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Washington Letter September 2014


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Federal Government

Child trafficking bill clears Congress; ready to be sent to the president

After months of comments, drafting and redrafting, a bill addressing a number of pressing children’s issues, including sex trafficking of children in foster care, was cleared by the Senate Sept. 18 for the president’s signature. H.R. 4980, sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and passed by the House July 23, incorporates numerous recommendations from organizations, including the ABA, that responded to the committee’s call for comments on a discussion draft circulated in January.

Federal Government

Second Chance Act clears Senate committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee agreed Sept. 18 to approve S. 1690, legislation strongly supported by the ABA to reauthorize the Second Chance Act, which was enacted in 2008 to provides grants to state and local reentry programs for ex-prisoners. “The Second Chance Reauthorization Act is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to ensure that offenders coming out of prison have the opportunity to turn their lives around, rather than returning to a life of crime,” committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), a cosponsor of the bill with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), said during markup.

Federal Government

Medicare secondary payer bill would protect injured workers

The ABA commended Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) this month for introducing S. 2731, a bill to reform the administration of Medicare secondary payer provisions in federal law in cases involving workers’ compensation settlements. The bill, according to ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman in a letter to Nelson and Portman, would establish “a predictable and efficient set-aside approval process that also provides reasonable protection of injured workers and Medicare.”


Attempt to bring up CRPD fails

The Senate failed to proceed to consideration of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Sept. 17 after one senator objected to a unanimous consent request from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Harkin’s request called for two hours of debate and no amendments on the treaty, which had been approved July 22 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He emphasized strong support for the CRPD, but Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected to Harkin’s request, saying that the Senate deserved more than two hours of debate and should have the ability to consider amendments.

Federal Government

ABA president urges action on bill to protect IOLTAs

ABA President William C. Hubbard urged action Sept. 10 on S. 2698, legislation that includes a provision that would allow credit unions to insure Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTAs) for up to $250,000, the same level of coverage provided by banks. In a letter to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Hubbard explained that S. 2698 and S. 2699, a bill containing only the IOLTA credit union provision, would ensure that client funds are protected regardless of whether an IOLTA is in a credit union or in a bank.