FCC Open Internet Disclosure Rule for ISPs Effective November 20, 2011

The FCC issued its Final Rule on Friday, September 23, 2011 entitled "Preserving the Open Internet".  In the Rule, the FCC seeks to "preserve the Internet as an open platform for innovation, investment, job creation, economic growth, competition, and free expression."  To further that goal, the FCC adopted three basic rules for fixed and mobile broadband providers:

  1. Transparency: broadband providers must disclose network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of their broadband services.
  2. No Blocking: fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  3. No Unreasonable Discrimination: fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.

Although all rules become effective November 20, 2011, the transparency requirement creates an affirmative duty for fixed and mobile broadband providers to disclose certain information on their websites or in their stores by November 20, 2011.  This information includes the disclosure of network practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms. 

Iowa Law on Smoking in Vehicles Under Smoke Free Air Act

Iowa Department of Health recently clarified the regulations affecting smoking in vehicles.  Under Iowa’s Smoke free Air Act, smoking is allowed in vehicles that are for the sole use of the driver and are not used by more than one person in the course of employment either as a driver or passenger. Last week I asked the Iowa Department of Health three questions regarding the law:    

1.) Can an employer allow nonsmoking employees to be passengers in these vehicles as long as no one is allowed to smoke?

2.) Can an employer allow nonsmoking drivers to drive these vehicles with or without passengers?

3.) Can an employer allow a driver and passengers to smoke in these vehicles as long as all present in the vehicle are smokers?”

The Department answered:

“As you mention in your question, the law stipulates that smoking is not regulated in a vehicle if that vehicle is for "the sole use of the driver" to which it is assigned and is not used by any other "driver or passenger." This means that any work vehicle in which passengers are allowed at any time must be smokefree at all times and must have a "no-smoking" sign posted. If the vehicle is driven at any time by anyone other than the driver to which it is assigned, the vehicle must be smoke free at all times.”

So, under Iowa’s law, a vehicle that is assigned to a driver who smokes must be designated as “No Smoking” for its remaining life as a company vehicle if the driver ever allows a passenger to ride with him/her. If the vehicle is driven by any person other than the designated smoking driver it must be smokefree “at all times”. It’s no wonder that the employers I’ve dealt with have decided to ban smoking in their company-owned vehicles altogether.

Time To File Civil Rights Complaint Lengthened

Starting July 1, 2008 a person who wants to file a civil rights complaint under Iowa law will have 300 Days. The previous filing deadline was 180 days. This change conforms to the federal deferral time-line of 300 days. There is an exception for persons covered by Section 614.8 of the Iowa Code, the mentally ill and minors. This change will result in a change the Iowa poster which may, but is not required to, be hung in the workplace. The revised recommended poster can be accessed on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission website.

Employers are required to hang the federal EEOC poster.

Iowa's Smokefree Air Regulation Update

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is in the process of writing Administrative Rules to provide guidance on the enforcement provisions of the recently passed Smoke-free Air Act.  The proposed Administrative rules are posted on the Department's website.

The proposed rules will be presented for review to both the Administrative Rules Review Committee and the Iowa Board of Health on June 11, 2008. IDPH will be scheduling five regional public hearings and numerous conferences through the Iowa Communications Network to gather input from the public. The schedule of these public hearings will be posted on this Web site when it becomes available.

IDPH has also posted proposed signage for workplaces and vehicles. The signs need to clearly display three items: (1) the international "no smoking" symbol OR the words "No Smoking," (2) the Smokefree Air Act Web site, and the (3) Smokefree Air Act Helpline 1-888-944-2247 (active June 15). The current draft Administrative Rules require signs to be at least 24 square inches in size and the type must be in a legible font. There are two versions of the signs available.  (black and white)

Finally, to better understand the Smokefree Air Act, the following "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) fact sheet is available to download. Please note, the FAQ is not intended to be a substitute for the law or rule. Please consult an attorney if further guidance is required.

OSHA Regulation Requires Employers To Pay For Most Personal Protective Equipment

On November 15, 2007, OSHA published its long awaited regulation identifying the personal protective equipment (PPE) the employer must pay for. The regulation is effective February 13, 2008 but you have until May 15, 2008 to start paying for the PPE.

Of note, the items employers are not required to pay for are:

  • Non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel-toe boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear,  that is allowed by the employer to be worn off the job-site;
  • Shoes or boots with built-in metatarsal protection that the employee has requested to use instead of the employer-provided detachable metatarsal guards;
  • Logging boots required by 1910.266(d)(1)(v);
  • Everyday work clothing, long sleeve shirts, long pants or
  • Ordinary clothing, skin creams, or other items used solely for protection from the weather, such as rain gear, back belts, parkas, cold weather gloves, winter boots.

What about flame-resistant clothing? OSHA does not consider flame-resistant clothing to be PPE so the employer is not required to pay for it. However, OSHA is in the process of revising 1910.269 and may decide it is PPE at that time.


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Common Ground Iowa Seeking Membership


The U.S. Department of Transportation created the Common Ground Task Force in 1998 which undertook the Common Ground Study of the nations' One Call Systems.  Many recommendations came out of the Study and the Common Ground Alliance was formed to further the work of the Task Force.  Their work resulted in the Best Practices Guidance (most recently amended in March 2007) which describes the actions to be taken to reduce the damage to underground facilities and a nationwide call-in system which uses the number 811.  When you call 811 anywhere in the country it routes you to the state's One Call center.  (Iowa One Call will keep its number and will field the 811 calls.)  


Common Ground Iowa (CGI) is a regional partner with the Common Ground Alliance.  The CGI's stated purpose is to promote public safety through damage prevention and shared responsibility, while utilizing the Common Ground Alliance's Best Practices for advancing underground utility safety in Iowa.


They have created a Common Ground Iowa Steering Committee made up of Alliant Energy, U.S. DOT, Synder & Associates, Qwest, Iowa One Call, Aquila, Consolidated Utility Services, IUB, Northern Natural Gas, ELM Locating, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities to name most that have attended their three meetings.   CGI has adopted a constitution and by-laws and is currently conducting a membership drive. They hope to elect officers at their next meeting (December) and to disband the Committee.


CGI's website address is http://www.commongroundiowa.com.  CGI welcomes and is actively seeking new members. 

Next CGI meeting: is Wednesday, December 12, 2007 at West Des Moines Learning Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, Iowa.  The meeting starts at 10:00 a.m. and will last approximately 4 hours.