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Update: Second Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Absurd Diet-Soda Class Action

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 11:43am
Nearly a year ago in Neither Reason nor Science Supports Class Actions against Diet Soda Makers, we applauded the dismissal of several copycat class-action lawsuits alleging that because the word “diet” in “diet soda” implies the beverage aids in weight loss, companies like Pepsi and Dr. Pepper were misleading consumers. Consumers were misled, the suits asserted, …

Continue reading Update: Second Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Absurd Diet-Soda Class Action

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In Climate Suits, Cities Ask Judges to Start a Primitivist Revolution

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 11:10am
To illuminate a modest living room for three hours a night for two months, you would need about a million lumen-hours of light. Now consider three inflation-adjusted numbers. One: in 1800 a subject of George III could get that much light for around £9,500. Two: in 1900 a subject of Queen Victoria could get it …

Continue reading In Climate Suits, Cities Ask Judges to Start a Primitivist Revolution

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Illegal Robocalls: Calling All To Stop The Scourge

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled, “Illegal Robocalls: Calling All To Stop The Scourge,” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2019. The hearing will examine the Federal Communications Commission’s first ever report on robocalls and review the steps Congress is currently taking to provide consumers relief from illegal robocalls.

Update: Supreme Court to Decide Whether the CWA Regulates Discharges through Groundwater to Waters of the United States

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 1:31pm
Sam Boxerman, Featured Expert Contributor, Environmental Law and Policy As we anticipated in our post last year, the Supreme Court has granted a petition for a writ of certiorari from the Ninth Circuit in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The justice will decide whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) regulates discharges through groundwater that reach a water …

Continue reading Update: Supreme Court to Decide Whether the CWA Regulates Discharges through Groundwater to Waters of the United States

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Wicker Convenes Hearing on Broadband Mapping

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today convened the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for a hearing titled, “Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions.” During the hearing, committee members heard from experts about the current state of the nation’s broadband maps and discussed the ongoing efforts within the federal government and private sector to collect more accurate broadband coverage data.

<p>Good morning. Today, the committee

Good morning. Today, the committee gathers to discuss the state of the nation’s broadband maps. I am glad to convene this hearing with my colleague, Ranking Member Cantwell. I welcome our witnesses today:

  • Mr. Tim Donovan, Senior Vice President, with the Competitive Carriers Association 
  • Mr. Mike McCormick, President of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation 
  • Mr. Jonathan Spalter, President and CEO of USTelecom – The Broadband Association;
  • Mr. Chip Strange, Vice President Strategic Initiatives, Ookla; and
  • Mr. Mike Obilzalo, Vice President and General Manager, Hood Canal Communications.

In today’s digital economy, access to broadband is essential. It is through broadband that Americans can access jobs, education, and economic opportunities. Broadband also powers new industries and enables core economic sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation to be more efficient, productive, and competitive in the United States and around the globe. 

In February, the Federal Communications Commission issued its draft 2019 Broadband Deployment Report showing gains in broadband connectivity throughout the country. However, the digital divide persists for far too many families in Mississippi and across the nation. 

As I have said before, we are almost one-fifth of the way through the 21stCentury, hard to believe. And we ought to be able to get all Americans connected soon.

To close the digital divide, we need to have accurate broadband maps that tell us where broadband is available and where it is not available at certain speeds. This is critical because maps are used to inform federal agencies about where to direct broadband support. Flawed and inaccurate maps ultimately waste resources and stifle opportunities for economic development in our rural and underserved communities.

I hope our witnesses today will speak to the costs, timing, and potential challenges to collecting more accurate and granular broadband coverage data, including whether the data will be too out of date to be useful once it is all gathered.

I would also like the witnesses to address how to improve existing broadband mapping approaches at the FCC and NTIA, and whether the FCC is collecting the right data to determine the availability of fixed and reliable mobile broadband across the country.

Improving the nation’s broadband maps starts with better coordination and information sharing among federal agencies responsible for administering broadband deployment programs. 

I hope we will soon have legislation in this regard. It is important that the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture work cooperatively to coordinate and share information on broadband coverage data and broadband deployment programs. 

Increased coordination and information sharing would enhance efforts to develop a more accurate broadband map and ensure federal funds are targeted to unserved areas.

Improving broadband maps also requires the collection of more granular and accurate data about existing broadband coverage. To that end, I welcome the FCC’s ongoing proceeding to address shortcomings in its Form 477, which is used to collect broadband deployment data from service providers twice a year. The data is then used to develop a broadband map that helps the Commission determine areas that are eligible for Universal Service support. 

An obvious concern with the Form, among others, is that it asks providers to submit data about where they couldprovide service to a location within a service interval without an extraordinary commitment of resources. This service interval is approximately 7 to 10 business days. 

I hope the witnesses will comment on ideas being discussed to replace or supplement the Form 477 data, such as using location-based proposals or shapefile-based proposals.

In submitting information about where service could be provided, I am concerned that this information is represented on the FCC’s broadband availability maps with little verification about whether the service provider could or would actually provide the service at the advertised speed. Incorporating data about where service could be provided may ultimately lead to overstated broadband coverage and availability on maps. 

So I would like the witnesses to comment on the value of maintaining a challenge process after data is collected to verify the accuracy of the data provided to the FCC.

Developing accurate broadband maps is a priority for this Committee. With so much at stake, it is incumbent upon us to find ways to ensure that we have sound understanding of existing broadband availability across the country. 

The committee welcomes input from the witnesses on the appropriate role for Congress in developing accurate maps.  

I look forward to a thoughtful discussion on these issues and again welcome all of our witnesses.

Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. The hearing will examine the current state of the nation’s broadband maps, and evaluate the ongoing efforts within the federal government and private sector to collect more accurate broadband coverage data.

SBA 7(a) Budget Proposal and the Impact of Fee Structure Changes

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 10:00am

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access will meet for a hearing titled, “SBA 7(a) Budget Proposal and the Impact of Fee Structure Changes.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program is SBA’s flagship lending program, guaranteeing more than 60,000 small business loans totaling $25.4 billion. Traditionally, the program relies on a combination of fees and recoveries of collateral on defaulted loans to operate without appropriations from Congress. However, in its budget request to Congress for FY2020, SBA predicts a funding shortfall in the program, and in response, proposes numerous fee increases to cover the shortfall. The purpose of this hearing is to provide Members the opportunity to examine the SBA’s budget and consider how the changes will impact small business lending.

To view the livestream of the hearing, click here


Hearing Notice 

Hearing Memo 

Witness List

Witnesses 

Panel One

Mr. Tim Gribben
Chief Financial Officer and Association Administrator for Performance Management
U.S. Small Business Administration
Washington, DC
Testimony 

Panel Two

Mr. Tony Wilkinson
President & CEO
National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders
Stillwater, OK
Testimony 

*Witness testimony will be posted within 24 hours after the hearing’s occurrence



 

 

Pipeline Safety: Federal Oversight and Stakeholder Perspectives

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, will convene a hearing titled, “Pipeline Safety: Federal Oversight and Stakeholder Perspectives,” at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. The hearing will examine federal pipeline safety and federal oversight as the Commerce Committee considers reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s pipeline safety program.

Government’s Authority to Unilaterally Dismiss Qui Tam Fraud Suit Faces Court Test

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 9:32am
Last week, the United States filed its long-awaited motion to dismiss a major False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California, U.S. ex rel. Campie v. Gilead Sciences, Inc. The Government argued that dismissal was warranted “to avoid the additional expenditure of government resources on a case that it fully investigated …

Continue reading Government’s Authority to Unilaterally Dismiss Qui Tam Fraud Suit Faces Court Test

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Proposed Federal Alcohol Labeling Revisions Retain Constitutionally Suspect Review Standards

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 12:33pm
On November 26, 2018, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published an extensive proposed rule that seeks to “reorganize and codify [labeling and advertising] regulations in order to simplify and clarify regulatory standards … and reduce the regulatory burden on industry members where possible.” The agency is accepting public comments on the …

Continue reading Proposed Federal Alcohol Labeling Revisions Retain Constitutionally Suspect Review Standards

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The First Amendment in the Supreme Court: “Scandalous” Copyrights and Labor Unions

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 9:00am
Megan Brown, Featured Expert Contributor, First Amendment By Megan Brown, a Partner with Wiley Rein LLP, with Boyd Garriott, Jeremy Broggi, and Wesley Weeks, Associates with the firm.*  Wiley Rein LLP attorneys authored the two amicus briefs discussed in this post.  The firm has long participated in cases involving core First Amendment issues, particularly as …

Continue reading The First Amendment in the Supreme Court: “Scandalous” Copyrights and Labor Unions

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Supreme Court’s DeVries Decision Doesn’t Spell the End of “Bare Metal” Defense in Asbestos Cases

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 04/05/2019 - 12:07pm
Featured Expert Contributor, Mass Torts—Asbestos Robert H. Wright, a Partner with Horvitz & Levy LLP in Los Angeles, CA Last month, the United States Supreme Court rejected the “bare metal” defense to products liability claims in maritime cases.  Air & Liquid Systems v. DeVries, No. 17-1104, 2019 WL 1245520 (U.S. Mar. 19, 2019).  Some have …

Continue reading Supreme Court’s DeVries Decision Doesn’t Spell the End of “Bare Metal” Defense in Asbestos Cases

Categories: Latest News

Subcommittee Announces Hearing on Illegal Robocalls

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled, “Illegal Robocalls: Calling All To Stop The Scourge,” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2019. The hearing will examine the Federal Communications Commission’s first ever report on robocalls and review the steps Congress is currently taking to provide consumers relief from illegal robocalls.

Federal Maritime Agencies: Ensuring a Safe, Secure, and Competitive Future

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, chairman of the Subcommittee on Security, will convene a hearing titled, “Federal Maritime Agencies: Ensuring a Safe, Secure, and Competitive Future,” at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2019. This hearing will examine the President’s fiscal year 2020 budget request for the U.S. Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration, and the Federal Maritime Commission and the current operational successes and challenges before the agencies.

Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Pipeline Safety and Oversight

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, will convene a hearing titled, “Pipeline Safety: Federal Oversight and Stakeholder Perspectives,” at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. The hearing will examine federal pipeline safety and federal oversight as the Commerce Committee considers reauthorization of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s pipeline safety program.

Committee Announces Hearing on Broadband Mapping

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. The hearing will examine the current state of the nation’s broadband maps, and evaluate the ongoing efforts within the federal government and private sector to collect more accurate broadband coverage data. The hearing also will examine ways to increase coordination among federal agencies that administer broadband deployment programs to ensure resources are targeted to unserved areas.

Committee Approves 13 Bills, 8 Nominations

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved 13 bills, eight nominees, and five Coast Guard promotions, all subject to approval by the full Senate.

Executive Session

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building G50 to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.

Committee Launches Investigation of FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today launched an investigation of any potential connection between inadequate training and certification of Aviation Safety Inspectors who may have participated in the evaluation of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. The investigation comes in light of recent 737 crashes and information obtained from whistleblowers.

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