March 2008

IN THIS ISSUE:

Message from the President
Highlights from Executive Committee Midyear Meeting
New Drafting and Study Committees
Uniform Law Foundation News
Are You Ready for Montana?
News from the ABA Midyear Meeting
Crow Nation and State of Montana Sign Compact


MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Martha Lee Walters

I know you cannot have missed the news. The ULC has moved!

Since the first of the year our staff has been working in the office condominium purchased by the Uniform Law Foundation. Our new office is in the Garland Building, which is located in "the Loop," the historic downtown business district. It is right next door to the Harold Washington Cultural Center and very close to Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. Our staff has access to all forms of public transportation (the “el” routinely reminds us of its accessibility) and each staff member I have talked with raves about the new quarters.

Not only did past President Howard Swibel conceive of the idea of this purchase, he worked endlessly on transaction details that will substantially benefit the Conference. Through the hard work of many, we moved in on time, without expensive change orders or disruption of the work of the Conference. But the chief credit goes to our Chief Administrative Officer, Elizabeth Cotton Murphy. Elizabeth paid attention to details and costs and I do not have even one story about a close call or a missed deadline.

We have already hosted two receptions in the new office space for commissioners, observers, advisors and guests attending drafting committee meetings, and we hope each of you will have a chance to attend a reception in the new headquarters before the year is out. We also plan to use the large conference room for committee meetings on occasion and to provide space for commissioners to meet with staff while in Chicago. If you are in Chicago, whether on Conference or other business, please feel free to stop by and tour the space and say hello to the staff. They are proud of their wonderful new home and would like you to visit and become familiar with them and their work.

Whether you are able to stop by the new office or not, you may wish to talk with the members of the legislative staff who are available to work with you to complete your legislative plans.

The substantive areas for which each has responsibility are the following:

  • Michael Kerr: all ULC acts and outreach activities; business entity acts and the UCC;
  • Michelle Clayton: trust and estate acts, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, and the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act;
  • Kieran Marion: real property acts, the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act and the Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgments Recognition Act;
  • Eric Fish: family law and litigation acts, including E-Discovery Rules and the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act;
  • Nicole Julal: ADR Acts, Mediation and Arbitration, and the Uniform Debt Management Services Act. Nicole is new to the Conference. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and DePaul University College of Law. Prior to joining the Conference Nicole was with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association as counsel and lobbyist.
  • Katie Robinson: Communications Officer, tracks all legislative activity and is always available to assist with both legislative and public relations matters.
  • Joan Hollick: Legislative Assistant, provides support to the legislative staff and is available to help with any documents requests.

While Chicago is the on-the-ground center of the Conference, the Commissioners are its operating core. From my current vantage point I see how busy so many of you are with Conference work beyond the time you spend at drafting committee meetings. Some of you are constantly communicating about draft acts or studying ideas for new acts or possible revisions to existing acts. Many of you are spending enormous amounts of time turning approved Acts into legislation, while others are sending in new ideas and advising us of important contacts you have made throughout the country and throughout the world. Chicago is an exciting place to be right now and the Conference is an exciting organization with which to be associated. Keep up the good work and get ready for a good time in Montana. We will have much to do and much to celebrate.

With thanks over and over,

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Highlights from the Executive Committee Midyear Meeting

The Executive Committee met in Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this year for its midyear meeting. Among the decisions made, the Executive Committee approved the appointment of one new drafting committee and two new study committees. (See article below.)

A new Committee on State Delegations has been authorized and appointed. Commissioner Bob McCurley of Alabama is the Chair. This committee has been formed to assist state delegations in making their work more effective and productive. This committee will gather information about the organization of each state delegation, assist states in developing enactment plans, establish commissioner roles to encourage member participation, and try to identify requests for assistance in their legislative efforts.

A new committee on Relations with Other Organizations has been authorized and appointed; Commissioner Mike Houghton of Delaware is the Chair. This committee is tasked with identifying organizations that have similar interests to the ULC; it is hoped that forming liaisons with such organizations will strengthen our legislative efforts.

Both of these new committees will be meeting in the Spring.

The dates and sites for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 annual meetings have been set, so mark your calendars. The 2009 Annual Meeting will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Thursday, July 9 through Thursday, July 16, 2009. The 2010 Annual Meeting will be in Chicago, Friday, July 9 through Friday, July 16, 2010. And the 2011 Annual Meeting will be held in Vail, Colorado, Thursday, July 7 through Thursday, July 14, 2011.

The Drafting Committee on Medical Examiners was discharged. The Drafting Committee on Environmental Controls and Hazard Systems was re-designated a Study Committee. The Study Committee on Disposal of Electronic Products was discharged.

The Uniform Consumer Leases Act was re-designated as a Model Act. And all the Uniform Rules of Evidence acts were also re-designated as Model Acts.

The agenda for the 2008 Annual Meeting in Montana was discussed. At this time the agenda is still tentative and subject to change. Currently, six acts are scheduled for final reading this summer: Amendments to Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act; Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act; Revised Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act; Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act; Amendments to the Uniform Probate Code; and Amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. Seven acts will be debated, but are not scheduled for final approval: Revised Model State Administrative Procedure Act; Business Organizations Act; Collaborative Law Act; Misuse of Genetic Information in Employment and Insurance Act; Record Owners of Business Act; Statutory Trust Entity Act; and Real Property Transfer on Death Act.

These are just a few of the decisions of the Executive Committee. For further information, the minutes of the Executive Committee midyear meeting are posted online at www.nccusl.org.

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New Drafting and Study Committees

At the 2008 Midyear Meeting in January, the Executive Committee authorized the appointment of one new drafting committee and two new study committees.

The new drafting committee is:

Drafting Committee on Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements
This drafting committee will work with the U.S. State Department to draft implementing legislation to implement the Hague Convention on Choice of Courts Agreement in a manner that preserves, to the extent possible, the current federal-state balance in the areas covered by the Convention. The committee will draft appropriate Declarations and Understandings for the Convention in coordination with the U.S. Department of State Office of Private International Law. The committee will also consider whether any current uniform laws would need to be amended in light of the Convention.

The new study committees are:

Study Committee on Authentication of Online State Legal Materials
This study committee will determine the usefulness of a uniform or model law requiring that state online legal materials be secured and authenticated and preserved for permanent public access. The committee will review possible application to state administrative codes and registers, state statutes and session laws, and state appellate and supreme court opinions, as well as the impact of copyright practices and the conversion and destruction of original source materials.

Joint Review Committee on UCC Article 9
This committee will be comprised of representatives from the ULC and the American Law Institute; the committee is charged to identify specific amendments or corrections to UCC Article 9, and report back to both the ULC and the ALI.

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UNIFORM LAW FOUNDATION NEWS
Tim Berg, Chair

I am pleased to report that the 2007/2008 ULF Campaign is off to a strong start. Response to our year-end solicitation included generous participation by more than 80 Commissioners, observers and other interested individuals, as well as several major law firms that have demonstrated their support of the work of the Uniform Law Commission with gifts to the Foundation. I am particularly pleased to note that to date we have 31 Fellows (with gifts of $250 to $499), 8 Benefactor Fellows (with gifts of $500 to $999), and 12 Patron Fellows (with gifts of $1000 or more). We are very grateful to you all for your continued support.

The current campaign will continue through the end of the annual meeting in Montana. 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 website www.uniformlawfoundation.org.

The ULF finances are in excellent shape, with the current unrestricted endowment standing at $3.5 million. While the financial numbers are good, we have no plans to stand still: we have embarked on what we hope will be another very active year.

The ULF continues to make grants in support of Uniform Law Scholars – individuals appointed by the Uniform Law Commission to assist in the study and drafting process. At the last meeting of the ULF Trustees in February, two new Uniform Law Scholars were approved. The first is Prof. Louise Ellen Teitz of the Roger Williams University School of Law, who is working with the Study Committee on the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements. The second is Prof. A Morgan Cloud, III, of Emory University School of Law, who is a consultant for the Study Committee to Revise the Model Drug Dependence Treatment and Rehabilitation Act. The Foundation’s grant program has now distributed more than $100,000 to the ULC for study, research and development, and educational projects.

Plans for our Annual Meeting Benefit in Big Sky, Montana, are progressing well. This year you’ll get to see what cowboy life is all about at an authentic western saloon. 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 band and you’ll get the opportunity to learn line dancing. If you want to look the part, we’ll even be selling custom cowboy hats! This is going to be a special night. Space is limited for this event, so please sign up early.

We thank you for your continued support. We also welcome your suggestions for contacting law firms and other potential donors that benefit from the ULC’s efforts and an effective system of uniform laws. Please contact Liz Cunneen in the Chicago office with your ideas.

I would like to express my thanks to my fellow trustees – Rhoda Billings, Carl Lisman, Ed Smith and Howard Swibel (who has re-joined the Foundation as trustee) – for all their hard work.

I would also like to thank my predecessor as Chair of the Trustees, Robert A. Stein. Bob served as ULF Chair for more than six years, and his dedication and commitment to the Foundation was unsurpassed. Thank you, Bob.

And thank you all. With your help and support, the Uniform Law Foundation can look forward to another successful campaign in the coming year.

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Are You Ready for Montana?

The final plans are being made for our annual meeting at the beautiful Big Sky Resort in Montana, July 18 – 25, 2008. You should have recently received your annual meeting registration packet, which details all the great events we’ve got planned for you this summer. Some highlights include:

  • Opening Reception at the Resort with breathtaking views of the Northern Rockies.
  • Uniform Law Foundation Annual Benefit Event in a Montana Honky-Tonk.
  • Trip to Yellowstone National Park.
  • Trip to Museum of the Rockies.
  • Farewell Reception and Banquet.

We’ll be meeting at the Big Sky Resort in Big Sky, Montana. This scenic community is nestled 7,500 feet high, surrounded by timberland, and near the Gallatin National Forest. The village of Big Sky is a year-round Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts; you’ll enjoy golf, tennis, hiking, fishing, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. Big Sky also has great shopping, dining and nightlife.

Commissioners have many different options for accommodations; read through the registration material closely to decide which option is right for you. Rooms will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so return your form early to ensure the accommodation of your choice. Whichever option you choose – the Huntley Lodge, the Summit Hotel, or the Shoshone Condominium/Hotel – you’ll be sure to enjoy spectacular views and Western hospitality.

If you’d like more information on the area, you can check out the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce at www.bigskychamber.com for current information about attractions and events in the area. We’ve made our plans; now it’s your turn. We hope to see you in beautiful Big Sky this summer.

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News from the ABA Midyear Meeting
Four Uniform Acts Approved by ABA House of Delegates

Four new uniform acts were approved by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates at its Midyear Meeting in Los Angeles, February 6-12.

Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act
The new Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act addresses the issue of jurisdiction over adult guardianships, conservatorships, and other protective proceedings. Because there are more than fifty guardianship systems in the United States, problems of determining jurisdiction are frequent. This act provides an effective mechanism for resolving multi-state jurisdictional disputes. This new act contains specific guidelines to specify which court has jurisdiction to appoint a guardian or conservator for an incapacitated adult. The objective is that only one state will have jurisdiction at any one time.
Legislative Status: the UAGPPJA has been in enacted in Utah and introduced in Alaska, Colorado, the District of Columbia, and Missouri.

Uniform Rules Relating to Discovery of Electronically Stored Information
The Uniform Rules Relating to Discovery of Electronically Stored Information should bring up-to-date the state rules and statutes concerning discovery of electronic documents in civil cases. With the emergence of electronic technology, the extent to which individuals and institutions store or maintain information in an electronic form has clearly increased since the adoption of rules governing discovery generally. By some estimates, more than 90% of corporate information is being stored in some sort of digital or electronic format. This new act mirrors the recently adopted amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure dealing with electronically stored information.
Legislative Status: the E-Discovery Rules are being studied by judicial committees in a number of states.

Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act
The Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act provides simple procedures for courts in one state to issue subpoenas for out-of-state depositions. The Act is simple and efficient: it establishes a simple clerical procedure under which a state subpoena in the “trial state” can be used to issue a subpoena in another state. The act has minimal judicial oversight; the goal is to simplify and standardize the current patchwork of procedures across the various states for deposing witnesses for purposes of out-of-state litigation.
Legislative Status: the UIDDA has been enacted in Utah and introduced in Colorado, Maryland, and Tennessee.

Uniform Limited Cooperative Association Act
The Uniform Limited Cooperative Association Act addresses the cooperative form of business, a unique business entity which is different from other forms of business organizations. This act creates a new form of business entity and is an alternative to other cooperative and unincorporated structures. It provides greater flexibility for outside (non-patron) capital investment while preserving the strengths and principles of the traditional cooperative model.
Legislative Status: the ULCAA has been enacted in Utah and introduced in Nebraska and Oklahoma. Nebraska adopted an earlier version of the uniform act.

Each of these acts was approved on the consent calendar of the ABA/HOD. Information on these acts is available at the ULC’s website at www.nccusl.org.

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Crow Nation and State of Montana Sign Compact

A signing ceremony was held in February at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, 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, and the compact with Montana is the first of its kind.

Representatives of the Uniform Law Commission were invited to attend the signing ceremony in recognition of the ULC’s crucial role in developing the MTSTA. Attending on behalf of the ULC were: Commissioner Bill Henning of Alabama, who was Executive Director of the ULC during the time the MTSTA was being developed; Commissioner Tim Berg of Arizona, Chair of the ULC committee that drafted the MTSTA; and Commissioner Carl S. Bjerre of Oregon, Reporter for the MTSTA project.

The MTSTA provides model legislation that covers secured transactions. It was drafted by the ULC over a period of four years with the active participation of representatives of a number of Indian tribes, including the Crow Nation. The drafting project also received considerable support from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Many Indian tribes, tribal entities, tribal-owned businesses and individual tribal members have encountered significant barriers when seeking loans or other financing from off-reservation sources. One reason frequently cited is the lack of sufficient tribal commercial law to guide the parties in a business transaction that would fall within a tribe’s jurisdiction. Access to affordable credit is a fundamental component of sustainable economic development in all modern private market economies. When the rules governing lender/borrower relationships are uncertain or nonexistent, the risks to the lender increase and the lender may either refuse to lend or may increase the interest rate and other costs of the transaction to offset the risks. Therefore, to effectively enable access to credit by businesses and individuals at affordable rates and on competitive terms, rules are needed to govern these lender/borrower relationships.

The MTSTA was drafted with the objective of creating a uniform tribal secured transactions law that is, to the extent practicable, consistent with the core principles of UCC Article 9. In order to accommodate tribal business, legal, and cultural environments, the MTSTA differs from UCC Article 9 in a number of respects. However, the core principles, terminology, and processes that inform the MTSTA are sufficiently similar to the UCC to ensure that tribal and non-tribal practitioners will feel at ease working within both tribal and state jurisdictions.

The MTSTA, by establishing a substantive and procedural framework which will provide certainty to secured transactions, should be beneficial to economic development for Indian tribes. By adopting model commercial acts such as the MTSTA, Indian tribes can achieve a degree of uniformity with state law that reduces financial risks and facilitates relationships with off-reservation lenders.

Information on the MTSTA and may be found at the ULC’s website at www.nccusl.org.

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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