Legislative Update with Jay Kruse
by Jay Kruse
Chief Advocacy Officer
9/23/2020

Good Morning!

Congress is in session this week, but their schedule remains fluid. As the country mourns the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now Congress, more specifically the Senate, and the president must figure out the best way forward in terms of filling that seat. As you have probably already noticed if you follow any of the mainstream media organizations in this country, the topic of filling RBG’s seat has sparked a fiercely partisan battle over whether President Trump should be allowed to fill the vacancy or if that should be left to the president-elect following the November election.

Over the last few weeks, Congress has been mainly focused on two main issues: COVID-19 response/relief; and a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund our government operations. The current CR is set to expire on September 30th, which is only a week away. Following the news of RBG’s passing last Friday, GOP leaders have indicated their intent to move forward in filling the vacancy which will now very likely take up most of the Senate’s time leading up to the election. Unfortunately, this also affects the probability of another COVID relief package coming together, which should be considered very unlikely at the current time.

Late yesterday evening the House was able to pass a short-term funding bill that would fund the government through Dec. 11th. While the Democratic-led House was able to reach an agreement with Republicans to pass the bill, this legislation must still pass through the Senate and earn the President’s signature to avoid another government shutdown. The clock is ticking.

Senator Thune’s E-SIGN Modernization legislation passes committee.

I am happy to report that last week Senator Thune’s (R-SD) E-SIGN Modernization Act, S. 4159, passed through the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 14-12. Specifically, this legislation would remove the requirement in the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act requiring consumers to reasonably demonstrate their ability to access information electronically prior to consenting to electronic records. We believe this is a very pro-consumer and pro-business, common sense approach to modernizing a very out-of-date rule. We appreciate Senator Thune and his staff for seeking your association’s input during the process.

While some consumer groups appear to be arguing the E-SIGN Modernization Act will harm consumers, this is far from the truth. Disclosures required by law will still be provided to consumers with the substantive change being that outdated delivery requirements will be removed. As we realized during the nationwide pandemic which included mail disruptions and widespread social distancing, mandating a particular delivery method is not necessary and possibly harmful to consumers. The true consumer harm comes from current laws placing barriers which prevent consumers from choosing electronic delivery, which is the safest and most efficient way to receive documents.

There is still a long road ahead before this legislation makes it to the finish line, but this is a promising first step in the process. We appreciate and thank Senator Thune for his leadership on this important issue and look forward to working together to see this modernization signed into law.

Have a great week, stay well, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

 

 

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