New regs for Wednesday: Prisoner call charges reformed

Some new rules and regulations are scheduled to come out on Wednesday. The measures will restrict charges on phone calls for inmates, affect the way that electronics companies report their greenhouse gas emissions and help lumber producers market their goods.

Here’s a peek into Wednesday’s edition of the Federal Register:

Inmate phone calls:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is publishing a regulation setting limits on the charges that can apply to inmates who make phone calls

Prisoner advocacy groups have said that current charges for people in jail can be outrageous and cost more than 10 times the average rate for typical consumer plans.

The new FCC rules, which the commission approved in August, bring those rates “into compliance with the statutory mandate of being just, reasonable, and fair,” the commission said.

“This action is intended to bring rate relief to inmates and their friends and families who have historically been required to pay above-cost rates" for long distance phone calls, the FCC added in the new regulation.

Additionally, the FCC is asking the public to weigh in on various proposals to reform the prisoner calling service market. 

Endangered species:

The Commerce Department has determined that a population of sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico should not be added to the list of endangered species.

The decision was made in response to a 2011 petition from the conservation group WildEarth Guardians that asked the agency to issue special protections for the population of whales. 

Environment:

The Environmental Protection Agency is changing the process electronic manufacturers use to calculate and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

“These changes include revising certain calculation methods and adding a new method, amending data reporting requirements, and clarifying terms and definitions,” the agency said. 

Transportation:

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to clarify the requirements for pilots who provide relief in certain situations. 

The agency said that its chief counsel’s office has “received multiple requests” for clarity about the current law.

The Department of Transportation is also giving the public more time to comment on proposed changes to its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, to account for the 16-day government shutdown in October. 

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Agriculture:

The Department of Agriculture is proposing a new program to promote hardwood lumber and plywood and laying out procedures to see whether manufacturers would support the program. 

The USDA is also proposing to increase the fee charged to Florida citrus growers and handlers. 

Lands:

The Department of Energy is finalizing rules that establish a process for getting rid of unneeded property at defense nuclear facilities.

According to the department, the regulations will promote economic development.

Separately, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is revising rules for determining whether to approve applications for putting Native American land into trust.

Census:

The Census Bureau is delaying a regulation on reports of export data and announcing that the White House’s budget office has approved its plans to collect new information. 

Copyright:

The Library of Congress’s Copyright Royalty Board is publishing regulations for using some music as ringtones, in bundles and streaming over the Internet.