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Legal Report

- A court rules that an employer is responsible for the actions of an employee returning from a conference; however, a fire department is not liable for a sexual assault committed by firefighters. Congress considers legislation on food safety and bioterrorism.

State Legislation: North Carolina: School Violence

- A new law (formerly S.B. 526) in North Carolina requires public schools to establish programs to prevent bullying and harassment. The law requires schools to address physical, verbal, and electronic harassment and to implement procedures for reporting, investigating, and preventing such behavior. The new law states that having an unpopular viewpoint does not constitute bullying or harassment.

State Legislation: Massachusetts: Identity Theft

- New regulations implemented in Massachusetts requiring that companies encrypt documents sent over the Internet or saved on laptops or flash drives have been revised to make the process easier for small businesses. Under the regulations, wirelessly transmitted data must be protected and firewalls must be up to date. The revised regulations are risk-based in implementation, meaning that the administrative, technical, and physical safeguards necessary are based on several factors, such as the size, scope, and type of business; the resources available; the amount of data stored; and the need for security and confidentiality of the information. Businesses in the state must meet the new regulations by March 1, 2010.

U.S Congressional Legislation: Communications

- A bill (S. 251) introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), which is designed to prohibit prisoners from using smuggled cell phones, has been approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The Senate has not announced whether it will consider the bill. The provision would allow corrections officials to petition the government to use wireless jamming devices. (Currently, any interference with wireless services is illegal.)

State Legislation: Nebraska: Identity Theft

- Nebraska legislators have enacted a law (formerly H.B. 155) establishing new identity theft crimes. Under the law, knowingly providing false personal identifying information or a false identification document to a court or law enforcement officer is a felony. Knowingly providing such false information to a prospective employer with the goal of gaining employment is a misdemeanor.

State Legislation: Washington: Background Checks

- A new law in Washington State (formerly H.B. 1844) requires that state employees who are responsible for issuing drivers’ licenses, vehicle licenses, or state IDs undergo a criminal background check. The checks will be required before a person is hired and repeated every five years for current employees.

State Legislation: Utah: Background Checks

- A new law (formerly H.B. 289) enacted in Utah would allow the state to conduct criminal records checks of volunteers who provide services to vulnerable adults.

State Legislation: Georgia: Noncompete Agreements

- A new law (formerly H.B. 173) would make noncompete agreements legal in Georgia if agreed to by the public in a referendum. The law is not allowed under the Georgia Constitution so, to take effect, it requires a public vote to change the constitution, Under the law, a former employee could be restricted from conducting activity that would compete with a former employer for a certain amount of time and within a specific geographic location. Former employees could also be prohibited from hiring or attempting to hire employees away from a former employer.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Airport Screening

- An amendment to the appropriations bill for the Transportation Security Administration (H.R. 2200) would limit the use of whole-body imaging technology for airport screening.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Food Safety

- A bill (H.R. 2749) that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater regulatory powers over the U.S. food supply has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. The bill now faces a vote before the full committee.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Chemical Facilities

- A bill (H.R. 2868) intended to increase security at chemical facilities has been approved by the House Homeland Security Committee. It is now pending in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Legal Report

- The strip search of a middle school student is unconstitutional; plus legislation on chemical facilities, food safety, and airport screening.

House Votes to Give More Power to FDA to Protect Food Supply

- The recent rash of tainted spinach, peanuts, and hot peppers led the House of Representatives yesterday to pass the first modernization of the U.S. food safety system in decades.
 




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