Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Federal Gift Card Regulations: Why They Matter in Mass.

Federal Regulations issued under the CARD act became effective on August 22, 2010. These regulations, 12 CFR pt. 205, provide many protections for consumers with credit cards, bank accounts and gift cards. In one key provision, the regulations require that a gift card may not expire for at least five years. Massachusetts law, though, already requires that gift cards don't expire for at least seven years (MGL c.200A, s.5D). So why do we need to care?

According to the Mass. Attorney General, cards issued by national banks are bound by the Federal rules, not the state law. "State law does not apply to gift cards issued by a national bank, even though these cards may be issued by an entity other than the bank.  For instance, Simon Mall Gift Cards do not follow the seven year rule and also charge fees, because the cards are issued in conjunction with a national bank."

The new Federal regulations not only define a minimum time before expiration, but also limit dormancy, inactivity, or service fees. This is all very good news for Massachusetts consumers purchasing mall gift cards.

More information on gift cards in Massachusetts is available at Mass. Law About Shopping and Returns.

Preliminary Injunction Issued in Stem Cell Research

US District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Royce Lamberth issued a preliminary injunction yesterday in the case of Sherley v. Sebelius, US Dist Court - DC, Civ. No. 1:09-cv-1575, August 23, 2010. The injunction was granted "to enjoin defendants from implementing the [NIH] Guidelines [for Human Stem Cell Research] because the Guidelines allow federal funding of ESC [Embryonic Stem Cell] research, which involves the destruction of embryos."

"Because ESC research requires the derivation of ESCs, ESC research is research in which an embryo is destroyed. Accordingly, the Court concludes that, by allowing federal funding of ESC research, the Guidelines are in violation of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment."  Further, "it is in the public interest to enjoin defendants from implementing the Guidelines because the Guidelines allow federal funding of ESC research, which involves the destruction of embryos."

More information on stem cell research in Massachusetts is available at Mass. Law About Stem Cell Research.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Reverse Mortgages, Tenants in Foreclosure, Right to Cure and More!

On August 7, Governor Patrick signed S.2407: An Act to Stabilize Neighborhoods, which brought significant changes in a number of laws.

Reverse Mortgages (Sections 2-5): provides additional protections for consumers within certain income guidelines considering reverse mortgages. Most portions are effective in November. The required counseling will not be effective until the end February 2012. See Law About Reverse Mortgages for more info.

Tenants in Foreclosed Buildings (Section 6). New MGL c.186A was added which makes it more difficult to evict a tenant from a foreclosed building and provides specific guidance to both tenants and financial institutions faced with the situation. This law is effective immediately. See Law About Tenants in Foreclosed Buildings for more info.

Right to Cure in Foreclosure (Section 7). MGL c.244, s.35A was amended effective immediately to provide a 150-day right to cure under certain conditions. Section 8 reverts the law back to a 90-day right to cure in 2016. See Law About Foreclosure for more info.

Mortgage Fraud (Sections 9-11A).  Amends MGL c.266, s.33-34, and adds new MGL c.266, s35A and c.277, s.62C, effective immediately.

Abandoned Property Registry (Sections 12-13). Creates a new Mass. Abandoned Property Registry (MAP). Rules and regulations required for the registry must be adopted by  December 5, 2010.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Food Rules

One of the final bills of the last legislative session signed by the Governor was an act relative to school nutrition. Chapter 197 of the acts of 2010 encourages the purchase of locally grown produce, meats and seafood at state colleges and universities, as well as all state agencies.
It expands some no bid aspects of the uniform procurement act for local foods.
It requires elementary schools to "provide for instruction in...nutrition and exercise" and establishes reporting requirements for nutrition and wellness programs.
There will be training in behavioral health, screening and referral for obesity and type 2 diabetes. It attempts to provide access to foods that comply with nutritional standards for sale and in vending machines, and requires the sale of fruit and vegetables, calls for access to free water, and limits the use of fryolators.
Related web page : Education.