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Washington Letter August 2016


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Federal Government

Comey announces upcoming conversation on national security and privacy issues

FBI Director James Comey, speaking Aug. 12 at the ABA Annual Meeting, focused his remarks on the balance between national security and privacy and announced plans for a national conversation on the issues next year. Comey expressed concern over the increasing inability of law enforcement to execute lawful search warrants and court orders to intercept electronic communications because the electronic devices cannot be unlocked, even by the manufacturers, or the communications are encrypted and cannot be read.

Federal Government

ABA calls for more transparency in the regulatory process

The ABA expressed support this month for key reforms in Title II of H.R. 712, House-passed legislation designed to increase transparency in the federal regulatory process. In an Aug. 1 letter to Senate leaders, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote that the Title II provisions in the legislation, the “All Economic Regulations Are Transparent Act” (ALERT Act), are consistent with ABA policy adopted by the association’s House of Delegates in February and should be enacted.


ABA urges clear direction for implementing ESSA

The ABA, pleased that the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes foster care support, offered recommendations this month on how the Department of Education regulations can ensure that state plans provide for the act’s effective implementation of transportation, data and reporting, and supportive services. ESSA, signed by the president in December 2015, reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education.

Federal Government

SSA not planning to move forward with proposed adjudication augmentation program

The Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of Disability Adjudication and Review has decided, for budgetary reasons, not to move forward at this time on an ABA-opposed proposal to hold hearings without administrative law judges (ALJs) in certain categories of cases. The proposal, which was the subject of a May 12 Senate hearing, would have shifted certain cases from ALJ hearings to proceedings presided over by administrative appeals judges (AAJs) and attorney examiners within the agency’s Appeals Council.