New regs for Friday: Veteran burial benefits, tobacco, foreign language

Friday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for the burial benefits of veterans, tobacco prevention policies around the country, food and drug fines and foreign language classes.

Here's what is happening:

Funeral: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is moving forward with a new burial benefits rule for the families of deceased soldiers.

The rule is intended to make it easier for the veteran's survivors to access the burial benefits, and includes changes to burial allowances, a plot or interment allowance, and reimbursement of transportation expenses. 

The VA noted that the basic burial allowance runs between $300 and $2,000. The agency expects to pay benefits to the surviving spouses of about 62,000 veterans each year.

"The purpose of these regulations is to streamline the program and make it easier for veterans and their families to receive the right benefits and meet their expectations for quality, timeliness, and responsiveness," the agency wrote.

The rule goes into effective on July 7.

Tobacco: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is looking to collect information on tobacco prevention efforts around the country that could shape government policies and rules going forward.

The NIH's State and Community Tobacco Control Research Initiative Evaluation is specifically looking for information about secondhand smoke policies, tobacco tax and pricing policies, mass media countermeasures and tobacco industry practices.

The public has 60 days to comment.

Fines: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is raising the fines it asses on companies that break the law to match inflation, the agency announced Thursday.

The new maximum civil penalty amounts will go into effect on June 18. 

The FDA last raised the fines in November 2008.

Foreign language: The Department of Education is moving forward with a new priority for how universities and colleges teach foreign languages.

The Education Department's acting assistant secretary for post-secondary education announced Thursday that it would provide federal financial assistance for schools to teach foreign languages through the Language Resource Centers Program.

"We intend the priority to make international education opportunities available to more American students," the agency said.

The rule goes into effect in 30 days.

Art: The State Department is lifting the import restrictions on a culturally significant object to allow it to be temporarily displayed at the National Gallery of Art.

The National Gallery of Art will display the Titian's Danae exhibition from July 1 through Nov. 2.