The SEC proposes climate-related risk disclosure rules, a federal judge blocks ICE from applying Biden Administration guidance, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced proposed changes to the disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies. The proposal requires publicly traded companies to report certain “climate-related information” that is “reasonably likely to have material impacts” on the company. The proposed disclosure requirements include information such as how “climate-related risks” would impact the company, greenhouse gas emissions related to the company’s operations, the processes used to identify and manage climate-related risk, and more. The Commission requested comments on the proposal by May 20.
- A federal judge in Ohio issued an order blocking U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from applying guidance issued by the Biden Administration because it conflicted with Congress’s express intent. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas previously issued the now-blocked guidance memo, which instructed ICE to prioritize the removal of those who represent a “threat to our national security, public safety, and border security.” The order was issued in response to a suit brought by Arizona, Montana, and Ohio alleging that the Secretary’s guidance was unlawful.
- A federal judge blocked the enforcement of a D.C. law, the Minor Consent for Vaccinations Act of 2020, which allowed minors 11 and older to receive vaccines without parental consent. The judge ruled that the law likely conflicted with provisions of a federal vaccine injury law and violated the plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The judge explained that children would still be able to get vaccinated so long as they have parental consent and that D.C. would be able to present evidence of endangerment to children’s welfare in later proceedings.
- Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a bill into law that bans abortions from taking place after a fetal heartbeat is detected, often occuring after six weeks of pregnancy. The law allows family members to sue abortion providers up to four years after an abortion, and it establishes a minimum award of $20,000 and legal fees. The law was reportedly modeled after legislation in Texas, which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block from taking effect. The American Civil Liberties Union noted that the Idaho law allows “family members of a rapist” to sue abortion providers if the rape resulted in the pregnancy.
- The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an interim final rule that changes asylum procedures. Under the new rule, some individuals seeking asylum in the United States—particularly, adults and families who are subject to expedited removal—will have asylum officers, rather than immigration judges, evaluate their claims. The Departments expect the new rule to alleviate immigration judges’ backlogged workload and prevent further backlog. U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated that the rule helps “ensure that asylum claims are processed fairly, expeditiously, and consistent with due process.”
- The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority announced that it would enforce guidance for advertisements and promotions of cryptocurrencies. Promoters of cryptocurrencies, such as initial coin offerings, must express in their advertisements that cryptocurrencies are unregulated in the United Kingdom, are subject to capital gains taxes, and can increase and decrease in value. The Authority also cautioned advertisers not to imply an urgency to buy or guaranteed returns. The Authority noted that it would start enforcing these guidelines on May 2.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In a recent report published by the Brennan Center for Justice, Michael C. Li, senior counsel at the center’s Democracy Program, and several coauthors examined the results of states that have already completed the redistricting process with the results of the 2020 census. They argued that the newest maps pose a problem because in some states Republicans redrew maps to reduce competition and are racially discriminatory. For example, in North Carolina, even if Democrats receive 52 percent of the vote, they could win 29 percent of seats at most. Li and his coauthors urged Congress to address these racial and partisan discrimination concerns by passing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act before the 2022 midterms.
- In a Center for American Progress report, campaign manager Chris Chyung and several coauthors urged state and local governments to use the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to take action against climate change. Chyung and his coauthors argued that states should use the federal funds granted to them by the Act to ensure maximum reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions. The authors explained that states could decrease greenhouse gas emissions by expanding electric vehicle charging networks, facilitating lower energy buildings, and building bike paths and pedestrian walkways, among other green initiatives, as opposed to building highways.
- In an article for the Brookings Institution, Aaron Klein, senior fellow in economic studies, argued that President Joseph R. Biden’s executive order on regulating digital assets correctly considers the potential benefits and drawbacks of digital assets. Klein outlined that cryptocurrency assists financial efficiency, accessibility, and innovation, but it is vulnerable to abuse, including use in illicit transactions. Klein also explained that the executive order directs the Federal Reserve, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury to cooperate and establish a central bank digital currency. Finally, Klein highlighted that cryptocurrency’s risk to national security—which the executive order discusses—suggests that agencies must consider “national security, foreign policy, and international sanctions ramifications” of digital assets “at a much higher level” because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- In an essay in The Regulatory Review, sustainability expert Veena Ramani argued that corporations should understand that climate change poses risks to U.S. financial markets. Ramani cautioned that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s report on the impacts of climate change was a “testament to both the urgent need for regulatory action and an emerging universal understanding of climate risks.” Ramani advised that regulators may soon be able to make use of climate risk disclosures as a major tool to combat climate change and urged corporations to strengthen their disclosures preemptively.