Budget and Appropriations
Congress - In early December, the House and Senate both approved $446.8 billion omnibus appropriations legislation (H.R. 3288), which includes all of the remaining spending bills except Defense. The legislation appropriates $7.324 billion dollars for the Census Bureau, which is the amount requested by the Bureau and supported by us and our coalition allies in our November 17 letter. The President should sign the bill into law before the end of December.

Congress - The omnibus appropriations legislation (discussed above) appropriates $138.7 million for the National Center for Healthcare Statistics (NCHS) in Fiscal Year 2010 - a $14 million increase over FY2009. This is $1 million less than the House-approved level and consistent with the amount approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Data Security
Congress - The House passed the Data Accountability and Trust Act (H.R. 2221) on December 8. The Act was previously covered in the July Legislative Update. H.R. 2221 is one of many overly-broad data security bills in Congress upon which CMOR is lobbying to protect the interests of the profession.

RI - S.B. 589, originally introduced by Sen. Raptakis (D), became Public Law No. 2009-285, and H.B. 5902, originally introduced by Rep. Sullivan (D), became Public Law No. 2009-247. These new laws require "reasonable steps" for the safe destruction of records containing personal information of a customer by any entity in Rhode Island. This could include records held by a research company, since their definition of "customer" includes customer information that has been shared by a client. The new laws define "personal information" as a customer's "signature, social security number, physical characteristics or description, passport number, driver's license or state identification card number, insurance policy number, bank account number, credit card number, debit card number, any other financial information or confidential healthcare information including all information relating to a patient's health care history, diagnosis condition, treatment, or evaluation obtained from a healthcare provider who has treated the patient which explicitly or by implication identifies a particular patient." S.B. 589 and H.B. 5902 define "record" as "any material, regardless of the physical form, on which personal information is recorded or preserved by any means, including written or spoken words, graphically depicted, printed, or electromagnetically transmitted." Record does not include publicly available directories containing information an individual has voluntarily consented to have publicly disseminated or listed.

S.B. 589 and H.B. 5902 require all affected entities to take "reasonable steps to destroy or arrange for the destruction of a customer's personal information within its custody and control that is no longer to be retained by the business by shredding, erasing or otherwise destroying and/or modifying the personal information in those records to make it unreadable or indecipherable through any means." Customers who suffer "actual damages" may bring civil suits, and the attorney general may sue for "actual damages" of the aggrieved customer and a civil penalty of $500 for each violation (maximum $50,000). Various entities already covered by Gramm Leach Bliley, HIPAA and FCRA are exempted.

Data destruction best practices were covered in the March 2009 Legislative Watch column in MRA's Alert! Magazine (pages 34-35).

Financial Privacy
MA - Rep. Mariano (D) introduced H.B. 956, which would require insurance companies to comply with the restrictions of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act on disclosure of nonpublic personal information. This would have minimal impact on the research profession.

Healthcare Privacy
Congress - Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI-01) introduced the Personal Health Record Act (H.R. 4216), which would seek to improve the adoption and inter-operability of personal and electronic health records as well as bolster privacy and security. Since the Department of Health and Human Services is already heavily involved rolling out regulations to implement the HITECH Act (which extensively expanded privacy and data security regulations, including for survey, opinion and marketing researchers), H.R. 4216 is not expected to advance.

Automated Calls
IL - The Governor signed S.B. 146 into law (now Public Act No. 832). The legislation, covered in the May Legislative Update, originally would have restricted political automated calls, but had an explicit exemption for survey and opinion research that MRA supported. Following extensive amendment, the automated call provisions were stripped. The final law deals only with political contributions, pay-to-play regulations, and ethics, and will have no impact on the research profession.

MO - Rep. Terry Swinger (D-162) pre-filed H.B. 1253, which would expand Missouri's definition of "telephone solicitation" (and thus the reach of the do not call registry) to include automated political calls. Specifically, it would add the following to the definition: "or any voice communication over a telephone line through the use of ADAD equipment for the purpose of endorsing a political candidate, requesting financial support or a vote for a political candidate, or conducting polling regarding a political candidate notwithstanding whether the data obtained from the polling is to be analyzed or discarded." MRA will strive to amend or defeat H.B. 1253 because it would explicitly require automated political research calls to abide by the state do not call registry.

MO - Rep. Rachel Bringer (D-6) pre-filed H.B. 1325, which would set new restrictions on automated calls, targeted in the bill as automated dialing announcing devices (ADAD). H.B. 1325 defines an ADAD as "a device or system of devices which is used, whether alone or in conjunction with other equipment, for the purposes of automatically selecting or dialing telephone numbers and disseminating prerecorded or synthesized voice messages to the numbers selected or dialed." The legislation would require automated calling devices to be "designed and operated to disconnect within ten seconds after the subscriber terminates the telephone call." More concerning, H.B. 1325 would prohibit automated calls to anyone on the Missouri do not call registry unless the recipient "has knowingly or voluntarily requested, consented to, permitted, or authorized receipt of the message." MRA will work to amend or defeat this legislation, since it could require automated survey and opinion research calls to abide by the Missouri do not call registry (from which such calls are currently exempt).

MO - Sen. David Pearce (R-31) pre-filed S.B. 633 and Sen. Scott T. Rupp (R-2) pre-filed S.B. 663, virtually identical bills which would add "automated calls" (including automated survey and opinion research calls) to the state do not call registry. S.B. 633 and S.B. 663 define "automated call" as "any prerecorded or synthesized voice message resulting from the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device" (ADAD) absent a residential phone subscriber's "prior express invitation or permission" or an existing business or personal relationship, or unless the "the message is preceded by a live operator who obtains the subscriber's consent before the message is delivered." The bills define ADAD as "a device that selects and dials telephone numbers and that, working alone or in conjunction with other equipment, disseminates a prerecorded or synthesized voice message to the telephone number called." In addition, S.B. 633 and S.B. 663 would add extensive new requirements for "political solicitation" which would not impact survey and opinion research, because it is defined as "any voice communication from a live operator or through the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device for the purpose of promoting, advertising or campaigning for or against a political candidate or political issue." Finally, the bills would forbid using an ADAD "unless the device is designed and operated to disconnect within 10 seconds after the subscriber terminates the telephone call." MRA will work to amend or defeat S.B. 633 and S.B. 663, since they could require automated survey and opinion research calls to abide by the Missouri do not call registry (from which such calls are currently exempt).

WI - Assemblyman Spencer Black (D-77) introduced A.B. 246, which would severely restrict the use of "automatic dialing announcing devices" (ADAD). A.B. 246 defines an ADAD as "a device that dials a telephone number and disseminates, alone or in conjunction with another device, a voice message." This could include automated calls made for research purposes (such as TDE and IVR). The bill would prohibit ADAD calls to residential phone lines unless: (1) the caller receives the "residential customer's written authorization to call the customer" using an ADAD; (2) a "live operator" immediately discloses "the name of the person on whose behalf the customer has been called and the purpose of the call, including whether the call is intended to solicit funds" and obtains their "verbal consent to receive a voice message from an" ADAD. The bill would exempt ADAD calls where the caller and the recipient have a "current business or personal relationship." Each violation of A.B. 246 would result in $100 forfeiture. MRA will work to amend or defeat this legislation in order to protect automated research in Wisconsin.

Text Messaging
NJ - The Senate Committee on Economic Growth approved S.B. 1501 (sponsored by Sen. Thomas Kean (R-21)) and A.B. 1255 (sponsored by Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty (D-4) and already passed by the Assembly in 2008) on December 3. These identical bills would prohibit "the sending of an unsolicited advertisement by text messaging to a resident of New Jersey if it will cause the recipient to incur a telecommunications charge or a usage allocation deduction. Text messaging is the wireless transmission of short messages of text by means of a cellular telephone, a paging or message service, a personal digital assistant or similar telecommunications technology." Because S.B. 1501 and A.B. 1255 only target advertising messages, they should have minimal impact on the research profession.