Filner’s last-minute, lame-duck legislation
The days dwindle for the 111th Congress and yet one local representative is still stirring the pot and introducing bills.
Rep. Bob Filner, a Democrat representing California’s 51st District, made headlines (albeit small ones) this month when he called for an investigation into TSA screening techniques and demanded the Secretary of State to remove an Iranian leftist organization from its list of terrorist organizations. He also filed paperwork for two bills that have little chance of passing before the new Congress ends on January 3 and will need to be refiled.
Filner provided us with brief statements about each.
This is a short bill that calls itself the “Consumer Protection Act of 2010″ and adds only a couple of paragraphs to existing law that addresses the “learned intermediary doctrine,” which protects pharmaceutical companies from liability if they provide warnings to the prescribing physicians.
Here’s how Filner explains it:
The learned intermediary doctrine prohibits individuals who are harmed by a drug from suing the manufacturer. In this day of direct-to-consumer marketing, this doctrine makes no sense! Drug manufacturers should be held accountable when they knowingly sell a harmful drug. My bill increases consumer protections by making the drug manufacturer responsible directly to the consumer. I was made aware of this legal loophole from a constituent who was harmed by a drug.
The second piece of legislation is called a “private bill” because it is designed to help a single individual as opposed to the public.
This private bill would grant an immigrant visa or permanent residence status to this particular person. Filner provides the background:
Lauli’i Matu’u was born deaf and was abandoned by his birth-family in Western Samoa. Lauli’i lived on the streets until age 10 when Greg Lewis, a U.S. citizen, took him in, taught him sign language, and cared for his medical needs. In 1992, Mr. Lewis was appointed as legal guardian to Lauli’i, but it took 14 years before Greg was finally able to bring Lauli’i to the U.S. Lauli’i is in danger of being deported because his humanitarian visa has expired. Lauli’i has no family or ties to Western Samoa, deporting Lauli’i would be a travesty of justice! My bill will grant Lauli’i permanent U.S. residence.
Matu’u's attorney declined to answer questions or arrange an interview with Matu’u, saying that she has advised her client not to pursue media attention at this stage in the process.
Filner’s only partly a lame-duck: He was reelected but he’s losing his Veterans Affairs chairmanship as the Democrats become the minority.
For more on Filner’s last days in the Democratic majority and his forecast for the next two years, check out my Nov. 10 story, “Total War.”