Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

License-Exempt Child Care Providers in the Child Care and Development Fund Program

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, OEI-07-10-00231, July 11, 2013

From the summary:
ACF administers the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which provides financial assistance with child care for approximately 1.7 million children each month. States are required to have health and safety requirements and monitoring requirements in place for all providers receiving CCDF money. During data collection for the study Child Care and Development Fund: Monitoring of Licensed Child Care Providers (OEI-07-10-00230), we found that a number of States did not report having certain requirements for license-exempt providers. These States are not fully compliant with Federal regulations. Other States reported allowing providers to self-certify compliance with health and safety requirements, and reported limited monitoring, limited use of background checks, and provider nonreporting of serious injuries. We believe that these gaps in health and safety requirements and gaps in monitoring represent vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to harm for children in care, including care financed by the Federal government…For Federal fiscal years 2010 through 2011, we reviewed each State’s health and safety requirements for license exempt providers. According to CCDF State plans, 30 States allow license-exempt center based providers to care for children receiving CCDF subsidies, and 33 States allow license exempt family home providers to care for such children…. States exempt from regulation many CCDF subsidy-receiving providers that provide care for children. Not all States required license-exempt child care providers to meet Federal health and safety requirements. States with health and safety requirements for license-exempt providers commonly allowed providers to self-report compliance. States did not always monitor license exempt providers for compliance with health and safety requirements.

State Decisions on Health Insurance Exchanges and the Medicaid Expansion, as of June 20, 2013

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, State Health Facts, June 20, 2013

United States:
– Status of State Exchange Decision: 17 Declared State-based Exchange; 7 Planning for Partnership Exchange; 27 Default to Federal Exchange
– Current Status of Medicaid Expansion Decision: 24 Moving Forward at this Time; 21 Not Moving Forward at this Time; 6 Debate Ongoing

Notes:
Data are as of June 20, 2013. It is important to note that per CMS guidance, there is no deadline for states to implement the Medicaid expansion. Requirements for legislation to implement the Medicaid expansion vary across states; some state will require authorizing language and/or budgetary authority to implement the expansion while others will not.

Coverage through the exchanges will begin in every state on January 1, 2014, with enrollment beginning October 1, 2013. States can elect to build a fully state-based exchange, enter into a state-federal partnership exchange, or default into a federally-facilitated exchange. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish and operate a federally-facilitated exchange in any state that is not able or willing to establish a state-based exchange. In a federally-facilitated exchange, HHS will perform all exchange functions. States entering into a state-federal partnership exchange may administer plan management functions, in-person consumer assistance functions, or both, and HHS will perform the remaining exchange functions.

The ACA expands Medicaid coverage for most low-income adults to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) ($15,415 for an individual or $26,344 for a family of three in 2012). Following the June 2012 Supreme Court decision, states face a decision about whether to adopt the Medicaid expansion. For additional information on the cost and coverage implications of the Medicaid expansion click here.

The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Poverty

Source: Robert DeFina, Lance Hannon, Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 59 no. 4, June 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
During the past 30 years, U.S. poverty has remained high despite overall economic growth. At the same time, incarceration rates have risen by more than 300%, a phenomenon that many analysts have referred to as mass incarceration. This article explores whether the mass incarceration of the past few decades impeded progress toward poverty reduction. Relying on a state-level panel spanning 1980 to 2004, the study measures the impact of incarceration on three poverty indexes. Estimates are generated using instrumental variable techniques to account for possible simultaneity between incarceration and poverty. The evidence indicates that growing incarceration has significantly increased poverty, regardless of which index is used to gauge poverty. Indeed, the official poverty rate would have fallen considerably during the period had it not been for mass incarceration.

A Bagful of Cash: How the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Orchestrated a Corporate Takeover of Government

Source: Carl Gibson, ShuttheChamber.org, July 16, 2013

From the abstract:
The US Chamber of Commerce– a 101 year-old organization formed as corporations’ first union—is the chief agent behind Congress’ kowtowing to corporate interests, the Supreme Court’s favorability to corporations in its rulings, and presidents of both parties’ insistence on accommodating the wishes of multinational corporations at the expense of working-class people all over the world. This report outlines how the Chamber first formed, their blueprint for ultimate success as revealed in the confidential Powell Memo, how that blueprint has been realized in the 40 years since its writing, and the devastating effects of that agenda on small business. Despite the US Chamber purporting to be pro-jobs, pro-small business, and pro-growth, they have consistently lobbied for policies that kill jobs, stall economic growth, and take competitive advantages away from small businesses to enrich their corporate members. The Chamber of Commerce’s unchecked power over government will only continue to worsen unless the American people build a movement to mobilize against them.

Union Made: Labor’s Litigation for Social Change

Source: Charlotte Garden, Tulane Law Review, Vol. 88, 2013, Forthcoming, June 25, 2013

From the abstract:
Unions are key repeat players before the Supreme Court. Their involvement extends beyond what one might expect (labor) and extends to key cases involving federalism, discrimination, affirmative action, the First Amendment, and workplace health and safety, among others. Though scholars have written about how other union activity, like collective bargaining, impacts non-union workers, the role and impact of union participation in non-labor litigation has largely been ignored in the public debate over unions in America and in the academic literature about what unions do. This Article focuses on unions’ Supreme Court litigation that arises outside of the context of traditional labor law; in order to show how union-made law affects interests beyond those of the labor movement, its members, and unionized employers. It reveals how union-made law has had significant effects on the structure of American government and society.

This Article first describes the many areas in which union Supreme Court litigation has had important social effects extending far beyond core labor interests, and explains why, as a practical matter, unions are well situated to bring or fund these cases. Next, the Article explores three characteristics that have the potential to shape unions’ litigation positions: First, unions are more likely than other social movement litigators to litigate defensively, as well as offensively; second, unions operate based on majority rule; and third, unions may use litigation to support bargaining positions. The Article shows how these dynamics have played out in past cases, sometimes with surprising results. Finally, the article concludes with some observations regarding declining union density in this country.

Employer Use of Facebook and Online Social Networks to Discriminate Against Applicants for Employment and Employees: An Analysis Balancing the Risks of Having a Facebook Account and the Need for Protective Legislation

Source: James Delaney, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 64 no. 2, Summer 2013
(subscription required)

As technology advances, our use of computers, tablets, mobile phones, and smart phones continues to grow at an astounding rate. These advances also helped Facebook and other online social networks grow at a tremendous pace over the past decade. The growth of online social networks such as Facebook has brought about unforeseen changes in multiple facets of society affecting the legal rights of its users. Countless plaintiffs are filing lawsuits where Facebook acted as the medium in which the disputed problem or event arose. The twist to these lawsuits is nothing more than the fact the information is posted online. One recurring issue in these lawsuits is the privacy boundary which third parties, such as employers, may cross to obtain any personal information a user chooses to entrust to a social network like Facebook….

ALEC v Kids: ALEC’s Assault on Public Education

Source: Progress Florida, Better Georgia, Progress Iowa, Progress Michigan, Progress Missouri, Progress Now Nevada, Progress Texas, Alliance for a Better Utah, Progress VA, 2013

From Progress Iowa’s summary:
Read the new report detailing the damaging influence the corporate front group ALEC has on public education policy. The report, ALEC v Kids, demonstrates the growing influence ALEC holds in Iowa and across the country, including its secretive access to elected officials and the drafting of ‘model’ education policy designed to benefit ALEC’s corporate funders which compliant lawmakers pass off as their own then push into law.

Among the key findings in ALEC v Kids:

Iowa enacted ALEC’s indirect voucher policy in 2006, a tax giveaway to defund public education and instead provide tax breaks for attending private schools

ALEC is attempting to expand charter schools across the country, including in Iowa. Governor Vilsack signed legislation in 2002 establishing a pilot program of charter schools, and although this year’s legislation did not pass, ALEC and its ally Students First appear to be gearing up for renewed legislative efforts in our state.

Bridgepoint Education, a corporate member of ALEC’s education task force, operates one of their two online universities in Iowa (Ashford University in Clinton). Bridgepoint has an abysmal track record, one of the worst of any of their competitors (84.4% of students seeking an associates degree withdraw from school).

ALEC v. Kids focuses on nine states, and analyzes the disastrous effect of ALEC’s education policy. The report details examples at the state level, specifically the negative effects of ALEC policies and the coordination between ALEC and its allies. By examining the real world effects of ALEC policies and coordination across a single issue, this report examines ALEC from a unique perspective.

Laws Affecting Wellness Programs and Some Things They Make You Do

Source: Robert E. Boston and Brian M. Clifford, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 39 no. 1, Summer 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Affordable Care Act will present many employers with a choice: offer affordable health insurance coverage to all employees or face civil penalties. When implemented correctly, a wellness program can be an effective way to decrease the employer’s cost of insurance coverage. Employers should consider the various laws affecting wellness programs to decide whether and to what extent they are right for their business and its employees.

What the Supreme Court’s Prop. 8 Ruling Means for Voter-Approved Laws

Source: Dylan Scott, Governing, June 26, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the case over California’s gay marriage ban on standing grounds could have serious implications for other states that allow voters to pass laws through the initiative process…. During oral arguments, as Governing reported, some of the justices questioned if the Court would set a dangerous precedent if it dismissed the case on standing. Their reasoning was that it would allow state officials to effectively neuter the voter referendum process by refusing to defend in court voter-passed laws that they don’t like. Justice Anthony Kennedy raised those concerns again Wednesday in his dissent, noting that 26 states allow voters to pass laws through ballot initiatives and argued that the Roberts decision could therefore impact them….

…There could be a legislative remedy to the somewhat unsettling idea that state officials could effectively veto voter initiatives, says Ernest Young, a law professor at Duke University. States could alter their initiative laws to designate an initiative’s sponsors or even an independent ombudsman as the party who would defend an initiative’s constitutionality in court….