Week in Review

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A federal judge blocks the Labor Department’s overtime rule, the NHTSA delays a recall of airbags, and more…

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  • The U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime rule—which would have extended overtime pay to over 4 million new workers by increasing the salary limit below which employers are required to provide overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476, and which was scheduled to go into effect on December 1st—was blocked by Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, who granted a nationwide preliminary injunction in response to arguments from 21 states and a number of businesses that the Labor Department had exceeded its statutory authority in promulgating a rule which raised the overtime salary limit so significantly.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reportedly granted General Motors (GM) a delay in recalling Takata airbags until August 2017, giving GM additional time to demonstrate that its Takata airbag inflators are safe, in which case the recall could be cancelled altogether. The recall of the airbags has been described as the “largest in U.S. history,” and stems from risk that “the chemical propellant used in these inflators… can degrade” over time, with the result that “the inflator may rupture when the airbag deploys during a crash event.”
  • A panel of judges from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin held that the Wisconsin Legislature’s redistricting plan from 2011 is an “unconstitutional political gerrymander” because it “systematically dilutes the voting strength of Democratic voters statewide.” The court reasoned that the plan could not be explained by the “geography of Wisconsin nor is it justified by a legitimate state interest.” Professor Heather Gerken of Yale Law School reportedly called the decision “a huge deal,” that could have major implications for the next phase of redistricting in 2021.
  • Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna reportedly announced that Canada plans to nearly eliminate the use of coal power plants by 2030. McKenna reportedly praised the plan as a way to “improve the health of Canadians, and benefit generations for years to come,” but some have allegedly expressed concern about the jobs that could be lost due to the phase out.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a policy statement on the marketing of over-the-counter homeopathic drugs. In the statement, the FTC says that homeopathic drugs will not be exempt “from the general requirement that objective product claims be truthful and substantiated,” and announces that homeopathic drug producers should indicate that their products’ efficacy is not backed by scientific evidence.


  • In a recent report, Brookings Senior Fellow Nora Gordon discusses the role evidence plays in the regulatory process, and provides recommendations for both policymakers and researchers to “promote evidence-based policy.” The report recommends that the Trump administration use cost-benefit analysis to guide its decisionmaking throughout the regulatory process and require regulations to describe both “the nature of their own costs and benefits and those of at least one alternative.” As for researchers, the report recommends that they engage in the commenting process to provide agencies with feedback on how cost-benefit analysis is reflected in a certain regulation.
  • The American Action Forum released a study that examined the impact of the U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime rule—which was scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016 but was blocked this week by a federal judge in Texas—on higher education institutions. The study found that the rule could benefit as many as 42,000 workers who would receive more pay under the rule, but also found that the rule would cost more than $700 million and could result in higher tuition costs for students.