New regs for Tuesday: FCC reviewing school Internet program

Internet access:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reviewing its rules for a program that gives funds to help schools and libraries secure access to the Internet.

The program, known as E-rate, should be modernized, the commission said in its proposal, in line with other reforms the government has taken to expand high-speed Internet access across the country.

In the notice, the FCC is asking the public for advice on how to modernize the program, focusing on how best to streamline it, ensure that schools and libraries have affordable access to broadband and get the biggest bang for its buck. 

"The Commission takes this step because there is a growing chorus of calls to build on the success of the E-rate program by modernizing the program and adopting clear forward-looking goals aimed at efficiently and effectively ensuring high-capacity connections to schools and libraries nationwide," the FCC said. 

The Farm Credit Administration is repealing its rules on mortgage loans.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is taking over the reins to regulate mortgage licensing and lending, as directed by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. 

The FCC is proposing to make some bands of the spectrum available for advanced wireless services.

"The additional spectrum for mobile use will help ensure that the speed, capacity, and ubiquity of the nation’s wireless networks keeps pace with the skyrocketing demand for mobile service," the commission said in its proposal. 

Fruits and vegetables:
The Department of Agriculture is adjusting calculations for rules on cranberries grown in a number of states and increasing the minimum requirements for avocados from Florida. 

Handlers of apricots in Washington would have to pay more money to a local marketing committee under the terms of a proposed rule from the department.

The Surface Transportation Board is requiring that rail carriers separate out reports on spending for automatic control equipment from other spending. 

The new rule is intended to make sure the agency is aware of the costs of implementing the new systems, which a number of rail carriers are required to do. 

National fisheries regulators are temporarily halting fishing for the thornyhead rockfish in the Gulf of Alaska. 

Regulators are also halting fishing for flounder in Massachusetts and sardines in the Pacific because the quota has been or soon will be reached.

Additionally, the National Marine Fisheries Service thinks there needs to be new rules for catching lobsters

Endangered species:
The Fish and Wildlife Service is declaring that two types of salamanders are endangered species and will be protected in certain areas of Texas

The service is also extending the comment period for its review of whether two more salamanders should be added to the list of protected species. 

Regulators, including the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, want to require that large banks operate under a higher leverage ratio.

The effort is meant to combat notions that some banks remain "too big to fail," using authority granted by the Dodd-Frank law.

"Maintenance of a strong base of capital at the largest, systemically important institutions is particularly important because capital shortfalls at these institutions can contribute to systemic distress and can have material adverse economic effects," the agencies said in their proposal.

The draft rule was first announced in July. 

Energy conservation:
The Department of Energy is proposing new energy conservation standards for some lamp fixtures

Veteran scholarships:
The Department of Veterans Affairs is creating rules for a new scholarship program that will help students seeking to be rehabilitation specialists in visual impairment or mobility.