Expanding Options for Marriage, Defense, Medical Marijuana, Amateur Athletes and Rail Workers

Respect for Marriage Act (HR 8404) – Introduced by Sen. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on July 18, this Act replaces previous provisions that defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. It codifies marriage to state that a spouse may be a person of the opposite sex as long as the contract between the two individuals is valid under state law, and prohibits any state from denying out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin. The bill passed in the Senate on Nov. 29 and the final bill passed in the House on Dec. 8. President Biden signed the Act into law on Dec. 13.

James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (HR 7776) – This bill authorizes defense spending at $858 billion, an approximate 10 percent increase over last year and $37 billion more than President Biden requested in his budget. This bill is expected to increase pay for service members and civilians by 4.6 percent and include inflation bonuses for those earning less than $45,000 a year. The bill was initially introduced on May 16 and the final bill was agreed upon by a bipartisan committee comprised of Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Reps Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) The bill first passed in the House on July 14. It was signed into law by the President on Dec. 23.

Help Find the Missing Act (S 5230) – This Act is designed to facilitate data sharing between the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and the National Crime Information Center database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in order to improve efforts in finding missing persons. The bill was introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Dec. 8 and passed in the Senate on the same day. It passed in the House on Dec. 14 and is currently awaiting the President’s signature.

Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (HR 8454) – This legislation was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on July 21. The purpose of the bill is to increase the supply of marijuana that may be used in government studies. It expands the number of registered entities (e.g., academia, practitioners, manufacturers) that may manufacture, distribute, dispense or possess marijuana or cannabidiol (CBD) for the purposes of medical research. The bill also enables physicians to discuss with patients the potential harms and therapeutic potential of marijuana and its derivatives (such as CBD). Going forward, the Department of Health and Human Services will report on marijuana’s impact on various conditions, such as epilepsy; its impact on adolescent brains; and on the ability to operate a motor vehicle. The bill passed in the House on July 26 and in the Senate on Nov. 16. It was signed into law by the President on Dec. 2.

Equal Pay for Team USA Act of 2022 (S 2333) – This bill was introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) on July 13, 2021, and was passed in the Senate on Dec. 8. The legislation would require equal compensation and benefits for all athletes representing the United States in international amateur athletic competitions, regardless of gender. The bill would require each sport’s national governing body to submit annual compliance reports pertaining to this requirement. The bill’s fate currently lies in the House.

To provide for a resolution with respect to the unresolved disputes between certain railroads represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee of the National Railway Labor Conference and certain of their employees (HJ Res 100) – Passage of this bill was successful in averting a nationwide strike of rail workers, but it did not satisfactorily address all of their demands. The Act provides improved healthcare benefits and a 24 percent pay raise, as well as the ability to take limited unpaid sick leave without being subject to penalties. However, the bill failed to provide the five days of paid medical leave sought. The bill was introduced by Rep. Donald Payne Jr (D-N.J.) on Nov. 29, passed in the House on Nov. 30 and the Senate on Dec. 1. It was signed into law on Dec. 2.

Safe Connections Act of 2022 (HR 7132) – Introduced on March 17 by Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), this bill instructs cell phone service providers to waive separation of contract service fees when requested by survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and related harms. The Act requires that the requestor present verifying documentation that a cosigner of thecontract committed or allegedly committed an act of domestic violence, trafficking or a related criminal act against the survivor. The requestor must assume financial responsibility for services after a line separation. The bill passed in the House on July 27, in the Senate on Nov. 17 and was signed into law on Dec. 7.


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