New White House Regulatory Agenda

December 2, 2015

stk318013rknOn Nov. 20, President Barack Obama’s administration unveiled its regulatory agenda. This semiannual release details the regulations that will take top priority with federal agencies in the coming year. The Unified Agenda contains hundreds of rules and insight into the president’s regulatory priorities for the remainder of his term.

The agenda underscores the fact that the regulatory process is arduous, with at least 24 different rules’ release dates pushed back by at least two months from the previous agenda. The agenda highlights more than 2,000 rules in the regulatory pipeline. Of those, 144 are deemed “economically significant,” meaning they are projected to have economic effects of at least $100 million annually.

According to the agenda, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will continue work on carbon emissions and water pollution in the coming year, while the Department of Labor (DOL) is targeting the first half of 2016 for rules on federal contractors, the overtime pay exemption threshold, and the so-called “persuader” rule.

Carbon Emissions and Water Pollution

According to the agenda, in August, EPA will release its final model carbon trading schemes meant to comply with the Clean Power Plan which was released earlier this year. EPA has indicated that a state plan that adheres to the model rules would likely be approved. The model will contain methods for hitting targets by rate-based reductions and overall CO2 emissions caps. The agenda does not include a timeline for completion of the federal implementation plan, which would be used if a state does not submit an implementation plan as is required by the Clean Power Plan. By the end of next year, EPA is also planning on putting out draft regulations on updating suburbs’ storm water permits as well as setting new monitoring standards for 30 contaminants that are not currently tracked by drinking water systems.

Overtime Rule

DOL will continue to focus on the overtime rule, which could potentially double the overtime exemption threshold from $23,660 per year to $50,440 per year. DOL is currently evaluating almost 300,000 comments it received on the draft rules, but according to the agenda it expects to release the final rule in July. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council proposed “Fair Pay Rule” regarding fair pay and safe workplaces for federal contractors was proposed last May and according to the agenda, is expected to be finalized in April.

Persuader Rule

Additionally DOL will continue work on its “persuader” rule which has been a priority for several years. The rule would expand disclosure requirements for employers hiring lawyers and consultants to discourage labor organization and collective bargaining. The agenda indicates that DOL plans to release the rule in March.

Oftentimes a disproportionate portion of the regulatory burden falls on small businesses, and NSBA supports reforms to minimize this burden and ease the massive web of regulatory complexity currently hampering small-business growth.