New to the art form? This Wall Street Journal article will get you orientated. Also, for more information on how some of these titles mislead lawmakers and the citizenry, find some academic commentary from Brian Christopher Jones here:

Friday, October 6, 2017

SHARE Act after Vegas

The official short title and long title of the SHARE Act are quite innocuous. SHARE stands for "Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement", and the long title of the bill is: "To provide for the preservation of sportsmen's heritage and enhance recreation opportunities on Federal land, and for other purposes." But the bill does much more than that. It would remove restrictions on silencers, in addition to easing interstate travel for those carrying firearms, among an array of other things. Unsurprisingly, after Vegas this piece of legislation has become more contentious. CNN has said that the bill should "never become law", and John Cassidy of the New Yorker has noted that it is just another symbol of a "failed state". 

The bill also contains short titles for many of its internal portions, which include: 

  • Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization
  • Fishing Protection Act
  • GO Act
  • Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act
  • Grand Canyon Bison Management Act
  • Guides and Outfitters Act
  • Hearing Protection Act
  • Hunter Access Corridors Act
  • Hunter and Farmer Protection Act
  • Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act
  • North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act
  • Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act
  • Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act
  • Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act
  • Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act
  • Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act

Some of these are highly questionable, if not downright laughable, such as the "Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act". This section has virtually nothing to do with conservation, as it would allow people to bring back polar bear "trophies" after (legally) hunting them in Canada. As to fairness, I'm not quite sure where that fits in, either. If you've already pegged the silencer portion as being under the "Hearing Protection Act" section, then you're right on! 

The SHARE Act has already passed Committee, and is due to come before the whole House soon. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

EL CHAPO Invades US Congress

Not the real El Chapo, of course...but the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act has indeed been introduced in the US Senate. Senator Ted Cruz (R., TX) introduced the measure yesterday, which would provide money to build President Trump's proposed border wall through using assets forfeited as a result of high-profile criminal prosecutions (such as El Chapo). 

Mr. Cruz has also included a petition on his website where people can show support for the bill. A version of the press release is available below. 


Sen. Cruz Introduces the EL CHAPO Act


April 25, 2017



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act. The bill would reserve any amounts forfeited to the U.S. Government as a result of the criminal prosecution of “El Chapo” (formally named Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Lorea) and other drug lords for border security assets and the completion of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. Government is currently seeking the criminal forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds and illicit profits from El Chapo, the former leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel who was recently extradited to the U.S. to face criminal prosecution for numerous alleged drug-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and money laundering. 
“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border,” said Sen. Cruz. “Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”
On Friday, January 20, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that El Chapo will face charges following his extradition to the United States from Mexico. The U.S. Government has alleged that El Chapo was operating a continuing criminal enterprise and other drug-related crimes through his leadership of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel. The indictment alleges that between January 1989 and December 2014, El Chapo led a continuing criminal enterprise responsible for importing into the United States and distributing massive amounts of illegal narcotics and conspiring to murder persons who posed a threat to El Chapo’s narcotics enterprise.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Presidential Moniker: the No TRUMP Act

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D., OR) has introduced the No Taxpayer Revenue Used to Monetize the Presidency (No TRUMP) Act. The USA Today reports that the bill would "prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for events, overnight stays, food or other expenses at hotels owned or operated by a president or his relatives." 

According to the press release (see below), the measure "is an important check on the office of the presidency. It would ensure that there is no personal financial incentive by the current or any future president or his/her family to stay or hold official meetings or events at certain properties across the United States or abroad. In the interest of safety, the bill would allow the Secret Service to continue guarding Trump residences – Trump Towers in New York and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach."


Blumenauer Introduces Bill to Prevent Trump and His Family from Getting Wealthier from the Presidency

March 9, 2017 
Press Release
Washington, DC –  Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) introduced the No Taxpayer Revenue Used to Monetize the Presidency (No TRUMP) Act to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for events, overnight stays, food, or other miscellaneous expenses at hotels owned or operated by a president or his or her relatives.
“Trump and his family are riddled with conflicts of interests. Putting a strain on government resources for Trump to hold meetings with U.S. officials at Mar-a-Lago or for the Trump children to travel the world to promote the family business are just more examples,” said Blumenauer. “Presidents should not financially benefit from holding the office. No taxpayer money should be spent at Trump hotels. Period.”
The No TRUMP Act is an important check on the office of the presidency. It would ensure that there is no personal financial incentive by the current or any future president or his/her family to stay or hold official meetings or events at certain properties across the United States or abroad. In the interest of safety, the bill would allow the Secret Service to continue guarding Trump residences – Trump Towers in New York and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
“With new conflicts of interest arising almost daily within the current administration, Republican leadership in Congress has failed to follow through on the President's promise to ‘drain the swamp,’” said Aaron Scherb, Common Cause's director of legislative affairs. “We applaud Congressman Blumenauer's leadership in introducing this legislation to help ensure that the presidency cannot be used to enrich oneself.”

Thursday, March 9, 2017

HONEST(y) for the EPA?

Rep. Lamar Smith (R., TX) has introduced the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act of 2017, which according to its long title, would "prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible." 

But the proposal is controversial, and some groups are calling it "dishonest", noting that it "effectively prevents the EPA from using the weight of scientific evidence to protect public health and the environment."

The Bill is an updated version of Rep. Smith's Secret Science Reform Act of 2015.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

World's Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017


The official title of Pete Sessions's (R., TX) most recent health care proposal is indeed: World's Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017. To be clear, although it very much sounds like a Trump-backed measure, this is not the proposal backed by House Republicans—that Bill is known as the American Health Care Act. The former, however, is getting a lot of press

Alas, this is not even the first time Sessions has introduced the measure: he did so in 2016 as well. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's not Obamacare...It's Americare!

House Republicans have unveiled their replacement for the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is named the American Health Care Act. The proposal would eliminate the mandate that the ACA implemented as regards every citizen having health insurance, and would replace it with a system of tax credits. it will also halt the expansion of Medicaid the ACA provided for. 

However, the law would keep three significant ACA provisions: "the prohibition on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, the ban on lifetime coverage caps and the rule allowing young people to remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26."

Some Republicans are unhappy with the proposal, and have labelled it "Obamacare-lite" and "Obamacare 2.0." 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Obama's last-minute signing of the TALENT Act

The final law of the Obama era—signed at 11:07 am on January 20th, just before Donald Trump took the oath of office—was adorned with an acronym: Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional National Talent (TALENT) Act of 2017. Put forward by House of Representative majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R., CA), the law is a bipartisan effort to continue to expand the role of technology in government. Although some of President Obama's efforts, such as the TPP, have already been abandoned by the Trump Administration, the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program will now need an Act of Congress to be done away with. 

Issie Lapowsky at Wired wrote an excellent piece on how the Act came to be signed by Obama in his final minutes as President. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

TRUMP Act Proposed by New York Lawmaker.

The president-elect, following the lead of his running mate (see entry on PENCE Bill, infra), has now inspired legislative nomenclature in his home state.

Monday, November 28, 2016

PENCE Bill Proposed to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy

NY Erie County legislator Patrick Burke has generated national and international attention with his recent proposal to ban gay conversion therapy in his jurisdiction: the bill is called the Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment or PENCE Bill. Named after Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R., IN), Burke said he developed the name specifically because of Governor Pence's support for such programs. 

Would not be at all surprised if one of Burke's Congressional colleagues puts forward a similarly-titled bill. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

The UK's "Great Repeal" Bill

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a "great repeal bill", which will repeal the European Communities Act 1972, and also—perhaps ironically—convert all EU regulations into British law. Future Parliaments would then have the opportunity to amend, improve or repeal such EU (eventually British) regulations as they see fit. 

The Bill is likely to be put forward in May 2017, and would need to travel through its Parliamentary stages—and be enacted into law—before the UK leaves the EU (presumably in 2019). 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

FAIRness Back in the Not-So-Friendly Skies?

Senator Edward J. Markey (D., MA) has introduced S. 2656, the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act. Generally, the bill aims to "prohibit air carriers from imposing fees that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs incurred by the air carriers". According to a press release, the bill would also direct "the Department of Transportation to review any other fees charged by airlines". The text of the bill can be found here

I could be wrong, but I don't remember any bills that have used the word "ridiculous" in their acronym. A portion of the press release is provided below the jump. 


Markey, Blumenthal Introduce Legislation to Ground Rising Airline Fees

Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act would protect consumers by limiting fees for checked bags, ticket changes and cancellations
Washington (March 9, 2016) – In recent years, airlines have increasingly charged consumers fees for basic aviation services, including checking a bag and changing or canceling a flight reservation. A recent investigation by the minority staff of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee found that of the eight carriers the Committee queried three increased checked baggage fees by 67 percent between 2009 and 2014. And four airlines increased domestic cancellation fees by 33 percent between 2009 and 2014, one increased the fee by 50 percent, and one increased its fee by 66 percent. In an effort to protect consumers from these rising fees, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today introduced the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act, legislation that prohibits airlines from imposing fees, including cancellation, change and bag fees, that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the serves provided. The legislation also directs the Department of Transportation to review any other fees charged by airlines. In 2015, American Airlines, Delta, and United cumulatively earned approximately $19.4 billion in profits. Through the first three quarters of 2015, airlines collected more than $5 billion in bag fees and change/cancellation fees. 
“Airlines fees are as high as the planes passengers are traveling on, and it’s time to stop their rapid ascent,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “In recent years, fees and ticket prices have gone up despite the fact that gas prices and airline choices have gone down. Airlines should not be allowed to overcharge captive passengers just because they need to change their flight or have to check a couple of bags. There is no justification for charging consumers a $200 fee to resell a $150 ticket that was cancelled well in advance. The FAIR Fees Act puts a stop to this fee gouging and will help ensure passengers are flying the fair and friendly skies.”

“This measure will ground the soaring, gouging fees that contribute to airlines’ record profits and passengers’ rising pain,” said Senator Blumenthal, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “With all the frills of flying already gone, airlines are increasingly resorting to nickel and diming consumers with outrageous fees. These runaway charges are anti-consumerism at its worst – in some cases doubling passenger fares despite plummeting fuel costs and soaring airline profits. A parent who wants to sit with his young child, a customer who wants to check or carry on a bag, or have Wi-Fi, or a traveler who needs to change or cancel a reservation should not incur exorbitant, unnecessary fees on the whim of an airline.”

A copy of the FAIR Fees Act can he found HERE.