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:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Veterans, Veterans, Veterans...

A bevy of veterans' bills has been proposed recently, most likely because of the startling revelations regarding the amount of claims in the VA backlog. According to the Washington Post, the "number of disability claims pending with the Department of Veterans Affairs is nearly 900,000, with more than 600,000 in the system for more than 125 days."

Rep. McLeod (D., CA) has proposed the VA Claims Efficiency Through Information Act of 2013; Rep. Maloney (D., NY) has introduced the Disabled Veterans Red Tape Reduction Act; Rep. Griffen (R., AR) has introduced the Veteran's I.D. Card Act; Rep. Miller (R., FL) has proposed the Veterans' Privacy Act; and Rep. Hastings (D., FL) has introduced the Veterans Pensions Protection Act of 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Watch Out Balloon Lovers!

Rep. Doc Hastings (R., WA) has introduced the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, which, among other things, seeks to bring more competition to the sale of helium located in the Federal Helium Reserve to businesses, researchers and manufacturing firms. 

A summary of the bill is located after the jump. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Laura's Law Gets CA Senate Push

California's Senate Health Committee has passed SB 664, also known as Laura's Law, which would make it easier for counties to implement Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) orders for potentially dangerous mentally ill patients.

A press release from Senator Yee, who sponsored the legislation, notes that "Laura’s Law is named for Laura Wilcox, a 19-year old high school valedictorian who was shot to death at a Nevada County mental health clinic in 2001 by a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who consistently refused treatment."

A portion of the press release is below the jump.

Helping or Hurting Sick Americans?

Rep. Joseph Pitts (R., PA) has introduced the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, which would take allocated funds from the Prevention and Public Health Fund set up by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and transfer it to the preexisting condition funding pool. Specifically, the bill would transfer any unobligated FY2013 money and all funds available for FY2014-FY2016, thus defunding the Prevention and Public Health Fund. 

Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration is against the legislation, threatening a veto and noting that the Fund "supports critical investments such as tobacco use reduction, and programs to reduce health-care-associated infections and the national burden of chronic disease, as well as helping to ensure Americans have access to affordable coverage for preventive benefits. By concentrating on the causes of chronic disease, the Fund helps more Americans stay healthy."

An official statement of Administration policy on H.R. 1549 is below the jump. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

CISPA Passes House

The controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has passed the House of Representatives. This comes in the face of a veto threat from President Obama, who stated that the bill does not sufficiently protect civil liberties. 

Partial Huffington Post article on the bill below the jump: 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CIDER for Everyone!

Last month Sen. Charles Schumer (D., NY) released a plan to let the abundant number of cider producers in NY reduce taxes on their beverages and allow them compete with larger markets. Because some ciders in the state produce a higher alcohol content depending on the sugar levels of the apples, they are classified as wine and thus taxed at a higher rate. The Cider, Investment & Development through Excise Tax Reduction (CIDER) Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code definition, thus allowing the outlier products to be labeled and taxed as hard cider. 

Partial press release is below. 


Schumer Plan – the CIDER Act – Updates Definition of Hard Cider to Ensure All Products Can Be Labeled & Taxed Like Hard Cider, Not Wine -- Allows Producers that Often Suffer from Frost & Bad Weather to Add New Stable Source of Income

NY Has 654 Growers & Already Over 20 Hard Cider Producers, Like Slyboro Cider House – Proposal Would Boost Business for Existing Producers, Help New Growers Add Highly Popular Hard Cider to Product Line, Improve Ability to Compete

Schumer: NY Should Be at the Core of Hard Cider Production

Today, at the Slyboro Cider House in Granville, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer unveiled a new plan to boost the sales for New York’s over 20 existing hard apple cider producers and to allow the over 650 apple growers to expand their business and add this increasingly popular craft beverage to their product line. Schumer highlighted that the Capital Region boasts 3,648 acres of apple orchards that are primed to expand and produce more hard cider. Schumer explained that the alcohol content of New York’s hard cider fluctuates greatly due to sugar content, and current law often forces it to be taxed at a higher rate, preventing it from being labeled as hard cider. Compliance adds a significant financial burden to producers and consumers, and an unpredictable nature to the business, which makes it more expensive for cider producers like Slyboro, and less attractive for potential new cider producers.

Schumer therefore launched his proposal, the CIDER Act (Cider, Investment & Development through Excise Tax Reduction Act), to update the definition for hard apple and pear cider in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) that would increase their allowed alcohol by volume from 7 percent to 8.5 percent, encompassing significantly more hard cider products and allowing them to be labeled and taxed like hard cider, rather than wine.Schumer’s proposal would also address existing tax issues related to carbonation levels in hard cider, and would put the new definition in line with that of the European Union, so producers can better compete with European products abroad. Hard cider is a value-added product that is sold around the same price every year; therefore hard cider gives producers a stable source of income when apple crops suffer due to weather and other unforeseen factors. New York apple producers are increasingly interested in producing smaller, artisanal batches of hard cider, but cite the cost and difficulty to comply with the IRC definition as significant impediments to expanding their businesses. ...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Eliminating Election LINE(s)

The California Senate has passed SJR 6, which encourages Congress to pass the Lines Interfere with National Elections (LINE) Act of 2013. According to, the Bill "[a]mends the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require each state to provide for the minimum required number of voting systems, poll workers, and other election resources (including all other physical resources) for each voting site on the day of any federal election and on any days during which the state allows early voting for a federal election in accordance with standards established under this Act." Press release regarding the CA Senate passage of SJR 6  is below. 


California Senate Encourages Congress to Pass the LINE Act

Yee’s SJR 6 calls for federal action to streamline elections

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Senate approved legislation that calls upon Congress to set standards to assure all Americans can cast their ballot in a reasonable amount of time.  Senator Leland Yee’s (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 6 calls on Congress to pass the Lines Interfere with National Elections Act of 2013, also known as the LINE Act introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California).

“In this past election, polling places in many states had unacceptably long wait times for voters due to insufficient staffing, obsolete voting machines, and unnecessary and undemocratic obstacles” said Yee. “There is no legitimate excuse in the United States of America to be unable to conduct an election efficiently and effectively.”

While other states are attempting to suppress the vote, California is finding new ways to increase participation in elections. Last year, California implemented online voter registration as a result of law authored by Yee in 2011. Nearly 800,000 Californians registered to vote on the new system in the five weeks between implementation and Election Day last year.

States such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia instituted new laws restricting voter eligibility which resulted in lines up to seven hours long to cast a ballot. It is estimated that more than 200,000 voters in Florida decided not to vote in November due to their frustration with long lines.

The LINE Act would require the United States Attorney General, in consultation with the Election Assistance Commission, to issue new standards for elections by January 1, 2014. These would set a minimum number of voting systems, poll workers, and other election resources needed on Election Day and during early voting periods to prevent a waiting time of more than one hour at any polling place.

A recent report by Professor Charles Stewart III of MIT found that while the average white voter waited for 12 minutes in order to vote, Latinos waited 19 minutes and African Americans had to wait for 23 minutes.
“It is a fundamental principle of our representative democracy that citizens shall not be required to overcome unreasonable obstacles in order to exercise their right to vote,” said Yee. “The LINE Act will establish a basic standard to protect this important right.”

This session, Yee is authoring SB 44 which would require every state website to link to the online registration system, as well as SB 240 which would require at least one polling place on every University of California and California State University campus.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

WV Updating Amber Alert

The West Virginia legislature has passed two Bills updating the Amber Alert system in their state. The measures are named after Skylar Neese and Kelsey Smith, abduction victims who tragically died soon after they went missing. Skylar's Law "will require law enforcement agencies to report a suspected abduction or missing child to the amber alert authorities in the initial stages of investigation to facilitate their safe return." The Kelsey Smith Act would, among other things, "requir[e] wireless telecommunications carriers to provide location information to law-enforcement agencies in emergencies." 

A partial article from the Register-Herald is below. 


W.Va. Legislature votes on Amber Alert; other bills

By Mannix Porterfield

Posted:  04/13/2013 12:06 AM

Skylar Neese and Kelsey Smith lived thousands of miles apart but met a similar, violent fate.
Now, the West Virginia Legislature wants to make sure police have stronger means to deal with missing persons, by putting the final touches Friday on separate bills bearing their names.
Neese vanished last summer from her parents’ home in Star City, only to turn up dead months later in Pennsylvania.
Existing law forbids putting a missing person on the Amber Alert until an abduction is confirmed. In her case, no personal belongings were taken when she left — not even contact lenses — but police initially dismissed her as a runaway.
Under a bill successfully pushed by Delegate Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia, for whom Neese worked as a House page eight years ago, missing children can be objects of the Amber Alert once police are notified and State Police approve of the notification.
Smith disappeared from a Kansas City shopping  center, but a wireless company refused to disclose her cell phone number to police.
A proposed new law now allows police to get such numbers to “ping” a wireless owner so the location can be pinpointed. In Smith’s case, her body was found within 45 minutes after the number was disclosed.

STOPP-ing Drug Abuse

Rep. William Keating (D., MA) has introduced the Stop Tampering of Prescription Pills (STOPP) Act of 2013, which takes aim at the 16,000 Americans that die each year because of overdosing on prescription drugs. Partial press release below. 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Friday, March 15, 2013

Joined by Rep. Kennedy and others in important fight

Video of presser includes demonstration of abuse-deterrent drugs
(The video of the press conference is available at:

Washington, DC
 – Today, Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) announced federal legislation addressing abuse-deterrent formulations for commonly abused painkillers. The Stop the Tampering of Prescription Pills (STOPP) Act was written by Rep. Keating, who then reached across the aisle for bipartisan support to Rep. Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.  Other Massachusetts Members who are cosponsors of Rep. Keating’s legislation include Reps. Tierney, Lynch, Markey and Kennedy.

Rep. Keating originally introduced the STOPP Act, first-of-its kind legislation to address prescription drug abuse, in July of 2012.  He is a member of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse.

“As a former District Attorney, I have investigated far too many deaths related to prescription drug abuse,” said Rep. Bill Keating.  “In my state of Massachusetts, almost two people a day die from overdoses.  This is a silent epidemic and it is destroying families, not just in Massachusetts, but across the country.  According to CDC data, more people are dying from overdoses – the majority of which are cause by prescription drugs – than automobile accidents.  With the FDA’s recent approval of the first opoid-based generic drug to re-enter the American market without abuse-deterrent technology, we need the STOPP Act now to stem this dangerous tide.  The STOPP Act isn’t a silver bullet but it will save lives.  What this legislation is proposing, the FDA should be doing on its own.  Because they are not, we are ready to act.  I thank my colleagues Reps. Rogers, Rahall and Kennedy for standing behind this critical legislation.” ...

CA "Youth Equality Act" Passes Major Hurdle

A CA Senate committee approved SB 323, the so-called "Youth Equality Act," by a vote of 5-2 on April 10, passing a major hurdle for the legislation. The Bill is sponsored by CA Sen. Ricardo Lara, and primarily takes aim at the Boy Scouts of America for their position on gay members. 

Though it is informally inscribed with grandiose words, such as "equality," the Bill only pressures organizations to end discriminatory policies by making those that have explicitly discriminatory policies unable to receive nonprofit tax breaks, hoping they will "rethink" their positions. Partial press release below. 


California One Step Closer to Ending Discrimination-Youth Equality Act Passes Senate Committee

April 10, 2013
California One Step Closer to Ending Discrimination-Youth Equality Act Passes Senate Committee
SACRAMENTO-The Youth Equality Act (SB 323), designed to bring youth group tax exemptions in line with California’s existing non-discrimination laws, has passed the State Senate Governance and Finance Committee with a vote of 5-2. The bill, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara and sponsored by Equality California, has continued to gain momentum, adding 19 official co-authors and official support from the California National Organization for Women, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, the City of West Hollywood and American Civil Liberties Union.

 “Today’s vote puts California one step closer in bringing full equality to LGBT youth throughout the state,” said Senator Lara. “With its passage and growing list of supporters and co-authors, we will end this outdated practice of discrimination and exclusion.”

"The leadership of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee is exemplary and the broad support for this bill is further evidence that California does not tolerate discrimination," said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “We’re thrilled to see even more legislators and organizations embracing a vision of full equality for youth groups and, in doing so, sending a message to the Boy Scouts and others that discrimination has a real cost."

The Youth Equality Act will eliminate a sales and corporate tax exemption for youth groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation.

The bill now moves on to the Senate Committee on Appropriations. ...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NLRB Kerfuffle

Adding to the National Labor Relations Board row, Rep. Phil Roe (R., TN) has introduced the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act, which the Congressional Research Service says "[p]rohibits the Board from implementing, administering, or enforcing any decision, rule, vote, or other action decided, undertaken, adopted, issued, or finalized on or after January 4, 2012, that requires a quorum of the Board members." Below is a partial blog entry that Rep. Roe penned for The Hill on April 10th. 


Preventing greater uncertainty in labor-management relations

By Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) 04/10/13 11:20 AM ET
This week, the House is scheduled to vote on legislation I introduced to address the ongoing legal chaos that surrounds the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). On January 4, 2012, President Obama made three so-called recess appointments to the NLRB while the Senate was regularly meeting in pro forma session. These appointments were unprecedented—no other president has bypassed the constitutionally-mandated nomination process while the Senate was in session. Although the White House claims such appointments were within the president’s power, the record shows Democrats have opposed such tactics. 

As recently as 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated that over the Thanksgiving holiday, he would be “keeping the Senate in pro forma to prevent recess appointments” that could have been made by President Bush.

By ignoring the constitutional obligation to have the Senate advise and consent to his appointments, President Obama opened the door for a legal challenge to the actions taken by NLRB. On January 25, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously held that these appointments violated the Constitution, throwing into question the validity of all rulings made by the NLRB since January 4, 2012. Since the recess appointments, the NLRB has issued roughly 600 decisions, the outcomes of which are now very uncertain. American workers deserve better.

In light of the court decision, I joined Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and others to write to President Obama, urging him to nominate new appointees to the NLRB and to work with the Senate to confirm them. We also wrote NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce encouraging the NLRB to cease all activity until the legal chaos surrounding the board is resolved. Chairman Pearce, unfortunately, has continued to push ahead with NLRB business despite the fact that every decision made will be subject to legal challenge. ...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Personalized Gun Control Measure Proposed

Rep. Bobby Rush (D., IL) has introduced the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013. Hadiya and Nyasia were two tragic victims of recent gun violence in Chicago and Brooklyn. Today, Michelle Obama became emotional when talking about Hadiya, noting "Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her."

Additionally, the bill is noteworthy in the fact that it's short title (currently standing at 14 words) is longer than it's long title (currently 10 words). Partial press release below. 



Mar 19, 2013 Issues: Community News, Public Safety

CONTACT: Debra Johnson
(202) 679-0381

WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman Bobby L. Rush introduced the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 to limit straw purchases of firearms and reduce illegal trafficking of firearms across state lines. A key focus of the bill is targeted at anti-straw purchasing and firearms trafficking by individuals known as “straw purchasers” who play key roles in most firearms trafficking operations.

“Equipping federal law enforcement officials with the legislative authority to halt illegal tracking of firearms is an appropriate and sensible action for Congress to take,” said Rush. “Selfish individuals who scam and work around existing checks and controls in the system put our communities at risk through their selfish greed and lack of forethought for others whom they place in harm’s way.”

Under current law, there is no criminal statute illegalizing straw purchasing or firearms trafficking. This bill would make it a federal crime to purchase a gun from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) for, on behalf of, or at the request or demand of any other person. For purchases made from a private seller, this new section would make it a crime to purchase a gun for, on behalf of, or at the request of someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm (e.g. a convicted felon or someone adjudicated as mentally ill). The maximum sentence for this offense would be 15 years imprisonment or 25 years imprisonment if the defendant knew or had reasonable cause to believe that any firearm involved would be used to commit a crime of violence. It is important to note that anyone purchasing a firearm from an FFL must already sign a Form 4473 stating that he or she is the “actual buyer” of the firearm. ...

CA Senate Democrats Push LIFE Act

California Senate Democrats have introduced a new package of bills aimed at gun violence called the LIFE Act, which intends to "close several loopholes in existing regulations, to keep firearms and ammunition out of the wrong hands, and to strengthen education on gun ownership." Though California Senators cannot officially name their bills with such evocative monikers, they have chosen to publicly push the measures as the LIFE Act, presumably with the hopes that the measures will gather more attention and support and therefore lead to enactment. The LIFE Act package includes SB 47, SB 108, and SB 140, the latter of which has already passed the Senate. The press release by Senate Democrats for the bundle of legislative measures is below the jump. 

Additionally, at this point we do not know what the LIFE acronym stands for, if anything. When we find out, we'll be sure to update the post. 


Californians Unite Behind LIFE Act
Senate Democrats push legislation to reduce gun violence

SACRAMENTO – Today, California Senate Democrats announced a coalition of supporters for the LIFE Act, a bill package to close several loopholes in existing regulations, to keep firearms and ammunition out of the wrong hands, and to strengthen education on gun ownership.

Senator Leland Yee’s (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) SB 47 is one of the eight bills that make up the LIFE Act, which would close a loophole in the California Assault Weapons Ban.  Currently, many military-style assault weapons have a feature known as a “bullet button,” which allow a shooter to continuously fire and reload without interruption.

Yee is also carrying SB 108, which would require firearms be safely stored using a trigger lock or gun safe while no adult is on the property where the weapon is located.

“The prevalence of deadly, military-style weapons in our society has resulted in countless tragedies,” said Yee. “It is past time to put some common sense laws into place in order to prevent such tragedies in the future.  The LIFE Act is a bold step forward in this effort.”

The Coalition behind the LIFE Act is made up of teachers, medical professionals, faith-based advocates, grassroots organizing and experts in gun violence.  Members include the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Bend the Arc: A Jewish Alliance for Justice, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, California Church Impact, California Federation of Teachers, Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice, CA (CLUE CA), the Courage Campaign, CREDO Action, Doctors for America, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and PICO.

“California has a history of pioneering legislation to protect its people. The LIFE Act would make dramatic strides in reducing gun violence and reclaim California's standing as the national leader in gun safety. As Washington continues to dither, California must act."

Rick Jacobs, Chair and Founder,

"We are concerned with protecting students, educators and all who work or volunteer in our schools. We’ve witnessed the harm at Newtown, Columbine, Virginia Tech and other educational institutions. The California Federation of Teachers is interested in putting many layers of protection between students and those who might harm them. We are proud to join this remarkable coalition of progressive groups. Our history of working together on the Millionaires Tax and Proposition 30 speaks for itself. "

Jeff Freitas, Secretary-Treasurer, CFT

"Over the past two decades, California has enacted the strongest gun laws in the country and our firearm mortality rate has dropped 51%. Still there are approximately 6,000 people shot each year in California and nearly half of them die. We believe these LIFE Act bills represent a comprehensive approach that will close loopholes and keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. The LIFE Act will help save even more lives."

Amanda Wilcox, Legislation & Policy Chair, California Brady Campaign

"It is an honor for CLUE CA to partner with the Courage Campaign in a joint effort to prevent gun violence.  What will it take for the legislature to demonstrate courageous leadership and act to protect the citizens of our beloved state?  We have witnessed gun violence for too long.  Earlier this year just weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut, a lone gun began shooting students at Taft High School in the Central Valley critically wounding one boy and threatening others.  Two students were killed and 13 others were wounded in Santana High School in San Diego in 2001. In 1989 inside a Stockton elementary school yard, five little children were shot to death, 29 others were injured, and a teacher was killed. 21 people were shot and killed, including five children and 19 other people were wounded in 1989 at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro.  San Francisco City Hall was the site of double murder in 1978 when Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were gunned down in their offices.  The long list of gun violence reveals a harrowing epic of unabated mayhem. All of it preventable.  Now is the time to stop the senseless, legal access to assault weapons.  For the sake of humankind, let California lead the way toward a safer, more sane society."

Rev. Art Cribbs, Executive Director, CLUE CA (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, California)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Another Lawmaker Goes Global

On the heels of a previous global internet freedom bill, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., CA) has introduced the Global Free Internet Act of 2013. Press release below. 


Rep. Zoe Lofgren Introduces Legislation to Protect Free Expression of Internet Users and an Open Global Marketplace
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today announced the introduction of H.R. 889, The Global Free Internet Act. The bill is designed to preserve the structural foundation of the Internet, grow Internet commerce, and protect the free expression and privacy of Internet users. The bill also creates a specific task force within the government to ensure the path for Internet-related expression, innovation and economic growth remains clear. Today, actions by foreign governments, international bodies, and the U.S. government itself sometimes create risks to the global free flow of information, international trade in Internet-related goods and services, and the technical standards that underpin the Internet. Some of these risks include censorship of online content, country-specific technology standards that would make it difficult for computers to communicate with each other, and burdensome requirements for market access.

"The Internet has been such a spectacular success because it lowers barriers and empowers people to connect and share information, resulting in greater cultural exchange and economic growth," Rep. Lofgren said. "For the Internet to remain a platform for innovation and prosperity, we need to address undue restrictions on Internet commerce and the global free flow of information."

Rep. Lofgren introduced an earlier version of the Global Free Internet Act in 2012, and promised to reintroduce the bill in the 113th Congress as part of her Internet Freedom legislative agenda. The Global Free Internet Act would create a Task Force on the Global Internet that identifies, prioritizes, and develops a response to policies and practices of the U.S. government, foreign governments, or international bodies that deny fair market access to Internet-related goods and services, or that threaten the technical operation, security, and free flow of global Internet communications. Members of the Task Force include the heads of several executive branch agencies, four U.S. persons nominated by Congressional leadership, and four U.S. persons who are not government employees nominated by the Internet itself. The Task Force would hold public hearings, issue reports, and coordinate the activity of the U.S. government to respond to domestic and international threats to the Internet.

Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), Mike Honda (D-Campbell), and Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) joined Rep. Lofgren in introducing the bill as original cosponsors.

Click here for a section-by-section summary of the Global Free Internet Act.

ACCESS Denied (to the courtroom)

Rep. Ken Calvert (R., CA) has introduced the ACCESS Act, designed to protect small businesses from getting sued because of a lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The bill imposes a notice and compliance period for businesses before a private civil suit can be filed. Partial press release below. 


Rep. Calvert Introduces the ACCESS Act 
Legislation Designed to Help Small Businesses Comply with ADA Law 

Washington, D. C., Wednesday, March 06, 2013 -

Today, Representative Ken Calvert (R-Corona) introduced the ACCESS Act, H.R. 994, legislation designed to help small businesses comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

"The Americans with Disabilities Act was created to protect the rights and access of disabled Americans, it was not created to penalize our small businesses," said Rep. Calvert.  "In recent years we have seen a disturbing trend of frivolous lawsuits being filed against small businesses with the goal of obtaining financial settlements.  Our goal should be improving access for disabled Americans to go about their day, not improving access for trial lawyers to the pockets of our small business owners."

The ACCESS (ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services) Act would alleviate the financial burden small businesses are facing, while still fulfilling the purpose of the ADA.  Any person aggrieved by a violation of the ADA would provide the owner or operator with a written notice of the violation, specific enough to allow such owner or operator to identify the barrier to their access.  Within 60 days the owner or operator would be required to provide the aggrieved person with a description outlining improvements that would be made to address the barrier.  The owner or operator would then have 120 days to remove the infraction.  The failure to meet any of these conditions would allow the suit to go forward. ...

Sunshine at SCOTUS?

Rep. Steve King (R., IA) has introduced the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2013, that would authorize a presiding judge of any US appellate court (include SCOTUS), to "permit the photographing, electronic recording, broadcasting, or televising to the public of court proceedings." Partial press release below. 


King: Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Bring More Transparency to Federal Courtrooms
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Washington, DC– Congressman Steve King and Senator Chuck Grassley, both of Iowa, are leading an effort to bring more transparency into federal courtrooms by introducing the "Sunshine in the Courtroom Act." The legislation allows judges at all federal court levels to open their courtrooms to television cameras and radio broadcasts.

"The federal court system is unknown to many Americans. C-SPAN's coverage of the House and Senate has led to greater transparency of the legislative branch of government, and transparency leads to accountability. Video coverage of our courts can be a great learning tool for the American people and will contribute to a better understanding of the American judicial system," Grassley said.

"The responsible televising of courtroom proceedings will allow Americans to better understand the important decisions that are made in the federal judiciary every day, that affect all of our lives," said King. "The Sunshine in the Courtroom Act will provide that much needed transparency by allowing Federal judges to televise coverage of proceedings in their courtrooms. This is a common sense step towards matching the overwhelming number of states that allow televising of at least some trial court proceedings, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the House to make this a reality."

The bicameral, bipartisan bill includes a 3-year sunset to provide Congress the opportunity to study the effects of the legislation before making any permanent changes. The bill protects the privacy and safety of non-party witnesses by giving them the right to have their faces and voices obscured, and it prohibits the televising of jurors. The bill also includes a provision to protect the due process rights of each party.

The Senate bill is being introduced with Senator Chuck Schumer, who has joined with Grassley in introducing the bill since 1999. King is joined in the House by Representatives Jason Chaffetz, Ted Deutch and Zoe Lofgren. ...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Poultry Capital of the World

An Arkansas bill sponsored by Sen. Jon Woods would name Springdale, AR, the "Poultry Capital of the World." The subtitle of the bill reads as follows: "AN ACT TO PROCLAIM THE CITY OF SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS, TO BE THE POULTRY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD." The measure has passed the state House and Senate, and now heads to Governor Mike Beebe's desk for his signature.