October 18, 2010

New York: Report of Preliminary Impact of 2009 Rockefeller Drug Law Reform

October 2009 - September 2010.

Issued October 2010

New York State fully implemented changes to its drug laws on October 7, 2009. This report provides a preliminary update of the impact during the first year. More comprehensive reports will be issued in the coming months. The preliminary review shows that because of the drug law changes:

• Approximately 1,000 fewer people went to state prison in the past 12 months:
300 individuals avoided state prison due to the elimination of certain mandatory prison sentences. These offenders were sentenced to jail or probation. 700 offenders who would have been sentenced to prison were instead enrolled into court-monitored judicial diversion programs.

• 327 Class B offenders were resentenced and released from prison.

• The number of individuals judicially diverted to drug court has increased substantially, with 46% admitted into residential treatment and 54% admitted into outpatient treatment.
This report and other related reports are available at: http://wwwdev:84/drug-law-reform/index.html.

The Interim Report can also be downloaded by click on the link below:

NY Criminal Justice Interim Drug Law Reform Update Oct. 2010 (PDF)

September 10, 2010

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports*

A selected list of CRS Reports posted between August 11, 2010 and September 10, 2010. Although almost all of the CRS Reports in the following list relate in some way to crime and criminal justice, a few addressing other topics where readers have expressed an interest have also been included.:

Deprivation of Honest Services as a Basis for Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Convictions
Report No. R40852
Subjects: Criminal Justice
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (7/28/2010; Posted: 8/11/2010)

United States v. Comstock: Supreme Court Review of Civil Commitment Under the Adam Walsh Act
Report No. R40958
Subjects: Criminal Justice; Law
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (7/26/2010; Posted: 8/11/2010)

Coast Guard Deepwater Acquisition Programs: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress
Report No. RL33753
Subjects: Drug Abuse; Immigration; Defense Policy
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (7/29/2010; Posted: 8/13/2010)

The Americans with Disabilities Act: Application to the Internet
Report No. R40462
Subjects: Disabled Persons; Telecommunications
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/5/2010; Posted: 8/18/2010)

Garcia v. Vilsack: A Policy and Legal Analysis of a USDA Discrimination Case
Report No. R40988
Subjects: Agriculture; Civil Rights and Liberties; Minorities; Women's Issues
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/2/2010; Posted: 8/18/2010)

Federal Civil and Criminal Penalties Possibly Applicable to Parties Responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Report No. R41370
Subjects: Civil Rights and Liberties; Criminal Justice; Environmental Protection; Law
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/16/2010; Posted: 8/23/2010)

Federal Cocaine Sentencing Disparity: Sentencing Guidelines, Jurisprudence, and Legislation
Report No. RL33318
Subjects: Criminal Justice; Drug Abuse
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/5/2010; Posted: 8/23/2010)

Border Security: The Role of the U.S. Border Patrol
Report No. RL32562
Subjects: Terrorism; Immigration
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/11/2010; Posted: 9/1/2010)

Gun Control Legislation
Report No. RL32842
Subjects: Criminal Justice
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/11/2010; Posted: 9/1/2010)

Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress
Report No. RS22373
Subjects: Terrorism; Defense Policy
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/17/2010; Posted: 9/2/2010)

Same-Sex Marriages: Legal Issues
Report No. RL31994
Subjects: Families; Law; Minorities
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/18/2010; Posted: 9/8/2010)

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations
Report No. R41161
Subjects: Budget; Criminal Justice; Science Policy; Trade
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/24/2010; Posted: 9/8/2010)

Medicare Payment Policies
Report No. RL30526
Subjects: Health Policy
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/18/2010; Posted: 9/8/2010)

Supreme Court Nominations Not Confirmed, 1789-August 2010
Report No. RL31171
Subjects: Law
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/20/2010; Posted: 9/8/2010)

Supreme Court Nominations, 1789 - 2010: Actions by the Senate, the Judiciary Committee, and the President
Report No. RL33225
Subjects: Congress; Law; Presidents
CRS Reports, 111th Congress (8/23/2010; Posted: 9/10/2010)
_____________________________
* SOURCE: Congressional Quarterly:CQ Roll Call Group Service. Sservice. For additional information see: http://corporate.cqrollcall.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=79

July 23, 2010

CRS Report: State Efforts to Deter Unauthorized Aliens - Legal Analysis of Arizona's S.B. 1070 - Highlights

CRS Report Number 41221, July 12, 2010, Posted July 23, 2010.

AUTHORS: Michael John Garcia, Kate M. Manuel, Larry M. Eig

SUMMARY (From Official Report)
On April 23, 2010, Arizona enacted S.B. 1070, which is designed to discourage and deter the
entry or presence of aliens who lack lawful status under federal immigration law. Potentially
sweeping in effect, the measure requires state and local law enforcement officials to facilitate the detection of unauthorized aliens in their daily enforcement activities. The measure also
establishes criminal penalties under state law, in addition to those already imposed under federal law, for alien smuggling offenses and failure to carry or complete alien registration documents.Further, it makes it a crime under Arizona law for an unauthorized alien to apply for or perform work in the state, either as an employee or an independent contractor.

The enactment of S.B. 1070 has sparked significant legal and policy debate. Supporters argue that federal enforcement of immigration law has not adequately deterred the migration of
unauthorized aliens into Arizona, and that state action is both necessary and appropriate to
combat the negative effects of unauthorized immigration. Opponents argue, among other things,
that S.B. 1070 will be expensive and disruptive, will be susceptible to uneven application, and
can undermine community policing by discouraging cooperation with state and local law
enforcement. In part to respond to these concerns, the Arizona State Legislature modified
S.B. 1070 on April 30, 2010, through the approval of H.B. 2162.

Whenever states enact laws or adopt policies to affect the entry or stay of noncitizens, including
aliens present in the United States without legal authorization, questions can arise whether
Congress has preempted their implementation. For instance, Congress may pass a law to preempt state law expressly. Further, especially in areas of strong federal interest, as evidenced by broad congressional regulation and direct federal enforcement, state law may be found to be preempted implicitly. Analyzing implicit preemption issues can often be difficult in the abstract. Prior to actual implementation, it might be hard to assess whether state law impermissibly frustrates federal regulation. Nevertheless, authority under S.B. 1070, as originally adopted, for law enforcement personnel to investigate the immigration status of any individual with whom they have “lawful contact,” upon reasonable suspicion of unlawful presence, could plausibly have been interpreted to call for an unprecedented level of state immigration enforcement as part of routine policing. H.B. 2162, however, has limited this investigative authority.

Provisions in S.B. 1070 criminalizing certain immigration-related conduct also may be subject to
preemption challenges. The legal vulnerability of these provisions may depend on their
relationship to traditional state police powers and potential frustration of uniform national
immigration policies, among other factors. In addition to preemption issues, S.B. 1070 arguably
might raise other constitutional considerations, including issues associated with racial profiling.
Assessing these potential legal issues may be difficult before there is evidence of how S.B. 1070, as modified, is implemented and applied in practice.

As amended, S.B. 1070 is scheduled to go into effect on July 29, 2010. Several lawsuits have
been filed challenging the constitutionality of S.B. 1070 and seeking to preliminarily enjoin its
enforcement. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is among those challenging S.B. 1070,
alleging that its provisions, both separately and in concert, are preempted because they exceed
states’ roles with respect to aliens, interfere with the federal government’s enforcement of
immigration laws, and undermine U.S. foreign policy objectives.

CONCLUSION (From Official Report):
In recent decades, Congress has increasingly focused federal immigration policy on the daily
incidents of alien residency. Concomitantly, Congress has enlarged the opportunities for states to become involved in enforcing immigration law. S.B. 1070 is in the vanguard of testing the legal
limits of these increased opportunities, though H.B. 2162 modified some of its more legally
ambitious efforts. To a large extent, the legal fate of Arizona’s attempts to supplement federal
immigration enforcement efforts may depend on how its individual provisions are implemented.
Until then, it may be difficult to determine whether Arizona’s assertion of concurrent authority to
affect unauthorized immigration is regarded as complementing federal efforts or as being
counterproductive to them. At least some other states and localities that see themselves as heavily impacted by unauthorized immigration likely will join Arizona on any new ground that S.B. 1070 establishes. And this potential for diverse and possibly fragmented immigration enforcement doubtless will be among the many issues considered by the courts as legal challenges to S.B 1070 proceed. Several such challenges have been filed, including one by the DOJ, which seeks to preliminarily enjoin enforcement of S.B. 1070. Among other things, the federal government asserts that S.B. 1070’s provisions, both separately and in concert, “exceed[] a state’s role with respect to aliens, interfere[] with the federal government’s balanced administration of the immigration laws, and critically undermine[] U.S. foreign policy objectives.”137 Attorney General Eric Holder has also reportedly announced that the government could challenge the Arizona law on other grounds if its implementation results in racial profiling.138.
_________________________________
* Only highlights of this CRS report are included because under the terms of our subscription with CQ Roll Call we are not authorized to circulate this material received through them as complete documents on a public website. For information regarding subscribing to CQ Roll Call Group documents services go to http://corporate.cqrollcall.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=400.
.

March 19, 2010

Final Showdown on Health Care Legislation Set for This Weekend

House Democrats are reported to be making a final push this weekend to pass health care legislation. To that end a nearly final version of a bill, along with a report on the bill's cost by the Congressional Budget Office, was unveiled yesterday. A final showdown regarding this legislation is expected this Sunday March 21.

As part of our series of postings regarding efforts to overhaul the health care system in the United States we are making the following documents accessible:

03/18/2010 Section-by-Section Summary of the Substitute Amendment to the Reconciliation Act, H.R. 4872

03/18/2010 Text of the Substitute Amendment to the Reconciliation Act, H.R. 4872

03/18/2010 CBO Cost Estimate for the Reconciliation Act, H.R. 4872
CBO Estimate of Direct Spending and Revenue Effects for the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute Released on March 18, 2010

February 25, 2010

Separation of Powers Regarding Judicial Funding in the State of Connecticut

Two days ago I posted information on this blog related to the New York Court of Appeals decision (Maron v. Silver, 16 ' Larabee v. Governor, 7 ; Chief Judge v. Governor, 18) addressing judicial compensation in that state within the framework of separation of powers. Today I have learned that the State of Connecticut is also confronted with separation of powers issues related to its judiciary. These issues relate at least in part to the unilateral reduction of Other Judicial Expense line items (where the law libraries are placed) by the Office of Policy and Management (Executive Branch) after the initial budget allocations have presumably been agreed upon.

Of special concern to many readers of this blog is the severe negative impact these judicial line item reductions are having on judicial law libraries in the State of Connecicut, as indicated in testimony of the Connecticut Chief Court Administrator to the Appropriations Committee included in this post and by the many expressions of concern among Connecticut citizens as reported elsewhere.

The Chief Court Administrator of Connecticut, Judge Barbara M. Quinn has argued before the Appropriations Committee on February 9 that the unilateral reduction of Other Judicial Expense line items by the Executive Branch infringes on the Separation of Powers and can be remedied by OPM simply transmitting the Judicial request unchanged to the legislature. Two sections of Judge Quinn's testimony are especially important and are highlighted below in this posting. The section on Law Libraries which highlights the importance of law libraries in Connecticut to both the Judiciary and the public has relevance both in Connecticut and throughout the nation. A second part of Judge Quinn's testimony highlighted below is her statement on "Concurrence in Allotment Reductions and Rescissions," which frames the issue nicely.

Sections of Testimony Highlighted:

Law Libraries
"The Governor's proposed budget provides no funding for law libraries. If this provision is enacted, it will be the second year in a row of zero funding. This is a critical gap; law libraries cannot function without updated research materials.

Let me explain something about law libraries that makes them different from your local library where perhaps you could curtail purchasing new books for a while and then start up again. Because the law is constantly evolving, the most up-to-date information must be made available to anyone who has cases pending before the court. Up-to-date legal research tools, in both electronic and printed form, are essential in order for judges to render rulings that are consistent with law and legal precedent because case law is only as good as the last case decided. And that case law is updated daily. This is what makes law libraries distinct from other libraries - just not buying the latest books is not an option"

Concurrence in allotment reductions and rescissions
Undoubtedly, the most critical budget reform that we seek is one that would curb the unilateral and increasingly untenable budget reductions that are imposed upon the Branch after the Legislature has adopted the budget. Virtually all of our budgetary problems over the past 2 years, and in particular this year, are the result of allotment reductions and rescissions about which neither the Branch nor the Legislature were consulted. I would respectfully propose to you that in the future, any post-budget adoption reductions that are made to the Judicial Branch should require the concurrence of the Legislature. The Branch will be submitting legislation for your consideration that would implement these vital budget reforms.

A bill, "An Act Concerning Funding For the Judicial Branch" (No. 5148) which seeks to correct the matter has recently been introduced in the Connecticut legislature.

Below are links to the full text of both the Testimony and pending legislation referred to in this posting.

Testimony of Chief Court Administrator to Appropriations Commett

An Act Concerning Funding For the Judicial Branch

February 2, 2010

2011 Budget of the U.S. Government- Fact Sheets

As almost everyone knows, the 2011 U.S. Budget was submitted on February 1. Since this is such a huge budget, in terms of both bulk and scope, we have decided to limit this posting largely to links to some " Budget Fact Sheets" prepared by the Office of Management and Budget. Each separately linked fact sheet focuses on a particular priority or group of priorities related to this budget request, thus enabling you to quickly "pick and choose" those areas that interest and concern you without devoting considerable time to other parts of the budget. If you wish to examine this budget request in greater detail, go to the GPO Access link at the end of this posting.

Here are links to the Budget Fact Sheets::

Keeping America Safe and Secure

Clean Energy

Suppoting World Class Education for Children

Create Industries and Jobs

Secure and Affordable Health Care

Supporting America's Military Families

Supporting America's Middle Class Families

Supporting Our Nation's Seniors

Opening Doors for College and Opportunity

Those who are interested in more extensive regarding Budget for the U.S. Governmenrt for fy 11 can go to the GPO Access site at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/index.html and follow the various links at that location,


January 20, 2010

New York Governor David Paterson Presents Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2010-2011


Yesterday January 19, 2010 New York State Governor David Paterson proposed a 2010-11 Executive Budget that according to a Press Release from the Governor's Office "makes significant spending reductions in order to eliminate a $7.4 billion deficit and institutes key reforms to put New York on the road to economic and fiscal recovery. The Executive Budget proposal includes spending reductions across every area of the budget; limits State spending to far below both the Governor's proposed spending cap and the rate of inflation; implements the most significant public higher education reforms in a generation; and provides fiscal relief to local governments through an aggressive mandate reform agenda."

Below are links to some of the documents related to that proposal. Some of these documents are related primarily to the proposed State of New York Executive Budget as a whole while others include various agency presnetations, A link to State of New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's commentary on the Governors observations regarding the judiciary part of the budget proposal is also included.

Link to Press Release , video presentation and various other documents related to Governors budget Address on January 19:

http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/2010budgetaddress.html .

2010-2011 Governors Budget Proposal - Agency Presentations
http://publications.budget.state.ny.us/eBudget1011/agencyPresentations/pdf/AgencyPresentations.pdf

New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's Statemeont on Proposed 2010-11 Judiciary Budget
http://www.nycourts.gov/press/pr2010_01.shtml

January 8, 2010

New York: Governors' Programs 2009

During every session of the New York Legislature the current governor and his staff prepare bills addressing his or her objectives to be introduced directly in the legislature by the Governor. While it is assumed that legislatures in other states have similar mechanisms, this posting is only concernd with Governor's programs in the State of New York.

When first introduced, these program bills are only sponsored by the Governor but once they have been introduced, members of the legislature can and often do add their names as sponsors. It is my understanding that once such a bill is introduced the process by which it works its way through the legislature is similar to other legislation except that if such a bill is amended while under consideration, it is then sent back to the Governor's office for review, further modification etc.

In conversations I have had with people in the Governor's office it was emphasized that Governor's Programs should not be considered identical with other legislation introduced directly by individuall or groups of legislators and that Budget programs are separate from the Governor's Program being discussed here. During those conversations the following book was recemmended as an excellent source for further information on this topic:

Author: Robert B Ward
Title: New York State Government.
Publisher: Albany, N,Y. : Rockefeller Institute Press, ©2006.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 2nd ed., [25th anniversary ed.]


To see the list of Governor Paterson's Programs for 2009, you can go to the Governor's website at:

http://www.state.ny.us/governor/bills/program_bills.html

David Badertscher

January 8, 2010

New York Legislature: Chapter Law List for 2009

A List of New York State Chapter Laws Signed in 2009. Arranged in decending order. Includes Chapter Numbers, Bill Numbers and Titles

To retrieve the text of any of the New York Chapter laws listed below, go to http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi

507 S66007 KLEIN -- Relates to home mortgage loans, the crime of mortgage fraud, and appropriations to the NYS housing trust fund corporation

506 A40012 Rules (Brodsky) -- Creates the authorities budget office; repealer

505 A2209C Brodsky -- Creates an independent authority budget office; repealer

504 A40026 Rules (Silver) -- Provides retirement benefits for new entrants to certain public retirement systems

503 A40023 Budget -- Implements savings adjustments to the state fiscal plan

502 A40022 Budget -- Amends various provisions of chapters of the laws 2009 making appropriations for the support of government

501 A40021 Budget -- Authorizes commissioner of taxation and finance to administer accounts receivable discount program with respect to certain overdue tax liabilities

500 A40011 Rules (Destito) -- Authorizes term appointments without examination for certain information technology positions

499 S66009 BRESLIN -- Relates to the licensure of life settlement brokers; creates certain crimes relating to life settlement fraud; relates to premium finance agreement; repealer

498 S66006 BRESLIN -- Establishes a special enrollment period for employees and members with expired health coverage who wish to utilize state continuation benefits

497 S66004A THOMPSON -- Authorizes municipalities to create a municipal sustainable energy loan program

496 A40008 Rules (Weisenberg) -- Relates to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child passenger

495 S66005 VALESKY -- Relates to eligibility of certain felony offenders for parole and medical parole

494 S66002 STEWART-COUSINS -- Enacts into law major components of legislation necessary for the efficient operation of local governments; repealer

493 A8924 Hoyt -- Establishes the crime of aggravated interference with health care services in the first and second degrees

492 A7779 Rosenthal -- Relates to the duties of the municipal police training council

491 A5643 Farrell -- Raises minimum salary of each of the county clerks of the counties comprising the city of New York to that of supreme court justices instead of civil court judges

Continue reading "New York Legislature: Chapter Law List for 2009" »

January 6, 2010

User Driven Enhancements to THOMAS Launched on its Fifteenth Birthday

THOMAS was launched on January 5, 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. The leadership of the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Since that time THOMAS has expanded the scope of its offerings to include many features and content including those listed below.:

Bills, Resolutions
Activity in Congress
Congressional Record
Schedules, Calendars
Committee Information
Presidential Nominations

Now, fifteen years later in response to user feedback and in celebration of its fifteenth
anniversary, THOMAS has been updated for the second session of the 111th
Congress.

As reported by Emily Carr of the Public Services Division at the Law Library of Congress, the new items include a bookmarking and sharing toolbar, top five bills of the week, a new RSS feed, highlighting how to contact Members of Congress, a tip of the week, enhanced visibility of bill PDFs, and an increased timeout interval.

The bookmarking and sharing toolbar, found near the top of most THOMAS pages, allows users to save or share a permanent link via bookmarks,email, or social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. The toolbar also includes quick links to subscribe to THOMAS RSS feeds and to print.

The five most-searched-for bills from the past week will be listed in the center box on the right side of the homepage. Hovering the mouse over the bill number will display the title of the bill.

The new Bills Presented to the President RSS feed and email update lists bills that have passed both the House and Senate and have been sent to the White House for the President's signature.

It's now easier to contact your Members of Congress. A link to this page of tips about how to contact your Representative or Senator is included on the homepage.

Each week, a new tip about using THOMAS will be displayed on the right-hand side of the THOMAS homepage, below the “Top Five” list.

Based on user feedback, links to the bill PDF are more visible and accessible. Clicking on a PDF link will bring you to the Government Printing Office (GPO) PDF for a specific version of a bill.

Search results within THOMAS are displayed on temporary pages. The timeout interval has been increased from 5 minutes to 20 minutes..

THOMAS can be accessed at http://thomas.loc.gov.


December 9, 2009

U.S. Senate Floor Schedule 2010

The following is the announced U.S. Senate floor schedule for 2010:

Jan. 5 - Second session convenes in a pro forma session

Jan. 19 - Senate reconvenes for legislative business

Feb. 15-19 - Presidents Day recess

March 29-April 9 - Spring/Easter recess

May 31-June 4 - Memorial Day recess

July 5-9 - Independence Day recess

Aug. 9-Sept. 10 - August recess

Oct. 12 - Columbus Day recess

Nov. 11 - Veterans Day recess

Target Adjournment – To Be Determined

November 24, 2009

The Continuing Quest for Health Care Reform in the U.S.

Updated to November 25, 2009

Over the past months we have posted a variety of items related to the quest for health care reform in the United States. See our last posting at "Health Care Update as of the Beginning of October 2009. The quest continues. During the last month the House of Representatives passed HR 3962(Affordable Health Care for America Act) on November 7 and the Senate has at least agreed to begin debate on their bill HR3590 (Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act) on November 21.. Given the historical record of attempts at health care reform these are remarkable achievements but we still do not know if the end is in sight.

Rather than engage in extended discussion on this posting we will concentrate identifying selected documents related to the two bills mentioned above and close by mentioning a few recent news articles of interest. First the documents:

Selected Documents Related to HR 3962 - "Affordable Health Care for America Act":

Final Roll Call for HR 3962

Revenue Effects of HR 3962

Press Release: House Makes History on Health Reform

Abortion Amendment

Selected Documents Related to HR 3590 - "Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act"

:Detailed Summary of HR 3590

Statement of Administration Policy Regarding HR 3590

CBO Score: Top-Line Facts According to the Heritage Foundation. Senate bill. 3950

Senate Roll Call vote for HR 3590 on 11/21/2009 at 7:55PM

Other Sources:

Op-Ed Contributor
False Alarm on Abortion
By PHILLIP B. LEVINE
Published New York Times: November 25, 2009
What is being overlooked in the abortion debate is the other benefits that expanded health insurance coverage could bring to women’s reproductive health.

Budget Hawks Have a Buffet of Options With Health Bill
By DAVID LEONHARDT
Published New York Times: November 25, 2009
Senators who say theyre serious about reducing health care costs have plenty of opportunities in the current bills to fulfill their goals

Published New York Times: November 19, 2009 Key Differences in the Health Care Plans
The health care proposals from the House and the Senate are broadly similar but differ on some major issues. Click here to see a more detailed comparison of the two plans.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/19/us/politics/1119-plan-differences.html

Senate Says Health Plan Will Cover Another 31 Million
By ROBERT PEAR and DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
Published New York Times: November 19, 2009
Senator Harry Reid put forward his version of the health care overhaul, promising it would reduce the deficit while covering most of the uninsured.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/19/health/policy/19health.html

Selected Recent Editorials from New York Times regarding health care reform.

Where two contentious issues intersect: Immigration and health House measure omits Senate panel's legal test (David Montgomery) Washington Post Nov 16.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/15/AR2009111502625.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter

A Milestone in the Health Care Journey, By Ronald Brownstein. An essay published on the Atlantic website,, November 21, 2009


October 6, 2009

Health Care Update as of the Beginning of October 2009

Through various means, both web based and print, we are monitoring as best we can discussions related to the ongoing health care discussions. Below is an edited and excerpted version of some information we received recently from GalleryWatch in Washington, DC. We would like to share it with you. This updates our earlier posting on the Criminal Law Library Blog
____________________________

You might have noticed over the past little while that the Senate Finance Committee has been marking up a bill to reform our health care system.( see links following this discussion to the October 1 version of the bill from the Finance Committee and to a list dated October 5, 2009 of technical corrections to that bill).

This week,[last of September and beginning of October 2009] the last regular committee markup session on health care reform legislation wound down in the Senate Finance Committee. A conceptual draft proposal offered by Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was amended with over 40 changes as of Thursday evening. CongressNow reported Thursday that the committee adopted an amendment offered by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that creates optional state-level public insurance plans.

The committee started its session with more than 500 possible amendments and considered over 100 amendments. There were reports Tuesday on the adopted amendments from last week's sessions and the committee defeated proposals to add a public insurance option offered by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday afternoon. Roll Call reported Wednesday morning that Rockefeller and Schumer are optimistic about the chance of new amendments on a public insurance option on the Senate floor.

On Wednesday, the committee rejected several amendments (view first and second amendments) restricting abortion coverage offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and another amendment requiring identity verification offered by ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Also on Wednesday the committee adopted an amendment by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) that allows senior citizens to deduct health expenses. CongressNow also reported Wednesday on Democratic efforts to tweak the tax treatment of high-end insurance plans.

TEXT OF AMERICA'S HEALTH FUTURE ACT OF 2009, AS AMENDED 10-02-09

TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS TO AMERICA'S HEALTH FUTURE ACT OF 2009, OCTOBER 5, 2009.

As Gallerywatch also notes: "With all the activity by the Senate Finance Committee, don’t forget about the two other health care bills out there, HR 3200 from the House and the Senate HELP Committee’s bill S 1679, named in honor of the late Senator Kennedy"

September 16, 2009

Baucus Health Care Proposal: America's Healthy Future Act 0f 2009

Today Sept. 16, 2009, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released the first draft of the committee's long awaited proposed legislation to overhaul the country's health care system. The proposal is the result of more than a year of preparation and more than three months of intense negotiations between a small group of Democrats and Republicans led by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee.

The following are a few highlights of interest included in this 223 page proposal:

The bill includes a slimmed down price-tag of $856 billion over 10 years. Earlier versions of the health care legislation had come in costing $1 trillion or more

13 percent. That’s the share of family income that the Baucus plan envisions middle-class American families having to pay in health insurance premiums before co-payments, deductibles and other cost-sharing.

bill as proposed seeks to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured American citizens. To do so, it would broadly expand Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor, and provide government subsidies to modest-income individuals and families to help them buy coverage.

The bill has no public option. Instead, it would expand coverage by creating a network of state-based non-profit health insurance cooperatives. These cooperatives would be seeded with $6 billion in federal money, enough to cover start-up costs and meet insurance insolvency requirements.

All of the insurance plans in the exchange would have to meet strict new government requirements. Insurance companies could not bar coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and could only increase the cost of premiums based on a small number of factors, like age, tobacco use and whether a plan is for an individual or a family.

The Baucus health care proposal is now called the America's Healthy Future Act of 2009

For those who would like additional insight into the thinking of Senator Max Baucus and his Committee regarding health care issues we are also including a link to The Call to Action: Health Care Reform 2009, a white paper released by Senator Baucus and his Committee on November 12, 2008.

September 2, 2009

What's Happening in Your State Related to Legislation Regarding the Use of Restraints on Pregnant Women

According to the Editors of The Crime Report, the movement to ban shackling pregnant prisoners is gaining momentum. On August 26, 2009, Governor David Paterson of New York signed a bill (now NY Chapter 411 2009) banning the practice for all but the most unruly inmates. What is happening in your state?

Only six states—California, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Texas and Vermont—have legislation regulating the use of restraints on pregnant women. Women detained in 44 states, the District of Columbia and the Federal Bureau of Prisons lack such legislative protection. Some state departments of corrections did not provide details on what type of restraints may be utilized during labor, nor did they provide their policy.

(Research provided by Amnesty International and The Rebecca Project for Human Rights.)

Alabama

Alabama stated that restraints depend on the security class of the woman, but that “often two extremities are restrained.” Alabama allows the use of restraints during labor. Alabama may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Alaska

Alaska allows the use of restraints during labor.

Arizona

Arizona may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester. Arizona has no written policy governing restraints on pregnant women.

Arkansas

Arkansas reportedly has a policy stipulating that women with “lesser disciplinary records” will at times have one arm and one leg restrained by flexible nylon “soft restraints.” Arkansas did not provide information on how women with other disciplinary records are restrained. Arkansas may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester. In Nelson v Norris, the Eighth Circuit upheld Arkansas’s restraint policy.

California

California does not use restraints during labor and delivery. California has legislation regulating the use of restraints on pregnant women. California may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Colorado

Colorado has no legislation limiting the use of shackling on pregnant inmates.

Connecticut

Connecticut has a written policy stipulating that no restraints are to be used on inmates during labor and birth. Connecticut may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Delaware

Delaware allows the use of restraints during labor. Delaware may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Florida

Florida has a written policy stipulating that no restraints are to be used on inmates during labor and birth. Florida reported that placement of an officer in the delivery room is decided on a case-by-case basis. Florida may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Georgia

Georgia does not use restraints during labor and delivery. Georgia may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Hawaii

Hawaii reported that they have no policy but that the practice is not to restrain women during labor and birth.

Idaho

Idaho allows the use of restraints during labor. Idaho may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Illinois

Illinois allow restraints until the inmate is in “active labor” or arrives at the delivery room. Illinois has legislation regulating the use of restraints on pregnant women. Illinois may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Indiana

Indiana allows the use of restraints during labor. Indiana may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Iowa

Iowa reported that they have no policy but that the practice is not to restrain women during labor and birth. Iowa may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Kansas

Kansas has a policy on restraining pregnant women during transportation, but no policy governing the use of restraints on women during labor and birth. The practice is not to restrain women during labor and birth. Kansas may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Kentucky

Kentucky has no legislation limiting the use of shackling on pregnant inmates. The use of use of restraints during labor is based on hospital protocol and procedure.

Louisiana

Louisiana prisons have no restrictions on the application of restraints other than specifying that pregnant women should not be restrained facedown in four-point restraints. Louisiana also allows restraints, including leg irons to be utilized. Louisiana may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Maine

Maine allows the use of restraints during labor. Maine may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Maryland

Maryland has no legislation limiting the use of shackling on pregnant inmates. Maryland DOC did not answer survey questions about policy towards women in labor.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts allow restraints until the inmate is in “active labor” or arrives at the delivery room. Massachusetts may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Michigan

Michigan does not use restraints during labor and delivery. Michigan may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Minnesota

Minnesota allows the use of restraints during labor. Minnesota may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Mississippi

Mississippi allows the use of restraints during labor. Mississippi may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Missouri

Missouri does not use restraints during labor and delivery. Missouri may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Montana

Montana does not use restraints during labor and delivery. Montana may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Nebraska

Nebraska does not use restraints during labor and delivery. Nebraska may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Nevada

Nevada reported that “normally only wrist restraints” are used. Nevadamay use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire stated that one foot maybe shackled to the bed during labor depending on security class of the woman in labor. New Hampshire may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

New Jersey

Women are not restrained in their third trimester, no restraints are applied during labor and an officer is stationed outside the door.

New Mexico

New Mexico does not use restraints during labor and delivery. New Mexico may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

New York

NY legislation passed Thursday prohibits state and local correctional authorities from using restraints on a pregnant female inmate who is being transported for childbirth, during labor and delivery, and in post-natal recovery. An exception to this rule is made under extraordinary circumstances where restraints are determined to be necessary to prevent the woman from injuring herself, medical or correctional personnel. In these instances, a pregnant woman may be cuffed by one wrist.

North Carolina

North Carolina allows the use of restraints during labor. North Carolina may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

North Dakota

North Dakota does not use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester. No other information was provided.

Ohio

Ohio allows the use of restraints during labor. Ohio may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma allows restraints until the inmate is in “active labor” or arrives at the delivery room. Oklahoma may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Oregon

Oregon reported that it does not use restraints during labor and delivery “unless expressly requested by the attending physician.” Oregon may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania allows restraints until the inmate is in “active labor” or arrives at the delivery room. Pennsylvania may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island has a written policy stipulating that no restraints are to be used on inmates during labor and birth.

South Carolina

South Carolina allows the use of restraints during labor. South Carolina may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

South Dakota

South Dakota does not use restraints during labor and delivery. South Dakota may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Tennessee

Tennessee allows the use of restraints during labor. Tennessee may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Texas

Texas does not use restraints during labor and delivery. Texas may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Utah

Utah did not respond to survey questions on DOC policy for pregnant women.

Vermont

Vermont has no legislation limiting the use of shackling on pregnant inmates.

Virginia

Virginia did not respond to survey questions on DOC policy for pregnant women.

Washington

Washington has a written policy stipulating that no restraints are to be used on inmates during labor and birth. Washington may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

West Virginia

West Virginia reports that leg restraints would not be used during labor. West Virginia may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin allows restraints until the inmate is in “active labor” or arrives at the delivery room. Wisconsin may use restraints on pregnant women in the third trimester.

Wyoming

Wyoming has a written policy stipulating that no restraints are to be used on inmates during labor and birth.

Federal Bureau of Prison

Federal Bureau of prisons agreed to stop routinely shackling pregnant inmates, and ban all use of belly shackles in October 2008.

District of Columbia

District of Columbia has a written policy stipulating that no restraints are to be used on inmates during labor and birth.

June 22, 2009

Wyoming Legislature Passes Information Transparency in Government Act

In its 2009 session, the Wyoming Legislature passed the Transparency in Government Act making information as to how state funds are spent readily accessible to the public. The Act requires the creation of a public finance website by January 1, 2010. The website will provide free access to financial reports, financial audits, budgets or other financial documents that are used to allocate, appropriate, spend and account for government funds. The Act also directs that an archive of all information posted will be maintained.

From e-mail by Kathy Carlson, Wyoming State Law Librarian.

April 28, 2009

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania Announces Switch to Democratic Party

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican since 1966, said on Tuesday April 28 that he will switch to the Decmocratic Party and will run as a Democrat in 2010, thus presenting Democrats with a possible 60th vote and the power to break Senate filibusters.

Here is a link to Senator Specter's statement made earlier today 4-28-09


April 21, 2009

New York Legislation: Update to Legislation Regarding Rockefeller Drug Law Reform

On March 30, 2009 we posted information on this blawg about the historic agreement reached by New York lawmakers regarding reform of the Rockefeller drug law. Since that time there has been significant activity related to his effort including the signing of Chapter 56 of 2009 by the Governor on April 7, 2009. Although Chapter 56 is considered as primarily related to budget matters it contains significant material related to the Rockefeller Law reform initiatives.

For your information this posting includes links to those parts of the aforementioned legislation which appear to be relevant to the Rockefeller Drug Law reform issue. The links are to items I have posted on the New York Supreme Court Criminal Term Library Blog:

http://www.bloglines.com/blog/PLL?id=12751 for Part AAA of Chapter 56 of 2009.

http://www.bloglines.com/blog/PLL?id=12749 for Part SS of Chapter 56 of 2009

http://www.bloglines.com/blog/PLL?id=12750 for Part ZZ of Chapter 56 of 2009

I am also including with her permission a Finding Aid compiled by Ellen R. Fuller, Reference Librarian at the New York State Supreme Court Library at Syracuse. Ellen's compilation provides a useful overview for examining the key issues of Chapter 56 including those Parts which address issues related to reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Ellen's Finding Aid is an unofficial document which should not be relied upon for legal advice.

Finding Aid for Chapter 56 L. 2009 Changes, compiled by Ellen R. Fuller


April 10, 2009

New York Legislature: Chapter Law List as of April 10, 2009

Information for this list was obtained from the New York State Legislative Retrieval System (LRS):

2009 CHAPTER LIST AS OF April 10, 2009 - Listed by Chapter Law Number, Highest number listed at top.

NOTE: Provisions regarding Rockefeller drug reform are included as Part AAA of Chapter 56A.

CHAPTER No. Bill No. Title

59 A159B Budget -- Enacts into law major components of legislation which are necessary to implement the Transportation, Economic Development & Environmental Conservation Budget for the 2009-2010 state fiscal year

58 A158B Budget -- Enacts into law major components of legislation necessary to implement the health and mental hygiene budget for the 2009-2010 state fiscal plan

57 A157B Budget -- Enacts into law major components of legislation which are necessary to implement the Education, Labor & Family Assistance Budget for the 2009-2010 state fiscal yea
r
56 A156B Budget -- Enacts into law major components of legislation necessary to implement the public protection and general government budget for the 2009 - 2010 state fiscal year

55 A155C Budget -- TRANSPORTATION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION BUDGET

54 A154C Budget -- HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE BUDGET

53 A153C Budget -- EDUCATION,LABOR AND FAMILY ASSISTANCE BUDGET

52 A152 Budget -- DEBT SERVICE FUND-GENERAL DEBT SERVICE FUND

51 A151A Budget -- LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY BUDGET

50 A150C Budget -- PUBLIC PROTECTION AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT BUDGET

10 S3700 RULES -- Makes appropriations for the support of government

9 S3641 JOHNSON C -- Authorizes the state comptroller to distribute certain funds from the indigent legal services fund to certain counties

7 A6740 Morelle (MS) -- Relates to a special enrollment period

6 A4750A Pretlow -- Repeals provisions of law relating to retention rates for facilities authorized to accept wagers on out-of-state tracks

5 A161A Budget -- Deficiency budget; makes appropriations for the support of government

4 A4392 Weinstein -- Delays from March 1, 2009 until September 1, 2009, the effective date of amendments to the provisions of law providing for powers of attorney

3 A4919 Budget -- Deficiency budget; makes appropriations for the support of government

2 S249A BUDGET -- Enacts various provisions of law necessary to implement savings adjustments to the state financial plan

1 A163A Budget -- Makes amendments to certain appropriations made by chapters 50, 53, 54 and 55 of the laws of 2008 relating to support of state government

April 3, 2009

All Charges Dropped Against Former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska

The U.S. Justice Department moved on Wednesday April 1 to drop all charges in the case against former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. In a federal court on Wednesday Justice Department lawyers explained that in addition to earlier disclosures they discovered further evidence of misconduct that raised questions about the way the entire case was handled.

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. issued a statement (see link below) explaining the Department of Justice position and said that he would not seek a new trial.

Statement of Attorney Gereral Eric Holder Jr. Regarding Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens