Tag Archives | legislation

40,000 New Laws For New Year Across United States

The libertarians are really onto something ... From MSNBC:
About 40,000 state laws taking effect at the start of the new year will change rules about getting abortions in New Hampshire, learning about gays and lesbians in California, getting jobs in Alabama and even driving golf carts in Georgia. Several federal rules change with the new year, too, including a Social Security increase amounting to $450 a year for the average recipients and stiff fines up to $2,700 per offense for truckers and bus drivers caught using hand-held cellphones while driving. NBC News, the National Conference of State Legislatures, The Associated Press, and other organizations tracked the changes...
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Who Is The Protect IP Act Really Protecting?

The Preventing Real Online Threats of Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PROTECT IP Act, is supposedly targeted at so-called ”rogue websites” that trade in infringing goods. Abigail Phillips gives some much-needed context to the controversial legislation for the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Last year’s rogue website legislation is back on the table, with a new name: the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011″—or (wink, wink) “PROTECT IP”. The draft language is available here.

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 6.44.57 PM

The earlier bill, which failed to pass thanks largely to a hold on the legislation placed by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, would have given the government dramatic new copyright enforcement powers targeted at websites “dedicated to infringing activities,” even where those websites were not based in the United States. Despite some salient differences (described below) in the new version, we are no less dismayed by this most recent incarnation than we were with last year’s draft.

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‘Do Not Track Me Online’ Privacy Bill Introduced

Photo: Nokia Releases (CC)

Photo: Nokia Releases (CC)

Tired of spam e-mails and unwanted pop-ups? This bill will create regulations as to how marketers obtain information about you without your knowledge. The bill still allows web users the option to be tracked by advertisers, just in case you enjoy having marketing companies target you.  Los Angeles Times reports:

The first “do not track” legislation was introduced in Congress on Friday, raising the possibility that Web users will be able to prevent advertisers from recording their online behavior for marketing purposes, similar to the Do Not Call Registry created in 2003.

The bill, called the “Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011,” would give the Federal Trade Commission the right to create regulations that would force online marketers to respect the wishes of users who did not want to be tracked.

“Failure to do so would be considered an unfair or deceptive act punishable by law,” noted a statement from the office of Rep.

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Senator Schumer Tries To Ban Snorting Bath Salts

An example of the type of bath salts that would be the subject of new federal law.

An example of the type of bath salts that would be the subject of new federal law.

Chuck Schumer, the senior Senator from New York, is not happy about the creative use of bath salts (smoking or snorting them for a speedy high) and has plans to make them federal controlled substances. Report from Reuters:

Two drugs that produce a “meth-like” high and are being sold under the guise of “bath salts” would be banned as federally controlled substances under a bill unveiled by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York.

“These so-called bath salts contain ingredients that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics, and they are being sold cheaply to all comers, with no questions asked, at store counters around the country,” said Schumer, a Democrat.

Schumer said he will introduce a bill to outlaw the two synthetic drugs — mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV. The drugs come in powder and tablet form and are ingested by snorting, injection, smoking and, less often, by use of an atomizer.

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9/11 Health Bill May Pass After All

Charles Schumer official portrait

Kirsten Gillibrand 2006 official photo cropped

It looks like New York’s Democrat Senators have finally convinced enough of their Republican companions in the Senate to vote for the 9/11 health legislation sorely needed for sick first responders (but not without knocking $1.2 billion off the price). From New York Magazine’s Daily Intel:

Don’t look now, but the Democrats are starting to rack up a pretty sizable number of successes in what was at one time expected to be a quiet and largely uneventful lame-duck session. There was the tax-cut deal, which included an extension of unemployment benefits, then the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and soon, it appears, even the long-stalled James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. And yes, it is strange that guaranteeing medical assistance for first responders sickened by the toxic dust of the destroyed World Trade Center is a specifically Democratic issue.

Republicans have maintained that they don’t have anything against the heroes of ground zero (kind of an embarrassing thing to have to convince people of), but merely objected to how the $7.4 billion bill was funded — closing a tax loophole on foreign corporations — and the timing of the vote.

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The Eleven Pens Of Barack Obama: Signing Financial Reform Is Signing Up For A New Struggle To Make It Real

With eleven pens for souvenirs, President Obama signed the financial reform bill in a rare celebratory moment. Significantly, the ceremony did not take place in the Oval Office but up the block at the Ronald Reagan building perhaps to signal recalcitrant Republicans that this is a cause they should sign on to.

It wasn’t clear if he was aware that he was signing up for a new volatile phase of struggle to rein in out of control financial power.

The three GOP lawmakers who voted for the bill received a standing ovation from the largely democratic crowd that watched Obama embrace Paul Volcker, while Elizabeth Warren stood by applauding (before taking her picture with the former Fed head).

Warren’s presence didn’t make many news stories or the Times photo caption perhaps because many—mostly bankers and some Obama advisors—want her out of the picture permanently.  They say Banks need protection too. Quips David Sirota, “Not to put too fine a point on it, but the new agency is called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it is not called the Bank Financial Protection Bureau (as, frankly, you might call the rest of the government).” She could be appointed right now to head the new consumer protection bureau without approval by the Senate.… Read the rest

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No “Kill Switch” in Lieberman-Collins Bill, But There’s Been One Since 1934

Big Red Button

Via ReadWriteWeb:

It doesn’t sound like a “kill switch.” The bill would require the President to submit a report describing, among other things, “The actions necessary to preserve the reliable operation and mitigate the consequences of the potential disruption of covered critical infrastructure” (pg. 84 lines 1-4). That sounds like the opposite of a kill switch: this legislation describes a process by which the president is expected to take action to ensure access to “critical infrastructure” -including the Internet.

There’s plenty of room to debate the merits of the federal government dictating the security policies of private companies, the ability of the president to continually extend any provisions beyond 30 days, the value of establishing new cyber security departments within the government, and the vagueness of the language in the bill. But this is nothing nearly so radical as some are making it out to be.

In fact, as Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ web site for the bill points out, the President already has a legislative (but of course, not technological) “kill switch.” The Communications Act of 1934 gave the president power to shut down “wire communications.”

[Full story at ReadWriteWeb]

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Senator Orrin Hatch (R) Says, If You’re Out Of Work, You’re A Drug Addict

Orrin Hatch

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

What is it with morons from Utah getting all up in other people’s business? Here’s the latest stupidity to emanate from that part of the country, from Raw Story:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) offered an amendment Tuesday that would require drug tests for those who seek welfare and unemployment benefits. States have the authority to enact drug testing requirements for their welfare programs under the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, but they are not mandated to conduct tests under current law.”

Now it was lame enough that the moderate Republican (no, he WASN’T a Liberal), Bill Clinton, allowed this invasive nonsense to be pulled on welfare recipients (Why in hell aren’t we drug-testing bankers? You MUST be high to think some of the gambles those idiots took were a great idea.) just to placate the insane-o hard right Republicans. However this Orrin jerk from Utah wants to expand it to say to millions of law-abiding citizens who are merely down on their luck that, “If you’re poor, unfortunate, or unemployed even due to circumstances beyond your control, you’re obviously a drug addict as well, and should be treated as such.

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Call To Act: Save And Strengthen Financial Reform

We have less than a month to go before the Congress votes on financial reform.

Ironically, the deadline seems to be July 4th, our independence day, an occasion that will likely usher in ever more dependence on Wall Street despite appearances.

The conference on the Hill formally begins this week after weeks of behind the scenes legislative “reconciliation”–a fancy name for horse-trading and compromising between the House and Senate over different versions of the “reforms” with thousands of lobbyists for the financial industry using every trick in their infinite playbooks of persuasion and pay-offs to assure that the final bill is loop-hole full, weak and easy to maneuver around.

Matt Taibbi reports real reform is a goner:

“The financial-services industry has reportedly flooded the Capitol with more than 2,000 paid lobbyists; even veteran members are stunned by the intensity of the blitz. “They’re trying everything,” says Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio.

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