Archive for April, 2015

This Week In Washington…

Posted on April 30, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP STORIES

  • The Supreme Court heard historic legal arguments on same-sex marriages this week. Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to again be the court’s pivotal vote and Chief Justice John Roberts signaling he may join his more closely colleagues. Looking Ahead: The court is not expected to rule in the case for months.
  • The White House is pushing back against a 2016 GOP-backed Pentagon budget plan, that Democrats fear contains poison pills on a diverse set of issues, including the nuclear deal with Iran, weapons systems and the closure of the Guantanamo Bay. Looking Ahead: The House Armed Services Committee is expected to take up the bill shortly.
  • Spring, green and friendship United States and Japan Nagoyaka ni! -- Which means harmonious feeling.

    Spring, green and friendship United States and Japan Nagoyaka ni! — Which means harmonious feeling.

    On Tuesday, President and Mrs. Obama honored Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe. This was the eighth State Dinner hosted by the Obamas and the first of 2015. State dinners are the ultimate social and diplomatic fete and this one did not disappoint with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto leading expertise in the kitchen to assure that the estimated 200 guests were treated to a carefully crafted menu blending regional cuisines and showoff delicacies. As for politics, Prime Minister Abe quoted from the R&B song made famous by Diana Ross, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” to affirm the bond between the two countries. President Obama raised a glass of sake and toasted his guest of honor with a haiku about spring, friendship and harmony. Looking Ahead: Abe addressed Congress on Wednesday, pledging stronger diplomatic relations moving forward.

  • Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2016, but she won’t be crowned the party’s standard-bearer without at least one challenge. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was to announce his candidacy for the nomination on Thursday. Looking Ahead: Lincoln Chafee, the former Rhode Island governor and senator is among others who might join the race.

 The Law: Proposed Rulemakings

  •  The Office of Management and Budget announced Mondayin the Federal Register that it would be releasing for public comment the draft guidance for the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).
  • The Federal Housing Administration responded to comments on the alternative path to claim payment—the Mortgagee Optional Election Assignment—for certain Home Equity Conversion Mortgages that were submitted Feb. 6 and March 9.
  • Speaking of rulemaking and the Federal Register, this piece examines the very first document ever printed in the Federal Register, an Executive Order titled Enlarging Cape Romain Migratory Bird Refuge.

Resources: A quick and easy way to get info fast:

  1. Want to follow the 2016 presidential sweepstakes? All the polling data you’ll need is a click away.
  2. Get the latest from the declared presidential candidates: Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republicans Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio

Follow Caren Z. Turner @ https://twitter.com/CarenZTurner

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The Week in Washington…

Posted on April 23, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP STORIES 

CapFlag

  • What the heck is going on on Capitol Hill? Could Congress actually be getting a few things  done in this election year, like passing the Medicare ‘doc fix,’ a cybersecurity bill, an energy efficiency bill and a human trafficking bill? There’s been some movement on a trade deal, a budget resolution and even a highway bill. Looking Ahead: Don’t count on the productivity lasting as election year gridlock is easily rekindled.
  • A growing number of political committees known as super PACs are allowing the presidential candidates to raise huge amounts of money, tens of thousands per person per event, and squeezing small donors out of the political process. Super PACs are often instruments of single donors that give them outsized influence. Looking Ahead: Jeb Bush may set a new standard by entrusting major portions his campaign to a super PAC.
  • Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration since 2007, resigned last week under intense pressure from lawmakers and others concerned over an inspector general’s report that confirmed revelations about “sex parties” involving prostitutes overseas, including some women hired by Colombian drug cartels. Looking Ahead: Leonhart will remain in office until mid May while a successor is sought.
  • Seeking to build support for proposed trade deals with Asia and Europe, Presdent Obama challenged the claims of some Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, that deals would hurt American workers by encouraging job exports. Looking Ahead: The trade deals faces a rough road to passage in the Congress and a new “fast track” agreement could actually slow things down.
  • It’s illegal to bring guns into Capitol Hill office buildings, unless of course you’re a member of Congress and therefore exempt to the rule. So Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) is keeping an AR-15 in his office, which he proudly displayed in a Tweet posing with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). Looking Ahead: Possessing the weapons may not violate Capitol Hill rules, but it could run a foul of the District of Columbia’s strict gun laws, police are checking on it. 
  • In a new report, the General Accountability Office says the federal government could save $80 billion a year by eliminating the duplication of efforts across agencies. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government said at a hearing last week that the American people deserve a government that is smarter and more effective and efficient with the tax dollars they entrust to us. Looking Ahead: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R- Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says more hearings will be convened.
  • Washington is home to America’s highest paid woman CEO, Marillyn Hewson, who leads defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Hewsonpulled in a cool $33.7 million in 2014, making her the only female in the list of the top 10 earning CEO, according to USA Today. That’s a huge amount when you consider the average lawyer earns $131,990 per year. Looking Ahead: Could robots be poised to take your job? Even some lawyers could be replaced.

The Law: Proposed Rulemakings

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is making available a regulatory basis document to support a rulemaking potentially amending its regulations concerning the security of special nuclear material. The NRC is not seeking public comments on this document.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is issuing this Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (to solicit comments on issues involving the Women’s Business Center SBA is evaluating the policies and procedures governing the management and oversight of the program.

 

Resources: A quick and easy way to get info fast:

  1. Check here for dates and locations of election events
  2. Want to follow the 2016 presidential sweepstakes? All the polling data you’ll need is a click away.
  3. Get the latest from the declared presidential candidates: Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republicans Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio
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The Week In Washington…

Posted on April 16, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

What’s happening, and what happened, this week in Washington

April 16, 2015

 

2016: GO!

Hillary Clinton surprised no one this week with her announcement that she is seeking the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. With no other Democratic contenders in sight, it might not be too early to start calling her the presumptive nominee. Meanwhile, the GOP field widened with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio joining the field of announced candidates for that party’s nomination. And Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker set up a PAC to raise money for his expected bid.

 

hillvetica

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 5.23.46 PMSpeaking of Clinton, with the launch of her campaign, the former senator and Secretary of State also unveiled a new logo that has drawn criticism from some corners. Most frequently asked question: Why would a logo for a Democratic candidate have an arrow pointing to the right? Still, it has its backers. Graphic designer Rick Wolff created a typeface he calls “Hillary Bold” or “Hillvetica,” which you can use to make your own comment.

Looking Ahead: Presidential hopeful Paul Rand wasted no time getting his criticism of Hillary, expect the other GOP candidate to join the chorus.

 

Smoke. But Will There be Mirrors for Presidential Candidates?

Marijuana is shaping up to be a key issue in the coming presidential election and New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie is staking out ground as an anti-pot candidate. Christie, who has fought reform of marijuana laws in his home state, says that as president he’ll crack down on weed smokers, even in states that have voted to legalize the drug. A majority of Americans favor legalizing pot.

 

Tax Day: Is Reform Coming?

April 15 brought the usual groans from Americans scrambling to complete their 2014 taxes on time. The U.S. tax code is a law you might need a lawyer, as well as an accountant, to navigate. Here are some big tax breaks. Get your 2014 federal taxpayer receipt from the White House.

Looking Ahead: Should tax reform be an issue in the 2016 presidential race?

 

House Votes to Repeal Estate Tax

In addition to the old adage Death and Taxes, the “Death Tax” was front and center this week when Republicans scored a win on Thursday with a vote in the House to repeal the estate tax. The GOP touts the benefits to small businesses and hardworking families while the Dems portray the move as a deficit burden that benefits the wealthy.

Looking Ahead: The administration has been critical of the repeal and will likely veto a bill should it survive the Senate where it needs 60 votes to pass.

 

Data Security Breach: the High Cost of a Hack

The disturbing hack of health care data announced in February by Anthem, the second biggest health insurance provider, impacted about 78.8 million Americans in more than a dozen states. Earlier this week, a 10 count class action lawsuit was filed in Missouri and if the judge signs off on the class action litigation, 1.5 million Missourians could be part of the lawsuit.

Client Bulletin: The High Cost of Insufficient Data Protection

Is your business protected and prepared against the high cost of insufficient data collection?

 

Summary Grants to Speed UAS Exemptions

The spread of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) need to manage them triggered a decision to use summary grants, a flexible approach to a regulatory process. The use of summary grants should expedite approvals for many commercial UAS operators. Removing barriers to operators appears to be a priority for the FAA and the administration, which is making other efforts to streamline the process eliminating a medical requirement and private pilot certificate.

Looking Ahead: Flight schools? Auburn University has become the first school to receive FAA approval to operate an Unmanned Aircraft Flight School.

 

Rulemaking

One proposed rule would change the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program EHR reporting period in 2015 to a 90-day period aligned with the calendar year, and also would align the EHR reporting period in 2016 with the calendar year.

The Office of the Comptroller of Currency Board, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced the third in a series of outreach meetings on the Agencies’ interagency process to review their regulations under the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996.

The Department of Labor issued for public comment on the long-anticipated controversial redraft of its rule to amend the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

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The Week in Washington…

Posted on April 9, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

What’s happening, and what happened, this week in Washington

mark photo of cherry trees and dome

In our Nation’s Capital we are all tourists as locals and visitors alike flock to the Tidal Basin to marvel at the gentle loveliness of the Japanese Cherry Trees that grace our city. It is an annual tradition, a marvelous wonder of nature and the promise of change brought about the arrival of Spring that makes you forget about the harsh winter, and politics, at least for awhile. This year, the trees will reach their peak stage of blossoms on Monday, April 13th, which happens to be Thomas Jefferson’s birthday.

April 10, 2015

The Iran nuclear framework echoes in Washington

A framework for a deal aimed at preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power was reached between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany), setting the stage for battles over the deal in Tehran and Washington. President Obama hailed the framework as a significant breakthrough while Republicans dismissed it as a sell out.

Looking ahead: Negotiators face serious challenges in advance of a self-imposed June deadline for a final deal. And Congress has plenty of options to oppose the deal.

 

And on the Hill, complications could “nuke” the deal 

The indictment of New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez continued to reverberate, as his successor Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) steps to the fore as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. Cardin’s immediate concern will be the fate of legislation dealing with the Iran nuclear deal and the continuation of sanctions.

And what happens to Menendez’ staffers?

Looking ahead: Several bills are pending in Congress that could derail the framework.

 

The 2016 presidential race

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky launched his bid for the White House this week, joining Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the field of officially declared candidates for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. He’s a different kind of candidate, that’s for sure, but is that enough to become the Republican standard-bearer next year?

And if money is the key to a nomination, Governor Jeb Bush is the unannounced candidate who may have a lock on the GOP nomination because right now, he has successfully raised the cash. But is money everything? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, N.J. Governor Chris Christie wasted no time at CPAC painting Jeb Bush as the “elite candidate.”

Looking ahead: Who’s in Iowa?

 

The Supreme Court and Obamacare

President Obama said during an interview with CNN that the current Supreme Court case challenging Obamacare “is sort of the last gasp of folks who’ve been fighting against this for ideological reasons.” If Obamacare is struck down in the case, King v. Burwell, millions of people could lose benefits. The south will be especially hard hit.

And if Obamacare is overturned who gets the blame and will the public view this ideological and petty partisanship on their leadership?

Looking Ahead: The Court is expected to issue a decision in the case in June.

 

Selling Weapons in the Middle East

The White House recently lifted a hold on delivery of  large-scale weapons systems, including F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles, and M1A1 Abrams tank kits, to Egypt. This continues a major increase in arms sales by the United States to countries in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. While good news for defense contractors, is it good for regional stability?

 

Rulemaking 

The Federal Aviation Administration is actively soliciting your opinion on a variety of issues related to small unmanned aircraft systems, which is government talk for those remote controlled aircraft commonly called drones.

The Federal Communications Commission has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at implementing Section 102 of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act of 2014 (STELAR).

 

From the American Bar Association

Could technology create change to the most rigid of professions? Answers to your questions about Virtual Law Teams.

 

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This Week In Washington…

Posted on April 2, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

TOP 5 STORIES as Congress Headed to Recess

The Congress may be in recess, but renovation of the Capitol dome goes on.

The Congress may be in recess, but renovation of the Capitol dome goes on.

The House and Senate passed the GOP Budget Blueprint that reduces spending on benefit programs, reduces the deficit and avoids tax increases.

  • Now that the extravaganza of a 15-hour flurry of non-debated and non-binding voting is a wrap, a look at what rose to the Senate floor is an interesting reveal of passions and issues that will no doubt emerge in the 2016 election.
  • After a career spanning 33 years, Harry Reid’s retirement announcement may have seemed abrupt but according to some insiders, it was the only option for the Nevada senator to avoid further scandal. Look Ahead: New York Sen. Chuck Schumer appears to have the inside track to replace Reid as Senate Democratic leader.
  • And speaking of scandal, New Jersey’s senior Sen. Robert Menendez has triggered some nerves with a 14-count indictment on corruption charges, the first senator in 30 years to be charged with bribery. Menendez is the top Democrat on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee and an intra-party critic of Obama’s Iran’s nuclear negotiations and policy in Cuba. Look Ahead: Menendez faces a growing chorus of calls for his resignation.
  • The beat goes on for now with Boehner’s “doc fix” as the House passed a bill on March 26 to maintain current payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. But the Senate adjourned without taking action to permanently repeal and replace Medicare’s sustainable growth rate physician payment formula, a disappointment to most healthcare groups and especially the doctors who will face a huge cut of 21 percent. Look Ahead: The Senate will take up the issue after the recess.
  • Congress may be in recess but politics are anything but restful and the DCCC is taking advantage of the break to go back to school. Democrats will fan out to take up the issue of college affordability in the eye of the storm, college campuses.

The Law: Proposed Rulemakings

  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee announced a series proposed rulemakings aimed at improving post-grant proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board are on their way.
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is working on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the interplay of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Affordable Care Act dealing with wellness programs.

Coming up: 2015 Governor’s Races

Only three states, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi will hold elections for governorships on November 3, 2015.

Resources: A quick and easy way to get info fast:

  1. Check here for dates and locations of election events: http://www.uspresidentialelectionnews.com/guide-to-the-2016-presidential-election/
  1. Springtime in Washington usually means out of town visitors and lots of questions that need answers. Here’s a resource for White House tours and other information: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/US-Congress.shtml
  1. And a FAQ about restoration of the Capitol Dome: http://www.aoc.gov/dome/faqs
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