OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Lawmakers taking on seafood safety, labor regs

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Tuesday evening here in Washington and we're toasting you, Overnight Reg readers: Happy Cinco de Mayo.



The Senate Small Business Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow to discuss how federal labor and safety laws are impacting small seafood companies.

Testifying in front of the committee is Frank Randol, the owner of a crawfish and crab farm in Lafayette, La.

In prepared remarks, Randol said his small business – Randol Inc. – struggles daily to succeed and the Labor Department has only made the program through which he receives temporary nonimmigrant workers more challenging.


Since the Labor Department took over, he said the application process for the program, known as H-2B, has become more expensive and the availability of domestic labor is continuing to be a problem.

The committee also plans to discuss legislation introduced earlier this year by Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom line Bottom line The biggest political upsets of the decade MORE (R-La.) to increase inspection and testing standards for imported seafood products to ensure foreign exporters are meeting U.S. safety standards.

Dubbed the Imported Seafood Safety Standards Act, the bill would limit imports to designated ports of entry, increase penalties on individuals or organizations that knowingly mislabel products and allow the Food and Drug Administration to ban certain countries or producers who violate these enhanced standards.

Steven Solomon, FDA's deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, is also scheduled to testify before the committee. In prepared remarks, he said oversight of the U.S. food supply continues to be a top priority for the administration.

"Seafood is one of the most highly-traded commodities in the world," he said. "The Agency recognizes that success in protecting the American public depends increasingly on our ability to reach beyond U.S. borders and engage with its government regulatory counterparts in other nations, as well as with industry and regional and international organizations, to encourage the implementation of science-based standards to ensure the safety of products before they reach our country."



The House is out this week, but in the Senate it's business as usual.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing to discuss reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. http://1.usa.gov/1DR6n98

The Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing on how advances in technologies can help seniors live independently. http://1.usa.gov/1GKC5H7



The Obama administration will publish 205 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will propose preventing cellphones that have not been activated from calling 911 emergency responders.

Currently, commercial mobile radio services are required to connect all calls to 911, even if they come from cellphones that are not paying a provider for service.

The problem is that 911 calls made from these non-service-initialized devices are difficult to track, the FCC says. This leads to many prank phone calls that "waste limited public resources."

As such, the FCC will propose to drop the requirement that these calls be connected to 911.

The public has 30 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1E5Mjks

--The FCC will propose eliminating outdated regulations, including references to "telegraph service."

The agency says it is looking to "modernize our rules to better reflect the state of the current telecommunications market."

The public has 30 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1c2bn4C

--The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will propose new rules for companies that publicly trade minerals and other natural resources.

The rules would address qualifying income from the "exploration, development, mining or production, processing, refining, transportation, and marketing" of these minerals.

The public has 90 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1F4pdRg

--The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will issue new rules for its electronic filing system while eliminating outdated requirements.

The changes go into effect on May 12. http://bit.ly/1zxUhGC

--The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will issue new conservation practice standards.

The agency said Tuesday it will update the National Handbook of Conservation Practices.

The changes go into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/1Keh62s



Sex-change prisoner: The Supreme Court is rejecting an appeal by a prisoner in Massachusetts who is seeking a state-funded sex change operation. http://bit.ly/1KKgqTa

Credit scores: The Obama administration is concerned about data showing significant racial differences in consumers' credit scores. http://bit.ly/1E5NmRs

Climate change: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will require states seeking disaster relief to address climate change before they receive emergency funding. http://bit.ly/1DQNdzZ

Overtime: The Labor Department is a step closer to issuing new overtime protections for millions of workers. http://bit.ly/1IKLm6F

Airports: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking to prevent airplanes from landing at the wrong airports with new air traffic control procedures. http://bit.ly/1GX9AbQ



26 million: The number of consumers with no credit history.

15: The percent of black and Hispanic consumers with no credit history.

9: The percent of white consumers who have no credit history.

(Source: CFPB).



"When it comes to the relationship between climate change and extreme weather events ... there remains to be any indication or trend to show there have been increases in their occurrence or intensity," group of Republican senators said in a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, questioning FEMA's policy requiring states to prepare for climate change.


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.

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