Washington Update ~ 1.2018

CHANGES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
In the past year, the new administration in Washington has made numerous regulatory changes. Here are a few that you may have missed…..

The Courts
This year Gorsuch was appointed to the Supreme Court, and the Senate confirmation 12 circuit court judges. The Supreme Court hears about 70 cases per year, while the federal appellate courts consider roughly 50,000 cases per year.  In a very real way the lower appellate courts decide some of our most important legal issues. President Trump has also had 19 circuit court judges confirmed.

When is a worker an employee?
Increasingly, regular businesses are opting to classify their workers as independent contractors, which can cut their labor costs sharply by not obliging them to offer benefits like health insurance or pay employer taxes. The number of independent contractors is rising. In 2015 a guidance document was issued by the Department of Labor interpreting the law outlining the economic tests used to determine whether an employer was misclassing its workers. The Trump administration withdrew the guidance document.

Nursing Homes
Nursing homes that receive federal funds (most of them) where prohibited from having prospective tenants sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admittance. Such agreements prevent residents from suing, requiring them to submit to arbitration. This requirement has been reversed.

Voter ID
The DOJ has reversed its position on a controversial Ohio voting law which purged tens of thousands of people from the voter rolls if they haven’t cast a ballot in two years and didn’t respond to a mailing asking them to confirm that registration. The DOJ no longer considers this law discriminatory.

Police and Military Equipment
The controversial image of police wearing armor and riding in tanks led to a probation against the transfer of certain equipment, grenade launches and armored vehicles to local police departments and limited the transfer of items such as drones, riot gear and explosives. It was determined that such equipment didn’t serve a purpose for local law enforcement. President Trump rescinded the order limiting the transfer of surplus military equipment to local police.

Protection for Small Farmers
The ISDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration had issued a final rule that would make it easier for small contract farmers like chicken growers, to sue meat-packing or processing companies that use anti-competitive practices, dictating unfair prices to farmers and retaliating against them if they spoke out. The Trump administration first delayed and them withdrew the rule.

School Lunch Rules
IN 2012, THE Department of Agriculture issued a sweeping rewrite of the rules around school lunches, an effort to get kids to eat more fruit and vegetables and reduce their intake of sodium and fat. The USDA has delayed the new sodium standard by “at Least” three years and indicated that the agency may rewrite the standards altogether.

Immigration
In response to the rising numbers of migrants across the globe the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, promising to stop gender-based violence and improve educational opportunities for migrants. The United States has withdrawn from the compact, saying that it infringed on U.S. sovereignty.

President Trump signed 96 laws into effect in 2017. Here is a listing of all 96.

For additional information try GovTrack.us and congress.gov

 

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