Regulatory Recap: February 14 to February 20, 2011

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) discusses legislation he is drafting that would require agencies promulgating a new regulation to eliminate an outdated one with the same approximate economic impact. Senator Warner calls this the "regulatory pay as you go system." The House of Representatives passes (235 to 189) an appropriations bill that would cut $60 billion from the federal budget. The Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to accept such cuts. See related RegBlog post. Mary Schapiro, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other agency heads claim that budget cuts would make implementing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act more difficult. Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker, promotes a bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions in an effort to balance the budget. The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform holds hearings to discuss ways to improve the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. A federal judge who declared the 2010 Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) unconstitutional orders the twenty six states who were plaintiffs in that case to respond by Thursday, February 24, to the administration's claim that they must implement the law. See related RegBlog post. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) waives 2010 benefit requirements of PPACA for insurance companies in Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee and Ohio after the states show that the requirements would cause "a significant increase in premiums or a decrease in access to benefits." HHS issues a final rule rescinding much of a previous rule prohibiting discrimination against health-care providers who refuse to provide care that they find morally or religiously objectionable. The new rule does not affect statutory protection to health-care providers who object to performing abortions or sterilizations. The Department of Defense takes steps to improve health care for the military members and their families. It expedites a transition to electronic medical recordkeeping, and begins funding mental health and family services programs from a stable budget source. The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public meeting to discuss new drinking water regulations, including the regulation of perchlorate and carcinogenic volatile organic compounds.

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