"If concerns about liability are going to keep associations from communicating with their members, that's a real problem," says Jim Clarke, vice president of government affairs, ASAE. His office has been closely monitoring the progress of the Trade and Professional Association Free Flow of Information Act, a bill that would give associations some weapons with which to fight liability claims. The bill would provide associations with qualified immunity from liability for disseminating information, unless the information was fraudulent. It also includes procedures that would enable associations to file motions to strike any legal claims that are considered immune under the bill's definitions.
Recently, ASAE's public policy committee voted unanimously to support the bill, and at press time, its recommendation was going before ASAE's board of directors. If the board votes in favor of the committee's recommendation, then a course of action will be decided. Supporters acknowledge that getting the bills passed will be a long, tough fight. Currently both the House and Senate versions of the bill have been referred to committees. No action has been scheduled on either bill, which means any progress is delayed until the next Congressional session.
On a positive note, David Lovett, deputy director, Washington DC office, AAOS, says, "I think the exciting thing is you've got a few members of Congress aware [of the situation]. At least it's on the radar screen."