New regs for Thursday: Influenza tests, farmers, energy efficiency

Thursday's edition of the Federal Register will contain new rules for influenza test kits, energy efficiency standards for high-intensity discharge lamps, financial clearing agencies, and government-contracted farmers.

Here's what is happening:

Fire: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is moving forward with a new rule that requires government-contracted farmers to reimburse the government for the cost of any fire they cause.

The USDA's Forest Service announced the new fire suppression and liability clause for farmers who grow agricultural commodities for the agency. Under the new rules, if a fire is caused by the farmer's operation or negligence, that farmer is required to pay the government for the losses.

The interim rule goes into effect immediately.

Privacy: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering changes to a rule that determines whether truck drivers are physically fit to safely operate their commercial motor vehicles.

The agency is reviewing the rule to make sure it protects the privacy of these truck drivers, particularly those who fail the test and are not considered to be in good enough shape to operate their vehicles.

The FMCSA announced Wednesday it is releasing a privacy impact assessment for the public to review. The public has 15 days to comment.

Flu test kits: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering tightening the restrictions on medical devices that help doctors test their patients for influenza.

The FDA's Microbiology Devices Panel proposed the rule following reports that the rapid influenza virus antigen detection test systems were providing doctors with inaccurate readings.  

The public has 90 days to comment on the proposed rule.

Finance: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering new rules for clearing agencies, which are self-regulatory organizations that register with the SEC.

The rules would establish new standards for risk management, operations, and governance of certain registered clearing agencies that are considered systemically important.

The rules were originally proposed in March, but contained several errors that the SEC corrected Wednesday. The public has until May 27 to comment.

Energy: The Department of Energy is considering new rules for high-intensity discharge lamps.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency proposed the rules Wednesday, which would revise ambient air speed and ambient temperature standards, while removing requirements for directional lamps and a lumen maintenance test method.

The public has 30 days to comment.