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OSHA Proposes to Modify Recent Beryllium Standards

Office of Advocacy - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 4:24pm

On June 27, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a proposed rule that would modify the agency's recent beryllium standards for the construction and shipyard sectors.  Specifically, the proposed rule would maintain the permissible exposure limits (permissible exposure limit of 0.2 μg/m3 and short-term exposure limit of 2.0 μg/m3) for construction and shipyards, but would eliminate ancillary provisions such as housekeeping and personal protective equipment that were included in the January 9, 2017 final rule.  OSHA is seeking comment on, among other things,

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

OSHA Proposes to Delay Compliance Date for Electronic Reporting Rule

Office of Advocacy - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 4:19pm

On June 28, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a four-month delay in the compliance date of its electronic reporting rule, formally called “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.” The compliance date would be extended from July 1, 2017, to Dec. 1, 2017 and would allow the agency an opportunity to further review and consider its final rule that was published on May 12, 2016.  The rule requires certain employers to submit their employee injury and illness logs to OSHA electronically.

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Consumer Product Safety Commission Seeks Comments on Its Proposed Rule on Safety Standards Addressing Blade-Contact Injuries on Table Saws

Office of Advocacy - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 3:03pm

On May 12, 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a proposed rule to establish a performance standard for table saws. The proposed rule would require that table saws, when powered on, limit the depth of cut to 3.5 millimeters when a probe contacts the spinning blade at a radial approach rate of one meter per second (m/s). The rule would require saw manufacturers to incorporate patented Saw Stop technology in each of their devices.

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Update: Another Instance of Drunk Suing Ushered Out of Court

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 12:26pm
A few months ago we blogged about a lawsuit where the plaintiffs alleged they were deceived by the “Hawaiian-ness” that Kona Brewing Company conveyed on their beer labels.  The case was emblematic of a series of suits alleging that because beers were seemingly marketed as “foreign,” but produced in a domestic location, the brewers tricked […]
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Subcommittee to Examine Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Space Exploration

The subcommittee will examine partnerships between the U.S. government and commercial space industry to advance space exploration.

Committee to Explore Role of Transportation Providers in Combating Human Trafficking

The hearing will explore the role of transportation providers and supply chains in fighting the growth of sex trafficking in the United States and slave labor in the global economy. Witnesses have been asked to testify about challenges and successful strategies in combating human trafficking, which has grown into an estimated $150 billion-dollar industry with cases in Washington, D.C. and across the country.

Third Circuit Rejects Plaintiffs’ Attempt to Lower “Daubert” Standard in “In re Zoloft Products Liability Litigation”

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Column –Judicial Gatekeeping of Expert Evidence Evan M. Tager, a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Mayer Brown LLP, with Carl J. Summers, an Associate with Mayer Brown LLP. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently rejected an attempt to substantially lower the standard for admission of expert testimony resting […]
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EPA’s Proposed Hardrock Mining Financial Responsibility Rule

Office of Advocacy - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 4:55pm

On January 11, 2017, EPA issued a proposed rule requiring development of financial responsibility instruments to provide coverage for potential liabilities for releases of hazardous substances from hardrock mines.  82 Fed. Reg. 3388 (Jan. 11, 2017).  On January 19, 2017, the Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) filed a comment letter requesting that EPA withdraw the proposal. The letter to EPA may be accessed at: http://www.sba.gov/advocacy.

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

FCA “Qui Tam” Relator Sanctioned for Lawyers’ Scheme to Manufacture Evidence

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 11:03am
By Bailey McGowan, a 2017 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at Washington Legal Foundation who will be entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law in the fall. A double agent, an undercover operation, and deceit: No, these aren’t the well-worn plot elements of the latest James Bond movie. They are some of […]
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USPTO Again Finds State University-Owned Patent Immune From Patent Challenge

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 11:19am
Guest Commentary By Courtenay C. Brinckerhoff,* a Partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, and editor of the firm’s PharmaPatentsBlog. In January 2017, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) ruled in three parallel decisions that state university-owned patents could not be challenged in inter partes review proceedings. […]
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Does the American Law Institute Have an Ethics Problem on Its Hands?

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 2:10pm
The brouhaha that engulfed the final draft of the Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance (RLLI) at last month’s American Law Institute (ALI) annual meeting drew more publicity and concern than any ALI work product that I can recall.  And for good reason.  As numerous commentators observed—including Washington Legal Foundation’s Glenn Lammi and Mintz Levin’s […]
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Thune Statement on DOT Working Group Support for Proposal to Enhance Copilot Training Opportunities

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, issued the following statement on a new report by the U.S. Department of Transportation Working Group on Improving Air Service to Small Communities recommending, “Congress should affirm that qualifying ‘academic’ training [for necessary flight hours to become a commercial copilot] should not be limited to military and aviation degree programs.”

Supreme Court’s Presumption-of-Innocence Decision Should Inspire Asset-Forfeiture Reformers

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 3:54pm
In a US Supreme Court term filled with cases that “only a lawyer could love,” the justices did issue at least one decision in October Term 2016—Nelson v. Colorado—that any TV crime-drama viewer can understand. The decision turned on the bedrock principle that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. While Justice Ginsburg’s opinion applies […]
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Forum-Shopping Plaintiffs Take a Major Hit in US Supreme Court

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 1:10pm
Forum-shopping plaintiffs’ attorneys have long sought to file their claims against large businesses in jurisdictions with reputations for favoring plaintiffs—without regard to whether the claims actually arose in those jurisdictions.  They justify their assertions of personal jurisdiction in such cases by arguing that a company that does business nationwide should be amenable to suit in […]
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Thune Statement on GAO Findings of Massive Fraud and Waste in FCC’s ‘Lifeline’ Phone Program

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today issued the following statement on a new report by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) on massive fraud and waste in the Federal Communication Commission’s “Lifeline” phone program subsidizing telephone and broadband service for low-income households.

Committee Approves FAA Reauthorization Through 2021

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization, three other bills, and three nominees subject to Senate confirmation.

Walberg Statement: Markup of H.R. 2776, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 11:45am
House Republicans have been working hard to remove barriers to job creation, deliver regulatory relief, and help working families and small businesses succeed.

Rolling back the National Labor Relations Board’s activist agenda is an important part of that effort. During the Obama administration, the board advanced policies designed to empower special interests at the expense of the men and women who keep our economy moving. These policies not only hampered our economic recovery and limited opportunity, they stripped away rights and protections for workers and employers.

As a former union member, I respect the right of workers to join a union. I also respect the right of workers to have a real choice and make an informed decision in the matter. That’s why the NLRB’s ambush election rule is so concerning. Simply put, this rule was designed to rush employees into union elections before they have an opportunity to consider all the consequences.

Workers now have as little as 11 days to understand the pros and cons of joining a union before casting their vote. And while unions can prepare their entire campaign before a business even knows about it, employers have as few as seven days to find legal counsel and appear before a NLRB hearing officer.

This short time period is completely unreasonable. Eleven days isn’t enough time for workers to hear from both sides of the debate and make a personal decision that impacts their job and paycheck. And seven days certainly isn’t enough time for employers to respond and communicate with their employees. This is especially true for a small business owner who lacks HR staff or in-house counsel.

Before this rule took effect, the union election process took a median of 38 days. This is a more sensible time frame that gives workers a chance to gather information and get the facts. We need to get back to the way things were before the NLRB overstepped. And in no way would union leaders stand at a disadvantage. In fact, before this unnecessary rule was implemented, unions won 67 percent of workplace elections.

H.R. 2776 will restore long-standing NLRB election procedures that served workers well and provided a level playing field between unions and employers. The bill ensures no union election is held less than 35 calendar days from when the petition for the election was filed.

But there’s more that must be done to restore fairness to union elections, which is why this bill also addresses the NLRB’s micro-union scheme. The board’s decision in the 2011 Specialty Healthcare case was perhaps one of the most reckless of the past eight years. It empowered union leaders to handpick individual employees and form micro-unions as an incremental step toward organizing an entire business. As a result, employees face fragmented workplaces and employers are forced to confront union red tape that drives up the cost of doing business and hiring workers.

At a recent hearing, a Michigan Health and Hospital Association official from my home state said, “This sub-divided situation is terrible for any employer, but it is a matter of life or death in a health care setting. The success of any hospital is dependent on the ability of its staff members to work as a cohesive unit. The Specialty decision threatens this vital component.”

Her comments serve as a painful reminder of how misguided federal policies can have harmful, real-world consequences. Congress must take action. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act will roll back the NLRB’s micro-union scheme and reinstate important protections workers and employers received for decades.

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Rokita Statement: Markup of H.R. 986, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 11:40am
The purpose of H.R. 986 is simple: to protect the sovereignty of tribal governments.

This shouldn’t be a Republican versus Democrat issue. The enduring principle of tribal sovereignty is respected and well-established. It has been reaffirmed time and again by Congress.

Tribal sovereignty means tribes have an inherent right to self-government. Just like state and local governments, tribes are free to develop their own policies that promote jobs, the freedom of work, and economic opportunity.

As the Chairwoman said, the NLRB respected tribal sovereignty for more than 70 years. For decades, the board treated tribal governments the same as state and local governments, which are exempt from the National Labor Relations Act

But that all changed with the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino decision, when the board began imposing its jurisdiction over tribes. Suddenly, tribes became the only form of government subject to the NLRA — a private-sector labor law.

Since then, we’ve heard from tribal leaders who have urged Congress to provide much-needed legal clarity and restore their sovereignty over employer-employee relations. Just like every other governmental employer.

At a subcommittee hearing earlier this year, we heard from the chair of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and president of the National Congress of American Indians. He told members, “This is not merely a legal issue but a moral imperative of protecting and defending the sovereignty of America’s Indian tribes, and guarding against any discrimination against those tribes.” I couldn’t agree more.

We also heard from the Chickasaw Nation. The tribe’s lieutenant governor testified that this is a “profound issue of national importance that cannot be left in the hands of an admittedly inexpert federal agency.” The Navajo Nation said, “We simply want parity. If [states] are able to self-govern and be self-determined with regards to the NLRA, so should we.”

Colleagues, more than 150 tribes have urged Congress to pass H.R. 986, and I’m proud it has bipartisan support with three Democrat co-sponsors. And as a quick reminder, last Congress this very same bill enjoyed bipartisan support on House passage.

We also have the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a letter from the Chamber and many supporting tribes they wrote, “When tribal sovereignty is respected and acknowledged, economic success follows.” I completely agree. Madam Chairwoman, I request to have a letter submitted to the record.

The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017 is a commonsense bill that will prevent unelected bureaucrats at the NLRB from infringing on the sovereignty of tribes. It will restore a standard that was respected for nearly the entirety of the board’s existence: tribes should control their own labor relations in the same way state and local governments do.

We need to ensure the NLRA recognizes this standard — that being governmental parity. We are here today to amend the law to clarify once and for all that it does not apply to any enterprise or institution owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located on their tribal land. This is the fair and right thing to do.

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