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California dreams are often more like nightmares for many in-house counsel. In-house counsel have a largely negative view of the state's litigation and regulatory climate, according to a new survey by the law firm Archer Norris.

In-house lawyers perceive litigation as a greater risk in California than other states. The state's legal environment is "hella burdensome," they claim.

If you're in-house in a heavily regulated industry, you know that government rulemaking can have a major impact on your business' day to day practices. But you don't have to be handling toxic waste or private medical records to have a stake in government regulation. Even a medium sized company may want to influence white collar overtime rules or Affordable Care Act regulations, for example.

In order to influence government rulemaking, you need to know how it works. Here's a quick overview:

Get ready for expanded overtime. In the upcoming month, the Department of Labor is expected to release new Fair Labor Standards Act rules which are expected to greatly expand the number of employees eligible for overtime. The FLSA requires that employees who work more than 40 hours a week be paid time and a half for any overtime.

For decades, that overtime requirement has been applicable only for lower-paid employees. Under the new rules, the salary cap will go up, allowing millions of salaried workers to qualify for overtime for the first time. GCs should be ready for the change.

The federal government doesn't usually get much praise from privacy advocates. Whether it's the NSA's mass data collection program, or Homeland Security's collection of facial recognition data, there's plenty of skepticism when it comes to the federal government and privacy.

But, if there's one agency that has gained the respect of privacy advocates, it may be the Federal Trade Commission. Over the past decade the FTC has evolved into America's primary "privacy cop," pursuing actions against companies that have fallen short of their privacy promises, violated consumers' privacy rights, or failed to keep sensitive data secure.

Comcast-Time Warner Merger Slightly More Doubtful

The merger between Comcast and Time Warner may have hit some rocky shoals, The New York Times and other outlets have been reporting all weekend. Sources inside the Justice Department, which has the final say over whether merger would go through, are skeptical of the deal because it would give the new company "just under 30 percent of the country's pay television subscribers" and "an estimated 35 to 50 percent of the nation's broadband Internet service," according to the Times.

That's got regulators concerned, despite Comcast's protestations that the deal is really in consumers' best interest.

OSHA Fines Ashley Furniture $1.7M for Workplace Safety Violations

Federal agencies keep on trucking with hefty fines for breaking laws: $70 million from Honda, $300 million to the EPA -- at this rate, we'll pay off the national debt. (Just kidding.)

Compared to all that, Ashley Furniture's penalty of $1.7 million seems like pocket change. The global furniture manufacturer, with headquarters in Arcadia, Wisconsin, ran afoul of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

NHTSA: Honda to Pay $70M for Failing to Report Deaths, Injuries

Another year, another bunch of huge fines for car makers. It's an inauspicious beginning for Honda, which just agreed to a $70 million settlement with the Department of Transportation over its failure to report deaths, injuries, and warranty claims to the federal government.

What did Honda do to draw the government's ire?

After Marriott Fine, Hotels Ask FCC to Allow Wi-Fi Jamming

Back in October the villainous Marriott's Nashville Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center was slammed by the FCC for jamming convention-goers' Wi-Fi signals, ostensibly to push them into paying the hotel for Wi-Fi access at between $250 and $1,000 per head.

That led to a $600,000 fine and a three-year consent decree, but the hotel did not admit malice -- they maintained that their purpose was to protect the public from rogue hotspots that steal data and transmit malware to unsuspecting users.

They're so committed to that purpose, in fact, that they, along with a group of other hotels, have asked the FCC to allow them to jam users' Wi-Fi networks in the future.

French Co. Alstom Pleads Guilty, Faces Largest FCPA Fine Ever

Several years ago, the Justice Department announced it was cracking down on violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the federal statute that makes it a crime to bribe foreign government officials in order to get business.

Last week, the French engineering company Alstom interrupted its Merry Christmas to plead guilty to FCPA violations and pay $772 million in fines -- the largest ever for foreign bribery, according to The New York Times.

USPTO Rejects Underwear Maker's 'Comfyballs' Trademark

This is a stupid decision. The Unites States Patent and Trade Office has rejected a Norwegian underwear manufacturer's requested trademark on "Comfyballs," their brand of underwear with "PackageFront technology." Apparently, cutesy references to male genitalia are "vulgar."

Balls? Balls, balls, balls. Is anyone offended yet? Balls.