Politics

Trump boasts about dumping many Obama-era regulations. Here's a look at some

From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump has championed less government regulation, taking pride in killing numerous rules adopted by his predecessor.

Using a seldom-utilized 1996 law, Trump and the GOP-led Congress overturned 14 Obama-era regulations in a number of areas, including the environment and guns.

The Congressional Review Act expedites the process to overturn rules adopted by a previous administration. If used during the first 60 days of a new legislative session, it allows Congress to kill regulations passed in the final months of a previous administration — after June 2016 in this case — with a simple majority vote, avoiding the usual 60 votes needed to avoid a Senate filibuster.

The law had only been used successfully once before the 115th Congress took full advantage of its power.

Here’s what the repeal of these regulations will mean:

1. Companies no longer have to disclose payments made to foreign governments involving oil, gas or minerals

This regulation required companies to annually disclose any payments made to foreign governments related to the commercial use of oil, natural gas or minerals, specifically the type and total amount of each payment to a certain project or government.

The rule was designed to ensure the American people knew where these companies were drilling and who they were paying. Supporters said it was important for transparency and national security.

Opponents said it was unnecessarily bureaucratic, decreased efficiency, productivity and competitiveness, and sacrificed American jobs.

2. Mining companies have fewer regulations on waste management

The stream protection rule placed restrictions and offered new guidelines on where and how mining companies can dump waste. The rule required companies to record how their mining processes changed the ecosystem and to develop a plan for later restoring those ecosystems.

Supporters said it would protect waterways, forests and wildlife, potentially contribute to reducing climate change, improve public health and encourage companies to use more innovative technology. Opponents argue that these benefits come at the expense of jobs, shrink the list of potential mining sites and reduce profits.

3. People with mental disabilities can more easily purchase a gun

A semiautomatic handgun is displayed at the 2015 NRA convention in Nashville.
A semiautomatic handgun is displayed at the 2015 NRA convention in Nashville. (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)

This rule, in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, made it more difficult for mentally ill people to purchase a gun by requiring the Social Security Administration to report disability recipients with a severe mental illness to the FBI’s criminal background check system.

Those who supported the rule said it could reduce the number of mass shootings by people with a severe mental illness. But those who opposed it say it limits the 2nd Amendment right to purchase a gun and has too broad of a definition for mental illness.

Mental health advocacy groups argued it stigmatized people with a mental illness and played into stereotypes that they are violent or dangerous.

4. Federal contractors no longer have to disclose every labor law violation

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule required contractors applying for federal money to disclose any violations of labor laws, including those related to civil rights, family and medical leave, fair wages, and health and safety standards.

Supporters of the rule said it increased efficiency and productivity in federally funded companies and prevented taxpayer dollars from going to companies that had violated labor laws.

Opponents said it cast too wide of a net and would harm contractors who had documented only very small violations or got caught in the confusion of filing the correct paperwork. They worried the rule would unfairly place businesses on a “black list” for federal contracts.

5. The government will revert back to 34-year-old rules for determining land use

The revised version of 34-year-old rules changed how the Bureau of Land Management made decisions about how land will be used.

Supporters of the updated rules said they increased public involvement in the decision-making process, improved efficiency and government transparency and allowed the bureau to more quickly and effectively address issues surrounding land and resource use. Opponents said they took too much power out of the hands of state and local governments, which they said often know more about the land and how to effectively manage it, and prioritized national objectives.

Because the regulations were repealed through the Congressional Review Act, many are concerned that the outdated guidelines won’t get another update anytime soon. The CRA prevents government agencies from issuing a similar rule to the one Congress has overturned.

6. School districts have more say in how to define success

These guidelines outlined specific procedures for school districts to follow in order to meet the requirements of Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act, such as what to include on a report card, how to define “consistently underperforming” students and how to develop a timeline for interventions.

Supporters of the guidelines say they helped schools track and monitor their progress while also holding them accountable for educational success and equity.

But opponents say the regulations went against the fundamental principle of the act, which was designed to allow states to decide how to define the success of their schools.

7. States choose how to evaluate teacher-preparation training programs

The Department of Education issued new guidelines for how to determine the quality of teacher preparation training programs. The guidelines required an annual report of several different characteristics of the program, including an assessment of the teachers’ performance.

Without such guidelines, supporters worry programs won’t be held accountable or able to receive the help they need. Opponents argue the federal government should allow states to determine how to evaluate these programs on their own.

8. States can now drug test any applicant for unemployment compensation

(Toby Talbot / Associated Press)

This Department of Labor rule clarified which industries and companies could regularly conduct drug tests for unemployment applicants. This is based on regulations that states can only drug test applicants who were previously fired because of substance abuse or only suitable to work in a field that consistently tests.

Opponents of the rule say the definition was too narrow and left states vulnerable to spending valuable unemployment compensation dollars on funding former employees’ drug habits.

However, supporters say without such a law in place, states would spend too much money on unnecessary drug tests. They also say it protected applicants who were unemployed for reasons other than drug abuse.

9. Hunters in Alaska have fewer restrictions for killing predators in national wildlife refuges

This rule amended regulations for predator control and outlawed some hunting methods in national wildlife refuges in Alaska.

Supporters say the new regulations protected predator species defining “predator control as the intention to reduce the population of predators for the benefit of prey species” and outlawing some hunting and trapping methods. The prohibition included taking some bear cubs or sows with cubs, trapping bears in snares or using bait and killing wolves and coyotes in denning season.

Opponents say the rules are counterproductive to the goal of the refuges, which work to maintain the natural ecosystem and keep the balance between predator and prey species. Many say the rules violated Alaska’s right to manage its own fish and game and put the state government in an inferior position to the federal government.

10. Companies no longer have to maintain five-year record of workplace injuries

This regulation clarified that employers must maintain proper records of any workplace injury or illness for five years and could be cited for any violations during that time period. The clarification was in response to some interpretations that employers could only be fined if the violation was caught within six months.

Supporters worry the six-month time frame allows employers to brush aside any injuries and does not give enough time to identify and correct ongoing problems.

Opponents of the regulation say the five-year time period put extra burdens on companies while doing little to protect worker safety.

11. Broadband providers no longer need permission for data collection

In an effort to protect consumers in the Internet age, this regulation required broadband companies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to get permission from customers before tracking and collecting their online and app activity.

Supporters say customers should be able to monitor how much personal information the companies are able to see since broadband providers have more access to their data than any other Internet service.

Opponents argue the rule put unfair, costly restrictions on broadband providers that other companies with access to online content, like Facebook and Google did not have to comply with.

12. States can opt to withhold federal family planning money from certain healthcare providers

This regulation clarified that states could not withhold federal funds from healthcare providers for any reason other than their ability to carry out family planning services. Part of a larger bill regulating how federal grants are distributed to family planning services, the regulation amended how states make decisions about how to use the federal money.

Without this amendment in place, organizations that offer abortions, particularly Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, are at risk for losing funding. Supporters worry overturning the rule will leave families, particularly people who belong to racial minority groups or fall below the poverty line, without services such as birth control, cancer screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Although federal money cannot be used for abortions, opponents say companies that offer abortions or their affiliates should not benefit from federal services. They say the overturn is a victory for abortion foes and state governments.

13 and 14. State and local governments have fewer guidelines for establishing retirement plans

State governments

Local governments

In an effort to protect workers who do not have access to retirement plans through an employer, these regulations required state and local governments to offer IRA-based plans. However, the regulations specified that these plans would not fall under the supervision of the Employee Retirement Security Act.

Supporters said the rule encouraged workers to maintain self-funded retirement plans, making them less dependent on Social Security benefits.

Opponents said the rule would make employees more vulnerable with less information about how their retirement plans are managed.

Support our journalism

Please consider subscribing today to support stories like this one. Already a subscriber? Your support makes our work possible. Thank you. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 99 cents for the first four weeks.

ALSO

Trump succeeds where Obama failed – spawning a new wave of liberal activism

Gorsuch is already pushing the Supreme Court right on religion, guns and gay rights

It's crunch time for McConnell after Senate GOP is forced to delay vote on healthcare bill

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
73°