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The Regulatory Week in Review: January 6, 2017

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IN THE NEWS

  • President-elect Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Jay Clayton—a partner at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell who has represented many Wall Street banks—to be Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a choice which Trump said will advance “the financial security of the American people,” but which was reportedly criticized by progressive groups because of Clayton’s ties to the financial industry.
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017, which combines “six separate reform bills that have already passed the House…in previous Congresses,” including repeals of both the Chevron and Auer doctrines of deference to regulators. Rep. Goodlatte characterized the bill as “a major step to reverse the negative effects regulations are having on our economy,” which promotes transparency and “increases the power of the people’s elected representatives and the courts to stop overreaching new rulemaking.”
  • A federal appeals court reportedly postponed oral arguments in the Obama Administration’s appeal of an August 2016 ruling by U.S. District Court of Wyoming Judge Scott W. Skavdahl, which held that the Bureau of Land Management had no authority to promulgate its hydraulic fracturing rule that seeks to implement safety regulations for fracturing that occurs on public lands. With oral arguments now delayed until March 2017, the move means that responsibility for the appeal will fall to the Trump Administration.
  • China, home to the world’s largest ivory market, reportedly announced that the country will ban all ivory sales by the end of 2017, a move welcomed by wildlife advocates and which comes after the United States ended its ivory trade in July.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered TransUnion and Equifax, two credit reporting agencies, to pay a combined $17.6 million in restitution and $5.5 million in fines for allegedly “deceiving consumers about the usefulness and actual cost of credit scores they sold to consumers.” Among the actions the CFPB alleges violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act are representations made by the agencies that services would be free or only cost $1, when in fact those services cost around $16 per month.
  • As the 115th Congress convened this past week, incoming House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced his plan to effect regulatory reform, outlining a “two-step approach” that will focus first on the “structure” of the regulatory system and will include taking up the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS) and the Regulatory Accountability Act. Secondly, Rep. McCarthy stated, the House will focus on targeting “specific regulations,” which will involve taking “swift action on at least on the stream protection rule and methane emissions standards, both of which are limits to our energy production.”

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • Writing for The Hill, Ali Breland discussed five issues that are likely to cause major fights for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the first year of the Trump Administration, including cable set-top boxes, broadband privacy, and the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner. According to Breland, the most significant fight will be over the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which are opposed by Republican FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly and the leaders of President-elect Trump’s FCC landing team.
  • A recent report from the Brookings Institution uses “data collected from elementary schools in California to estimate the impacts of mathematics textbook choices on student achievement,” and found that one textbook “consistently outperform[ed]” three others. Because textbooks are relatively inexpensive—and the selection of one textbook over another is relatively simple and straightforward—the report reasons, the findings “suggest non-trivial gains in student achievement are attainable simply by choosing more effective curriculum materials,” but notes that more states need to collect data on textbook effectiveness to enable administrators to make informed decisions.


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