U.S. Federal Legislation

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FIRE SAFETY. Two bills (S. 1615 and H.R. 2882) introduced by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-NY), respectively, currently pending in Congress would require that all nursing homes install automatic fire sprinkler systems.

Under the bills, the Department of Health and Human Services would establish regulations for purchasing and installing the sprinklers. S. 1615 would also set aside money for loans and grants that nursing homes could use to meet the regulations. The sprinkler systems would have to be installed within five years of the bill's enactment.

S. 1615 has been approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The measure is still pending in the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. H.R. 2882 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

GUARDS. A bill (H.R. 3068) introduced by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) would prohibit a company owned, controlled, or operated by anyone convicted of a felony from providing contract security guard services for federal government buildings.

H.R. 3068 has been approved by the House of Representatives. The bill has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Commitee.

IMMUNITY. Three bills introduced in Congress would give immunity from civil liability to those who report threats of terrorism against transportation systems.

S. 1369, introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and H.R. 2291, introduced by Rep. Stevan Pearce (R-AM), are identical. The bills would limit liability for anyone making good faith reports about threats of terrorism against transportation systems or passengers and taking reason able actions to mitigate the threat. S. 1369 has three cosponsors and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. H.R. 2291 has 22 cosponsors and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

The third bill (S. 1891), introduced by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), is broader; it would extend immunity to those who re port their reasonable suspicions regarding any threats to transportation systems or passengers, including threats of terrorism. The immunity would also cover the acts taken by transportation security employees, agents, or other federal employees in responding to a threat. S. 1891 has no cosponsors and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

DATA MINING. The Senate has agreed to consider a bill (S. 236) introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) that would monitor government use of data mining. The bill has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill would require that the head of each federal department or agency report to Congress on any data mining activities. …