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Legal Report

- A jury holds a property owner liable for negligent security and orders it to pay a rape victim $1.2 million, and lawmakers consider legislation on government contractors, online privacy, and homeland security.

Weapons

- Maine Governor Paul LePage signed a law (formerly H.B. 35) making it illegal for employers to prevent employees from storing concealed firearms in their cars on company property. Under the bill, the employee must have a valid permit to carry a concealed firearm. The vehicle must be locked and the firearm out of sight. The law also provides immunity to companies. Employers cannot be held liable for damages, injury, or death resulting from the stored firearms even if the firearm is stolen from an employee’s car. An exception is made in cases where the employer or an agent of the employer intentionally solicits or procures an action that causes injury.

Campus Safety

- A bill (H.R. 2342) introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) would establish a National Center for Campus Public Safety. The center would train public safety agencies and their partners on campus crime issues and increase cooperation between law enforcement and mental health agencies. The center would be tasked with collecting and disseminating information about best practices in campus safety as well as developing protocols to prevent, respond to, and recover from emergencies on campuses.

Economic Espionage

- A bill (S. 678) introduced by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) would increase penalties for economic espionage. The bill would also require that the U.S Sentencing Commission consider a tiered system to address different types of espionage.

Chemical Facility Security

- A bill (S. 473) that would extend the government’s Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards (CFATS) program through October 2014 has been approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The measure must now be considered by the full Senate.

Legal Report

- A police officer is guilty of gross negligence after shooting an unarmed man who was be­ing arrested for failure to pay child support. And a federal appeals court has ruled that DHS should have solicited public comments via the rulemaking process before it deployed body scanners at airports.

State Legislation

- Texas Weapons. A new law (formerly S.B. 321) in Texas allows employees to keep firearms and ammunition locked in their cars on company property. The law does provide exceptions for schools and for properties, such as oil and gas refineries, where combustible or explosive materials are prohibited by law. The law makes it clear that the presence of firearms or ammunition on the employer’s property does not constitute an unsafe workplace. Except in cases of gross negligence, the law gives employers immunity from civil liability arising from the practice of keeping firearms on company property. New York Sexual abuse. A bill (S.B. 5606) has been introduced that would require hotel and motel owners to provide sexual harassment training to employees and to develop programs to facilitate reporting of harassment. Hotel owners would be required to provide a “know your rights” brochure to all employees detailing state and federal laws on sexual harassment. The bill would make it illegal to retaliate against employees who report sexual harassment. The bill was introduced in response to the alleged sexual assault of a housekeeper by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Border Security

- A bill (H.R. 915) introduced by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), designed to improve security along the U.S. border with Mexico, has been approved by the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.

Intellectual Property

- A bill (S. 968) introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), which would allow the attorney general to take action against Internet sites that infringe on intellectual property rights, has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate has announced that it will consider the measure.

Data Security

- A bill (S. 799) introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) would apply data protection and notification requirements to companies not yet covered by other federal laws.

Legal Report

- In two similar cases, courts ruled that students who created fake MySpace pages to spoof pages that their principals might have created were protected under the First Amendment.

State Legislation

- Arizona Employment. A new law (formerly H.B. 2541) recently approved in Arizona clarifies how employers can interact with workers who use medical marijuana. The law protects employers who take good faith actions based on a perception that an employee is impaired in the workplace. The law also allows employers to monitor employees using medical marijuana to ensure that they are performing duties effectively. Employers are protected from litigation if they prohibit medical marijuana users from performing “safety sensitive” duties. Employers have latitude in establishing what is considered a safety-sensitive position, but examples include any job that can affect the health or safety of others. Operating a motor vehicle, operating machinery or power tools, and repairing or monitoring certain equipment are all considered safety-sensitive positions under the law. Georgia Immigration. Georgia Governor Na­than Deal has signed a bill (H.B. 87) into law that will require employers in the state to take steps to ensure that they aren’t hiring illegal immigrants. Employers with more than 10 employees are required to use the federal government’s E-Verify system to determine whether a prospective employee is in the United States illegally. Other aspects of the law are identical to Arizona’s controversial law, which is currently under judicial review. Critics of the law expect that there will be legal challenges to the law before it goes into effect in January 2012.  

Corruption

- A bill (S. 401) introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would revise the criminal code to strengthen penalties for bribery and corruption convictions. The bill would expand mail and wire fraud statutes to cover offenses involving anything of value, including intangible rights and licenses, not just monetary goods. The measure would also modify elements relating to the crime of bribery of public officials and witnesses to prohibit public officials from accepting anything of value, other than what is permitted by rule or regulation, because of the person’s official position.
 




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