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New policies adopted this month by the ABA House of Delegates during the association’s Midyear Meeting cover an array of issues in the areas of criminal justice, individual rights, the judiciary and business law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee took a step toward overhauling the federal sentencing system by approving bipartisan legislation Jan. 30 by a 13-5 vote that would reduce federal mandatory sentencing levels for certain drug offenders and expand the federal safety valve to allow judges more discretion in determining sentences for non-violent drug offenders.
The House Judiciary Committee approved a six-month extension for its bipartisan Over-Criminalization Task Force by a voice vote Feb. 5.
New Jersey lawyer Paulette Brown was selected this month as president-elect nominee of the association and, if elected in August, will serve as president-elect for one year before assuming the ABA presidency in August 2015. Brown, a labor and employment law partner and chief diversity officer with the Morristown, New Jersey, office of Edwards Wildman Palmer, will be the first woman of color to serve as ABA president.
ABA President James R. Silkenat called substantial fiscal year 2014 funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and the federal judiciary a “major victory for access to justice for all Americans” after President Obama signed a consolidated appropriations bill last month.
House and Senate negotiators rejected provisions in the House version of comprehensive agriculture legislation that would have reduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $39 billion over the next 10 years, opting instead to reduce the program by $8.6 billion.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate and House Jan. 16 that seeks to strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in light of the June 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. ___ (2013).
The ABA expressed support last month for efforts by the House Ways and Means Committee to advance legislation to address sex trafficking and foster youth.
The ABA expressed support this month for bipartisan legislation that would promote tax fairness in the treatment of civil rights and employment cases by excluding non-economic damages from gross income and eliminating the taxation for lump-sum recoveries at artificially high rates.