OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Biz braces for 'aggressive' regs agenda

Welcome to the MLK Day OVERNIGHT REGULATION, where we also use our "pens and phones" to bring you the latest regulatory news from around Washington, even on federal holidays. Without further adieu, here is today’s biggest news and tomorrow’s most compelling storylines from the agencies and Congress. 



One year ago, President Obama vowed to use his "pen and phone," in his State of the Union, relying on executive power to enact regulatory changes and push his agenda. And he delivered over the course of the year on a number of fronts ranging from immigration and gay rights to the minimum wage. 


In his 2015 address, business groups expect more of the same.

"We think he will push his foot down on the gas pedal and indicate an even more aggressive regulatory agenda," says Jack Mozloom, spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

But short of rolling back regulations, business groups say they would like to see Obama address the cost of those rules, Mozloom said.

"We'd like him to engage in an honest conversation about regulations," Mozloom said. "We'd like to see him say, 'These things will cost money and it may even hurt jobs, but it’s what we need to do.'"

Obama is also expected to detail how he plans to help working families. Last week, he signed a presidential memorandum giving federal employees access to six weeks of paid parental leave by allowing new parents to advance their sick time.

He also called on Congress to tack on another six weeks through legislation and pass the Healthy Families Act to give U.S. citizens the ability to earn seven days of paid sick time off a year.

The president will also pitch a tax cut for the middle class, and higher taxes on Wall Street and the wealthy.



The Senate will vote on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. The law has already garnered a stack of amendments. One from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) could divide the Republican caucus. If passed the amendment would lift the decades-old ban on crude oil exports.http://j.mp/1DVEAtq

The House Rules Committee will meet to formulate rules on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks, and the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, which would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve or deny applications for natural gas pipelines within 12 months. http://1.usa.gov/1BW8f3J

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold its final public hearing on proposed changes to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish Fishery Management plan, which aims to minimize the potential impacts fishing gear has on deep-sea corals in the Mid-Atlantic. http://bit.ly/1yAobch



The Obama administration will publish 179 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Tuesday’s edition of the Federal Register.

Here’s what to watch:

-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will consider new guidelines for low-risk general wellness products like exercise equipment that promote healthy lifestyles. http://j.mp/1IZO0nC

The FDA’s draft guidance focuses on general wellness products used for weight management, physical fitness, relaxation, and sleep management, the agency said.

"General wellness products can include exercise equipment, audio recordings, mobile apps, video games, and other products that are typically available from retail establishments," the agency wrote.

The public has 90 days to comment.

-The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will consider new fishing regulations. http://j.mp/1sUZaGi

The NMFS fishery management plan includes new guidelines to prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished populations, the agency said.

The public has until June 30 to comment.

-The Department of Energy will issue new requirements for companies looking to participate in its hydroelectric incentive program.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is now accepting applications from hydroelectric companies that want to receive incentive payments from the government.

"In congressional appropriations for federal fiscal year 2014, the department received funds to support this hydroelectric incentive program for the first time," the agency wrote.

The Energy Department is accepting applications for the next 30 days. http://j.mp/1B960IJ

Meanwhile, DOE’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will also update the per-acre rental fees it charges hydropower companies to operate on government lands, effective immediately. http://j.mp/1CI5zoG

-The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will consider a new tax credit for computer software researchers.  http://j.mp/1yB2pFl

The public has 60 days to comment. 



-Inversions: Congressional Democrats are expected to announce legislation on Tuesday to stop offshore tax deals known as inversions, which companies use to slash their tax bill by shifting their legal address abroad. http://bit.ly/1wmiur6

-Congressional Review Act: GOP lawmakers plan to employ the seldom-used Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives lawmakers the power to formally disapprove of major agency rules, as they seek to ratchet up their attacks on federal red tape. http://bit.ly/1DVmLL0

-Transparency: Michael O’Rielly, a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission wants the text of items discussed at open meetings to be released at the same time they are circulated internally. http://bit.ly/1J3bEOf

-Taxes: Republican voters are divided over the idea of increasing taxes on wealthy U.S. taxpayers, according to a new GBA Strategies poll first shared with The Hill. http://bit.ly/1sUWvwe

-Uber: At a tech conference in Munich, Germany on Sunday, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said his company would make a strong push to expand in Europe in 2015, The Wall Street Journal reports. http://on.wsj.com/1J0ZR36

-Oil spill: Crews in eastern Montana were working on Monday to clean up crude oil that spilled when a 12-inch pipe broke near the Yellowstone River on Saturday. The Poplar Pipeline system runs from Canada to Baker, Montana, the AP reports. http://bit.ly/1J38El1

-Lethal drugs: Four death-row inmates in Ohio want the federal court to stop a rule that shields the names of companies that provide lethal injection drugs from taking effect in March, the AP reports. http://bit.ly/1wmb2wg



44: Percentage of people who disapprove of the way Obama has handled his job.

9: Number of percentage points Obama jumped in his approval rating from December.



"If President Obama announces he will rollback some of his regulations tomorrow (during his State of the Union address), I'll name my next kid after him," — NFIB spokesman Jack Mozloom.

We’ll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.