Fisheries management

"Overfishing is a problem with far-reaching environmental and economic consequences," begins a Feb. 23 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the fourth in a series on fisheries management. This report concerns stakeholder participation in fishing quota decisions. "Stakeholders" here includes the states, vessel owners and crew, processors, fishing communities, environmentalists, consumers, and the public.

To curb overfishing and promote conservation, one of the management tools the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) uses is dedicated access privilege, DAP (pdf), programs. Under a DAP program, NMFS sets an allowable catch in a fishery and allocates portions to eligible parties, such as fishermen. Effective and equitable participation by stakeholders in quota decisions is critical but this participation may not be occurring. (NMFS is under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.)

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (PL 94-265, codified as amended at 16 USC §§1801-1883) established eight regional fishery management councils to manage fisheries in federal waters. The councils develop fishery management plans, including DAP programs. Both NMFS and the councils are responsible for implementing DAP programs. GAO recommends that NMFS and the councils develop a framework for effective stakeholder participation. The report cites the Marine Resource Education Project (MREP) for its promising examples of cooperation, although the training may be costly and reach few stakeholders.

For this study, GAO reviewed four regional fishery management councils: the Gulf of Mexico, New England, North Pacific, and Pacific councils.

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT: Core Principles and a Strategic Approach Would Enhance Stakeholder Participation in Developing Quota-Based Programs, GAO-06-289
     Full report (pdf, 1MB, 55p.)
     Highlights (pdf, 60KB, 1p.)
     Abstract (html)

The three earlier reports in the series:

Individual Fishing Quotas: Management Costs Varied and Were Not Recovered as Required, GAO-05-241 (pdf, 616KB, 44p.), March 11, 2005

Individual Fishing Quotas: Methods for Community Protection and New Entry Require Periodic Evaluation, GAO-04-277 (pdf, 2.3MB, 51p.), Feb. 24, 2004

Individual Fishing Quotas: Better Information Could Improve Program Management, GAO-03-159 (pdf, 1.3MB, 56p.), Dec. 11, 2002

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The Bookshelf...Legal origins of Hawaii

As a counterpart to its Just in... posts on newly received items, First Reading launches The Bookshelf... to highlight books of note in the Library's collection. Our first selection is one of the oldest publications in the Library and an important reference source:

The Fundamental Law of Hawaii, published in 1904, was compiled by Lorrin A. Thurston. It is a valuable assemblage of thirteen early legal documents, from the first Constitution of Kamehameha III (1840) to the Organic Act which made Hawaii a Territory (1900). As stated in the Preface: "...the Organic Act specifically re-enacts the great body of pre-existing Hawaiian statute law, which was based upon the several Hawaiian Constitutions and organic laws....They are nearly all published, however, in books now out of print and in scattered volumes....it is believed that the public interest requires the re-publication, in convenient reference form, of what may be called the fundamental law of Hawaii." Included are the first laws of Hawaii (1833-1842), four subsequent constitutions, and congressional documents relating to the annexation of Hawaii to the United States. Mr. Thurston indexed each document separately. Noncirculating (KFH30.5 T48 1904).


Just in...Reports to the Legislature

The Library has been receiving reports to the 2006 Hawaii Legislature, responding to requests in bills passed or resolutions adopted in the 2005 session. A sampling of the reports:

Report of the Joint Legislative Housing and Homeless Task Force. SB 179, CD1, which became Act 196, SLH 2005, established the task force and required this report (sec. 35). Recommendations of the task force cover financing, land availability, government permitting, infrastructure, and maintenance of existing public housing in Hawaii. (KFH421.5 R47 A85 06-61) (Also available in pdf, 500KB, 98p., from the Legislature)

Report of the Hawaii Health Care Task Force. Prepared by the Hawaii Uninsured Project for the Insurance Division, Hawaii Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), pursuant to HB 1304, CD1, which became Act 223, SLH 2005. Gives a snapshot of the uninsured in Hawaii, describes the State's health care coverage landscape, and makes interim recommendations. (KFH421.5 R47 A85 06-21) (Also available in pdf, 10MB, 94p., from DCCA)

Report on Electronic Commerce-Based Crimes. Prepared by the Hawaii Anti-Phishing Task Force, established in the Dept. of the Attorney General (AG), pursuant to SB 1170, HD1, which became Act 65, SLH 2005. Covers relevant agencies, other jurisdictions' laws and activities, and options to deter these crimes, and makes findings and recommendations. (KFH421.5 R47 A85 06-55) (Also available in pdf, 1MB, 96p., from the AG)

Report of the Temporary Early Childhood Education Task Force. The work of the task force was administered by the Hawaii Educational Policy Center, pursuant to HB 1300, CD1, which became Act 151, SLH 2005. Its recommendations cover governance, building the workforce and profession, providing programs and services, and financing of the early childhood education system. (KFH421.5 R47 A85 06-58) (Also available in pdf, 740KB, 71p., from the University of Hawaii)

For a complete table of all reports submitted by all agencies, go to:
Reports to the Legislature (as required by §23G-5, HRS)

You can also access this table via CARD by clicking on 'All Agencies Reports' in the left sidebar under LRB Library.



USA Today reports today on a provision in the "Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005" (P.L. 109-162) that to "annoy, abuse, threaten or harass" someone over the Internet is a federal crime. The provision (section 113 of P.L. 109-162) was authored by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), who noted in a news release that "until now cyberstalking using the Internet was outside the reach of authorities." The phrase "annoy, abuse, threaten or harass" had applied to telephones, and coverage was expanded to include the Internet.

The article reports on arguments that the term "annoy" is too vague. It cites, on the one hand, a 2004 federal case (U.S. v. Bowker) that applied the telephone law to uphold the conviction of a man who had stalked a television reporter, and on the other, a 1999 Washington, D.C., case (U.S. v. Popa) which found that the law, as applied to the defendant's conduct, violated the First Amendment.


No Child, "a product of negotiation, not law"

Reuters published an article today on Harvard University Civil Rights Project's newly released 60 page examination of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and the subsequent policy shifts in states' accountability. The report charges that "political compromises forged between some states and the federal government have allowed schools in some predominantly white districts to dodge penalties faced by regions with larger ethnic minority populations." The report's executive summary states:
This report documents the changes states have made to their accountability plans and examines how these policy shifts affect the meaning of accountability and who benefits (and loses) from the changes. We reviewed decision letters sent to all 50 states that outlined the changes approved by ED through December 2005. The intent of this report is to provide policymakers with information they can use to develop a systemic approach to correcting the flaws in NCLB by documenting the requirements that are difficult for states to implement and identifying areas where the law may not be working as intended. The report provides an easy to understand synopsis of the changes allowed by ED and state-by-state summaries of the amendments each state adopted.
The news article quotes Gail Sunderman, lead author of the study, as saying, "There's a very uneven effect. There are no clear uniform standards that are governing No Child Left Behind. If one state gets one thing, another state can do something else."

The Unraveling of No Child Left Behind: How Negotiated Changes Transform the Law, by Gail L. Sunderman
(available in pdf, 504KB, from The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University)

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School stats

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published recently its data report from the "Common Core of Data (CCD) non-fiscal 2003-04 state, local education agency, and school surveys." The CCD annually compiles data on all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States. The report provides descriptive, easy to compare information in table format, including demographics of student bodies and staff; revenues and current expenditures; charter school number; and percentage of students served.

With data from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Defense (DoD) dependents schools (overseas and domestic), Puerto Rico, and the other jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the NCES report:
presents data about the students enrolled in public education, including the number of students by grade and the number receiving special education, migrant, or English language learner services. Some tables disaggregate the student data by racial/ethnic group or community characteristics such as rural - urban. The numbers and types of teachers, other education staff, schools, and local education agencies are also reported.

Public Elementary and Secondary Students, Staff, Schools, and School Districts: School Year 2003-04, NCES 2006307
(only available on the Web, in pdf, 464KB, from NCES)

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Social support weighs in

RAND Health researchers published an article which found, as stated in their news release, "a neighborhood's social cohesion and social controls can influence obesity among young people." High levels of social support have been found to influence the health issues associated with obesity in adults. This latest study examined similar social networks in neighborhoods across Los Angeles and their possible impact on adolescent obesity. For purposes of the study, the researchers characterized high degree of social support as occurring in,
a close-knit community; adults who children look up to; people willing to help neighbors; neighbors who get along; adults who watch out to see that children are safe; neighbors who share the same values; adults who will take action if they see a child hanging out; adults who will do something if a youngster is defacing property with graffiti; and people who will scold a child showing disrespect.
While acknowledging other factors also influence children's weight (e.g., metabolic), they found a social environment with access to parks and playgrounds, with an overall safe environment where outside activities can occur were important elements in children's health. Physical isolation contributes to obesity.

Collective efficacy and obesity: The potential influence of social factors on health
The article was published in Social Science & Medicine, Volume 62, Issue 3 , February 2006, Pages 769-778.
The news release and the abstract are available online.



Data security - federal and state laws

In a 6-page report issued Feb. 3, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) presents a brief discussion of federal and state data security laws. The report traces public awareness of security breaches of electronic personal data to the California Security Breach Notification Act, which became effective in 2003 (Cal. Civ. Code §1798.82). The report covers federal data security standards, federal data breach notification standards, and state data breach notification laws. As of December 2005, 35 states had introduced legislation and 22 had enacted data security laws.

Data Security: Federal and State Laws, CRS Report RS22374
(pdf, 48KB, from Open CRS)

Recent CRS reports referred to in the above report, all from Open CRS:

Personal Data Security Breaches: Context and Incident Summaries, RL33199 (pdf, 136KB, 21p.), Dec. 16, 2005

Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation, RL31408 (pdf 116KB, 25p.), updated Oct. 19, 2005

Information Brokers: Federal and State Laws, RS22087 (pdf, 36KB, 5p.), updated May 17, 2005

Data Brokers: Background and Industry Overview, RS22137 ((pdf, 36KB, 5p.), May 5, 2005

Privacy Protection for Customer Financial Information, RS20185 (pdf, 40KB, 6p.), updated April 18, 2005

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States' voting systems not ready for November

The deadline reported by the Federal Election Commission for states to comply with three specific requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was January 1, 2006:
  • Each state and jurisdiction was required to comply with the voting systems requirements in Section 301 (voting systems standards providing vote verification and correction opportunities).

  • States needed to implement a computerized statewide voter registration database.

  • All punchcard and lever machines were to be replaced in states accepting Section 102 payments who qualified for a waiver of the original deadline (January 1, 2004).

According to a recently released report by the electionline.org, described in their press release (pdf) as providing information on the election changes in each of the 50 states over the past five years, "The lack of progress in nearly half of the states throws into doubt whether HAVA’s goals can be achieved in time for the November 2006 vote."

The report expressed concerns about the reliability of electronic voting machines and the paper audit trail requirements; the questionable legality of required identification of all voters; the capabilties, functions and designs of statewide voter registration databases or lack thereof; and provisional ballots and determinations of eligibility and different state-to-state counting rules. The press release quoted Doug Chapin, director of the non-partisan group:
In a number of states, the lack of HAVA compliance is the result of inaction on the part of elected officials. Other states have tried to take action, but have had their efforts hindered by other barriers.

Election Reform: What's Changed, What Hasn't and Why 2000-2006
(available in pdf, 4.8MB, from electionline.org)

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Keeping seniors mobile

A Feb. 7 Christian Science Monitor article describes an innovative program in Portland, Maine, where seniors donate their cars to a program and use the money to pay for rides 24/7. The program is the Independent Transportation Network (ITN) that began in Portland in 1995. It is now expanding nationwide.
With 78 million baby boomers nearing retirement, local and state leaders are scrambling to devise transportation alternatives for seniors. The goal? Get them off the road when they no longer should drive, yet keep them integrated in their communities.
Legislation on the state and federal levels is beginning.

In 2005 Connecticut passed two laws which included provisions to promote elder transportation. In PA 05-280, section 55 provides for grants to municipalities or nonprofit organizations to develop financially self-sustaining transportation systems for seniors, and directs that any municipality receiving a grant "shall, to the extent practicable," model such system on the ITNAmerica model. In PA 05-4 (Special Session), section 39 provides for matching grants to municipalities for "elderly and disabled demand responsive transportation programs." The transportation services are to be available to persons 60 or older. Half of the funding formula is based on the share of persons in the municipality 60 or older, the other half on land area.

Also in 2005 Maine passed PL 71 which makes it easier for nonprofits to allow seniors to trade in their cars for transportation services.

In Congress, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) plans to introduce the "Older Americans Sustainable Mobility Act." This too is based on ITNAmerica. The act would provide seed money and matching funds to develop sustainable senior transportation systems.


CA saves billions in workers' comp

According to a new study, the Sacramento Bee reported Feb. 4, California's major reform of its workers' compensation system has resulted in savings of $8.1 billion since 2003. In the early 2000s California's work comp premiums were the nation's highest. Then, the article states:
Because of soaring insurance rates, the Legislature approved a series of cost-cutting measures that included new medical-fee schedules, uniform guidelines on treatment and benefit payments, new HMO-style physician networks and a new formula to calculate permanent disability benefits.
Now workers' comp insurance rates are at their lowest level since 1996.

The study was released by California's Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC). DWC's Feb. 2 press release announcing the study also reported that 2006 insurance rates have decreased by 46 percent.

A Study of the Effects of Legislative Reforms on California Workers' Compensation Insurance Rates
     Available in pdf, full report (zip file, 4.34MB) and in sections

Executive summary (pdf, 324KB, 10p.)

Both from the California Division of Workers' Compensation



U.S. ocean policy endangers world's oceans

In a Thursday article, Associated Press (AP) reported The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative gave "the Congress, Bush administration and governors a near-failing grade for not moving quickly enough to address hundreds of their recommendations." The Initiative's evaluation of U.S. ocean policy addressed the urgently needed reforms and funding support to protect the country's oceans and coasts recommended by two major national commissions - the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission.

In a news release, Admiral James D. Watkins, co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, said, "This Report Card highlights our concerns with the slow rate of progress toward implementing the necessary reforms...to make fundamental changes in ocean policy, before it is too late."

The report acknowledged the progress made in several regions, including Hawaii, however, poor financial support and "the lack of progress in implementing new measures" rated national ocean policy a dismal overall D+. Subject areas included national ocean governance reform (D+); regional and state ocean governance reform (B-); international leadership (F); fisheries management reform (C+); and new funding (F).

The U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card
(available in pdf, 376KB, from The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative)

Health Savings Accounts in the states

Related to FR's earlier post on federal rules governing Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) is a compendium of state legislation on HSAs and Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), made available online Feb. 2.

2004-2006 State Legislation on Health Savings Accounts and Medical Savings Accounts

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Health Savings Accounts - 2006 rules

On Jan. 31 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published an overview of current rules for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). (See earlier FR post here.) The publication summarizes the principal rules governing HSAs, such as eligibility, qualifying health insurance, contributions, and withdrawals.

An HSA is a tax-exempt account for paying qualified medical expenses not covered by insurance. HSAs were established in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA, PL 108-173, Title XII, 117 Stat. 2469 (pdf, 1MB, 416p., from GPO).

As explained in the CRS report, HSAs may be established with banks, insurance companies, or other entities approved by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to hold Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs). Insurance companies that offer high deductible health plans (HDHPs) may also establish HSAs for their policyholders. HSAs do not need state approval but individuals cannot have HSAs without an HDHP, and states may require all insurance to include benefits with no or low deductibles.

Health Savings Accounts: Overview of Rules for 2006
, CRS report, RL33257
(pdf, 64KB, 14p., from Open CRS)

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Why higher gas prices?

Testimony on factors influencing gasoline prices, presented by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to the Senate Judiciary Committee, was released Feb. 1 by GAO. Gas prices impact the economy because of our heavy use of motor vehicles. The U.S. consumes about 45 percent of all gasoline consumed in the world. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) calculates that every ten cents added to a gallon of gas adds $14 billion to the nation's gas bill. GAO's testimony addressed: (1) factors that affect gas prices, (2) the pattern of oil company mergers in the U.S., and (3) effects of mergers on market concentration and wholesale gas prices.

GAO found: (1) "Crude oil prices are the fundamental determinant of gasoline prices." Other factors include U.S. refinery capacity, gasoline inventories, and regulatory factors such as air quality standards. (2) In the 1990s there were over 2600 mergers involving all three segments of the U.S. petroleum industry - 85% of the mergers were in exploration and production, 13% in refining and marketing, and 2% in transportation. Since 2000 there have been 8 mergers in different segments of the industry. (3) Mergers increased market concentration in refining and marketing, resulting in small wholesale price increases from 1 to 7 cents per gallon.

ENERGY MARKETS: Factors Contributing to Higher Gasoline Prices, GAO-06-412T
     Full report (pdf, 196KB, 13p.)
     Highlights (pdf, 60KB, 1p.)
     Abstract (html)

Earlier GAO reports referred to in the testimony:

GASOLINE MARKETS: Special Gasoline Blends Reduce Emissions and Improve Air Quality, but Complicate Supply and Contribute to Higher Prices, GAO-05-421, June 17, 2005
     Full report (pdf, 1.14MB, 51p.)
     Highlights (pdf, 40KB, 1p.)

MOTOR FUELS: Understanding the Factors That Influence the Retail Price of Gasoline, GAO-05-525SP, May 2, 2005
     Full report (pdf, 3.67MB, 61p.)
     Abstract (html)

ENERGY MARKETS: Effects of Mergers and Market Concentration in the U.S. Petroleum Industry, GAO-04-96, May 17, 2004
     Highlights (pdf, 88KB, 1p.)

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Numbers for the future

In his State of the Union Address, President Bush announced the American Competitiveness Initiative and proposed, as reported by Associated Press (AP):
training an additional 70,000 teachers over five years to teach advanced math and science courses in high school, where demand for such classes has soared nationwide. He also proposed new math programs for elementary and middle school students, and reiterated his goal to lure thousands of mathematicians and scientists to become adjunct high school teachers.
There is reported a concern where Congress would find money to support this math and science push in education, "which would cost tens of billions of dollars, and whether other education spending would be cut."

The National Academies Press (NAP) has two current publications addressing science education and its assessment in the schools.

America's Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science examines the lab experience in the current high school curriculum and questions its current effectiveness, potential for improvement, and the needed changes for improvement. Recommended for educators, school administrators, policy makers, and parents. (Susan R. Singer, Margaret L. Hilton, and Heidi A. Schweingruber, Editors, Committee on High School Science Laboratories: Role and Vision, National Research Council. 254 pages.)

Systems for State Science Assessment examines tools and methods necessary to assess science learning and content standards and to measure student progress. Self-described as, "a critical resource for states that are designing and implementing science assessments to meet the 2007-2008 requirements of NCLB." Recommended for policy makers, schools, teachers, scientists, and parents. (Mark R. Wilson and Meryl W. Bertenthal, Editors, Committee on Test Design for K-12 Science Achievement, National Research Council. 248 pages.)

Both publications are also available as Open Books from NAP, to read or browse online:

America's Lab Report (Open Book)
(and available as download, the Executive Summary, in pdf, 396KB)

Systems for State Science Assessment (Open Book)
(and available as download, the Executive Summary, in pdf, 280KB)