Legislative Newsletter - November 2016

Legislative Newsletter

In October 2016, NAAG sent a legislative survey to all states and territories on their priorities for the 2017 legislative session. There were 31 responses to the survey and NAAG will be monitoring the top legislative priorities throughout the 2016-2017 legislative period. The top five “high priority” responses are, in order: opioid/prescription drug abuse, criminal justice reform, body worn cameras/public recording of police, campus sexual assault and firearms/firearms on college campuses. The top two write-in answers are human trafficking/sexploitation/revenge porn and pay equity and wage theft. A summary of legislative efforts on all of the mentioned topics are below. It should be noted that some states did not respond due to a change of administration. If you would have any questions or would like additional information on any of the pending legislation below, please contact Katie Coyne at kcoyne@naag.org or 202-326-6262.

Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse

Legislators in 37 states introduced a total of 193 pieces of legislation during their 2015-2016 sessions on opioid and prescription drug abuse in their respective states. The 114th Congress had 19 bills introduced, two of which were signed by the President, including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016.

In September 2015, a sign-on letter was circulated in support of CARA. Attorney Generals Sam Olens (R-GA), Greg Zoeller (R-IN), Eric Schneiderman (D-NY) and Peter Kilmartin (D-RI) were co-sponsors of this letter; it received thirty-eight signatures. CARA was signed by the President on July 22, 2016.

Of the 31 responses received for this year’s survey on top priorities for the 2016-2017 sessions, nearly half of all respondents noted that opioid and prescription drug abuse is their top legislative priority for the upcoming session.

Criminal Justice Reform

Legislators in 25 states proposed legislation to reform the criminal justice system. The 114th Congress has had four bills introduced to date.

Of the 31 responses received for this year’s survey on top priorities for the 2016-2017 sessions, 30 percent of respondents noted that criminal justice reform is one of their top legislative priorities for the upcoming session.

Body-Worn Cameras

Legislators in 22 states introduced bills relating to body-worn cameras through August 2016; the 114th Congress was considering six pieces of legislation. Many states considered, and several passed, legislation ensuring that body-worn camera recordings are not public record.

Of the 31 responses received for this year’s survey, 19 percent of respondents noted that the issue of law enforcement and body-worn cameras is one of their top three legislative priorities for the upcoming session, while 29 percent say that their state has already passed legislation or it is not a topic of concern this year.

The 114th Congress passed HR 2029, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016” allotting funds for state and local law enforcement assistance. Included in the Act is a $70,000,000 allotment for “initiatives to improve police-community relations,” $22,500,000 of which is for a “competitive matching grant program for purchases of body worn cameras for State, local and tribal law enforcement.” Research and statistics on body-worn cameras and community trust issues also received $5,000,000 of the allotment.

Data Breaching and Privacy

As of August 2016, legislators in 11 states introduced bills targeting data breaching and cybercrime. The 114th Congress had not yet introduced any bills on this topic.

Of the 31 responses received for this year’s survey, 17 respondents noted that data breaching and privacy concerns are one of their office’s top three legislative priorities for the upcoming session and that they have begun working on draft legislation

Campus Sexual Assault

Through August 2016, legislation has been introduced in nine states to combat campus sexual assaults. The federal government introduced two bills, neither of which had left their respective committee.

Twenty-four respondents noted that this is a top legislative concern for their office for the 2016-2017 legislative year.

Firearms/Firearms on College Campuses

Legislators in 49 states plus Puerto Rico and the 114th Congress introduced legislation a total of 3,775 bills during the 2015-2016 legislative session that covered many different perspectives on the gun debate. In regards to firearms on college campuses, 47 states and the 114th Congress introduced 374 bills were introduced, of which 107 became law.

The results of this year’s survey were mixed across the board with 13 states listing it as a top priority for their office and 18 states listing it as middle or low priority.

Human Trafficking/Sexual Exploitation

Legislation on the sexual exploitation of minors was proposed in six states; in two states, the bills have been signed into law. Legislators in the 114th Congress introduced two bills during the 2015-2016 session.

The 114th Congress passed the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015,” S. 178; it was signed into law in May 2015. S. 575, the “HERO Act” has been referred to the committee on Judiciary. The text was updated in January 2016.

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation were the top write-in response for the September 2016 NAAG Legislative Survey. Five states noted that it was a top priority for their state in the upcoming legislative year.

Pay Equity/Wage Theft

Pay equity and wage theft were not a top priority included in the August 2016 NAAG Legislative Newsletter, but has since become one of the top write-in responses in the latest survey.

The second session of the 114th Congress referred the “Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act”, H.R. 4763, to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections on September, 9, 2016.

If you would have any questions or would like additional information on any of the pending legislation, please contact Katie Coyne at kcoyne@naag.org or 202-326-6262.
Legislative Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General.
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