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States Examine Laws Governing Digital Accounts After Death

In this digital era, if you die or become incapacitated, it is likely that an executive, fiduciary, personal representative or a family member will want access to your online banking accounts, investment portfolio, social media sites or email. If you have not entrusted someone with the accounts’ usernames and passwords, existing law makes it difficult to access them. State legislatures began to address this issue in 2013.

Twelve states introduced legislation this year proposing to grant expanded powers to an executor, personal representative or administrator of a person’s digital assets: Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon and Virginia. So far, seven states have passed laws governing digital asset management after death: Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Virginia. Maine passed a law this session to study the issue over the interim.

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Immigration Momentum Can’t Be Stopped

Ordinarily, I would be more discouraged about Thursday’s passage of a bill to deport DREAMers. But, just five days ago, I was in Phoenix, at The New American Leaders Project’s training for community leaders, in a room full of first- and second-generation immigrants. Several were DREAMers, active in the movement to bring attention to the unjust exclusion of young Americans from tuition equity, gainful employment and democratic participation. These young people are American in every way, and as Rep. Luis Gutierrez said, “should not be responsible for the actions of adults and their parents.”

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States Are All Over the (Status) Map

The conventional wisdom: State legislatures operate a few months at the beginning of the year and then everyone goes home. The truth: Legislating has become something much closer to a year-round occupation. Yes, a number of states have already adjourned for the year, and more will be wrapping up their official duties in the coming weeks, but for many the job isn’t over yet.

Take a look at the legislative status map from StateTrack.

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Trading Samples for ‘Likes’ on Facebook, Multiplying Reach

Written about in a few places last week, Pepsi recently launched a new vending machine that changes the game when it comes to free samples. Instead of hired hands simply handing out complimentary sodas, the new machine dispenses a cold beverage when the recipient ‘Likes’ the brand on Facebook.

When you think about it, it’s a genius transition that gets to the heart of the purpose of free samples.

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Emerging Issue: Franchise Laws

“Liquor wars” were waged in Missouri and Kansas bringing another level to the conversation of franchises. Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway and 7-Eleven store owners have squared off with the powerful International Franchisors Association in Maine. Electric car manufacturer Tesla has bested the state Automobile Dealers Associations in state court dust-ups in Massachusetts and New York, but Tesla is still challenging the auto dealers in the legislature in Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and three other states. Automobile dealers are attempting to close loopholes that allow the young all-electric automobile manufacturer to operate.

The issue in each jurisdiction involves state franchise law: typically, the relationship between a manufacturer or franchisor and their retailers. In the battles involving alcohol, wholesalers are important players as well. Following the repeal of prohibition, most states adopted a three-tiered-system for alcohol sales where manufacturers sell to wholesalers who are franchisees. Wholesalers sell to retailers, typically bars, restaurants, liquor outlets and convenience stores.

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