New regs for Thursday: From big banks to battery chargers

Agencies are poised to announce 199 new regulations, proposed rules and other administrative actions in Thursday’s edition of the Federal Register, as the Obama administration takes aim at everything from big banks to battery chargers.

Highlights include:

Concentration limits: The Federal Reserve is moving forward with regulations placing new restrictions on mergers, acquisitions and other consolidations between banks and other large financial companies.

The action is among hundreds of rules required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act and is meant to reduce systemic risk in the financial sector that could help plunge the country into another painful recession.

The proposal would generally prohibit a financial company from merging with other firms if the resulting company’s liabilities would exceed 10 percent of the aggregate liabilities of all financial companies involved.

In announcing plans to enact the regulations, the Fed cites a study conducted by the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

“The council expressed the view that the concentration limit would have a positive impact on U.S. financial stability by reducing the systemic risks created by increased financial sector concentration arising from covered acquisitions involving the largest U.S. financial companies,” the agency wrote.

Disability employment: The Equal Employment Opportunity is taking the first step toward regulations meant to ensure the federal government is a “model employer” of workers with disabilities.

An advance notice of proposed rulemaking solicits public feedback on how such regulations might work to ensure the government meets its obligation. The notice starts the clock on a 60-day comment period.

Patent policy: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office within the Commerce Department is tweaking existing patent regulations.

A final rule, promulgated under authority of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act Technical Corrections Act, revises regulations related to patent terms.

Homeless veterans: The scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing new regulations designed to expand access to healthcare for homeless veterans.

The VA’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) program provides per diem payments to non-VA facilities that provide healthcare and other services to eligible homeless vets.

New draft regulations rule would remove the requirement that homeless veterans be diagnosed with a serious mental illness or substance use disorder to qualify for the HCHV program.

Battery chargers: The Energy Department is rolling out new testing data in support of forthcoming energy efficiency standards for battery chargers.

The DOE’s study responds to reported inconsistencies in previous data involving the way battery chargers are tested when determining the energy usage ratings of these products.

The proposed regulations are part of a series of rules the Energy Department is churning out to improve energy efficiency in a wide assortment of devices and appliances.