New to the art form? This Wall Street Journal article will get you orientated. Also, for more information on how some of these titles mislead lawmakers and the citizenry, find some academic commentary from Brian Christopher Jones here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Taxpayers Right-to-Know what?

Rep. James Lankford (R., OK) has introduced H.R. 1423, the Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act, whose long title states that it would "provide taxpayers with an annual report disclosing the cost and performance of Government programs and areas of duplication among them, and for other purposes." The official summary notes that it (among other things): 
Requires the head of each federal agency, on an annual basis, to: (1) identify and describe every program administered by such agency; (2) determine the total administrative costs and expenditures for services for each program; (3) estimate the number of clients served by each program and the beneficiaries who received assistance under each program; (4) estimate the number of full-time federal and contract employees who administer each program; and (5) identify federal programs with duplicative or overlapping missions, services, and allowable uses of funds.
This bill has recently been reported out of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and has been placed on the House calendar.  

A Regulatory Amber ALERT

Rep. George Holding (R., NC) has introduced H.R. 2804, the All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (ALERT) of 2013. The measure is basically a regulatory amber alert system. According to the official summary of the law, it (among other things): 
Requires the head of each federal agency to submit a monthly report to the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each rule which such agency expects to propose or finalize during the upcoming year. Sets forth the required content of such report, including: (1) a summary of the nature of the rule, (2) the objectives of and legal basis for the issuance of the rule, (3) the stage of the rule making as of the date of submission, (4) whether the rule is subject to periodic review as a rule with a significant economic impact, (5) an approximate schedule for completing action on the rule, and (6) an estimate of its cost. Requires the Administrator to post reports on the Internet.
Today in an official statement the White House came out against the measure, noting: 
The bill would impose unneeded and costly analytical and procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from performing their statutory responsibilities.  It would also create needless regulatory and legal uncertainty, increase costs for businesses and State, local and tribal governments, and impede common-sense protections for the American public.
Note: there appears to be some confusion as to what the actual name of the H.R. 2804 actually is. The White House notes that the acronym stands for Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency (ALERRT), while, THOMAS, the House Rules Committee, and the official press release by Rep. Holding state the title is: All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (ALERT) of 2013. I have seen nothing besides the White House press release to suggest otherwise. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Defending Marriage...Again

Today Senators Ted Cruz (R., TX) and Mike Lee (R., UT) introduced S. 2024, the State Marriage Defense Act. According to the press release the bill "respects the definition of marriage held by the people of each state and protects states from the federal government’s efforts to force any other definition upon them. The bill will ensure the federal government gives the same deference to the 33 states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman as it does to the 17 states that have chosen to recognize same-sex unions." 

The measure is similar to one introduced last month by Rep. Randy Weber (R., TX), also called the State Marriage Defense Act

It's unclear why lawmakers would use the word "defense" in their titles, given that that particular word was used by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor to demonstrate evidence of moral disapproval. Thus, if lawmakers continue with these bills, they may want to think about changing the case they ever reach the Supreme Court. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just want to BROWSE?

While "browsing" (sorry, couldn't resist) Rep. Sean Duffy's website for information on a previous post, I noticed he recently introduced the BROWSE Act, or the Before Registering for Obamacare, Window Shop Exchanges Act of 2014. The bill would allow potential customers on to browse the website and the plans before putting in their personal information. Currently, visitors must first put in their personal information and are then allowed to peruse potential health care options. 

It appears that Rep. Duffy is putting a bit more effort into the naming of his legislation. While the the BROWSE Act certainly resonates, hopefully nobody actually refers to the bill by it's spelled-out short title, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense and appears to be hastily thrown together. These are the types of acronyms discussed in my forthcoming essay in the Stanford Law & Policy Review Online

Financial Freedom and Washington don't say!

Rep. Sean Duffy (R., WI) recently introduced H.R. 3193, the Consumer Financial Freedom and Washington Accountability Act, which seeks to increase review of any regulation passed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Obama Administration today provided a strong statement against the measure, saying that it would "undermine critical Wall Street reforms and weaken important consumer protections, potentially exposing the Nation's economy to systemic risks similar to those that led to the 2008 financial crisis."

Of note: it appears that the name of the measure was recently changed. When introduced the measure was known as the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2013. This is still the way that it's represented on many official sites, such as However, a Feb. 4 copy of the bill and a recently CBO memo note the new name of the bill. A name change such as this is very common in Congress, and especially as bills are traveling through the legislative process and looking to gain some traction. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Time to SHARE?

Rep. Latta's (R., OH) Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2013 is set to be debated by the House. Essentially the measure enhances hunting, fishing and shooting opportunities on federal lands, but also takes particular powers away from federal authorities in the process. 

The Obama Administration has noted they support passing sportsman and recreation legislation, but are opposed to the bill as it's currently written, stating that: 
While the Administration strongly supports the goal of promoting recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting opportunities, and recognizes the economic and community benefits associated with hunting and fishing, it opposes this bill.  These important recreational opportunities abound on public lands and are valued by millions of Americans who hunt and fish on public lands, forests, parks, and refuges.  Accordingly, the Administration supports certain titles of H.R. 3590, but opposes others which include harmful provisions that impair Federal management of federally-owned lands and undermine important existing public land and environmental laws, rules, and processes. 
The full Administration statement can be found here.