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CRS — Nuclear Energy Policy (October 15, 2014)

November 6, 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.

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Smartphone Data Encryption: A Renewed Boundary for Law Enforcement?, CRS Insights (October 17, 2014)

November 6, 2014 Comments off

Smartphone Data Encryption: A Renewed Boundary for Law Enforcement?, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Modern-day criminals constantly develop new techniques to facilitate their illicit activities. They have adapted to cross, circumvent, and exploit a number of boundaries—including geographic borders, law enforcement jurisdiction, turf, and cyberspace—which simultaneously present obstacles for the officials tasked with combatting these malicious actors.

CRS — Deploying 5G (Fifth Generation) Wireless Technology: Is the United States on Track?, CRS Insights (October 21, 2014)

November 6, 2014 Comments off

Deploying 5G (Fifth Generation) Wireless Technology: Is the United States on Track?, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In 2018, when the XXIII Winter Olympic Games begin in PyeongChang, South Korea, the global competition for leadership of the mobile communications industry might be intensified by the introduction of a prototype 5G network. Commercial deployments of fifth-generation technologies by 2020 have been announced by wireless network officials in South Korea and Japan. In July 2014, Ericsson, a global leader in communications technology, demonstrated the speed of its 5G network design to customers NTT DOCOMO (Japan) and SK Telecom (South Korea). The technological advances of these early roll-outs might leapfrog the technologies used by U.S. networks, eroding what is widely perceived as a American competitive advantage in mobile communications.

No Second Amendment Cases for the Supreme Court’s 2014-2015 Term…Yet, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 23, 2014)

November 6, 2014 Comments off

No Second Amendment Cases for the Supreme Court’s 2014-2015 Term…Yet, CRS Legal Sidebar
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

As the Supreme Court begins its 2014-2015 Term, it appears that there will be no cases involving the Second Amendment on its docket. Commentators have observed that the Court appears to have become “gun shy” regarding this issue, given that it has not taken up a Second Amendment case since its landmark rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010. During the summer, the Court denied review in at least two cases challenging state firearms laws. One would have questioned whether it is permissible under the Second Amendment for New York City to require residents to pay $340 for a three-year residential handgun license, which they are required to have under state law in order to lawfully possess a handgun. The second would have questioned whether it is permissible under the Second Amendment for New Jersey to require applicants wishing to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun to show a “justifiable need.”

Had the Court granted review in either of these cases, it would have further fine-tuned the scope of the Second Amendment, which thus far protects an individual right to possess a firearm and the use of that firearm “in defense of hearth and home.” Despite the lack of guidance from the Supreme Court, there has been much activity in the lower courts, with several notable decisions issued this summer.

CRS — Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act (October 28, 2014)

November 6, 2014 Comments off

Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Congress is deeply divided over implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health reform law enacted in March 2010.1 Since the ACA’s enactment, lawmakers opposed to specific provisions in the ACA or the entire law have debated implementation of the law on numerous occasions and considered multiple bills to repeal, defund, delay, or otherwise amend the law. Most of the legislative activity on these ACA-related bills has taken place in the House. The legislation includes stand-alone bills as well as provisions in broader, often unrelated measures that would (1) repeal the ACA in its entirety and, in some cases, replace it with new law; (2) repeal, or by amendment restrict or otherwise limit, specific provisions in the ACA; (3) eliminate appropriations provided by the ACA and rescind all unobligated funds;2 (4) replace the mandatory appropriations for one or more ACA programs with authorizations of (discretionary) appropriations, and rescind all unobligated funds; and (5) block or otherwise delay implementation of specific ACA provisions. A few bills containing provisions to amend the ACA that have attracted sufficiently broad and bipartisan support have been approved in both the House and the Senate and signed into law.

See also: Discretionary Spending in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (October 28, 2014) (PDF)

CRS — Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education (October 23, 2014)

November 6, 2014 Comments off

Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In recent years, a number of high-profile incidents of sexual violence at institutions of higher education (IHEs) have heightened congressional and administration scrutiny of the policies and procedures that IHEs currently have in place to address campus sexual violence and how these policies and procedures can be improved. Campus sexual violence is widely acknowledged to be a problem. However, reported data on the extent of sexual violence at IHEs varies considerably across studies for a variety of methodological and other reasons. Victims of sexual violence may suffer from a range of physical and mental health conditions including injuries, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidality, and substance abuse. College students who are the victims of sexual violence may experience a decline in academic performance, and they may drop out, leave school, or transfer.

Currently, there are two federal laws that address sexual violence on college campuses: the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act, P.L. 101-542) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX, P.L. 92-318). These two statutes differ in significant respects, including in their purpose, coverage, enforcement, and remedies.

CRS — Cities Try, and Fail (So Far), to Prevent Federal Marijuana Enforcement, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 24, 2014)

November 6, 2014 Comments off

Cities Try, and Fail (So Far), to Prevent Federal Marijuana Enforcement, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of federal marijuana enforcement appear to have been exaggerated. While federal authorities have created a perceived safe harbor for the operation of marijuana businesses in states that have legalized the drug, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still punishing violations of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) when a business’s activities threaten certain core federal interests, such as preventing the distribution of marijuana to children and combating the involvement of criminal enterprise. One tool the DOJ has used to close down offending dispensaries, grow facilities, and retail shops is civil forfeiture—a legal process by which the government may seize and liquidate a wide array of property “used or intended to be used to facilitate a violation of the CSA.” Once a decision to initiate a forfeiture proceeding has been made, there appears to be very little that states or localities, that actively support the operation of marijuana businesses, can do to prevent federal authorities from enforcing federal law.

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