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America Outdoors Association

August 18, 2011



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America Outdoors Association Bulletin

Fate of Health Care Reform Headed to Supreme Court after Appeals Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings

Health Care Reform Tax Credit Update

Forest Service Hints of More Changes to Permitting Policy 

Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop Retires in October

Forest Service to Accept Comment on Tribal Sacred Site Policy

Unconventional Hacking Strategy Combines Internet and Telephone

Fate of Health Care Reform Headed to Supreme Court after Appeals Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, on August 12, 2011, struck down as unconstitutional the mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) that virtually all Americans must either carry health insurance or face penalties.  The majority decision in State of Florida v. U.S. Dept. of HHS held that "the individual mandate contained in the Act exceeds Congress’ enumerated commerce power." The judges wrote, "What Congress cannot do under the Commerce Clause is mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die."  Excerpted from Update courtesy AON Hewitt.

In June The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the individual mandate.  Since various courts have made rulings, some of which conflict with one another, the challenge to the law will be decided by the Supreme Court.

How soon the Supreme Court takes up the case will be critical to many states which are developing health care exchanges and implementing other provisions of the law.  Some of these elements could survive even if the insurance mandate is ruled unconstitutional.  If the case is taken up in January, a decision may come next summer.  Otherwise it will likely occur in 2013 after many of the law’s provisions have been implemented.

Health Care Reform Tax Credit Update:  Agencies Release Proposed Regulations Governing Eligibility for the State Insurance Exchanges and Premium Tax Credits

We suggest these links if you are interested in the tax credits and employer penalties for employers with more than 50 full-time employees.  Click here to review Treasury’s proposed rules on tax credit eligibility and how they will work.  The overall rules can be found by going to HealthCare.gov.

Forest Service Hints of More Changes to Permitting Policy 

With youth groups, YMCA’s, camps and municipalities clamoring for access, the Forest Service appears to be considering more changes to their permitting policy.  In an article in the Missoulian entitled Forest Service regulations put barriers between kids' groups, outdoors, Missoula District Ranger Paul Matter described how more changes are coming next year that could help people navigate the Forest Service's permit system. One is a new classification of forest lands into "Open Use" with no schedule limitations, "General Use" with some use thresholds and "Areas of Special Concern" that may limit both time and size of activity. That should simplify choosing where to plan activities, according to the description in the Missoulian story.  Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_82b5fc58-c62e-11e0-b926-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1VDpX7xh5

Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop Retires in October

One of the Forest Service’s best employees, Deputy Chief of the National Forest System Joel Holtrop, is retiring in October.  We wish him well.  A replacement has not been announced.

Forest Service to Accept Comment on Tribal Sacred Site Policy

The following is from Secretary Vilsack’s news release announcing the acceptance of comments.

The U.S. Forest Service has opened for public comment through the Federal Register a draft report that outlines its policies and procedures on Indian Sacred Sites.  The 60-day comment window follows on-going dialogue between the Forest Service and Tribal representatives on Sacred Sites. The Forest Service will accept public comments on the draft report while honoring its responsibility to consult with Indian Tribes.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requested an internal review and consultation with Tribes to determine if existing law, regulations and policies affecting Sacred Sites provide a consistent level of protection.

Public comments on the report will be accepted from Aug. 5 to Oct. 4. Afterwards Forest Service officials will review and consider all suggestions received.  The draft report is available for review at http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/tribalrelations/sacredsites.

Check out the earlier bulletin for an overview of the new policy.  AOA will provide members with model comments.

Public comments can be sent to:
U.S. Forest Service
Office of Tribal Relations
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Mailstop Code: 1160
Washington, DC 20250-1160

Comments also may be submitted by fax to (202) 205-1773 or e-mail to sacredsitescomment@fs.fed.us. The final report is expected to be completed this winter.

Unconventional Hacking Strategy Combines Internet and Telephone

At the recent DefCon conference for computer hackers in Las Vegas, hackers used “social engineering” in a contest to see who could get the most information from some of America’s largest companies.  Unlike conventional computer hacking, social engineering obtains information about companies and their employees from websites then makes a call to a key employee posing as an IT employee of the company or a legitimate service provider.  Using this strategy, most employees readily provided computer configuration settings and other information that would enable hackers to gain easy access to a company’s secure data.  While AOA members may not be targets of network hackers, the same strategies can be used to gain credit card information.  

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