ULC News

Uniform Law Commission to Meet in Alaska

  • 1.  Uniform Law Commission to Meet in Alaska

    Posted 07-08-2019 10:24 AM


    New Act on the Operation of Automated Vehicles Scheduled for Completion

    July 8, 2019 - The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) will holds its 128th Annual Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, from July 12-18, 2019, at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center.  The ULC is a national law group comprising members from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  It drafts model and uniform state laws in areas in which national uniformity is desirable and practical.

    "ULC Commissioners are excited to attend this meeting in Anchorage," said ULC President Anita Ramasastry, Law Professor at the University of Washington School of Law and Washington uniform law commissioner since 2002.  "This will mark the first time in its 128-year history that the Uniform Law Commission has met in the great state of Alaska.  The Alaska uniform law commissioners have been working hard to prepare for this meeting and are looking forward to welcoming their fellow commissioners from all over the country."

    A full meeting agenda is available here.  Drafts which will be debated at the meeting are posted online here.  Six new uniform or model acts are scheduled for completion at this summer's annual meeting:

    The Uniform Automated Operation of Vehicles Act is intended to accommodate and regulate important aspects of the operation of automated vehicles.  This act covers the deployment of automated vehicles on roads held open to the public by reconciling automated driving with a typical state motor vehicle code.  Many of the act's sections – including definitions, driver licensing, vehicle registration, equipment, and rules of the road – correspond to, refer to, and can be incorporated into existing sections of a typical vehicle code.  This act also introduces the concept of automated driving providers (ADPs) as a legal entity that must declare itself to the state and designate the automated vehicles for which it will act as the legal driver when the vehicle is in automated operation.  The ADP might be an automated driving system developer, a vehicle manufacturer, a fleet operator, an insurer, or another kind of market participant that has yet to emerge.  Only an automated vehicle that is associated with an ADP may be registered.  In this way, the Automated Operation of Vehicles Act uses the motor vehicle registration framework that already exists in states – and that applies to both conventional and automated vehicles – to incentivize self-identification by ADPs.  By harnessing an existing framework, the act also seeks to respect and empower state motor vehicle agencies.

    The Uniform Electronic Wills Act will permit testators to execute an electronic will and allow probate courts to give electronic wills legal effect.  Most documents that were traditionally printed on paper can now be created, transferred, signed, and recorded in electronic form.  Since 2000 the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and a similar federal law, E-SIGN, have provided that a transaction is not invalid solely because the terms of the contract are in an electronic format.  But UETA and E-SIGN both contain an express exception for wills, which, because the testator is deceased at the time the document must be interpreted, are subject to special execution requirements to ensure validity and must still be executed on paper in most states.  The testator's electronic signature must be witnessed contemporaneously (or notarized in states that allow notarized wills) and the document must be stored in a tamper-evident file.  States will have the option to include language that allows remote witnessing.  The act will also address recognition of electronic wills executed under the law of another state.  For a generation that is used to banking, communicating, and transacting business online, the Uniform Electronic Wills Act will allow online estate planning while maintaining safeguards to help prevent fraud and coercion.

    The Uniform Registration of Canadian Money Judgments Act will facilitate the enforcement of Canadian money judgments in the United States in a manner comparable to the way U.S. money judgments are enforced in Canada through its Canadian Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act.  This Act is intended to supplement the Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgments Recognition Act (Recognition Act).  If a state has not enacted the Recognition Act, it may enact this Act at the same time it adopts the Recognition Act as a companion Act.

    The Uniform Tort Law Relating to Drones Act clarifies state tort law as it applies to drones and drone operators.   The act explicitly states that except as otherwise provided for in this act, the common law and statutory tort law of the enacting state shall apply to a person who operates unmanned aircraft within the state.  The act identifies two forms of trespass a drone operator can commit with a drone:  aerial trespass and trespass to land.  Trespass to land occurs when a drone touches upon an owner's property; normal trespass rules apply.  For aerial trespass, the act uses a "totality of the circumstances" test for determining whether an aerial trespass has been committed, allowing a court to consider factors such as the amount of time, the altitude, and the number of times the drone has been operated over the property.  The act requires land possessors to act with reasonable care and prohibits land possessors from taking any action intended to interfere with the flight of drones over the land possessor's property.  The act states that a drone is an instrumentality by which a tort in violation of privacy rights may be committed under federal or state law.  The act balances the rights of land possessors with the benefits of an emerging technology.

    An Amendment to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act has been drafted to apply to changes that the NCAA made to its bylaws in August of 2018 to provide student athletes with more freedom and flexibility to explore the possibility of going professional while retaining their college eligibility.  Under the new NCAA bylaws, certified sports agents can cover limited expenses of a prospective or enrolled student-athlete and their family for meals, hotel and travel in connection with the agent selection process.  Because the NCAA bylaw changes were in conflict with the Athlete Agents Acts, the NCAA asked the ULC to amend the two Uniform Athlete Agents Acts so they will not conflict with the bylaw changes. The Section 14 Amendment was drafted to clear up the conflict; it was also drafted so that it applies beyond the current bylaws to ensure that the ULC will not have to go to state legislatures every time the NCAA broadens its bylaws.  The amendment does, however, set forth appropriate safeguards so that it only applies if the NCAA makes further changes.

    The promulgation of the Uniform Parentage Act (2017) has necessitated amendments to the intestacy and class-gift provisions of the Uniform Probate Code.  Amendments to Uniform Probate Code will provide a more consistent formula for determining intestate shares within blended families, remove outdated terminology, and incorporate the concept of de facto parentage.  The intestacy formulae will also account for the possibility that a child may have more than two parents, and therefore more than two sets of grandparents.

    The ULC, now in its 128th year, comprises more than 350 practicing lawyers, governmental lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Commissioners are appointed by their states to draft and promote enactment of uniform laws that are designed to solve problems common to all the states.

    After receiving the ULC's seal of approval, a uniform act is officially promulgated for consideration by the states, and legislatures are urged to adopt it.  Since its inception in 1892, the ULC has been responsible for more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Partnership Act, and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

    Other drafts which will be debated at the ULC annual meeting, but which are not scheduled for final approval, include the Alternatives to Bail Act, the Easement Relocation Act, the Fundraising through Public Appeals Act, the Public Participation Protection Act, and the Unregulated Transfers of Adopted Children Act.

    The current drafts of all of these acts can be found at the ULC's website at www.uniformlaws.org.


    Contact:  Katie Robinson, ULC Communications Officer, krobinson@...Uniform Law Commission / 111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010, Chicago IL 60602 / 312/450-6600 / www.uniformlaws.org


    Katie Robinson
    Legislative Program Director
    Chicago IL