Overnight Regulation: GOP revives bill on union organizing

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Monday evening here in Washington, where August recess is right around the corner.

Here's the latest.



Republicans are renewing their push for legislation they say would help prevent workers from being forced into union membership.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDrug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 Financial market transactions should not be taxed or restricted MORE (R-Utah) on Monday introduced the Employee Rights Act, a bill that would create new requirements for workers to organize a union and make it easier for them to disband it. The bill would also restrict political donations made by unions.


"I'm not anti-union, but I do believe unions could better represent their members," Hatch told reporters.

The bill is the latest shot fired in the bitter battle between the Obama administration and Republicans over labor policy. Hatch introduced the legislation in 2012, but to little avail. With Republicans now in control of the Senate, he's hoping for more success this time around.

The Employee Rights Act has 16 co-sponsors in the Senate, and some 30 co-sponsors in the House, where the bill is backed by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).

"This doesn't outlaw unions or make it more difficult to join one," Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said. 

The legislation would require a secret ballot election before organizing a union or going on strike.

Employees would also have to vote to keep the union in place once workplace turnover exceeds 50 percent, or else the union would automatically be disbanded.

Hatch said that most employees are thrust into union membership when they join a new company, but only 7 percent of union members have actually voted to organize those unions.

"Frankly, companies today, there's hardly anyone employed who has ever voted for a union, and yet they're stuck with union dues, and they're stuck with union control," Hatch said.

The labor bill would also slow down the process by which workers can organize a union.

Unions would also be prohibited from making political contributions using members' dues without their consent under the legislation.

No Democrats are backing the legislation, despite Republicans' insistence that it is not a partisan bill.

"The American worker is coming in second to the labor union," Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Tenn.) said.



The House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss continuing concerns with the Federal Select Agent Program and the Department of Defense shipments of live anthrax. http://1.usa.gov/1Mso5td

The House Education and Workforce Committee will have a hearing to review the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://1.usa.gov/1MvStCT

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing to discuss if the country is "more prosperous" after five years of Dodd-Frank. http://1.usa.gov/1KueS0c

The House Judiciary's Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss America's growing heroin epidemic. http://1.usa.gov/1JqqKBP

The House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a meeting to discuss EPA's proposed ozone rule and its potential impacts on manufacturing and jobs, the AP reports. http://1.usa.gov/1Mso5td 



The Obama administration will publish 194 new regulations, proposed rules, notices, and other administrative actions in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register.

Here's what to watch for:

--The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will propose new protections for African elephants.

African elephants are already listed as threatened species, but the agency is looking to expand those protections by placing more restrictions on the ivory trade. 

The move is expected to "increase protection for African elephants in response to the alarming rise in poaching of the species to fuel the growing illegal trade in ivory," the agency noted.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1JM0nSD

--The Department of Justice (DOJ) will sign off on proposed energy conservation standards for commercial refrigerators and walk-in coolers.

The efficiency rules stem from the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. As part of the rulemaking process, the Justice Department has determined that the rules will not adversely affect competition.

"Based on this review, our conclusion is that the proposed energy conservation standards for commercial refrigeration equipment are unlikely to have a significant adverse impact on competition," the DOJ wrote. http://bit.ly/1fB5YTM

--The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will issue new fire safety standards at VA facilities.

The VA is incorporating the National Fire Protection Association's latest safety standards at its residential facilities and hospitals "to ensure the continued safety of veterans in these facilities."

The changes go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1LOr4KT

--The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will propose new medical standards for dental and oral conditions.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1ID7cuU



Overtime: Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) announced Monday that he's extending President Obama's proposed overtime regulations to his own congressional employees. http://bit.ly/1S8ZJZe

School lunch: First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Obama to adapt memoir 'Dreams From My Father' for young readers MORE's prized healthy school lunch standards have given students at smaller and racially diverse schools access to healthier lunches, a new study from a health advocacy group found. http://bit.ly/1I5nUxr

ADA: Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) called on Congress to ratify the international disability treaty, during a Capitol Hill event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). http://bit.ly/1JLOOuD

Weed: Pot politics is heating up on the presidential campaign trail. http://bit.ly/1OwZD7k

Fiat: The Obama administration is fining Fiat Chrysler Automobiles a record $105 million for failing to properly repair recalled cars or replace them for owners. http://bit.ly/1I5qu6E

Wind power: Construction has begun off Rhode Island's coast on the nation's first offshore wind farm, a milestone that federal and state officials say will help the fledgling U.S. industry surge ahead. http://bit.ly/1DJMPVE

Abortion: With help from a well-funded, well-researched and invigorated anti-abortion movement, Republican politicians have refined how they are talking about pregnancy and abortion rights, The New York Times reports. http://nyti.ms/1KuiDph

Bathrooms: A transgender student is suing his Virginia public school for requiring him to use a private bathroom, USA Today reports. http://usat.ly/1wQDZAi



2.4: How much higher the odds were of having fruits and vegetables available every day in predominately white middle schools than in racially diverse middle schools in the 2010-2011 school year.

51 percent: How many middle school students in the 2010-2011 school year were attending a school that offered whole grains every day.

70 percent: How many middle school students in the 2012-2013 school year were attending a school that offered whole grains every day.


(Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study)



"I believe workers should have the right to join a union, but they should also have the right to not join a union," -- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).


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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