By Eddy McClain NCISS Legislative Committee member

With Congress finally in adjournment HR 2971, the Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2003 authored by Representative Clay Shaw, R-FL, and its twin, S 2801 by Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, have died in committee of the 108th Congress. NCISS expects similar legislation will be introduced by both legislators when the 109th Congress convenes in January. Regrettably, Dru’s law, HR 3929, the sex offender registration bill supported by NCISS and championed by Bob Heales, passed the Senate but failed to pass in the House and will have to be reintroduced in 2005.

Since Rep. Shaw has now been reelected, and some parts of HR 2971 have apparently been adopted in HR 10, the intelligence bill passed yesterday, many observers feel he may not pursue his identity theft legislation in 2005. We believe this is wishful thinking and that some form of the bill will be introduced again. Republicans allow ranking members to serve three two year terms as chairmen of committees and since Rep. Shaw has only chaired the Social Security Subcommittee for two terms, he is expected to return as chairman in 2005.

On the Senate side, at the urging of California investigators who lobbied strenuously against S-2801, Senator Feinstein has agreed for her staff to meet with NCISS to discuss language for legislation in the 109th Congress. NCISS lobbyist Larry Sabbath is scheduled to meet with her staff this week for preliminary discussions. It is anticipated this will be a lengthy process.

The author initially assured his fellow legislators that these bills were sound and had little opposition. That is why they advanced as far as they did with unanimous support. But the lobbying effort of NCISS, its many state associations and members, plus the work of allies whom we alerted about the problem, took its toll on the sponsor’s claims. Once they realized there were problems with the bill, legislators decided to slow the process. With regard to S-2801, Senator Feinstein perceived that HR 2971 was moving, photocopied the language and introduced it with three weeks left in the session in hopes of catching Representative Shaw’s coattails. That didn’t work, but a new version is expected in 2005. It is our hope that by negotiating and explaining our needs, we can prevail on legislators to provide the necessary exemptions in the initial drafts.

There is no doubt grass-roots lobbying works when combined with professional help. The investigative profession has awakened to the need for representation in Washington and our State Capitols. Thank you for your continuing support of NCISS.

Eddy McClain NCISS Legislative Committee member