Criminal Justice

H.R.1272 – Cold Case Record Collections Act of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Cold Case Record Collections Act of 2017

Official Title as Introduced:

To provide for the expeditious disclosure of records related to civil rights cold cases, and for other purposes.

Summary:
Introduced in House (03/01/2017)

Cold Case Record Collections Act of 2017

This bill requires the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to establish a collection of cold case records about unsolved criminal civil rights cases that government offices must: (1) publicly disclose in the collection without redaction or withholding, or (2) submit to a protected collection of records for which public disclosure may be postponed.

The Cold Case Records Review Board is established as an independent agency of impartial private citizens to: (1) facilitate the review, transmission to NARA, and public disclosure of government records related to such cases; (2) hold hearings and render decisions on determinations by government offices to seek to postpone the disclosure of such records; (3) direct government offices to make information available to the board; (4) subpoena private persons to compel testimony and records; and (5) receive information from the public.

Postponement is permitted based on clear and convincing evidence that public disclosure would: (1) impair national security or reveal intelligence sources or methods; (2) reveal the name of, and pose substantial harm to, a living person who provided confidential information; (3) constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy that outweighs the public interest; (4) compromise an understanding of confidentiality currently requiring protection between a government agent and a cooperating individual or group; or (5) reveal a security or protective procedure of the Secret Service or another executive agency responsible for protecting government officials.

NARA and the originating agency must review postponed or redacted records every 180 days. The reasons for any continuation of postponement must be published in the Federal Register.

Each cold case record shall be publicly disclosed and shall be available in NARA’s collection not later than 25 years after enactment of this bill, unless: (1) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, or the conduct of foreign relations; and (2) the gravity of the identifiable harm outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The President has sole and nondelegable authority to require disclosure or postponement of an executive branch cold case record under the grounds set forth in this bill after the board has made a formal determination concerning a record obtained or developed solely within the executive branch.

The board may request the Department of Justice to petition courts to release information related to cold cases under seal or held under the injunction of secrecy of a grand jury.

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Arts

H.R.1574 – Protecting Dissenting Viewpoints and Voices Act of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Protecting Dissenting Viewpoints and Voices Act of 2017

Official Title as Introduced:

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to clarify that the Federal Communications Commission may not take action against a broadcast licensee or any other person on the basis of viewpoint, to clarify that the President may not direct an agency to take such an action, and for other purposes.

 

Women’s Health

H.R.2019 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude certain abortions from the definition of qualified medical expenses for purposes of distributions from health savings accounts.

Summary:
Introduced in House (04/06/2017)

This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to specify that, for the purpose of a health savings account, an abortion is not a qualified medical expense unless: (1) the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or (2) the woman suffers from a physical disorder, injury, or illness, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed.

Women’s Health

H.R.147 – Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2017

Official Title as Introduced:

To prohibit discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex or race, and for other purposes.

Summary:

Introduced in House (01/03/2017)

Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2017

This bill imposes criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly or knowingly attempts to: (1) perform an abortion knowing that the abortion is sought based on the sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent; (2) use force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection or race-selection abortion; (3) solicit or accept funds for the performance of such an abortion; or (4) transport a woman into the United States or across a state line for the purpose of obtaining such an abortion.

Violations or attempted violations shall result in fines and/or imprisonment for up to five years.

The bill authorizes civil actions (for verifiable money damages for injuries and punitive damages) by: (1) fathers, or maternal grandparents if the mother is an unemancipated minor, of unborn children who are the subject of an abortion performed or attempted through any of the above violations; or (2) women upon whom an abortion has been performed or attempted with a knowing or attempted use of force or threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection or race-selection abortion.

To prevent an abortion provider from performing or attempting further abortions in violation of this bill, the bill authorizes injunctive relief to be obtained by: (1) the women upon whom such an abortion is performed or attempted, (2) a maternal grandparent of the unborn child if the woman is an unemancipated minor, (3) the father of such an unborn child, or (4) the Department of Justice.

Violations of this bill are deemed to be prohibited discrimination under title VI (Federally Assisted Programs) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Violators of title VI lose federal funding.)

Medical or mental health professionals must report known or suspected violations to law enforcement authorities. Criminal penalties are established for a failure to so report.

A woman having such an abortion may not be prosecuted or held civilly liable.

Courts must make such orders as necessary to protect the anonymity of any woman upon whom an abortion has been performed or attempted if she does not give her written consent to such disclosure. In the absence of such a woman’s written consent, any party, other than a public official, who brings an action must use a pseudonym.

For purposes of this bill, “abortion” is defined as the act of using or prescribing any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman, with knowledge that the termination by those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the unborn child, unless the act is intended to: (1) save the life or preserve the health of the unborn child, (2) remove a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion, or (3) remove an ectopic pregnancy.

Worker’s Rights

H.R.785 – National Right-to-Work Act

Short Titles as Introduced:

National Right-to-Work Act

Official Title as Introduced:

To preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities.

Women’s Health

H.R.354 – Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017

Official Title as Introduced:

To provide for a moratorium on Federal funding to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.

Summary:

Introduced in House (01/06/2017)

Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017

This bill prohibits, for a one-year period, the availability of federal funds for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates or clinics, unless they certify that the affiliates and clinics will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion during such period. This restriction does not apply in cases of rape or incest or where a physical condition endangers a woman’s life unless an abortion is performed.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture must seek repayment of federal assistance received by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any affiliate or clinic, if it violates the terms of the certification required by this bill.

Additional funding for community health centers is provided for the one-year period described above.

Racial Equality

H.R.799 – Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

Official Title as Introduced:

To authorize the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to establish a pilot program to make grants to historically Black colleges and universities to provide educational programs to offenders who have recently been, or will soon be, released from incarceration, and for other purposes.

Summary:

Introduced in House (02/01/2017)

Shift Back to Society Act of 2017

This bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a pilot program that awards matching grants to historically black colleges and universities to provide educational programs for eligible offenders to facilitate re-entry into the community.

An eligible offender is a convicted criminal offender who has been released from incarceration for less than one year or who is scheduled to be released from incarceration within one year.

The Government Accountability Office must report to Congress on the results of the pilot program.

Question:

“This bill directs the Department of Justice to establish a pilot program that awards matching grants to historically black colleges and universities to provide educational programs for eligible offenders to facilitate re-entry into the community.”

Why only direct ‘convicted criminal offender[s]’ to ‘historically black colleges and universities*’ rather than provide the grant to any university who is willing to offer such a program? Is it not a racist stereotype that most ‘criminal offenders’ are African American? Is this bill simply trying to implement a form of segregation through education as well as to possibly place a heavier burden, both financially as well as potentially skewing performance statistics for their students, on ‘historically black colleges and universities’ rather than on other non-historically black colleges and universities? Could it not also potentially stigmatize any ‘historically black colleges and universities’ that opt to participate, as it would signal, both to their other students as well as the community at large, that they agree with the stereotype that most ‘criminal offenders’ are African American?

The general idea seems relevant, however the planned implementation seems suspect.

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*According to the text of the bill, “The term “historically Black college or university” has the meaning given the term “part B institution” under section 322(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1061(2)

20 U.S.C. 1061(2) States that:

“(2) The term “part B institution” means any historically Black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation,,1 except that any branch campus of a southern institution of higher education that prior to September 30, 1986, received a grant as an institution with special needs under section 1060 of this title and was formally recognized by the National Center for Education Statistics as a Historically Black College or University but was determined not to be a part B institution on or after October 17, 1986, shall, from July 18, 1988, be considered a part B institution.”