Category Archives: Legislation in the News

50 state survey of blockchain and smart contracts legislation

Sagewise has published a survey of smart contract and blockchain legislation by state. The survey identifies proposed, pending, and passed blockchain and smart contract legislation in each of the 50 U.S. states. — Joe

Senate passes resolution declaring “the press is not the enemy of the people” [text]

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution Thursday declaring “the press is not the enemy of the people.” The resolution, introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), reaffirms the Senate’s commitment to the Constitution’s declaration of the freedom of the press. According to the resolution, the Senate “views efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press as an attack on the democratic institutions of the United States.” — Joe

President Issues Sweeping Signing Statement on Defense Authorization Act [text]

From Steven D. Schwinn, Constitutional Law Prof Blog: “President Trump late yesterday issued a breathtaking constitutional signing statement on the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. The President called out dozens of provisions for impinging on the commander-in-chief authority, the foreign affairs authority, the appointments authority, executive privilege, and the President’s authority to recommend legislation. … Perhaps most alarming, the President identified 18 separate sections that require public disclosure or reports to Congress on various topics as categorically “protected by executive privilege.”.” — Joe

Freedom Caucus Republicans File Impeachment Resolution Against AG Rod Rosenstein [text]

The resolution, unlikely to pass without Republican leadership support, accuses Rosenstein of seeking to block congressional oversight of Robert Mueller’s investigation. Here’s the resolution’s text. — Joe

Federal court allows emolument lawsuit to proceed [text]

Today the US District Court for the District of Maryland rejected Trump’s attempt to stop a lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland that alleges Trump is violating the anti-corruption emoluments clauses of the Constitution. Today’s ruling appears to mark the first time a federal judge has interpreted those Constitutional provisions and applied their restrictions to a sitting president. Here’s the text of the ruling. — Joe

Ohio joins list of states enacting UELMA

On Friday, June 29th, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed SB 139 into law, making the state of Ohio the 18th state to enact the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act.

H/T Kathy Dugan, Cleveland Law Library. — Joe

DOJ’s Zero-Tolerance Policy for Criminal Illegal Entry [text]

On April 6, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions notified all U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the Southwest Border of a new “zero-tolerance policy” for offenses under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), which prohibits both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry into the United States by an alien. Here’s the DOJ AG memo. — Joe

House Republicans release their draft “compromise” immigration bill [text]

The nearly 300-page bill is one of two that the entire House will vote on next week. It is considered a moderate alternative to the conservative bill proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) according to Vox. Here’s the text. — Joe

National security tariffs would require congressional approval under new bill

On June 6th, Sen. Bob Corker introduced legislation intended to restrict the president’s authority to issue national security tariffs. The bill would require the president to receive congressional approval before restricting trade on the grounds of national security. Here’s the text of the bill. — Joe

The Trump administration and the Congressional Review Act

From the abstract of The Trump Administration and the Congressional Review Act, 16 Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy ___ (2018) by Paul J. Larkin:

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) gives a new Administration and a new Congress with a majority of members from the President’s party the opportunity to invalidate “midnight rules” promulgated by an outgoing Administration and to reject rules that an agency never submitted to Congress. Taking advantage of that opportunity requires some internal analysis by the new Administration of the rules subject to the CRA and coordination with Congress. The President must identify the particular rules that he wishes to see held invalid; the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader must ensure that there are sufficient votes to invalidate the rules to which the President objects; and both branches must ensure that the CRA process is conducted in an orderly and expeditious manner. In the first half of 2017, the Trump Administration and Congress vigorously used the CRA to eliminate unlawful or unwise agency rules. Until recently, however, the CRA review process has gone quiet. The interesting question is why. There are additional opportunities for use of the CRA. Whether President Trump and Congress will make use of those opportunities is likely more a matter of politics than law.

— Joe

Implementation of FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 would cost $13 million over the 2019-2023 period, CBO says

From the CBO:

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 5305 would cost $13 million over the 2019-2023 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary funds. … Enacting H.R. 5305 could affect direct spending by agencies that use fees, receipts from the sale of goods, and other collections to cover operating costs. The bill also could affect direct spending by allowing GPO to accept and retain gifts. Therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Because most of the affected agencies can adjust the amounts collected as their operating costs change, CBO estimates that any net changes in direct spending by agencies would be insignificant. CBO expects that gifts to GPO would be nonmonetary and thus have no effect on the budget. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues.

H/T Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

A policy overview of permanent legal immigration to the United States: CRS report

From Permanent Legal Immigration to the United States: Policy Overview (R42866, May 11, 2018):

Four major principles currently underlie U.S. policy on legal permanent immigration: the reunification of families, the admission of immigrants with needed skills, the protection of refugees and asylees, and the diversity of immigrants by country of origin. These principles are embodied in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and are reflected in different components of permanent immigration. Family reunification occurs primarily through family-sponsored immigration. U.S. labor market contribution occurs through employment-based immigration. Humanitarian assistance occurs primarily through the U.S. refugee and asylee programs. Origin country diversity is addressed through the Diversity Immigrant Visa.

The pool of people eligible to immigrate to the United States as LPRs each year typically exceeds numerical limits established by the INA for most immigrant pathways. In an effort to process the demand for LPR visas fairly and in accordance with the national interest, the INA imposes a complex set of numerical limits and preference categories within major immigrant pathways that admit LPRs to the United States on the basis of family relationships, needed skills, and geographic diversity.

The INA limits worldwide permanent immigration to 675,000 persons annually: 480,000 family sponsored immigrants, made up of family-sponsored immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (“immediate relatives”), and a set of ordered family-sponsored preference immigrants (“preference immigrants”); 140,000 employment-based immigrants; and 55,000 diversity visa immigrants. This worldwide limit, however, is referred to as a “permeable cap,” because certain categories of LPRs are not subject to numerical limitations. These include immediate relatives of U.S. citizens within the INA’s family-sponsored immigration provisions, as well as refugees whose number is determined by the President in consultation with Congress. In addition, the number of persons granted asylum is not numerically constrained. Consequently, the number of persons receiving LPR status each year regularly exceeds the INA’s statutory worldwide level for permanent immigration.

The INA further specifies that countries are held to a numerical limit of 7% of the annual worldwide level of family-sponsored and employment-based immigrants, known as the per country limit or country cap. The cap is intended to prevent one or just a few countries from dominating immigrant flows.

— Joe

Facebook’s influence on the Irish abortion referendum

On May 25, 2018, Irish voters will vote on repealing Article 40.3.3 – known as the eighth amendment – which since 1983 has given unborn foetuses and pregnant women an equal right to life, in effect enshrining a ban on abortion in the country’s constitution. Following the controversy around Cambridge Analytica and its influence on the US presidential election and Brexit referendum, there has been concern that outside influence could swing the vote, in a country with just 3.2m eligible voters.

In May, Google announced a ban on all ads relating to the referendum and Facebook announced that it was blocking all foreign referendum advertising. However, Facebook is still a major factor in this campaign. In an attempt to build a picture of how both sides of the referendum are using Facebook to influence voters, the Transparency Initiative Referendum has been examining adverts, including boosted posts, that have appeared in the feeds of 600 Irish-based Facebook users. For a report on the study, see The Guardian’s How Facebook is influencing the Irish abortion referendum. — Joe

Senate passes joint resolution to restore net neutrality [text]

S.J.Res.52 restores net neutrality by nullifying the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission entitled “Restoring Internet Freedom.” The rule published on February 22, 2018: (1) restores the classification of broadband Internet access service as a lightly-regulated “information service”; (2) reinstates private mobile service classification of mobile broadband Internet access service; (3) requires Internet service providers to disclose information about their network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of service; and (4) eliminates the Internet Conduct Standard and the bright-line rules. There is no expectation that the joint resolution will pass in the House. — Joe

State-by-state net neutrality laws

Since the FCC’s Restore Internet Freedom Order, officials across 26 states have taken action aimed at preventing ISPs from engaging in throttling or blocking content or services, engaging in paid prioritization of traffic, or otherwise mismanaging data traffic traveling over broadband networks within state lines. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of local net neutrality state laws. — Joe

Federal and state bill drafting guides

At the federal level, see House Office of Legislative Counsel, Legislative Drafting Guide and Style Manual. For a 50-state survey, see this compilation of resources produced by the National Conference of State Legislatures. — Joe

Bipartisan support for Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act [text]

Intended to protect Special Counsel Mueller, under the terms of the bill a special counsel may be removed only for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or other good cause, including violation of DOJ policies. Not yet on Congress.gov, the text of the bill was uploaded to Scribd by one of the bills sponsors. — Joe

Oregon is second state to protect net neutrality by statute [text]

Following Washington State’s landmark move last month, Oregon’s governor signed House Bill 4155 into law to attempt to protect net neutrality. Legal challenges are expected. — Joe

House committee markups manual

A principal responsibility of House committees is to conduct markups, to select legislation to consider, to debate it and vote on amendments to it (to mark up), and to report recommendations on passage to the House. House Committee Markups: Manual of Procedures and Procedural Strategies (R41083 Mar. 27, 2018) examines procedures and strategy related to committee markups and provides sample procedural scripts. — Joe

FDLP Modernization Act of 2018, H.R. 5305, introduced

“There is good news and bad news” wrote James R. Jacobs, Free Government Information, about H.R. 5305, the FDLP Modernization Act of 2018. His analysis is highly recommended. See FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 introduced. Take action now to improve the bill! To access other related resources, visit FDLP.gov’s Title 44 Revision page. There, you will find links to related Congressional testimony, the Depository Library Council’s Title 44 recommendations, GPO’s formal comments to proposed legislation, and more. — Joe