Site Map - Legislation

Nuclear plant security

- Two bills that would have required enhanced security at nuclear power plants were introduced in the 108th Congress but neither was approved. S. 1043 would have required that the government classify threats against power plants; coordinate federal, state, and local security efforts; review the adequacy of existing security plans; and revise hiring and training standards for private security officers serving at nuclear power plants. H.R. 2951 would have prohibited the operation of any nuclear power plant unless it had a government-certified radiological emergency response plan. Such plans would be have been required to provide reasonable assurance that public health and safety was not endangered by the operation of the facility.


- A bill (S. 1053) making it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of genetic information was approved by the Senate but was not taken up by the House of Representatives. The bill would have prohibited discriminatory acts by health insurance companies and employers.

Chemical plant security

- A bill (S. 994) that would have required operators of certain chemical storage facilities to develop security plans was approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works but was not considered by the full Senate.

Bus security

- A measure designed specifically to address security aboard commercial buses (S. 929) was approved by the Senate and referred to the House, but the House never acted on it.


- A bill that would make it illegal to tamper with document-authentication features in an effort to commit fraud was included in P.L. 108-21, the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003. Under the new law, it is illegal to tamper with authentication features such as holograms, watermarks, or any other item designed to prove a document is valid and unaltered. The law also makes it illegal to use a false authentication feature--a feature that is genuine in origin but is used without authorization, or a feature that has been altered.


- A bill designed to limit the amount of unsolicited e-mail sent via the Internet became P.L. 108-187. The act defines unsolicited e-mail as any message with the primary purpose of commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service. Such messages must include a notice that they are an advertisement or solicitation and must provide a valid return e-mail address to allow recipients to opt out of future messages. The sender has 10 days to stop sending messages after the opt-out request has been received. 

Concealed weapons

- A law (P.L. 108-277) exempts off-duty and retired law enforcement personnel from compliance with concealed weapons except in certain circumstances. The law does not supercede state laws that allow private property owners to ban firearms on their property. Similarly, the law does not apply to state or local government buildings where firearms are prohibited.

Computer security

- A bill designed to enhance computer security at government facilities became P.L. 108-281. The law authorizes the Judicial Conference of the United States to enact rules to protect the privacy and security of documents that are filed electronically with the government. The rules must consider the best practices currently in use in federal and state courts to protect information security. The final rule, according to the new law, should be uniformly applied across the judicial system.

Cargo security

- Cargo security has been considered in many forms during the 108th Congress. Two measures became law, but numerous others failed to receive congressional approval. A cargo security amendment added to the 2004 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill became P.L. 108-90. 


- The government's Project Bioshield, which requires that the government and private industry produce and stockpile vaccines to protect Americans in the event of a terror attack, became P.L. 108-276. The law has three parts. The first directs the Public Health Service to conduct research and development on biomedical countermeasures through the Director of the National Institutes of Health and the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The second provides these agencies with contracting authority to procure effective countermeasures such as vaccines and serums against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents. The third allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve promising new drugs and devices on an emergency basis. 

Information protection

- A new law (formerly S.B. 338) enacted in Louisiana will require that certain information produced by the state's Department of Environmental Quality be restricted from distribution or dissemination via the Internet.

Legal Reporter

- A court considers a company's ban on facial piercing. Also, new rules clarify cargo and port security issues, and Maryland and Florida pass security legislation.

Spyware Bill Reintroduced

- Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA) has reintroduced a bill that would require that consumers receive "a clear and conspicuous notice" prior to software being loaded onto their computers. H.R. 29, titled the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (SPY Act), is cosponsored by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. It was first introduced in 2004 and passed the House in October. However, the bill was not passed by the Senate before the end of the 108th Congress.

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