How To Keep Your Government Accountable

On October 26, 2017, the United States government released files relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the investigation that followed. The majority of the documents generated by the investigation – about 88% of all FBI, CIA, and other agencies’ files – have been available for years, but the rest of the documents were due to be released this year. On the recommendation of the investigatory agencies, President Trump decided to keep some of this remaining information redacted due to “national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns.” Speculation as to the contents of these documents and the reasons for redacting secure information have renewed a continuing discussion about what information the public should be privy to and how this information can be accessed.

DEEP DIVE: Security Deposit Compliance in the City of Chicago

Landlords have a duty to know the laws applicable to their properties, in all matters great and small. While security deposits may seem on the “smaller” end of a landlord’s duties, he or she must remain compliant with all state and local municipal laws—even when handling security deposits. Whether a large or small residential unit landlord in the City of Chicago, a violation of the state and municipal security deposit laws can have a catastrophic domino effect, resulting in lost revenue, penalties, and lawsuits. In fact, some landlords have had to shell out six-figure settlements and file for bankruptcy as a result of violating the laws surrounding security deposits.

Assets of Compliance in the United Nations

Since its inception, compliance with the UN’s rules and regulations has been contentious for nations and individuals alike. Perhaps most prominent are the Security Council and the International Court of Justice, known internationally as sources of law for the maintenance of international peace and security. In theory, bodies like the Security Council and the International Court of Justice may presume member states’ compliance with their rules and regulations. Yet often the presumption of compliance is just that—in an effort to maintain its status as a peaceful international entity, the UN has limited enforcement power. The result is body of agreement, and not much else.

SCOTUS Denies Petition Alleging ADA Violation for Glass-Front Vending Machines

On October 2, 2017, the United States Supreme Court denied a petition to Emmette Magee (“Magee”), a blind man, who claimed that the vending machines violate Title III under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Coca-Cola vending machines, similar to other modern vending machines, are “self-service and fully automated machines that dispense bottles.” These machines also include credit and debit card processing, and payment from smartphones, but require the consumer to select a beverage using a number pad associated with the product in the vending machine. Magee, the petitioner, claimed that these vending machines lacked any meaningful accommodation for use by the blind, because the machines contained an “entirely visual interface.” 

FCC Votes to Overhaul Internet Regulation

On May 18, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 2-1 to initiate the process of rolling back net neutrality provisions put in place by the Obama administration designed to keep the Internet open and fair. The FCC Chairman’s proposal will end the “utility-style strict regulatory approach that gives government control of the Internet.” The current FCC intends to implement market-based policies designed to preserve Internet freedom and reverse declining infrastructure investment, innovation, and options for consumers it argues resulted from the FCC’s actions in 2015.

Fight over the CFPB’s Arbitration Rule Exposes Rift Between Federal Regulators

Since its inception in 2010, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has garnered its fair share of criticism and controversy.  The regulator was created by the Dodd-Frank legislation to curb the practices and risks, which brought about the financial crisis of 2007-2008.  The CFPB is often criticized by the banks and firms it regulates, but now a fellow federal regulator is casting doubt on the CFPB’s new rule concerning mandatory arbitration clauses found in contracts for commonly used banking products, such as checking accounts and credit cards.  The rule is also opposed by Congress, which is working on measures to repeal the rule, and several financial industry and lobbying groups who are suing the CFPB.

JCAR Unanimously Approves Compromise Language on Proposed ICC Rule 412

In a rare ruling on September 12, 2017, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) unanimously approved revisions to the Illinois Commerce Commission’s (ICC) proposed Part 412 Order. The ICC and members of the Alternative Retail Electric Suppliers (ARES) community negotiated the adopted compromise language. Part 412 of the Illinois Administrative Code, Title 83, Chapter 1, outlines the obligations of retail electric suppliers. Lobbyists for Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA) estimate that this compromise has been up to five years in the making.

Averting Disaster: Building Regulations in the Wake of Hurricane Irma

After Hurricane Irma’s dissipation on September 15, 2017, the residents of Florida can now begin to assess the damage caused by the strongest hurricane making landfall since Katrina in 2005. According to early estimates, Irma has caused over 62 billion dollars in damage. However, amongst the destruction there is a silver lining; the damage caused was significantly limited by building regulations that went into effect in 2002. Homes and buildings that would have otherwise been destroyed by Hurricane Irma were able to survive, and suffered only minor damage.

Trump Administration and American Companies Challenge Chinese Regulation Regarding Intellectual Property

Chinese foreign investment policies have long favored investments that bring the country technological advances from foreign companies. In recent years, China has increasingly developed policies which force foreign companies to share their intellectual property with China and to allow Chinese companies to conduct business with the foreign country China has backed off their previous requirements to transfer such information in an attempt to meet the requirements of the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) since joining the organization in September of 2001. Evidenced by President Donald Trump recently signing a directive to initiate an investigation into Chinese trade practices regarding the attainment of intellectual property from foreign companies, many companies and trade organizations believe that China is not adequately protecting intellectual property rights of foreign companies.

The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption

Hague Conference on the Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption Convention is an international treaty agreement protecting the best interests of children in international adoptions. The Hague Convention (“Convention”) establishes standards of practice that are adhered to by the member countries. The overall goal is to protect children in the international adoption process while preventing the abduction, exploitation, sale and trafficking of children. The convention applies to any US citizen who is a US resident in the adoption of any child from certain countries.