chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

Washington Letter April 2016


Featured Articles


Labor Department issues persuader rule opposed by ABA

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule March 24 that is opposed by the ABA because it would require many management-side labor lawyers to divulge confidential client information to the federal government. The final rule − which goes into effect April 25 and will apply to arrangements, agreements and payments made on or after July 1 − substantially narrows the department’s longstanding “advice” exemption to the “persuader activities” reporting rule under Section 203 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959.

Federal Government

President signs Older Americans Act reauthorization bill

President Obama signed legislation April 19 to reauthorize and update the Older Americans Act of 1965 after Republicans and Democrats worked together to craft a bipartisan bill that will continue to provide a range of vital home- and community-based services to the nation’s rapidly increasing and changing senior population. The ABA, a strong advocate for the nation’s seniors for decades, applauded the three–year OAA reauthorization, specifically the legislation’s increased focus on combating elder abuse, provisions to ensure independence and avoidance of conflicts for long-term care ombudsmen, and the inclusion of legal services in the definition of the term “adult protective services.”


ABA objects to ankle monitors in release of parents from immigration detention

The ABA recently objected to the extensive use of electronic ankle monitors as a condition for release from detention for Central American parents who arrived at the border to enter the United States with their children. “The ABA supports the use of humane alternatives to detention,” ABA President Paulette Brown wrote March 18 to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. She said the ABA believes, however, that “electronic monitoring is a form of restriction on liberty similar to detention, rather than a meaningful alternative to detention.”

Legislation & Lobbying

Provisions in health care legislation prompt ABA concerns

The ABA expressed concerns last month about key provisions relating to damages, proportionate liability and contingent fees in H.R. 4771, a bill being considered by the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation − the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2016 – would preempt state laws to cap noneconomic damages in medical liability cases at $250,000 and place limits on contingency fees that lawyers can charge. The bill also would preempt existing state laws that provide for joint and several liability in medical liability cases by creating a “fair share rule” under which each party would be liable only for its part of any damages.

Practice Management

ABA president reiterates opposition to accrual accounting

ABA President Paulette Brown reiterated ABA opposition April 13 to any proposals in Congress that would require many law firms and other personal service businesses to change to the complex accrual method of accounting from the simple cash method they are currently using. In separate letters to the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy, Brown emphasized that the mandatory accrual accounting proposals from the last Congress and similar proposals now under consideration would cause substantial financial hardship by requiring firms and businesses to pay tax on “phantom” income they have not yet received and may never receive.

Federal Government

ABA urges support for democracy-building programs

The ABA urged the House and Senate Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs last month to continue its support for funding Democracy, Rights and Governance (DRG) programming to advance democracy around the world. DRG programming is “critical to global efforts to combat terrorism, extremism and insecurity and to promote equitable economic development and well-being,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote in a March 18 letter to the subcommittees.