Overnight Regulation: Groups challenge endangered species rule

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Tuesday evening here in Washington and we can't believe D.C. Metro is closing tomorrow for repairs. Here's the latest.



Two conservative groups are challenging a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulation that gives the government the ability to restrict land use for both "endangered" and "threatened species."

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) joined the Pacific Legal Foundation in filing a petition Tuesday to repeal a rule.


They say that for 40 years the agency has been allowed to impose stringent regulations on land use in areas designated as critical habitats for "threatened species."

But they argue Congress only authorized the agency to impose stringent regulations on land use within areas designated as critical habitat for "endangered species," under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Land that serves as habitat for threatened species is to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, they claim.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service is stretching the law far beyond congressional intent," Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB's Small Business Legal Center, said in a release. "We don't believe it has the power to restrict land use in cases where there are no endangered species. By doing so it deprives land owners, including many small businesses, of the full value of their property."

NFIB and the Pacific Legal Foundation said the petition is a first step toward litigation.

"We are filing this petition to force unelected bureaucrats to follow the law," said PLF staff attorney Jonathan Wood. "This illegal regulation imposes onerous regulatory burdens on property owners and small businesses, and ultimately hurts the very species it purports to protect."

Under the regulations, Wood said the Fish and Wildlife Service has the authority to criminalize any activity that affects any of hundreds of threatened species across the country, without any express authorization from Congress. 

"The Supreme Court has explained that agencies may not exercise powers of such 'vast economic and political significance' without Congress' clear say-so," he added.



The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest will hold a hearing to examine the impact of immigration on U.S. workers. http://1.usa.gov/1RjGThK

Senate Judiciary will hold a hearing to discuss the fiscal crisis in America and the need for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. http://1.usa.gov/1QVHfb2

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing to examine the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Labor. http://1.usa.gov/1RV03HG

The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior will hold a hearing to examine the renewable fuel standard. http://1.usa.gov/1pJPlux



The Obama administration will publish 217 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will issue new maintenance requirements for air carriers.

The FAA issued the rules earlier this month, but is making small changes before they go into effect in May. The rules will apply to contractors who perform maintenance on airplanes.

Airlines will be required to develop policies and procedures for contractors who work on their planes. They must also provide a list of the contractors to the FAA. http://bit.ly/1UwMcti

--The Department of Energy (DOE) will develop new energy conservation standards for circulator pumps.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will hold a series of public meetings to discuss changes to the energy conservation standards and test procedures for circulator pumps.

The public meetings will take place on March 29, March 31, and April 1. http://bit.ly/1Ue3o80

--The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will propose new regulations for commercial driver's licenses.

The new rules would loosen the requirements for former members of the military who are applying for a commercial driver's license. 

Currently, veterans have 90 days after leaving the military to apply for a skills test waiver, but the agency is looking to extend that period to one year.

This exemption would only apply to veterans who drove commercial motor vehicles as part of their military duties.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/21tJC7X

--The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will allow veterans to enroll in military healthcare plans over the phone.

"This action will make it easier for veterans to apply to enroll and will speed VA processing of applications," the agency says.

The new rule goes into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/1pJuebT



Senator pushes budget for regulations. http://bit.ly/1SQ2BZY

GOP chairman: Banks are facing 'regulatory waterboarding.' http://bit.ly/22hX8kL

White House close to finalizing new overtime rules. http://bit.ly/22ivYqv

Gun bill would ban imports of assault weapons. http://bit.ly/22hWH9Z

Senate to vote on bill blocking mandatory GMO labeling laws. http://bit.ly/1S2qtaD

No deal on legislation banning Internet rate regulation. http://bit.ly/1SQvepQ

Students spend spring break lobbying for criminal justice reform. http://bit.ly/1SQv81B



$23,660: Current salary threshold below which workers qualify for overtime pay.

$50,440: Proposed threshold below which workers would qualify for overtime pay.



"I issued a subpoena in July of last year. Why should I not hold someone in contempt?" Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah) asked OIRA Administrator Howard Shelanski at a hearing Tuesday. The Oversight chairman is pressing Obama's regulatory chief to explain why documents dealing with a review of a controversial water rule have not been turned over to his committee. http://bit.ly/1UxdTSM


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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