GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing
Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.
Supply Chain Resilience and Food SafetyAug. 16, 2017
Widespread pesticide contamination prompted European health officials to withdraw of millions of eggs from sale across 15 European Union countries and Hong Kong. Eggs contaminated with the insecticide Fipronil, which is used to control parasites on domestic pets, had been found at farms in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France. Fipronil is banned from entering the human food chain.
The scope of the European egg investigation turned criminal as police in Belgium and the Netherlands launched a joint investigation into the contamination and arrested two directors of a Dutch decontamination center. A European Union commission will convene a meeting of EU health ministers next month to discuss the larger food safety breakdowns across the continent leading to the contamination and its spread.
WORLD FOOD SAFETY DAY
The General Assembly of the United Nations is will consider establishing a World Food Safety Day when it meets next month. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forwarded a draft resolution to the secretary-general of the United Nations to declare June 7 as World Food Safety Day, with an eye toward building risk awareness and supply chain resilience into the world's food supply.
Here in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released three guidance documents to help food producers understand the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FDA's hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) regulations require certain food processors to develop an HACCP plans to address biological, chemical, and physical hazards, monitor the conditions and practices, and make corrections as needed. At the same time, the FDA announced that the phase-in compliance inspections for the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls portion of FSMA, previously slated to begin this September, will not begin until next fall.
PEANUTS AND CRACKERJACKS
And, just pennant races are heating up, baseball fans everywhere are checking box scores and the new comprehensive standings related to ballpark food safety across the country.
The Hawaii Supreme Court announced that it will hear a 2012 defamation lawsuit by an elections administrator against a former county clerk and city councilman. The petitioner sought reputational damages after newspapers incorrectly reported that she was caught drinking on the job by internal surveillance effort. The deeper issue before the court is whether Hawaii's worker compensation law provides the exclusive recourse for employees who sustain reputational injury at work.
Exclusive remedy was on the docket around the country this week. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a longshoreman can seek workers' compensation benefits under both his state's scheme and the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. In neighboring North Dakota, the state's highest court ruled that the state's workers' compensation laws do not preclude an employee's tort action against her employer for willfully misrepresenting the amount of its payroll or willfully failing to secure coverage for her employees. Finally, in Chicago, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act provided the sole remedy for a worker's claim of battery by a corporate representative of a client, but that she could assert a viable claim against her employer for failing to protect her from the corporate representative's allegedly harassing conduct.
Making Our Way Around the Country
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
The U.S. Department of Labor will give wealth management companies more time to prepare for a new "fiduciary rule," a regulation that requires financial advisers to put retirees' interests first. Securities brokerages now have until July 1, 2019, to present clients with new contracts that outline fees brokers make on certain investment products or transition those clients into accounts that charge flat fees. Critics in the financial services sector call the fiduciary rule overly burdensome and say that the cost of compliance would likely exceed the Labor Department's $31 billion estimate.
The Coast Guard issued new "build and rebuild determinations" for shipbuilder compliance with the Jones Act. A 100-old protectionist measure, the Jones Act requires all vessels traveling between U.S. ports to be built, repaired, and reassembled entirely inside United States, with all major components of the hull and superstructure fabricated here. This generally limits the available number of Jones Act compliant vessels and ports. Critics suggest the Jones Act has had an adverse impact on U.S. traffic patterns in the trucking and logistics industry and has imposed a heavy financial burden on manufacturing and agricultural sectors. In fact, some Hawaiian ranchers still choose to fly cows to the mainland rather than loading them on boats. Long opposed to the Jones Act, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has refiled legislation to overturn the 1920s-era limitation on shipping.
Massachusetts State Senator James Timilty (D-Bristol and Norfolk), along with thirty-five other legislators, sponsored Senate Bill No. 1374, aimed to protect health care workers from violence. The measure is called, "Elise's Law," named after Elise Wilson, who was stabbed by a patient on the morning of June 14. The Massachusetts Nurses Association testified in favor of the bill, highlighting a stark rise in the reported instances of workplace violence against nurses in Massachusetts. We have seen this disturbing trend echo across the health care industry around the country.
PATH OF TOTALITY
On Monday, much of North America will experience a total eclipse of the sun, as the "Path of Totality" angles down from the Pacific Northwest through the Southeastern United States. Marvel skyward, but please protect your eyes! Assuming we all emerge from the darkness, we look forward to seeing you next Wednesday morning.