Obama releases regulatory blueprint for 2016
President Obama has released his Unified Agenda - the administration's overview of proposed rules and regulations the White House plans to issue this year. As President Obama's relationship with Congress has deteriorated, the White House has relied more and more on executive action, including federal rulemaking to advance his agenda.
Here are a few of the regulations in the works for the final months of the Obama Presidency:
- E-Cigarette rule – Under a new rule proposed by the Food and Drug Administration, Electronic cigarettes will now be regulated much like tobacco cigarettes. Under the rule, the FDA would have to approve all tobacco products not currently regulated that hit stores after February 2017. Premium, hand-rolled cigars, as well as hookah and pipe tobacco, are also included in the new regulation. The rule prohibits selling "covered tobacco products" to people younger than 18, and buyers must show photo ID. It also requires health warnings be displayed on cigarette tobacco, roll-your own tobacco, and covered tobacco product packages and in advertisements; and bans free samples and the sale of covered products in vending machines not located in adult-only facilities.
- Anti-arbitration Rule – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing an anti-arbitration rule that would prohibit financial companies from using mandatory-arbitration clauses as a way to block class-action lawsuits. While companies would still be able to require consumers to enter arbitration to resolve individual disputes, the elimination of the no-class arbitration provisions would strip away incentives for companies to include arbitration clauses in their contracts. And many are predicting that as a result, companies would discontinue using them.
- Fiduciary Rule – The Department of Labor is proposing a fiduciary rule extending strict ERISA fiduciary requirements to persons and entities that only occasionally offer advice incidental to IRA investments and who are acknowledged not to be the account’s decision-maker. Under the present rule, only persons who are primary advisors are fiduciaries.
- Cable Set Top Box – The FCC has proposed a rule that would allow cable subscribers to choose and buy the devices they use to view television programming, instead of leasing the boxes from their cable companies at an average annual cost of $231.