New regs for Friday: States get power to fight food stamp fraud

States will have new powers to combat fraud in the food stamp program, the government lender for farms and ranches is beefing up its capital reserves and the Interior Department wants more time to get input on rules for mining on an Indian reservation.

Here’s a look into Friday’s edition of the Federal Register:

Food stamps:

The Department of Agriculture is amending the rules for the SNAP program, sometimes known as food stamps, to give states more power over handing out replacement benefit cards.

The new rules let states deny “excessive” requests to replace an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, on which the government loads money for people in the program to buy food.

That should let states crack down on fraud, the department said, while still protecting elderly and homeless people who might often lose their cards. 

Finance:

The agricultural lender Farmer Mac has new rules for maintaining liquid assets to sell off when economic times get tight.

The Farm Credit Administration regulation requires the federal lender to maintain enough liquid assets to last for 90 days and is part of several that the agency has been working on in the wake of the financial crisis. 

Additionally, the Department of Agriculture is changing the regulations for making and servicing farm loans.

The department says that it is “streamlining the loan making and servicing process and giving the borrower greater flexibility while protecting the financial interests of the Government.” 

The National Credit Union Administration is also proposing to conduct annual stress tests for large credit unions and require that they maintain plans about their capital reserves.

Housing:

The Agriculture Department is extending the comment period for a regulation on a residential loan program

Communications:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is extending some filing deadlines because the public was not able to access its online docket during the government shutdown.

The agency is also proposing to change its rules to allow for some public safety officials to use mobile radio repeaters on certain frequencies

Energy:

The Interior Department is reopening the public comment period on a proposal to change rules for extracting oil and gas on the Osage Nation Reservation, in Oklahoma.

Wildlife:

The Fish and Wildlife Service is adding 23 new bird species, and removing four from its official list of migratory birds.

As a result, the service’s list of birds covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is increasing to 1,026 species. 

Wildlife regulators are also revising the definition of “hybrid” for the bird list, since it says the previous definition has caused difficulties. 

The agency is also approving new types of shot for hunting waterfowl and revising rules for some birds in California. 

Fishing:

National fishing regulators are temporarily increasing the limits for catching cod, flounder, hake and pollock in the Gulf of Maine. 

“This action is being taken because catch rates of these stocks are low,” the National Marine Fisheries Service said in its regulation. “Increasing these possession limits is intended to provide additional fishing opportunities and help allow the common pool fishery to catch more of its quota for these stocks.”

The agency is also announcing that the Commerce Department is reviewing new rules for catching groundfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. 

Education:

The Department of Education is making changes to its student loan programs to make sure the rules comply with current law.

The amendments include some interest rate changes and “provide for greater consistency in the regulations,” the department said. 

Pesticides:

The Environmental Protection Agency is waiving the need for a limit for a specific chemical when it is part of a cleaning solution.

The agency is also setting tolerance limits for the weed killer fomesafen on a variety of crops and asserting that another chemical substance is safe in certain uses. 

Trade:

The Federal Trade Commission is finalizing control numbers that have been issued by the White House as part of its process of collecting information.