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Legal Report Resources 2017

​Airport security. Congress passed legislation that verifies that airports have working plans in place to respond to security incidents inside their perimeters, including plans to respond to active shooters, acts of terrorism, and incidents that target passenger-screening checkpoints.

Communications. Congress passed legislation that requires DHS to achieve and maintain interoperable communications for daily operations, planned events, and emergencies. 

Terrorism insurance. Congress reauthorized the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program, which allows the federal government to repay business costs following a catastrophic attack that costs more than $200 million in damages.

Sovereign immunity. Congress overrode President Barack Obama’s veto, allowing legislation to become law that gives terrorism victims and their families the ability to sue foreign states and officials for their role in an act of terrorism. 

Violent extremism. Congress failed to pass legislation that would have created a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Countering Violent Extremism. The bill would have authorized $10 million for the creation of the office through 2020 to coordinate efforts to counter violent extremism.

Terrorism financing. Congress failed to pass a bill that would have encouraged banks to tip off federal investigators about terrorism financing. The bill would have enhanced a section of the Patriot Act to allow financial institutions to report suspicious funds to the federal government.

Information sharing. Congress passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which allows private entities to share and receive cyber threat indicators and defensive measures with other entities and with the federal government. 

Vehicle cybersecurity. Congress failed to advance legislation that would have directed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to create federal standards to secure vehicles.

Access. Congress failed to pass legislation that would limit airport employees’ access to secure areas within airport facilities. The bill would have directed TSA to create a risk-based, intelligence-driven model for screening airport employees based on the level of employment-related access to Secure Identification Display Areas, Airport Operations Areas, or secure areas at U.S. airports.

Aviation security. Congress passed a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) extension act, creating a variety of new security measures for the agency to enhance aviation security, including increasing the number of “viper teams” and creating secondary barriers to keep unauthorized individuals from gaining access when a pilot opens the cockpit door.

Privacy. Congress extended some rights under the U.S. Privacy Act to European Union citizens and other designated allies. The Judicial Redress Act allows the U.S. Department of Justice—with the agreement of the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security—to designate countries or organizations whose citizens may pursue civil remedies if they have appropriate privacy protections for sharing information with the United States.

Human trafficking. Congress expanded the definition of child abuse under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography.

Drones. Congress failed to pass legislation that would address the security implications of drones. The bill would have required DHS to assess the security risks associated with commercially available small and medium unmanned aerial systems (drones).

Screening. Congress did not advance a bill that would have required the FBI to ensure that select individuals applying for U.S. refugee admission receive full background investigations before being admitted to the country.

Disaster relief. Congress passed legislation that requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop and implement a plan to control and reduce administrative costs for delivering assistance for major disasters.

Prisons. Congress authorized legislation that requires the director of the Bureau of Prisons to issue oleoresin capsicum spray (pepper spray) to designated individuals. The law requires the director to issue the spray to any bureau officer or prison employee who may respond to an emergency situation in the prison.

Equipment. The Senate failed to pass legislation that would have allowed DHS to give excess nonlethal equipment and supplies to foreign governments.

Sexual assault. Congress established rights for sexual assault survivors that clarify what basic services sexual violence victims are entitled to. 

Searches. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that a young, black, male suspect who tried to avoid the police did not justify law enforcement to stop and search him. “Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity,” the court found.

Excessive force. The U.S. Supreme Court did not take up a case​ from police officers challenging restrictions on their ability to use Taser guns on individuals who are resisting arrest. The Court’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a lower court opinion, which ruled that police should not use stun guns on individuals trying to evade custody if they do not pose a threat to officers or others.

Sexual harassment. The owner/operator and management company for a Columbus, Ohio, Texas Roadhouse restaurant will pay $1.4 million to settle a class sexual harassment suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC charged that East Columbus Host, LLC, and management company Ultra Steak, Inc., victimized a group of female employees by subjecting them to sexual harassment and then retaliating against them for complaining about the harassment.