2012 SSL Volume

Military personnel and overseas civilians face a variety of challenges to their participation as voters in U.S. elections, despite repeated congressional and state efforts to facilitate their ability to vote. These include difficulty in registering abroad, frequent address changes, slow mail delivery or ballots and ballot applications that never arrive, difficulty in obtaining information about candidates or issues, the inability to comply with notarization or verification procedures, or the voter’s failure to properly comply with non-essential requirements for absentee materials. The federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA) and Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009 (MOVE), as well as the various state efforts, have not been wholly effective in overcoming difficulties that these voters face. The federal laws do not encompass state and local elections. Further, American elections are conducted at the state and local levels under procedures that vary dramatically by jurisdiction, and many are conducted independent of the federal elections to which UOCAVA and the MOVE Act do apply. This lack of uniformity, and lack of application of the federal statutes to state and local elections, complicates efforts to more fully enfranchise these voters. 
At its 2010 Annual Meeting, the national Uniform Law Commission promulgated the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act (UMOVA) to address these issues. UMOVA extends to state elections the assistance and protections for military and overseas voters currently found in federal law. It seeks greater harmony for the military and overseas voting process for all covered elections, over which the states will continue to have primary administrative responsibility.
 

This Act directs that certain criminal case restitution orders include restitution from the offender to the state Medical Assistance Program to pay expenses their victims charged to the program because of the offender’s crime against them. 

This Act requires the state controller to contract with one or more private consultants to conduct recovery audits of state agencies for three past fiscal years. It directs the controller to provide to an auditing consultant any confidential information necessary for the conduct of an audit to the extent not prohibited by law or an agreement. It requires the controller to provide copies of all reports received from recovery audit consultants to the governor, the state auditor, and the legislative audit and joint budget committees of the legislature within 7 days of receipt, and to issue a report to the legislature summarizing the contents of all reports received from recovery audit consultants. 
The state controller may, subject to review and approval by the legislative audit and joint budget committees of the legislature, exempt a state agency from recovery audits if the state controller determines that subjecting the state agency to a recovery audit is not likely to yield significant net benefits to the state or that the state agency is already subjected to recovery audits under any federal law or regulation or state law, rule, or policy. The state controller must provide the committees with a report detailing any proposed exemptions, and the committees may veto any proposed exemption. 
The controller can make rules to establish additional specific criteria for exempting state agencies from recovery audits and retain a portion of any amount recovered due to a recovery audit in order to defray the reasonable and necessary administrative costs in contracting for and providing oversight of the recovery audit, including costs incurred by other state agencies in relation to the recovery audit. 
 
Given the dire situation of many government budgets, governments at all levels are looking for innovative alternatives to provide services, maintain existing infrastructure, and finance new public works. Puerto Rico’s Public-Partnerships Act of 2009 offers a recent framework to do that. This Act authorizes all departments, agencies, public corporations, and instrumentalities, and the legislative and judicial branches of the Government of Puerto Rico to establish Public-Private Partnerships. Such partnerships couple the resources and efforts of the public sector with resources of the private sector by means of a joint investment that results in the benefit of both parties. 
This Act generally defines Public-Private Partnerships as contracts between a government entity and one or more people to delegate operations, functions, services, or responsibilities of any government entity, or to design, develop, finance, maintain or operate one or more facilities, or any combination thereof. It spells out the criteria to set up Public-Private Partnerships and defines the terms of Public-Private Partnership contracts. For example, the Act sanctions the following contract arrangements: design / build, design / build / operate, design / build / finance / operate, design / build / transfer / operate, design / build / operate / transfer, turnkey contract, long-term lease contract, surface right contract, administrative grant contract, joint venture contract, long-term administration and operation contract, and any other kind of contract that separates or combines the design, building, financing, operation or maintenance phases of a project.
 
This Act creates an evidentiary privilege against disclosing confidential communications between veterans or members of the military and veteran mentors. The privilege may be claimed by veterans or members of the military who make the communications, their representatives under certain circumstances, or by veteran mentors. 
The Act defines veteran mentor as an individual who is a veteran, is authorized by a circuit court judge to provide assistance and advice in a veterans mentoring program, has successfully completed judicially approved training, and has completed a background information form approved by a circuit court judge. Veterans mentoring programs are programs approved by a circuit court judge to provide assistance and advice about court related matters to veterans and current members of the Armed Forces. 
 

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