Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
October 9, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 282.
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House and Senate to Consider Anti Terrorism Bills
10/8. Monday, October 8, was Columbus Day. Neither the House nor the Senate were in session. On Tuesday, October 9, the House may take up a number of non controversial and non technology related bills and resolutions under suspension of the rules. Then, on Wednesday, the House may take up its version of the anti terrorism bill. The House bill, HR 2975, is titled the PATRIOT Act. (See, HTML version in the Library of Congress web site, and PDF version in the CDT web site. However, both of these versions lack the amendments adopted by the House Judiciary Committee on October 3.)
The Senate may take up S 1447, the Aviation Safety Act, on Tuesday. The full Senate is also likely to take up its version of the anti terrorism bill this week. The Senate bill, S 1510, is titled the USA Act. (See, HTML version in the Library of Congress web site, and PDF version in Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) web site. See also, Sen. Leahy's summary [PDF] of the bill.) This bill is likely to be passed by the Senate without a mark up by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Leahy.
Both bills contain a wide range of provisions intended to increase the ability of law enforcement, intelligence, and other government agencies to combat terrorism, including expanded authority to conduct electronic surveillance of phone and Internet communications. Both bills also enjoy broad bipartisan support as a result of new threats posed by international terrorism.
Legislators in both houses removed or modified some of the provisions contained in the Bush Administration's original proposal, on civil liberties grounds. However, some groups which advocate civil liberties still oppose the bill. See for example, ACLU release.
Sen. Enzi Advocates Export Administration Act
10/4. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) gave the keynote address at a Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) conference on export controls in Washington DC. He stated that the attacks of September 11 have "only further highlighted the importance of strong export controls." He also advocated passage of S 149, the Export Administration Act of 2001, of which he is the lead sponsor. He said that the "2001 EAA is a comprehensive package that balances both national security and the need for open, fair trade laws."
The bill would modernize export control laws. It would ease restraints on most dual use products, such as computers and software, but increase penalties for violations. The Bush Administration has endorsed it. The Senate passed it by a vote of 85 to 14, five days before the terrorist attacks, over the opposition of a small group of Senators who assert that it would harm national security. The House International Relations Committee passed a much different version just before the August recess.
Sen. Enzi stated that "the bill recognizes that the U.S. is rarely the only producer of militarily useful high tech products, and items available from foreign sources or available in mass market quantities cannot be effectively controlled."
He also addressed high performance computers. He stated that "the 2001 EAA greatly enhances the President's ability to respond to rapidly changing technology. Specifically, the bill repeals a provision in the Fiscal Year 1998 National Defense Authorization Act, which locked into statute a metric for measuring the performance of computers. Congress should not be in the business of locking technological measurement into law. The Senate's measured pace of legislation cannot keep pace with changes in technology."
Gov. Davis Signs AB 821
 10/8. California Gov. Gray Davis signed Assembly Bill 821, sponsored by Assembly Member Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). The bill specifies how funds in the High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Program Trust Fund can be expended. It also adds a representative to the High Technology Crime Advisory Committee.
Depreciation of High Tech Equipment
10/5. Rep. Wes Watkins (R-OK) introduced HR 3057, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code to reduce to 3 years the depreciation recovery period for qualified technological equipment. The bill would provide this 3 year depreciation period for "wireless telecommunications equipment", "advanced services equipment", and "network or network system equipment". Advanced services equipment is defined as that "used in the provision of Internet or electronic communications access services or support, or which supports access to electronic media and data and associated communications support". The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Watkins is a member.
Meanwhile, on October 2, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), and others, introduced HR 2981, another bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code. Like the Watkins bill, it would provide a short depreciation period for qualified technological equipment; however, it would set a 2 year recovery period. The Upton bill also contains two provisions that are not in the Watkins bill: a 24 month useful life for depreciation of computer software, and a 7 year useful life for depreciation of certain spectrum licenses.
The Upton bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Upton is the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee's Telecom and Internet Subcommittee. He is not on the W&M Committee. However, as of October 5, his bill had 54 cosponsors. Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA), whose Seattle area district includes many Microsoft employees, is both a co-sponsor, and a member of the W&M Committee.
In addition, Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL), another member of the W&M Committee, has long advocated depreciation reform for computer equipment. On April 5 he and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced HR 1411, the Expensing Technology Reform Act of 2001. The bill would reform the Internal Revenue Code by updating the existing depreciation schedules for high tech assets.
Rep. Weller explained the bill in a statement in the Congressional Record. "Currently, businesses must depreciate much of their high tech equipment over a 5 year period. This bill would allow businesses to expense these assets. The 5 year depreciation lifetime for tax purposes is outdated since many companies today must update their computers as quickly as every 14 months in order to stay technologically current. We allow businesses to expense their computers, peripheral equipment, servers, networks, wireless telecommunications equipment, software, high tech medical equipment and copiers in this bill."
10/1. Harrold Barron joined the Chicago office of the law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery as counsel in the firm's Corporate Department. Previously, he worked at Unisys, most recently as Vice Chairman, and before that, as SVP and General Counsel. See, release.
10/5. The partners of Morrison & Hecker and the shareholders of Stinson Mag & Fizzell announced that they approved the basic framework for a potential merger agreement between the firms. Stinson Mag & Fizzell has 152 lawyers in Kansas City, St. Louis and Omaha. Morrison & Hecker has 180 attorneys in Kansas City, Phoenix, Washington DC and Wichita, Kansas. See, release.
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Tuesday, Oct 9
2:30 PM. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of John Marburger to be Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the nomination of Phillip Bond to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology. Location: Room 253, Russell Building.
5:00 PM. The House Ways and Means Committee will meet to mark up HR 3005 [PDF], the "Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2001." Location: Room 1100, Longworth Building.
Day two of a two day seminar offered by the FCBA on communications law. See, agenda [PDF]. Location: Georgetown University Law Center, 600 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington DC.
Deadline to file reply comments with the FCC in its third inquiry into whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecom Act of 1996. This notice of inquiry was adopted by the FCC at its August 9, 2001, meeting. See, Aug. 9 FCC release. See also, notice in Federal Register, August 24, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 165, at Page 44636. (CC Docket No. 98-146.)
Wednesday, Oct 10
POSTPONED. 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a Public Forum and Technology Expo on telecommunications relay services (TRS). Location: Commission Meeting Room, Room TW-C305 and adjacent rooms, 445 12th St., SW, Washington DC. See, FCC notice and agenda [MS Word]. See also, notice in Federal Register.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts will hold a hearing to examine new priorities and challenges for the FBI. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The House Science Committee will hold a hearing titled "Cyber Security How Can We Protect American Computer Networks From Attack?" Location: 2318 Rayburn Building.
The Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral argument in Verizon v. FCC (00-511), WorldCom v. Verizon (00-555), FCC v. Iowa Utilities Board (00-587), AT&T v. Iowa Utilities Board (00-590), and General Communications v. Iowa Utilities Board (00-602), consolidates.
12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) International Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch titled "Survey of Issues Facing the International Bureau." The speaker will be Donald Abelson, Chief of the FCC's International Bureau.
2:00 PM. FCC Chairman Michael Powell will hold an informal press conference with reporters who cover the FCC. Location: FCC Meeting Room, 12th Street Level, 445 12th Street SW, Washington DC.
Thursday, Oct 11
9:30 AM. The FCC will hold a meeting. FCC's meeting agenda. Location: Commission Meeting Room, FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TWC305, Washington DC.
9:30 AM. The House Finance Committee will hold a meeting to mark up HR 3004, the Financial Anti Terrorism Act of 2001. Location: Room 2128, Rayburn Building.
12:00 NOON. The FCBA will host a luncheon titled "Competition in Japan's Telecommunications Sector." The speaker will be Shogo Itoda, Commissioner, Japan Fair Trade Commission. RSVP to DC Bar Sections Office at 202-626-3463. The price is $25 for FCBA members. Location: Arnold & Porter, Paul Porter Room, 10th Floor, 555 12th Street, NW, Washington DC.
2:00 PM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings to examine homeland defense matters. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
6:00 - 8:00 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) will host a reception featuring David Gross, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Communications and Information Policy, and Nancy Victory, head of the NTIA. The price of admission is $35 for private sector members and $20 for government or students. RSVP to Wendy Parish at by Tuesday, October 9, at 10:00 AM. Location: Capital Hilton Hotel, 16th & K Streets, NW, Washington DC.
Deadline to submit comments to the FCC in its rule making proceeding regarding locating spectrum bands below 3 Ghz for possible reallocation for Third Generation (3G) wireless services, and for other purposes. (ET Docket Nos. 00-258 and 95-18 and IB Docket No. 99-81.) See, notice in Federal Register.
Deadline to submit comments to the FCC in its rule making proceeding regarding permitting Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) operators flexibility to use their spectrum for land based transmitters. (IB Docket No. 01-185, ET Docket No. 95-18.) See, notice in Federal Register.