OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Obama moves on gay rights in workplace

Welcome to week three of OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily destination for today’s top regulatory news and tomorrow’s biggest storylines from Congress, the federal agencies and the courts. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

 

THE BIG STORY:

President Obama is moving to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination if House Republicans fail to act on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  

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The White House said Monday the president intends to sign an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against workers on the basis on their sexual orientation. http://j.mp/1oxhOBN

House Republicans have balked at similar legislation that passed the Senate in November, but with President Obama primed to move ahead with such rules on his own, the administration hopes the GOP is pressured into expanding discrimination protection for all workers.

--Three key takeaways from the announcement:

1) The White House did not announce a timeline for President Obama to sign the executive action protecting LGBT workers. According to a report in the Washington Post, the president had originally planned to announce and sign the order at a gay pride reception on June 30 at the White House, but pushed up their plans. http://j.mp/1i2unC7 

2) The vast majority of Fortune 500 companies already prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, according to the Human Rights Campaign, The Hill reported last year. LGBT groups hope that show of strength from corporate American will entice House Republicans to get on board. http://j.mp/1dxCEF2

3) Immigration advocates hope more exec action is in the pipeline. Immigration groups say that President Obama who applauded Obama for protecting LGBT rights now want him to do more to prevent deportations. About 50 protesters from Immigration Equality, GetEQUAL, Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, and Make the Road New York plan to demonstrate at the DNC's annual LGBT gala Tuesday in New York, where Obama will be speaking. They say LGBT people who are deported face greater risks than other illegal immigrants, because it is illegal to be gay in 77 countries around the world.

 

ON TAP FOR TUESDAY:

President Obama will speak at the Democratic National Committee's annual LGBT gala in New York on Tuesday, one day after the White House announced a move to protect employees of federal contractors from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation. http://politi.co/1p9Pz9P

The Senate and House will both be in session Tuesday, as the lower chamber returns from a travel day. The Senate is expected to move forward with several conformation votes.

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of two housing officials, most notably San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to be the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The panel will also vote on Laura Wertheimer's nomination to be the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. http://j.mp/1iuJyia

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on Investigations will hold a hearing examining high-frequency trading on Wall Street. http://j.mp/TTAqOD

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on Consumer Protection will hold a hearing examining how the Federal Trade Commission is responding to false and deceptive weight-loss claims by dieting products. http://j.mp/1xVHBoY

The Cato Institute will wrap up a two-day conference examining the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act with Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) delivering the keynote speech. http://j.mp/1pUqDTj

The Business Roundtable will release second-quarter results of its CEO Economic Outlook Survey. http://j.mp/1jpbjcn

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY:

The Obama administration plans to issue 172 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register. The busiest regulatory agencies will be the Energy Department, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Homeland Security, each issuing more than a dozens actions.

-The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may waive certain chemical testing requirements for a South Carolina company under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The EPA will consider waving the requirement that National Ford Chemical test its organic chemicals for certain toxins before sale, at the request of the company. The EPA says it will issue a decision by July 21.

This comes as Congress is in the middle of a heated debate over how to reform the nation's outdated chemical laws.

"A waiver may be granted if, in the judgment of the EPA, the cost of testing would drive the chemical substance off the market," the agency wrote.

-The Labor Department will consider new ways to protect mine workers who use hoisting systems to propel themselves to the top of caves. The agency is seeking approval from the White House to review safety records from mining companies.

-The Bureau of Indian Affairs will consider new rules that would ease the restrictions on companies requesting to use Indian land for their business operations. The new rules would speed up the process by establishing a timeline for the agency to issue a decision on companies' so-called "rights-of-way" requests, and also limit the authority it has to reject requests. 

-The Bureau of Industry and Security will update its export regulations for unprocessed western red cedar and certain crude oil and petroleum products effective immediately.

-The Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade will consider authorizing a vineyard expansion in northern California. Saluti Cellars winery petitioned the bureau to expand its vineyard by 1,200 acres. The bureau designates viticulture areas around the country so winemakers can describe where their wine comes from.

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW:

GUN CONTROL ADVOCATES scored a big win Monday as the Supreme Court ruled that it is illegal for a person to buy a gun for someone else, a practice known as “straw” purchasing, The Hill's Ben Goad reports.http://j.mp/1qVEVmB

MUDDYING THE WATERS: House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) writes that the EPA's new Waters of the United States rule – which proposes to expand the scope of the agency's authority to small streams, ditches, and ponds – will “drown” farmers in regulations.

“While all Americans want clean water, they don't want the federal government to regulate every drop of it,” Graves writes in an editorial for CQ Roll Call. http://j.mp/1q4nlgn

TRUCKING REGS: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is the latest to call for stronger regulations to prevent tired truck drivers from getting behind the wheel, in the wake of the wreck that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan.http://j.mp/1lsSULh

JUST SAY YES: The pot advocates behind the television campaign dubbed “Vote Medical Marijuana” are launching a new attack ad this week targeting Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who voted against a House measure last month that would bar the federal government from interfering with state pot laws. http://j.mp/1hgydqG

CLOUD NINE: Speaking of pot, market research firm IBISWorld released a report that projects the medical marijuana industry will grow by 63 percent this year and continue growing at a rate of 26 percent each year after that through 2019.

FACEBOOK: The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could determine whether First Amendment protections extend to threats made over Facebook, The Hill's Julian Hattem reports. http://j.mp/1qVIokU

DATA BROKERS: The Federal Trade Commission's top official is questioning whether it is safe for websites to collect so much information about their users, such as their income, political affiliation, health, and religion, The Hill's Julian Hattem reports. http://j.mp/1qWN5v2

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY: A new report from a business group accuses the Obama administration of engaging in “secrecy, evasion and downright obstruction,” as it pushes through new rules. The EPA is the big target of the report.

“Despite pledging to run the 'most transparent administration in history,' President Barack Obama has overseen a federal bureaucracy that is hostile to openness and public participation,” the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS) writes in the report. http://j.mp/1nKgaZO

 

BY THE NUMBERS:

16 million: The number of federal contractor employees who would be protected from LGBT discrimination under President Obama's pending executive order, according to a UCLA study. http://j.mp/U3Tjyp

32: The number of states where it is legal to discriminate against workers on the basis of their sexual orientation.

88: The percentage of Fortune 500 companies that already prohibit discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation, according to a Human Rights Campaign study. http://j.mp/1i2DHFV

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"Most Americans don’t know that it’s still legal in many states to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity." -- Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the Senate in November but has stalled in the House.

 

We’ll endeavor to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, via bgoad@thehill.com or tdevaney@thehill.com. And follow us at @ben_goad and @timdevaney.