OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Investors press SEC on 'dark money'

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington and reporters are gushing after spotting New York Yankees hitter Alex Rodriguez at the Capitol today. Tim wants to know whether he talked to lawmakers about steroids in baseball.

Either way, the Washington Nationals face off against the Bronx Bombers at home tonight. http://bit.ly/1Hv4mai 

This is what's happening: 

 

THE BIG STORY 

Dozens of investor groups are calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to rid politics of so-called dark money from corporations by requiring them to disclose political spending.

"How can we know whether companies in which we invest are making questionable or controversial political expenditures, when they are not mandated to disclose them?" asked Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, which, along with more than 70 other foundations sent a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White.

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The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC paved the way for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in politics.

More than 100 major corporations like Microsoft and Wells Fargo voluntarily disclose their political spending to investors, but many more do not.

The investors are calling for more transparency across the board. They want the SEC to require corporate political spending disclosures.

"Shareholders have a right to know where their money is going, especially when it comes to politics," said Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which joined on the letter. "It's imperative that the SEC prioritize transparency and require companies to disclose political spending to their shareholders."

The SEC has considered moving forward with regulations requiring disclosure of corporate political spending, even adding the effort to the agency's 2013 regulatory agenda. Amid pressure from business groups and congressional Republicans, the item was later dropped from the SEC's to-do list.

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015. http://1.usa.gov/1cOXd7c

The House Oversight and Government Reform's Government Operations Subcommittee will hold a hearing on issues facing civilian and postal service vehicle fleet procurement. http://1.usa.gov/1Amrghu

The House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss what state governments are doing to combat the opioid abuse epidemic. http://1.usa.gov/1FoFsW8

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 147 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

Here's what to watch out for:

Motorcycles: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will propose new safety standards for motorcycle helmets.

The motorcycle helmet standard will include size and compression requirements as well as test procedures intended to better protect bikers.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1FBr8Nf

Gas pipelines: The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will propose new safety standards for natural and other gas pipelines.

The regulations focus on plastic piping systems used to transport gas.

The agency says it is looking to implement tracking and traceability provisions, and more stringent mechanical fitting requirements, among other things.

The public has until July 31 to comment. http://bit.ly/1EktTLK

Endangered species: The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) along with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will propose new rules for protecting animals.

The agencies are looking to change the petition process by which the public can request they list animals as threatened or endangered.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1FC3n81

Bears: The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will propose to remove protections from the American black bear and Louisiana black bear, because these animals have recovered.

They would no longer be listed as threatened or endangered species.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1BcNptH

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

GMOs: Backed by food companies like Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, House Democrats renewed their push on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms or GMOs. http://bit.ly/1Fx8Smk

Potty training: Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine told lawmakers Wednesday he's training police officers on keeping track of their weapons when nature calls. http://bit.ly/1dkTyig

Police reforms: Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine also promised major reforms Wednesday after recent security lapses that have his agency embroiled in controversy. http://bit.ly/1FxkYMk

Regulatory overreach: Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) is planning to introduce a resolution Wednesday to create a committee to review rules enacted by federal agencies. http://bit.ly/1Lc6C42

Dietary supplements: Senators are calling on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to take action against companies selling illegal drugs masquerading as dietary supplements. http://bit.ly/1FoCjFX

Phone records: The Justice Department warned lawmakers that the National Security Agency will begin winding down its surveillance programs this weekend if the Patriot Act is not extended. http://bit.ly/1AmtltL

World Cup: FIFA came under pressure from sponsors Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa on Wednesday to push Qatar to improve conditions for migrant workers as the country prepares to host the 2022 World Cup, the AP reports. http://bit.ly/1AmrfKq

  

BY THE NUMBERS

$1.88 trillion: How much federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses in 2014, according to a study.

16 to 1: The ratio of regulations issued by unelected bureaucrats compared to new laws enacted by Congress each year.

3,554: The number of new rules federal agencies published in 2014.

224: The number of new laws in 2014.

(Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute)

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We're now providing additional training for what to do when you have to go to the bathroom," – Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine about officers who left their guns in the bathroom.

 

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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