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CRS — Conflict Minerals and Resource Extraction: Dodd-Frank, SEC Regulations, and Legal Challenges (October 15, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Conflict Minerals and Resource Extraction: Dodd-Frank, SEC Regulations, and Legal Challenges (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Two sections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) require that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) issue regulations to make public the involvement of U.S. companies in conflict minerals and in resource extraction payments. Supporters of the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals statute and the SEC implementing rule believe that such disclosures could have an impact on the amount of violence involved with the mining of conflict minerals. Opponents of the statute and rule argue that they require disclosures that are arbitrary and capricious and that some of the required disclosures violate the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. Supporters of the resource extraction statute and the SEC implementing rule believe that they are needed to achieve the goal of the transparency of payments made by resource extraction issuers to governments in order to foster reform and anticorruption and to improve the tax collection process. Opponents believe that they are arbitrary and capricious and violate the First Amendment. Legal challenges to the statutes and regulations have occurred, based primarily on administrative law and First Amendment grounds.

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Eleventh Circuit Provides Guidance for the Definition of “Foreign Official” under the FCPA, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 15, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Eleventh Circuit Provides Guidance for the Definition of “Foreign Official” under the FCPA, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On May 16, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Eleventh Circuit) issued its opinion in United States v. Esquenazi , a case important for being the first federal appellate court decision to provide guidance for and flesh out the definition of the term “foreign official” under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA or Act). The FCPA, first enacted in 1977 and significantly amended in 1988 (with an additional amendment in 1998 to implement the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions), was enacted principally to prevent the bribery of foreign officials. It has three major parts: 1. Requires corporations to keep accurate books, records, and accounts; 2. Requires issuers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to maintain a responsible internal accounting control system; and 3. Prohibits bribery by American corporations of foreign officials. (For additional information on the FCPA, see CRS Report R41466: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA): Congressional Interest and Executive Enforcement.)

CRS — Nuclear Energy Policy (October 15, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Nuclear Energy Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Nuclear energy issues facing Congress include reactor safety and regulation, radioactive waste management, research and development priorities, federal incentives for new commercial reactors, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security against terrorist attacks.

CRS — Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources, by Topic (October 14, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources, by Topic (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides references to analytical reports on cybersecurity from CRS, other government agencies, trade associations, and interest groups. The reports and related websites are grouped under the following cybersecurity topics:
• policy overview
• National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC)
• cloud computing and FedRAMP
• critical infrastructure
• cybercrime, data breaches, and data security
• national security, cyber espionage, and cyberwar (including Stuxnet)
• international efforts
• education/training/workforce
• research and development (R&D)

In addition, the report lists selected cybersecurity-related websites for congressional and government agencies, news, international organizations, and organizations or institutions.

CRS — Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues (September 26, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to recover oil and natural gas from underground low permeability rock formations. Its use along with horizontal drilling has been responsible for an increase in estimated U.S. oil and natural gas reserves. Hydraulic fracturing and related oil and gas production activities have been controversial because of their potential effects on public health and the environment. Several environmental statutes have implications for the regulation of hydraulic fracturing by the federal government and states.

CRS — Veterans’ Benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Duty to Assist Claimants (September 26, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Veterans’ Benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Duty to Assist Claimant (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides an array of benefits to veterans and to certain members of their families. These benefits include disability compensation and pensions, education benefits, survivor benefits, medical treatment, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, and burial and memorial benefits. In order to apply for these benefits, in most circumstances, the claimant will send an application to his or her local VA Regional Office or apply online. Once a veteran has filed an application for benefits with the VA, the agency has a unique obligation to the claimant when adjudicating the claim—the VA has a “duty to assist” the claimant throughout the claim process.

CRS — Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions (October 10, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): Resources for Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) has numerous provisions affecting private health insurance and public health coverage programs. Many of these provisions take effect in 2014. This report provides resources to help congressional staff respond to constituents’ frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the law. The report lists selected resources regarding consumers, employers, and other stakeholders, with a focus on federal sources. It also lists CRS reports that summarize ACA’s provisions.

The report begins with links to contacts for specific ACA questions, such as Consumer Assistance Programs, state agencies, and local organizations that can answer constituents’ questions directly. For example, the federal HealthCare.gov website offers an ACA consumer telephone hotline and online chat assistance. The report also lists sources for congressional staff to contact federal agencies with ACA questions.

The report provides basic consumer sources, including a glossary of health coverage terms. The next sections focus on health coverage: the individual mandate, private health insurance, and exchanges, as well as public health care programs, such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare, Indian health care, and veterans’ and military health care. It then lists sources on employer-sponsored coverage, including sources on employer penalties, small businesses, federal workers’ health plans, and union health plans. It also provides sources on ACA’s provisions on mental health, public health, workforce, quality, and taxes. Finally, the report lists sources on ACA costs and appropriations, legal issues, the treatment of noncitizens under ACA, and sources for obtaining the law’s full-text.

This list is not a comprehensive directory of all resources on the ACA, but rather is intended to address a few questions that may arise frequently.

See also:
Another Court Rejects Premium Tax Credits in Federal Exchanges under ACA, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 6, 2014) (PDF)
Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (October 10, 2014) (PDF)

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