Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont has killed a controversial portion of a bill he proposed that would have allowed more than 20 government agencies to access Americans’ emails without a warrant, CNET reports.
Leahy originally proposed the bill to increase email and Internet privacy. But he received pushback from law enforcement interests, so he amended it to allow warrantless access to email by a bevy of government agencies, from the Securities and Exchange Commission to the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission. That revised version sparked outrage among civil liberties proponents and a coalition of technology companies. On Tuesday Leahy abandoned the offending amendments altogether.
Leahy’s office said Tuesday on Twitter the proposed changes were only “ideas,” and would not withstand the mark-up phase of the bill process in the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs.
In the battle for control of the Senate, no race has received as much financial attention as the reelection bid of Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, with outside conservative groups working together to pour tens of millions of dollars into Ohio’s airwaves to try to unseat him.
In early July, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched ads criticizing the liberal senator for alleged anti-business votes. When that run ended, a nonprofit group affiliated with GOP operative Karl Rove hit Brown with a new slate of ads. Those were immediately followed by another set of Chamber ads denouncing Brown as a “career politician.”
The conservative groups, led by the business-friendly Chamber, have so far spent more than $11.5 million in a relentless anti-Brown campaign — that’s more than twice as much money as Brown’s actual opponent, Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, has spent on the race. The Chamber has vowed to spend much more and Crossroads GPS, the Rove-affiliated group, already has reserved another $6.7 million in advertising for the final five weeks of the contest.
The California state Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would prohibit “ex-gay” therapy for people under 18. If passed by the Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, California will become the first state to protect LGBT people from potential harm caused by the therapy promoted by anti-LGBT activists.
Ex-gay therapy, also known as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, purports to help turn LGBT people straight. The bill’s primary sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu, said he is seeking the ban because he believes it is harmful and has led some to commit suicide. “The entire medical community is opposed to these phony therapies,” he said in a statement just after the bill passed. “Everyone agrees that this quackery needs to stop.”
The bill establishes that any mental health practitioner consulted to eliminate emotional and sexual feelings or desires for people of the same sex must first obtain informed consent from the patient prior. A minor would not be able to provide consent for ex-gay therapy, regardless of the desires of the minor’s parents. Under the bill, “informed consent” consists of a number of disclosures provided to the patient by the mental health practitioner to make the patient more aware of benefits, harms and alternatives to sexual orientation therapy.