Regulatory Recap: May 17 to May 23, 2011

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sought public comment on how to improve policies about the siting of wireless facilities and expedite high-speed Internet implementation throughout the U.S. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in response to the Dodd-Frank Act, proposed additional transparency requirements on rating agencies, such as more disclosure of details about the ratings process, as well as disclosure requirements for third-party analysts used by the rating agencies. For the first time, the SEC settled on a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) due to what the SEC deemed remarkable cooperation by the target following investigation. The DPA freed the target, Tenaris, from further liability beyond its initial criminal charges. State lawmakers responded to the lack of federal labeling requirements for genetically modified foods by sponsoring legislation that would impose such requirements at the state level. A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recommended more guidance on commercial real estate risks given the increase in loan defaults in recent years. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed to regulate medical foster homes, which provide medical care to veterans in a home-like setting, as currently only general residential facilities rules govern such care for veterans. The Department of Interior (DOI) chose 54 projects across the western United States to receive grants under the WaterSMART program. These projects will reportedly save approximately 100,000 acre-feet of water annually, or enough for over 400,000 people. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the suspension of certain employment requirements of Haitian nonimmigrants on an F-1 student visa affected by the January 12th earthquake, allowing Haitian students to work for a longer period of time in the U.S. The Obama administration's request for the extension of the tenure for Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller appears to be on track, but it has been met with criticism. The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution released a policy proposal drafted by Joseph Aldy of Harvard University that, if adopted, would fill the void created by Congressional gridlock over climate change.

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