Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

HUD Publishes Proposed PHAS Rule

Source: PHADA Advocate, Vol. 23 no. 16, September 17, 2008
(subscription required)

Significant Changes Made to Management Indicator

On August 21, HUD published “Changes to the Public Housing Assessment System” in the Federal Register, with comments due October 20, 2008. These changes are particularly dramatic in the management indicator, but important alterations were also made to the financial one while a new indicator entitled ‘Capital Fund’ replaces the resident survey.

Although each asset management project (AMP) will now receive a score, there will be no ‘troubled’ AMPs. Troubled status can only be imposed on a housing authority as a whole for a total score which falls below 60. Agencies will no longer be troubled in a single indicator, such as financially troubled, if an indicator score falls below 60 while the total authority score remains above 60. Agencies meeting these criteria will now be referred to as substandard. These agencies will have to correct deficiencies but are not required to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Department

The Social Security Number: Legal Developments Affecting Its Collection, Disclosure, and Confidentiality

Source: Congressional Research Service, RL30318, February 21, 2008

From the summary:
While the social security number (SSN) was first introduced as a device for keeping track of contributions to the Social Security system, its use has been expanded by government entities and the private sector to keep track of many other government and private sector records. Use of the social security number as a federal government identifier was based on Executive Order 9393, issued by President Franklin Roosevelt. Beginning in the 1960s, federal agencies started adopting the social security number as a governmental identifier, and its use for keeping track of government records, on both the federal and state levels, greatly increased. Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974 limits compulsory divulgence of the social security number by government entities. While the Privacy Act does provide some limits on the use of the social security number by state and federal entities, exceptions provided in that statute and succeeding statutes have resulted in only minimal restrictions on governmental usage of the social security number. Constitutional challenges to social security number collection and dissemination have, for the most part, been unsuccessful. Private sector use of the social security number is widespread and continues to be largely unregulated by the federal government. The chronology in this report provides a list of federal developments affecting use of the social security number, including federal regulation of the number, as well as specific authorizations, restrictions, and fraud provisions concerning its use.

Legal Issues Relating to State Health Care Regulation: ERISA Preemption and Fair Share Laws

Source: Jon O. Shimabukuro and Jennifer Staman, Legislative Attorneys, American Law Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Order Code RL34637, August 26, 2008

In the absence of comprehensive federal health care reform, states and localities have undertaken certain initiatives in an effort to expand the provision of health care to residents. One type of measure has been the fair share law, which generally requires employers to choose between paying a certain amount towards health expenditures or coverage for their employees, or contributing to a state or locality to offset the cost of medical expenses for uninsured residents. Questions have been raised as to whether fair share laws can be preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). This report provides an overview of ERISA preemption, discusses legal challenges to fair share laws, and analyzes the fair share requirements included as part of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act.

Legal and Regulatory Issues Presented by Health Care Reform

Source: Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, Washington and Lee University, 2007

From the summary:
This paper discusses what law is and the role it plays in health policy. The author then proceeds to examine four areas where changes in the law will be necessary to implement health care reform. These include:
1. The relationship between federal and state authority and responsibility in governing health care;
2. The definition of health care entitlements;
3. Regulation of markets for health insurance; and
4. Regulation of the delivery of health care products and services.

New Publications and Internet Sites

Source: EBRI Employee Benefit Research Institute Notes, Vol. 29 no. 5, May 2008

Web Documents:
2008 Health Care for America Survey: Summary of Findings
Changes in Family Health Insurance Coverage for Small and Large Firm Workers and Dependents: Evidence from 1995 to 2005
Consumer-Driven Impact Study
Current Strategies to Employ and Retain Older Workers
Employer “Pay or Play” Requirements–Key State and Local Health Care Reform Initiatives
EP Determination Letter Resource Guide [for retirement plan sponsors]
FMLA Practices and Perspectives: A Survey of WorldatWork Members
Hewitt FMLA Resources for Employers
Improvement in Multiemployer Pension Plans’ Withdrawal Liability Funded Ratios Continues
MetLife Sixth Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends–Findings from the National Survey of Employers and Employees
Milliman 2008 Pension Funding Study: 2007 Gains Reversed in First Quarter of 2008
Retirement Security for Women: Progress To Date and Policies for Tomorrow
The Role of IRAs in U.S. Households’ Saving for Retirement
Social Security: An Essential Asset and Insurance Protection for All
Summary of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

Public Opinion and State Action on Same-Sex Marriage

Source: Gregory B. Lewis and Seong Soo Oh, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 40 no. 1, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Studies of state gay rights, same-sex marriage, and sodomy laws find weak links to public opinion, despite repeated findings that state policies reflect citizens’ values, especially on morality policy. This study reexamines the link by testing new state-level measures of support for same-sex marriage using data on 69,000 respondents to 57 surveys and estimating the impact of that support on passage of legislative and constitutional bans in models that include general citizen liberalism, elite attitudes, interest group strength, and state innovativeness. Previous research has underestimated the impact of public opinion, which has the strongest influence on legislative bans in this model. The strength of evangelical Protestant groups appears to matter more for amending state constitutions.

The 12th Anniversary of Welfare Reform: What Do We Know About Time Limits?

Source: MDRC, August 15, 2008

This month marks the 12th anniversary of the federal welfare reform law, a turning point in the political debate about shifting public assistance toward a system of temporary support with a focus on moving recipients into work. One of the most controversial features of the law was the imposition of time limits on benefit receipt. What have we learned about the effects of time limits since then?
See also:
Welfare Time Limits: An Update on State Policies, Implementation, and Effects on Families
Source: Mary Farrell, Sarah Rich, Lesley Turner, David Seith, and Dan Bloom, MDRC, April 2008

Lobbying Disclosure Databases

Source: Peggy Garvin and Deanna Gelak, Online, Vol. 32 no. 5, September/October 2008
(subscription required)

Public disclosure has come to mean availability on the internet, free of charge, for everyone. HLOGA [Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (Public Law No. 100-81)] brings lobbying disclosure records into the modern world with a requirement that the House of Representatives – via the Clerk of the House’s office – and the Senate – via the Secretary of the Senate’s office – each make the filings available online “in a searchable, sortable, and downloadable manner.”

See also:
Lobbying Law and Ethics Rules Changes in the 110th Congress
Source: Jack Maskell, Congressional Research Service, RL34166, September 2007
Regulating Lobbyists at the Statehouse
Links to State Disclosure Web Sites on Lobbying Disclosure
House Lobby Disclosure Filings Search
House Lobby Disclosure Website
Senate Lobby Disclosure Filings Search
Senate Lobby Disclosure Website
Foreign Agents Registration Act Disclosure (FARA Document Search)
Open Secrets (subscription required)