New regs for Wednesday: Congressional ObamaCare 'fix' published

The regulation closes a loophole that prevented congressional offices from helping to pay for their staffers’ coverage on the new ObamaCare exchanges.

Conservatives have derided the new rule, which they have labeled an “exemption” from the law, though staffers will still be subject to federal mandates and requirements. 

Publishing of regulations:
The Office of the Federal Register, which manages the log where all rules and regulations are placed, is proposing that agencies trying to update their rules add more information to the preamble that they send to the office. 

The proposal is in response to a February 2012, petition from a number of academics asking for more sweeping changes to the way the government publishes rules. However, the Office of the Federal Register maintains those requests go beyond its legal authority.

The Department of Health and Human Services is proposing changes to its definition of “human organ” to specifically include a type of stem cells in blood as a part of bone marrow.

“This would clarify that the prohibition on transfers of human organs for valuable consideration applies to [hematopoietic stem cells] regardless of whether they were recovered directly from bone marrow (by aspiration) or from peripheral blood (by apheresis),” the department said in its draft rule.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is adjusting the way it calculates pay for some hospitals under Medicare. 

The Treasury Department is establishing a recognized wine region in Santa Barbara County, Calif.

Under the new rule, vintners from an area within the larger Santa Ynez Valley will be able to declare that their wines come from the “Ballard Canyon.” 

The department is also creating similar regions in Lake County, Calif., called the “Big Valley District – Lake County” area and the “Kelsey Beach – Lake County” area, and the “Moon Mountain District” in Sonoma County, Calif. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is amending tolerances for residues of the herbicide glyphosate on canola seed, methoxyfenozide on a number of herbs and spices and sedaxane on potatoes. 

The agency is also removing listings for methyl parathion to clarify its current listings. 

The Treasury Department is establishing a new Bureau of Fiscal Service that consolidates two previous offices in the department. 

The Financial Management Service and the Bureau of the Public Debt are being combined to form the new bureau.

Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission is revising its electronic data gathering and analysis system. 

The Department of Transportation is clarifying its policy on accepting applications for fireworks and specialty fireworks devices. 

Endangered species:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is determining that the Florida bonneted bat is an endangered species and that the spring pygmy fish, which lives in Alabama, is threatened.

The agency is also proposing to add the northern long-eared bat to its list of endangered species and withdrawing its proposal to protect the Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle as a threatened species. 

The EPA is deleting a Paris, New York, Superfund site from its national list.

The Small Business Administration is creating policies and procedures for setting aside some federal contracts for small businesses. 

National fishing regulators are adjusting rules for catching herring in the Atlantic and halting herring fishing in one area of the ocean to prevent overfishing. 

Additionally, the regulators are amending rules for actions that might inadvertently harm harbor porpoises.