Technology

According to the Washington Post, New York has become the first state to propose separate regulations for virtual currencies like Bitcoin. The New York Department of Financial Services announced yesterday in a press release that it has released it’s first draft of regulations. According to the press release, the proposed regulatory framework "is the product of a nearly year-long DFS inquiry, including public hearings that the Department held in January 2014 – contains consumer protection, anti-money laundering compliance, and cyber security rules tailored for virtual currency firms". The proposed rules will be published in the New York State Register’s July 23, 2014 edition at which point the 45-day public comment period will begin. After the comment period, the rules are subject to additional review and revision based on that public feedback before DFS finalizes them.

On May 22, 2014,  with  Governor Bobby Jindal’s signature, Louisiana  joined the ranks of states such as Wisconsin and Tennessee in barring employers and educational institutions from requesting or requiring personal social media account access with the “Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act”( HB 340).

According to the Washington Post, the Federal Election Commission voted unanimously in May 2014 to allow political action committees (PAC's) to accept bitcoin donations or purchase them, but they must sell the bitcoins and convert them into U.S. dollars before they are deposited into an official campaign account. The commission did not approve the use of bitcoin to acquire goods and services. This is one of the first rulings by a government agency on how to treat the virtual currency.

Policymakers today have no shortage of information when considering a specific topic or legislation.
Supporters and opponents both use a wide range of information when arguing a position, and it is not always easy to tell if that information is based on sound science....

In T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell the Supreme Court will decide whether a letter denying a cell tower construction application that doesn’t explain the reasons for the denial meets the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) “in writing” requirement. 

T-Mobile applied to construct a 108-foot cell tower in an area zoned single-family residential.  The City of Roswell’s ordinance only allowed “alternative tower structures” in such a zone that were compatible with “the natural setting and surrounding structures.”  T-Mobile proposed an “alternative tower structure” in the shape of a man-made tree that would be about 25-feet taller than the pine trees surrounding it. 

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Amazon wants to use a drone to deliver your new jacket, and a beer company thinks unmanned aircraft systems are perfect for deliveries to remote Minnesota lakes. But at the same time, hunters and anglers in downstate Illinois are concerned that animal-rights activists will use drones with cameras to interfere with their sport.
Drones are still most known for their use by the U.S. military, but they are beginning to get more attention from state legislators and others who set domestic policy.
The recent activity in Illinois is a case in point.

I have a new Capitol Research brief out this week looking at Autonomous Vehicle Legislation. It examines how states like Michigan are preparing for the advent of self-driving cars and what kinds of legislative issues state governments are going to need to think about down the road as the industry gets going over the next decade. I encourage you to check it out. But I also wanted to pass along a variety of other resources where you can read more on the subject.

Autonomous vehicles—self-driving cars—hold the promise to one day change the very nature of travel in the United States. For the moment, they remain mostly in the realm of science fiction, although significant developments are expected over the next decade. In 2013, Michigan became the latest state - joining California, Florida, Nevada and the District of Columbia - to enact legislation to allow automakers and others to continue to conduct autonomous vehicle research. But even as the industry and states contemplate a future for such vehicles beyond the research and development stage, some question whether these types of legislation may be premature while we still know so little about exactly what that future will look like.

By Brian Selander

There are hundreds of great articles, books and tutorials on how to become a more active and engaging presence on Twitter. Being a public official who wants to communicate in 140 characters or less comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities.

The Supreme Court decided today that it will hear two cases addressing whether police can search cell phones or smartphones without a warrant subsequent to arrest. Case law on what police can and cannot do when they make an arrest is pretty settled - they can search the person being arrested and what's within that person's reach, particularly to find weapons or evidence that could be destroyed. However, the lower courts are divided on whether or not cellphones or smartphones can be searched without a warrant in the same way. 

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