Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category


Indefinite Detention Bill

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Criminal defense attorneys should take note of recent happenings on Capitol Hill, as the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Indefinite Detention Bill, more formally known as the National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA). The NDAA is a $622 billion defense spending bill.  This year’s passage of the NDAA is controversial due to language in the bill (specifically, sections 1031 and 1032) allowing for indefinite detention of certain persons. To read the full version of the bill, click here.  (Note: This version may not be the final version passed by Congress, as the Senate has yet to vote.)

The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the bill later today. (Ironically, December 15th will be the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.)

To read more about the Indefinite Detention Bill, check out this article by Michael McAuliff, a reporter from Huffington Post.

The ACLU has urged President Obama to veto the bill, claiming that this bill is a return to McCarthy-era tactics.  Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office has stated:

“The president should more carefully consider the consequences of allowing this bill to become law…If President Obama signs this bill, it will damage both his legacy and American’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. The last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era and President Truman had the courage to veto that bill. We hope that the president will consider the long view of history before codifying indefinite detention without charge or trial.”

Interestingly, the ACLU has also posted a video to their website which shows some compiled statements made by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in support of the bill.


As of today, it appears as though President Obama will sign the bill into law when it lands on his desk.  Criminal defense attorneys should be wary of this legislation as it thwarts a detainee’s constitutional rights to due process, such as rights to speedy trial and rights to an attorney.

Matthews Law Firm, P.A. will track the further passage of this bill.

(Disclaimer: This post is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.)


New Health Law Legislation in Florida

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

If you follow health law news in Florida, you may be interested in the following 3 bills.


HB 0863  Relating to Emergency Medical Services Training Programs in Pinellas County (Full text can be read here.)

Provides that majority of field internship experience provided for paramedic students by paramedic program located in Pinellas County may be done aboard advanced life support permitted vehicle other than ambulance if certain other requirements are met.

HB 0895  Relating to Sale or Lease of a County, District, or Municipal Hospital (Full text can be read here.)

Provides for sale or lease of county, district, or municipal hospital is subject to approval by CFO or registered voters; requires hospital governing board to determine by certain public advertisements whether there are qualified purchasers or lessees before sale or lease of such hospital; requires board to state in writing specified criteria forming basis of its acceptance of proposal for sale or lease of hospital; requires board to pay costs associated with petition for approval unless party contests action; provides for deposit, appropriation, & use of proceeds from sale or lease; authorizes special hospital or other health care taxing district to tax or appropriate funds to county economic development trust fund in order to promote economic growth in such district & county.

HB 0901  Relating to Health Insurance (Full text can be read here.)

Requires individual accident or health insurance policies, group, blanket, or franchise accident or health insurance policies, & health maintenance contracts to provide specified coverage for orthoses, prostheses, orthotics, & prosthetics benefits; specifies deductible & copayment requirements; authorizes insurers & HMO’s to specify benefits limitations; provides for nonapplication to specified policy & contract coverages.

All three bills were filed on December 5, 2011.

~At Matthews Law Firm, P.A., we practice criminal defense & health law.~

(Disclaimer:  This post is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.)

Religious Conscience Exemption of the Health Reform Law

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Recently, I gave a presentation on Islamic Sharia law and its impact on American jurisprudence.  During that lecture, I discussed the many different areas of law where Sharia and religion in general interplay with our legal system.  One of those areas was the health reform law.

By now, most folks are familiar with the health reform law.  With all its intricacies and provisions, there has certainly been plenty to debate, discuss and litigate.  One of the law’s most contested provisions include the government mandate to purchase health insurance and the penalty for being uninsured.

What most folks don’t know about the health reform law is the Religious Conscience Exemption to the mandate.  The law contains a provision which establishes guidelines under which religious groups which have established conscientious objections to certain forms of insurance may seek exemption from health insurance requirements.

A key issue will be the determination of which religious groups’ members might qualify for this exemption, a question for which there is no clear answer.  Such members would have to be followers of a religion or sect described in section 1402(g)(1) if the IRS Code, which governs exemptions from the payment of social security and medicare taxes on self-employment income.   (There are those who believe that under the current requirements in the IRS code, the Amish are the only group who would likely qualify for a health insurance exemption.  Others disagree.) To qualify for the exemption, the sect would have to have been in existence continuously since Dec. 31, 1950.

Assuming the insurance mandate survives the court challenges, it does not go in effect until 2014.  So there is plenty of time to prepare arguments as to which religions will get the exemption and which ones will not.




BILL TRACKER ALERT: Florida House Memorial 577

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Florida House Memorial 577 —“Relating to the Scope of Federal Power to Regulate Commerce”

By: Autumn B. Matthews, Esq.

In the midst of health care reform upheaval, courts and legal scholars across the nation have disagreed on the issue of the exact scope of federal power to regulate under the Commerce Clause.  Depending on your geographic location, a federal judge may have already issued an opinion in your district as to whether or not the health reform law passes constitutional muster.  Some courts have said yes, some courts have said no.  It is a foregone conclusion that this battle is going all the way up to the Supreme Court.  As I type this blog, attorneys are even litigating if the District Courts of Appeal can be skipped so the cases can proceed directly to the Supremes.

In the chaos of this litigious atmosphere where no one seems to agree on anything in the health law, enter the Florida House of Representatives.  They have the solution.  And it’s called HM 577.  For general information about the Memorial Bill, go here.  To read the current version of the bill, go here.

And please, note my sarcasm.

Background of HM 577

The purpose of this Memorial Bill is to urge Congress to honor the provisions of the Constitution of the United States that limit the scope and exercise of federal power to regulate commerce.

It was co-sponsored by Representatives Matthew Caldwell (Rep., Lee County) and Jeffrey Brandes (Rep., Pinellas County) on February 1, 2011.  Currently, the Memorial Bill is in the Federal Affairs Subcommittee.  It received its first reading March 8th, 2011.

Summary of HM 577

The Memorial Bill is two pages in length.  It quotes the Tenth Amendment.  It quotes the Ninth Amendment.  It quotes the Commerce Clause.  It then goes on to make three “sweeping” resolutions:

  1. The Florida legislature claims sovereignty over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government.
  2. All goods grown, manufactured, or made in Florida and all services performed in Florida, when such goods or services are sold, maintained, or retained in Florida, shall not be subject to the authority of Congress of the United States under its constitutional power to regulate commerce.
  3. Copies of this memorial be dispatched to the President of the United States, to the President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and to each member of the Florida delegation to the United States Congress.

Basically, HM 577 reminds the Congress to take the Constitution into account when drafting legislation.  Right…I’m sure Congress forgot about that.

What is really going on?  Why would the legislature find it necessary to draft HM 577?

Here’s my hunch: Judge Vinson in the Eleventh Circuit (the circuit to which Florida belongs) filed the Order declaring the health reform law unconstitutional on January 31, 2011.

Which means HM 577 was filed the very next day.  So although HM 577 never mentions the words “health care reform” nor cites any Court ruling, the sole reason it exists is because of the health care reform law.

HM 577 is nothing more than a legislative response to a court ruling. It’s basically the state legislature saying, “Take that” to the federal government.  It is unnecessary and offers no legal guidance as to the state of the health law in Florida.  I am sure the leaders in Washington who may receive a copy of this bill are losing sleep at night waiting to receive it.  It doesn’t change the applicability of the Commerce Clause to the state of Florida.  If it was THAT easy to get around the Commerce Clause, someone would have thought of it by now.  The Memorial serves absolutely no purpose, and is a complete waste of time for a legislature that is dealing with big issues (e.g., high-speed rail, education, state worker pensions, funding).

(For a historical discussion about the Commerce Clause, go here.)