OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Regulators win big at high court

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of rules from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Monday evening here in Washington and we're loving these longer, warmer days.

The House is out this week, but the Senate is still in session, so here's the latest.



Regulators had a big victory at the Supreme Court today that could expand their powers when it comes to changing their interpretations of federal rules.

In a 9-0 vote, the Supreme Court justices agreed that federal agencies do not have to follow procedures for notifying the public and collecting comment when changing the interpretations of rules, effectively removing steps from the process that can take months and sometimes years to complete.


The case, Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, stemmed from a longstanding Labor Department rule that determines which employees are eligible to earn overtime and minimum wage.

The Mortgage Bankers Association sued after the Labor Department changed its interpretation of the rule to include mortgage loan officers. The bankers said Labor violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by failing to provide time for public notice and comment.

But the high court unanimously rejected that argument in an opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"Not all 'rules' must be issued through the notice-and-comment process," she wrote.

In a statement, former Administrator of the Department of Labor's Wage & Hour Division Tammy McCutchen said the decision should give the Labor Department confidence to issue more interpretations of its own regulations.

"I am not surprised by the decision, which seems a pretty straight forward bit of statutory interpretation," she said. "The requirement that an executive agency go through full notice and comment rulemaking before changing an interpretation does not appear in the Administrative Procedures Act, and all the Justices agreed that the D.C. Circuit cannot write in that new requirement."

The decision invalidates the D.C. Circuit Court's Paralyzed Veterans doctrine, which held that an agency must use the APA's notice-and-comment procedures when it wishes to issue a new interpretation of a regulation that deviates significantly from one previously adopted.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia said the APA should be applied as written.

"The agency is free to interpret its own regulations with or without notice and comment; but courts will decide--with no deference to the agency--whether that interpretation is correct," he said.



The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on "Tax Complexity, Compliance, and Administration: The Merits of Simplification in Tax Reform." http://1.usa.gov/1BELzFN

The Health and Human Services Department is expected to hold a meeting of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee to review and discuss selected human gene transfer protocols and related data management activities. http://1.usa.gov/1x9bKhT

The Agriculture Department is meeting with the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee to examine the full spectrum of fruit and vegetable industry issues and provide recommendations and ideas to the Secretary of Agriculture on how the Agriculture Department can tailor programs and services to better meet the needs of the U.S. produce industry. http://1.usa.gov/1AaalrG

The Environmental Protection Agency's Small Community Advisory Subcommittee will hold a teleconference to discuss the EPA's rural strategy and other small community issues. http://bit.ly/1E1GVhR



The Obama administration will publish 102 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is looking to choke off the U.S. market for constrictor snakes.

The FWS will move forward with new import restrictions for four types of constrictor snakes, including the reticulated python, DeSchauensee's anaconda, green anaconda, and Beni anaconda.

These snakes will be added to a list of injurious wildlife, which makes it illegal to import them into the country, or transport them between states, without a permit for educational, medical, or scientific purposes.

The FWS hopes to prevent these snakes from being introduced into the environment, which it says could endanger people, agriculture, and other wildlife.

At the same time, the FWS will not include the boa constrictor in the new restrictions, because they are already established in Florida, so the rules wouldn't have as much of an effect on them, the agency said.

"The likelihood of pet boas being released or escaping is high, because boa constrictors are adept at escaping enclosures and they often outgrow their owner's ability or outlive their owner's interest to care for them," the agency writes.

The changes go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1A8BkE7

--The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will issue new requirements for veteran-owned small businesses. 

The VA will be required to verify the ownership of small businesses claiming to be owned by veterans and service-disabled veterans.

The final rule goes into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/1MmkSa7

--The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct security threat assessments for non-U.S. citizens seeking flight instruction in the country.

"TSA will use the information collected to determine whether a candidate poses a threat to aviation or national security, and thus prohibited from receiving flight training," the agency writes.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/18w9ScK



Regulators: The Supreme Court handed federal regulators a big victory Monday that will allow them to change rules at a faster pace. http://bit.ly/1BjDWEc

Medical marijuana: Three senators will introduce new legislation Tuesday protecting medical marijuana patients. http://bit.ly/1E6TbA5

Law enforcement: Police would be prohibited from enforcing laws only intended to raise revenue under new legislation in the House. http://bit.ly/1Mo2kbt

Uber: House Democrats are pressuring new ride services like Uber and Lyft to fingerprint their drivers before allowing them to pick up passengers. http://bit.ly/1Aad2JQ

Internet regulation: Likely Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is coming out strong against Internet regulations, calling net neutrality one of "the craziest ideas I've ever heard." http://bit.ly/1aYcq5b

Immigration: A Republican bill would block illegal immigrants from receiving a tax credit for low-income families with children. http://bit.ly/1CWUWSD

GMOs: Food safety groups are calling for Costco to stop selling salmon that has been genetically modified. http://bit.ly/1KN1VSl

Credit reporting: The nation's top three credit reporting agencies have agreed to major reforms intended to protect consumers from inaccurate information, the Wall Street Journal reports. http://on.wsj.com/1CTiMig



23: The number of states -- not including Washington, D.C., -- that have legalized medical marijuana.

200 million: The number of consumers monitored by the nation's top credit reporting agencies.



"The idea of regulating access to the Internet with a 1934 law is one of the craziest ideas I've ever heard." – former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush (R), a potential 2016 presidential contender.


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