidance on recalls, the FDA may be signaling its intent to more aggressively exercise this authority, say John Fuson and Chalana Williams of Crowell & Moring LLP.

  • For NY Medicaid, It's Health Reform Vs. Antitrust Law

    Dionne Lomax

    At the heart of the Federal Trade Commission and New York State Department of Health's disagreement over the state's Medicaid program is the mounting tension between health care reform — which focuses on transformative health care models that seek to curb costs and improve care through coordinated and integrated systems — and antitrust law, say attorneys at Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC.

  • Making The Right Call On 'On-Call' Shifts

    Lindsay A. Ayers

    As labor costs have risen in recent years, on-call shifts have grown in popularity, particularly in the food and retail industries, because they allow employers to avoid paying for excess labor during slow periods. However, employers may soon see these efficiencies evaporate in light of the evolving legal landscape relating to shift scheduling, say Lindsay Ayers and David Szwarcsztejn of Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger LLP.

  • The Spin And Substance Surrounding NY's Brownfields

    Richard G. Leland

    The principal implication of the latest reforms to New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program is that the state will continue to struggle with the inherent conflict between the needs to redevelop contaminated sites and to conserve resources — not to mention the political spin that subsidizing development in New York City during an apparent real estate boom is a giveaway to developers, says Richard Leland of Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP.

  • What’s Missing From The SEC’s Forum Selection Guidance

    Thomas A. Hanusik

    In its recent guidance on forum selection, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission missed a golden opportunity — instead of addressing the legitimate and widespread criticism of its increasing use of the administrative forum, the SEC dodged the key issues and failed to make the forum selection process fairer to defendants, say attorneys with Crowell & Moring LLP.

  • NIST Starts Filling The Gaps In Cybersecurity Compliance

    Keir Bancroft

    Government contractors who think cyber and information security applies only to classified or U.S. Department of Defense contracts, take note — a new set of standards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology is on the horizon, say attorneys with Venable LLP.