July 2008

IN THIS ISSUE:

Message from the President
2008 Final Acts
Big Sky Here We Come!
Uniform Law Foundation News


MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Martha Lee Walters

Big Plans for Big Sky!!

The annual meeting is fast approaching, and we are putting the final touches on our plans. When we gather in Big Sky, you will have an opportunity to hear about our work in the international arena, and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to learn as much as you can about that work and to give leadership your thoughts about its importance.

In addition to the traditional addresses by representatives of the ULC of Canada and Mexican Center on Uniform Laws, which will take place first thing Monday morning, we will also be hearing from David P. Stewart, an Advisory member of the Conference from the U.S. State Department. In addition, the ULC Committee on International Legal Developments is hosting an international educational program during the Monday noon hour. No registration is needed: this program is part of our regular business agenda. It is designed to give commissioners information on the work of the ULC in international law, and why we believe it is necessary for the ULC to engage at the international level.

The ULC’s mission is, of course, to promote uniformity of law among the various states. However, because the law we have developed over the past 117 years is of such excellent quality, we are presented with an opportunity to make our products useful in the world beyond our states. Our states and the citizens of our states benefit when the law of other countries works in harmony with existing state law, much of which is uniform state law. Such harmonization facilitates transactions and movement across borders and provides the citizens of our states with a familiar and appropriate legal framework to enable them to participate in the global community.

Our work on state law and our work to ensure that state law harmonizes with the law of other countries is greatly affected by international treaties and conventions spanning a broad range of subject matter from commercial law to family law – areas that have historically been the subject of numerous uniform and model laws. The Monday international program will educate commissioners about those treaties and conventions and the process for their ratification, and will look at how these treaties and conventions impact state law and how they can be implemented using state law.

The current international projects in which the ULC is participating are the following:

  • UN Convention on Independent Guarantees and Standby Letters of Credit. The ULC appointed a drafting committee to draft documentation implementing this international convention through uniform state law. The committee will present a progress report to the Scope and Program Committee and the Executive Committee in Big Sky. Edwin Smith is the chair of this committee.
  • Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act. The ULC appointed a drafting committee to draft this uniform act in conjunction with Canada and Mexico. A joint committee of the three nations agreed on statements of principles which each country then used as the foundation for laws particular to each country. The uniform act for consideration by states of the United States, which will work in harmony with the law of Canada and Mexico, will be presented to you for consideration and approval in Big Sky. Marilyn Phelan is the US chair of the committee.
  • Hague Convention on Family Maintenance. The ULC appointed a drafting committee to draft amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to implement this international convention. Battle Robinson chairs this committee. We will consider the amendments to UIFSA in Big Sky.
  • Hague Choice of Court Agreements Convention. The ULC appointed a drafting committee to draft a state law implementing this international convention. Rex Blackburn chairs this committee. The committee has met and will continue to meet in the coming year.
  • Hague Convention on Protection of Children. The ULC appointed a study committee to study this international convention and to recommend whether the United States should ratify it, and if so, whether a drafting committee should be appointed to draft appropriate amendments to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to implement it. Battle Robinson chairs the study committee.
  • Hague Convention on Intermediated Securities. The ULC is assisting the US State Department in drafting documentation related to the ratification process. Carl Bjerre and Curtis Reitz are undertaking this work for the ULC.
  • UNCITRAL Convention on Electronic Commerce. Pat Fry has participated as a ULC representative in discussions with the State Department on various options for implementing this international Convention. In Big Sky, the Scope and Program and Executive Committees will consider a recommendation to establish a drafting committee on implementation of this convention.
  • UNCITRAL Project on Security Interests in Intellectual Property. Mary Jo Dively has participated in the working group as a representative of the ULC.
  • UNIDROIT Model Law on Leasing. Bill Henning is the ULC Representative working with the UNIDROIT group on this Model Law, the subject matter of which mirrors the subject matter of UCC Article 2A.
  • UNIDROIT Draft Convention on Substantive Rules for Cross-Border Transfer of Interests in Securities. Carl Bjerre is the ULC Representative serving as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Diplomatic Conference that will conclude this Convention.

As you can see, our uniform state laws are being used as models for international conventions and treaties and the law of other countries. This is a tribute to the quality of our work. The opportunity presented by the need for our work carries with it a myriad of challenges. But if we seize the opportunity and rise to the challenges, we can make a real contribution to the world.

I hope and expect that you will be present to listen to the speakers Monday morning, attend the program Monday noon, and participate in the debate about the acts with international implications which will be presented for your consideration. Please also give considerable thought to how we can best assist our states and our country to ensure that the law that develops beyond our borders works in conjunction with, and does not displace, the uniform state laws that have become so important to our citizens.

Although we have a lot of work ahead of us in Big Sky, I know you will not forget that our annual meetings are also a time to greet old friends, and make new ones. I look forward to seeing you there!

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2008 Final Acts

There are currently eight uniform acts or amendments to uniform acts that are scheduled for completion at this summer’s annual meeting. Here’s a quick look at the proposed final acts.

The Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act addresses the various penalties and disqualifications that individuals face incidental to criminal sentencing, including disqualification from voting, prohibitions from running for office, exclusion from certain types of employment, etc. The provisions in the act are largely procedural, and designed to rationalize and clarify policies and provisions which are already widely accepted by the states. The act includes provisions to ensure that defendants are aware of the existence of collateral sanctions before sentencing.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the law in every state, is being amended because UIFSA is tied to a federal mandate enacting the 2000 Hague Convention on Maintenance, which was signed by the President in 2008. UIFSA 2008 modifies the current version of UIFSA’s international provisions to comport with the obligations of the United States under the Convention. The federal enacting legislation states that a version of this Act must be passed by 2010.

The Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act is being amended in order to update the 1994 UCIOA, which provides provisions for creating, managing, and terminating condominium, planned community and other types of real estate cooperatives. UCIOA is being amended in light of intervening developments in this area of the law. A Uniform Homeowner Bill of Rights Act will also be available as a separate act.

The Revised Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act (RUUNAA) is the product of a joint project between the ULC, the Uniform Law Conference of Canada and the Mexican Center on Uniform Laws. The RUUNAA, a revision of the UUNAA of 1996, governs all unincorporated nonprofit associations (UNAs) that are formed or operate in a state that adopts the Act. There are hundreds of thousands of UNAs in the United States, including educational, scientific and literary clubs, sporting organizations, political organizations, neighborhood associations and the like. The RUUNAA provides a basic legal framework for UNAs. The drafting committee for this project developed a “statement of principles” that each participating country has used for the basis for its UNA statute. The RUUNAA is the American version of this harmonization project.

The Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act will permit, in state court proceedings, unsworn declarations under penalty of perjury to be executed by witnesses located outside the United States in lieu of affidavits, verifications, or other sworn court filings. Obtaining an affidavit abroad can be a costly and time-consuming process. A uniform state law on this subject will be extremely useful in transnational litigation.

Amendments to the Uniform Principal and Income Act will bring the UPIA into compliance with IRS comments regarding allocation of IRA distributions in Section 409. Additionally, the changes clarify the formula for calculating how much a trust needs to distribute and how much it can use to pay taxes.

Amendments to the Uniform Probate Code, including amendments to update the intestacy provisions of the UPC that deal with inheritance by children, are also scheduled for final approval. The current drafts of all of these acts can be found at the ULC’s website at www.nccusl.org.

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Big Sky Here We Come!

The ULC’s 117th Annual Meeting will be held in Big Sky, Montana, July 18-23, at the Big Sky Mountain Resort in beautiful western Montana. This meeting will mark the first time that we have ever met in Montana. We have some wonderful tours and events planned that will showcase this amazing part of the country. Just a few of the exciting events that are waiting for you in Big Sky include:

  • A tour of Yellowstone National Park;
  • A visit to the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University;
  • A visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center;
  • Uniform Law Foundation Annual Benefit Event at a real western saloon.

The business agenda is now complete, and there’s plenty to keep everyone busy in the great indoors, too. Acts up for final approval include Amendments to the Uniform Probate Code, Amendments to the Uniform Principal and Income Act, Amendments to the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (which includes a separate Uniform Homeowner Bill of Rights Act), the Uniform Act on Collateral Consequences of Conviction, the Revised Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act, Amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, and the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act.

We’ll also be debating drafts on Record Owners of Business Act, Collaborative Law Act, Uniform Statutory Trust Entity Act, Uniform Protection of Genetic Information in Employment and Insurance Act, Revised Model State Administrative Procedure Act, Real Property Transfer on Death Act, and Business Organizations Act.

In addition to the traditional addresses by representatives of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada and the Mexican Center on Uniform Laws, plus an address from David P. Stewart from the U.S. State Department, we will also hear from Donald “Del” Laverdure, Chief Legal Counsel for the Crow Nation. Mr. Laverdure has worked on a wide variety of issues for the Crow Nation, including federal water legislation, federal and state tax issues, large energy projects, and tribal legislation. Earlier this year ULC representatives attended a signing ceremony between the Crow Nation and the State of Montana to celebrate a compact reached between the Crow Nation and Montana for the office of Secretary of State Brad Johnson to handle filings generated under the Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act (MTSTA). In April 2006 the Crow Nation became the first tribe to adopt the MTSTA, which was drafted by the ULC.

LEGISLATIVE BREAKFASTS IN MONTANA

Our legislative breakfasts have been completely over-hauled, and we’re hoping that you’ll enjoy the new arrangement. The basic format remains unchanged: all commissioners from particular regions are expected to attend the first “big” breakfast, and we will again have a follow-up “small” breakfast for the legislative liaisons only. But that’s where the similarities end. Instead of five “big” breakfasts on consecutive days, we will have only two: on Saturday and Monday mornings. Based on recommendations from new enactment committees, as well as the Committees on State Delegations, Public Information, and Relationships with Other Organizations, the Legislative Committee will present an overall national legislative plan for the Conference, with specific suggestions for each state. The new format will include time at the breakfast to meet as a state delegation and discuss these plans. You should have already received a letter detailing the changes to the legislative breakfasts, with a schedule. It is crucial for every commissioner to attend this Legislative Breakfast. Please note the time and place for your breakfast. If you have any questions, please contact the Chicago office.

SEE YOU IN BIG SKY!

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UNIFORM LAW FOUNDATION NEWS
Tim Berg, Chair

Support for 2007/2008 ULF Campaign
As the 2007-2008 ULF Campaign Year draws to a close, I’d like to express my thanks for the support that commissioners have given to the Foundation during the past year. More than 150 of you have participated in the current campaign as of mid-June, either through direct donations to the Foundation, memorial contributions, or the purchase of tickets for the ULF Benefit Event in Big Sky. To date, we have 33 Fellows (with gifts of $250 to $499), nine Benefactor Fellows (with gifts of $500 to $999) and 13 Patrons (with gifts of $1,000 or more in a campaign year). There are also two new Lifetime Fellows (those who have given cumulative gifts of $10,000 or more to the Foundation). We are very grateful to all of you for your continuing support.

The current campaign continues through the end of the Annual Meeting in Big Sky, and one of our annual goals is for states to have 100 percent participation. To date, eight states (Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia) have achieved that goal.

If you wish to make a contribution before the annual meeting, you’ll find information as well as a downloadable donation form online at our web site – www.uniformlawfoundation.org.

ULF Annual Benefit
We’ve made our plans for our Saturday night benefit in Big Sky, and you’re not going to want to miss this. This year we’ll step off the red carpet and see what cowboy life is all about at an authentic western honky-tonk. The Half Moon Saloon is located on the Gallatin River, and offers spectacular views. Along with a barbecue dinner buffet, you’ll enjoy the music of the Montana Rose. If you really want to get into the swing of things, we’ll even be selling cowboy hats! More than 250 tickets have been sold for this event already – it’s going to be a memorable evening.

New Development Director
If you haven’t already heard, Melissa A. Walls has recently joined the ULC staff as Development Director. Melissa comes to the ULC with an excellent background: she has 12 years of development experience with the Holy Family Institute (HFI) in Pittsburgh. While working at HFI, she earned her J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law. From 2003 until the present, she practiced law with a Pittsburgh law firm, focusing on civil defense litigation. Melissa will be working closely with the Foundation as we explore new funding opportunities.

Thank You
On behalf of the Trustees of the Uniform Law Foundation – Rhoda B. Billings, Carl H. Lisman, Edwin E. Smith, Howard J. Swibel and myself – thanks to everyone who has supported the Foundation this past year. Our endowment now stands at just over $3.9 million, an impressive milestone that we could not have reached without the support of so many dedicated commissioners. We look forward to seeing you all in Big Sky.

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ULC Quarterly Report Published by the
Uniform Law Commission
Kate Robinson, Editor
katie.robinson@nccusl.org

Uniform Law Commission (ULC)
111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010 Chicago, IL 60602
Ph: (312) 450-6600 Fax: (312) 450-6601
www.nccusl.org