Overnight Regulation: GMO labeling bill advances in Senate | Dem pushes tougher mutual fund regs

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It’s Wednesday afternoon here in Washington and here’s the latest.



A bill to block states from issuing mandatory labeling laws for products that contain genetically modified ingredients overcame a key hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday.

Supporters have hailed the legislation, which advanced 65-32, as a bipartisan compromise in the national fight over the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms, better known as GMOs.

{mosads}The bill allows food producers to use QR codes that consumers scan with a smartphone to find out if a product contains GMOs instead of stating on the label that the product was “produced with genetic engineering” — now required by laws in states like Vermont, Maine, Connecticut and Alaska.

Democrats slammed the agreement as an industry backed bill to deny Americans the right to now what’s in their food. 

“Here is a so-called labeling bill, but in fact it does the opposite,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) “This so-called mandatory labeling bill isn’t mandatory, doesn’t label and it excludes most GMO foods.”

During the vote, members of the Organic Consumers Association threw money from the Senate gallery in protest.

The protesters yelled “Monsanto Money” and “Senator Stabenow listen to the people not Monsanto” while $2,000 floated to the floor.

For more, click here: http://bit.ly/29zgSeS


Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is calling for stronger mutual fund regulations to protect investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should strengthen rules that address liquidity risk and the use of derivatives by companies that run mutual funds, Brown said Wednesday in a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White.

This would protect mutual fund investors from excessive risk-taking, Brown argued.

“As you are aware, the U.S. mutual fund industry has grown considerably, with the assets held by mutual funds rising from $4.4 trillion in 2000 to $12.7 trillion in 2014,” Brown wrote, highlighting the need for additional scrutiny by regulators.

The SEC proposed stronger liquidity disclosure requirements for mutual funds last September, but Brown is urging the agency to quickly finalize the rule.

The liquidity rule would “address the potential dangers arising from mutual funds that hold high concentrations of securities that are hard to sell in times of stress,” Brown said.

“To ensure that funds can manage investor withdrawals, even in times of market stress, the SEC should work toward a liquidity rule that creates an even more robust regulatory framework and requires comprehensive liquidity disclosure for all types of open-end funds,” he added.

Brown also pressed the SEC to finalize new derivatives limits for mutual funds that it proposed last December. http://bit.ly/29jqvKH



The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing to discuss a regulatory budget for the government. http://bit.ly/29i2wdP

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the Bureau of Land Management’s draft planning rule, which proposes to change how the agency uses resource management plans. http://bit.ly/29mnhLc

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency will hold a hearing to discuss the findings of an investigation into misconduct at the Transportation Security Administration. http://bit.ly/29yCxnO

The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a hearing to discuss improper payments being made across the federal government. http://bit.ly/29opRMH



The Obama administration will publish 146 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday’s edition of the Federal Register.

–The Coast Guard will issue new rules for officers on towing vessels.

The Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular will provide guidelines for credentialing mariners who work on towing vessels.

The policy goes into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/29OVUVQ

–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue new rules for stationary compression ignition internal combustion engines.

These engines typically face strict environmental standards, but operators will be allowed to override the emissions control system during emergency situations in order to “protect human life,” the agency wrote.

The new rule goes into effect in 60 days. http://bit.ly/29yNByB

–The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will issue new rules to give patients who are addicted to opioids greater access to medical treatment.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of HHS, will increase the number of patients that doctors may treat with buprenorphine “in an office-based setting,” the agency said.

Some doctors will be allowed to treat up to 275 patients, up from the current maximum of 100 patients.

The new rule goes into effect in 30 days.

For the HHS notice, click here: http://bit.ly/29o4VYG

For more on the administration’s anti-opioid push, click here: http://bit.ly/29nwyzL




Group drops money on Senate floor to protest GMO bill http://bit.ly/29sB7YX

Government orders recall of half a million hoverboards http://bit.ly/29lhaS4

Republicans raise concerns about stolen guns http://bit.ly/29xazJq

Entire federal government exempt from robocall laws, FCC rules http://bit.ly/29uJHI8

Airlines vie for Cuba flights http://bit.ly/29k9mjE

‘Un-American’ charge ignites hearing on EPA rules http://bit.ly/29iwwGB

IRS launches cyber awareness campaign for tax preparers http://bit.ly/29jrieG

Treasury sanctions Kim Jong Un http://bit.ly/29iwvm3

Short-term FAA bill to get House vote http://bit.ly/29yNQw9

GOP: House to vote Friday on opioids bill http://bit.ly/29ibIyB

White House stops short of veto threat on opioids bill http://bit.ly/29oiqYy

DOJ to investigate Louisiana police shooting http://bit.ly/29ixUxA

House sets vote on wide-ranging changes to federal personnel policies – The Washington Post http://wapo.st/29rg7BK

Court strikes down Obama healthcare rule on issuance standards – The New York Times http://nyti.ms/29nsBLv



$12.7 trillion: Size of the mutual fund industry in 2014.

$4.4 trillion: Size of the mutual fund industry in 2000.

Source: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who is calling for stronger mutual fund regulations to protect investors. http://bit.ly/29jqvKH



“This Vermonter wasn’t sent here to be silent. We say let’s have this debate, not rush to judgment.” #GMO” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) tweeted after a press conference to voice opposition to a GMO labeling bill. 


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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