INFORMATION

Site Map - Legal Issues

First responders

- Two Senate bills have been introduced to address communication issues that arose in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. One bill (S. 1554), introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), would establish a grant program to improve overall communications equipment for first responders. Collins, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said that “This bill takes an important step toward improving emergency communications nationwide so no community experiences the communications failure we saw in parts of the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.” The bill has one cosponsor—ranking minority member on the committee Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)—and has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Another bill (S. 1762), introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would also establish a grant program. However, it would be designed to establish an interoperable communications system for first responders.

Confidentiality Agreements

- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that a company’s confidentiality agreements violated federal labor laws because they prohibited employees from discussing their wages and conditions of employment with one another.

Privacy

- A Washington appeals court has ruled that Steven White can proceed with his invasion of privacy lawsuit against his employer, a municipality. White, who was a town marshal, claims that when his boss revealed to a local newspaper that White suffered from epilepsy, the town illegally disclosed his private information. The town argues that since White suffered a seizure in public, the information was no longer private.

Premises liability

- A California appeals court has ruled that the owners of a bar had a duty to intervene in an attack on a patron. In the case, the court ruled that bouncers at a bar who anticipated an assault did not attempt to keep the parties separated, resulting in the injury of a patron and liability for the bar.

Legal Report

- A highlight of the major legislation passed, and passed over, by the 109th Congress.

Data Security.

- The bill would also have required that information brokers set up reasonable procedures to verify the accuracy of information they collect, assemble, or maintain. H.R. 4127 would have prohibited information brokers from obtaining or attempting to obtain personal information through false pretenses

Seaport Security

- The bill would have made it a crime to enter a secure area of a seaport under false pretenses, forcibly interfere with an authorized law enforcement action, provide false information during a boarding, or willfully disable a passenger vehicle.

Mine Safety

- The law requires that mine operators adopt and maintain an accident response plan for when miners are trapped. Under the law, the plan must include redundant local communications systems, emergency air supplies, escapeways, emergency training, and wireless communications systems to allow contact between trapped miners and officials on the surface.

Port security

- A port security bill (H.R. 4954) was signed into law by President Bush becoming P.L. 109-347. The law requires that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) develop and implement a strategic plan to enhance maritime security.

Legal Report

- Judicial opinions on negligent hiring and premises liability, and Congress considers bills on bioterror, security guards, and emergency management.

Making Data Breaches Public

- When sensitive consumer information is stolen, the risk of identity theft rises. Many states have notification legislation; but, writes Michael Turner of the Information Policy Institute, federal rules are needed to prevent “patchwork responses.”

Communications

- A bill (A.B. 1848) in California would require that state officials provide an annual report to lawmakers on the state’s interoperable public safety communications network. Existing law says that such as system must be established using federally specified frequencies to ensure that first responders can communicate during an emergency.

Security guards

- Citing the reliance companies have placed in private security officers since 9-11, Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) has introduced a bill (H.R. 5893) that would require employers to obtain a federal criminal records check on all contract and proprietary security guards.
 




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