The Regulatory Week in Review: January 1, 2016
IN THE NEWS
- President Barack Obama signed legislation that bars companies from producing cosmetic products with microbeads, small plastic beads measuring at most five millimeters, which environmental groups found have entered the Great Lakes and other bodies of water adding pollution.
- In an effort “to enhance equal access to the national telecommunications network by people with hearing loss,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a rule that would change the requirements for calculating landline telephones’ amplification and mandate volume control on wireless telephones, among other changes.
- In a bid to ease employers’ ability to hire and retain high-skilled workers who are not yet lawful permanent citizens, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule that would provide certain benefits to participants in employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs, including streamlining the processes for U.S. employers seeking to hire immigrant and nonimmigrant workers, as well as offering increased stability and job flexibility for these workers.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested comments about its proposed rule that would enable the EPA, and state, local and tribal agencies to inform the public about draft air pollution permits, which are proposed emission permits for large air pollution sources, electronically as opposed to in newspapers.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added ninety days to the comment period for the agency’s request for comments about whether “natural” should be allowed on food labels and its meaning if the labeling is permitted such as whether it may be used on genetically engineered food, after commenters asked for more time with one group reportedly arguing that “[d]efining ‘natural’ is a major undertaking.”
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- The Competitive Enterprise Institute published a study on the number of regulatory actions over the past year, broken down by type—that is, according to whether the action was a proposed rule, final rule, executive action, or the like—as well as by whether the issued rules would have a significant effect on the economy. The Institute argued that the past year was a “record year for the Federal Register” as measured by quantity and effects of this year’s regulatory actions, specifically noting that the Federal Register contained 81,611 pages this year, higher than last year’s 77,687 pages, as well as topping the previous record of 81,405 pages in 2010.
- Lydia Wheeler, a reporter at The Hill, wrote an article highlighting the “wave of new regulations” that various federal agencies are expected to issue in 2016. Wheeler noted that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will issue a final rule mandating that publicly traded companies disclose compensation numbers for high-level executives, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is expected to issue a proposed rule that would ban companies from including mandatory arbitration clauses in their consumer contracts, and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will publish a final rule requiring that employers document workplace injuries, among a slew of other soon-to-be-issued federal agency regulations.
- In a Deadline blog post, reporter David Robb examined the potentially significant role that Hollywood’s “gender issues” will occupy in 2016 after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concludes its recently-launched investigation into what critics argue are Hollywood’s sex-based discriminatory hiring practices involving directors. Robb argued that an EEOC-initiated lawsuit—which would be one of the largest-ever class-action lawsuits against Hollywood companies—would force the television and film industry’s hand, compelling employers to explain why there are comparatively few female directors, and potentially leading to large-scale, systematic changes.