Transparency for the Coronavirus, Federal Settlements, Smart Appliances and Public Education
COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 (S 619) – This bill would authorize the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to declassify all information relating to the origin of COVID-19 and any correlation with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The ODNI would be required to redact the report as necessary to protect sources and methods, and then submit it to Congress. The bill was introduced on March 1 by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). It passed the Senate on the same day and the House on March 10. It is currently awaiting signature by the president.
Disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022 (HJ Res 26) – This resolution nullifies the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022, which had previously been enacted by the council of the District of Columbia (DC). The bill modified DC criminal laws by altering sentencing guidelines, reducing maximum penalties and expanding the right to a jury trial for certain misdemeanor crimes. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) on Feb. 2. It passed in the House and Senate on March 8 and was enacted by the president on March 20.
Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights” (HJ Res 30) – This resolution was introduced by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) on Feb. 7. In December 2022, the Department of Labor established a rule that the fiduciaries of employer-sponsored retirement and other investment benefit plans may take into account environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors of companies where they choose to invest shareholder funds, as well as voting on shareholder resolutions and board nominations. This joint resolution, which was passed in both the House and the Senate on March 1, would nullify that rule. The bill was vetoed by President Biden on March 20.
Settlement Agreement Information Database Act (HR 300) – Introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) on Jan. 20, this bipartisan bill would require agencies to submit information related to any settlement or consent decree associated with a violation of civil or criminal law. This includes settlements with individual employees who appeal adverse personnel actions such as firings and suspensions; or federal settlement agreementsnegotiated behind closed doorsas a result of enforcement actions. The Office of Management and Budget would be responsible for reviewing and archiving all agreements, as well as determining when confidentiality is necessary to protect the public interest of the United States. The bill was passed unanimously in the House on Jan. 25. Its fate currently resides in the Senate.
Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2023 (S 645) – This bill would require the Attorney General to devise a program for making treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder available to public safety officers.The bill was introduced on March 2 by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IO). It passed in the Senate on March 2 and is currently under consideration in the House.
Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act (HR 538) – Passage of this bill would require manufacturers of internet-connected devices such as smart appliances, which include a camera or microphone, to disclose this fact to consumers. The bill does not apply to devices that a consumer would reasonably expect to include these features (e.g., mobile phones, laptops). The bill was introduced by Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) on Jan. 26 and passed in the House on Feb. 27. It is currently awaiting review in the Senate.
Sunshine Protection Act of 2023 (S 582) – This bipartisan bill would make daylight savings time permanent. It was introduced on March 1 by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), but has yet to be assigned to a committee for review.
Parents Bill of Rights Act (HR 5) – This legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Julie Letlow (R-LA) on March 1 with 122 Republican co-sponsors. It would require public schools to allow parents to review certain materials and resources (e.g., the curriculum, library books, teachers’ materials used in the classroom) and be informed/grant consent for certain school activities (e.g., school budgets, use of technology in the classroom, attendance for guest speakers in the classroom, mental health treatment, gifted and talented programs). The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has issued a report on the bill, but it has yet to be presented for a vote by House members.