Source: Center for Democracy and Technology, October 03, 2008
The Justice Department today issued new guidelines for FBI investigations, weakening the standards that have long been in place to ensure proper targeting of law enforcement and national security investigations. The guidelines represent another step in the creation of a domestic intelligence system in the United States. They permit FBI agents to go undercover to collect information, send in informants and tail citizens, all without suspicion of wrongdoing or connections to a foreign power.
• Attorney General Guidelines
• DOJ Fact Sheet
• FBI Dir. Mueller/ A.G. Mukasey Statement
Source: National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems, 2008
This report was compiled for the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems by staff of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). This report summarizes selected state pensions and retirement legislation enacted through July 7, 2008. It builds upon a search of the legislation of all the states that held regular or special sessions from January through July 2008. The Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon and Texas legislatures did not convene in regular session in 2008. Some states continue in session at this time. This report will be updated late in 2008 to reflect actions that may occur after July 7. The legislation summarized below was compiled from several sources. The report is based upon comprehensive surveys of legislation Statenet provided NCSL. That foundation was augmented with legislation and legislative summaries reported on various legislatures’ and state retirement systems’ Websites, and summaries legislative staff provided NCSL.
Source: Vincent Dilorenzo, St. John’s Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-0146
From the abstract:
Who is to blame for the large mortgage market losses borne by consumers, communities, the financial services industry and others? This paper explores government’s responsibility. It explores whether the decision to deregulate the mortgage market to a degree that permitted both unsafe and unfair mortgage practices was the decision of Congress or the federal regulatory agencies. Part one of this paper explores Congress’ viewpoint toward deregulation of the mortgage market. It differentiates two types of deregulation: (a) lifting of statutory requirements and substituting regulatory constraints, and (b) lifting of all government mandates and substituting a preference for market forces to police abusive practices. This paper examines Congress’ actions and motivations over a thirty year period and initially concludes that Congress embraced the former view and not the latter. This view was consistently embraced in the period 1982 to 1994 to address unsafe banking practices and unfair banking practices. Unfortunately, Congress then provided mixed signals regarding its deregulation viewpoint in legislative enactments in 1994 when faced with unfair banking practices. This permitted regulatory agencies to continue to pursue a deregulatory agenda even when faced with evidence of abusive lending practices.
Part two of this paper explores the viewpoint of the federal regulatory agencies toward deregulation of the mortgage market. It examines the actions and viewpoints of the federal banking regulators in the last three decades. Two conclusions emerge. First, the agencies preferred a free market approach and implemented such an approach whenever statutes provided the discretion to do so. Second, the regulatory agencies embraced a decision making model that relied on predictions of net societal benefits as the determinant of a decision to intervene in the mortgage markets. Such a viewpoint led the agencies to typically shun government intervention. That decision led to equity stripping for over a decade, especially in low-income communities, more equity stripping in recent years as lax lending practices led to defaults and foreclosures, and even more in the coming year as foreclosures multiply.
Source: Bill Fletcher Jr., New Labor Forum, Vol. 17 no. 3, Fall 2008
This agenda will be moot without a strong backing from social forces that are prepared to press for its implementation. Any demobilization of those who successfully brought the Democratic candidate to victory will buoy the political Rights leverage to assert its own agenda. Right-wing forces will push for a continuation of the Bush administrations anti-progressive policies. Thus, if we are not prepared to consistently place enough pressure on our “friend” in the White House, we should expect a repeat of the Bill Clinton years–an era in which there was (technically) a high degree of access to the President and top cabinet officials, but the progressive social movements were afforded very little actual power.
Source: PHADA Advocate, Vol. 23 no. 16, September 17, 2008
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
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.
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.
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.
Source: David A. Drachsler, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 59 no. 2, Summer 2008
How have public employee whistleblowers fared since Garcetti, and has Garcetti improved or been harmful to honest and open public administration?