Congress considered two bills; both passed on essentially party line votes.
The House considered H.R. 3624, the Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act of 2015. Under current law, there are some claims that can be heard in either state or federal court. In many of these cases, plaintiffs choose state courts because the process often takes less time and costs less money. Defendants, in many cases large corporations, often choose federal courts where the process can take much longer. H.R. 3624 amends a long-standing legal practice called the “fraudulent joinder doctrine”. This doctrine allows a federal court to turn a case over to a state court under certain circumstances. H.R. 3624 weakens this authority by allowing defendants to challenge the court’s jurisdiction decisions, which will draw cases out even longer. A corporate plaintiff would have more resources than, for example, a worker injured on the job. Under this legislation, the corporate plaintiff could initiate a separate legal action challenging the venue before the merits of the specific case are even considered. The Administration has stated that this legislation would be vetoed.
Natural Resources and Recreational Use
The House considered H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act. This is yet another attempt to undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This legislation requires the Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service to accommodate hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal lands that are under their jurisdiction. It prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating the lead found in bullets, fishing tools or hunting equipment and prohibits the Army Corps of Engineers from monitoring firearm use on properties they manage. H.R. 2406 protects and expands the interests of hunters and other recreational sports participants at the expense of the environment.
Rep. Capuano (D-MA) provided this information. Rep. Reed voted in favor of both bills.