The CFPB issued guidance to prevent banks from charging junk fees, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill outlawing caste-based discrimination, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued guidance to stop large banks from charging illegal junk fees when customers request basic information. The CFPB released the guidance to clarify a provision of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, which requires large banks and credit unions to provide information completely, adequately, and in a timely manner to customers who request it. The new guidance explains how the agency will evaluate fees banks charge for reasonable requests. CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said that “many large banks erect obstacle courses and impose junk fees to answer basic questions.”
- Over a two-day stretch, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed over 100 California bills. Among the vetoes was a bill that would have made California the first U.S. state to outlaw caste-based discrimination. Governor Newsom called the bill unnecessary because California already effectively prohibits caste discrimination through existing prohibitions on race, color, ancestry, and other characteristics. Governor Newsom also vetoed a bill that would have made free condoms available to all high school students, citing fiscal concerns. In addition, the vetoed bills included a cap on the out-of-pocket cost of insulin, a prohibition on the use of certain images on cannabis packaging, and the decriminalization of psychedelic drugs.
- A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would, if passed, hold companies or individuals liable for producing unauthorized digital replicas of performers. The use of artificial intelligence to replicate performers’ likenesses and voices has concerned many performers, with some calling for additional regulatory protections. Certain digital replicas, such as satire and parody, would be excluded from the bill based on First Amendment protections. President of Screen Actors Guild Fran Drescher expressed support for the bill, stating that “consent is key” when using a performer’s voice and appearance.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued updated guidance for its infant formula compliance programto increase safety and oversight in the infant formula industry. The program provides FDA investigators, analysts, and compliance officers with improved standards for inspections, sample collection and analysis, and compliance activities. FDA published the guidance in response to internal recommendations on the latest research into the prevalence of Cronobacter bacteria and how an increased scientific understanding translates into appropriate oversight. In turn, the proposed changes include procedures for notifying FDA about positive Cronobacter or Salmonella test results as well as updated guidelines for environmental sampling at infant formula facilities.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new actions to reduce 85 percent of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) emissions by 2036 under the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act. The proposed rule seeks to reduce HFCs in new refrigeration, heating, and cooling systems to promote climate-friendly technologies. EPA also aims to improve management and reuse of existing HFCs by issuing new rules to prevent equipment leaks and increase HFC recycling.. EPA Administrator Michael Regan emphasized that the proposed rule—which garnered support from environmental groups—will help further the transition away from HFCs and give the United States a competitive global advantage.
- The U.S. Department of Education announced new after-school centers to help state and local efforts improve student mental health, academic success, and school safety. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona emphasized the importance of increased academic opportunities outside of regular school hours in order to enhance student mental health and safety. The Education Department hopes to build on this initiative by introducing the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Program at the after-school centers aimed at preventing further decline of U.S. literacy rates.
- The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of the Treasury issued guidance and updated frequently asked questions to increase access to clean vehicle credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. Beginning in January, consumers will be able to transfer their clean vehicle credit to a car dealer, which will lower the clean vehicle’s purchase price. The transfers are also intended to improve business for car dealers. The proposed regulations provide additional guidance for dealers on becoming eligible entities to receive new or previously owned clean vehicle credits.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In an Urban Institute report, David Blount, research assistant at the Institute, Christina Stacy, principal research associate at the Institute, and Rebecca Dedert, policy analyst at the Institute, show that the most significant climate change impacts disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color. Blount, Stacy, and Dedert found that these communities are less equipped to cope with heatwaves, poor air quality, and flooding. Blount, Stacy, and Dedert noted that infrastructure and economic policies often neglect harms that result from pollution and natural disasters harming marginalized communities and recommend flexibility in using climate-related funds, increased state grant program monitoring and use of available tax credits.
- In an article in the Seton Hall Law Review, Stephen Johnson, a professor at Mercer Law School, argued that although President Donald Trump’s short-term deregulatory record was successful, his long-term record is not. Johnson explained that the Trump Administration used executive orders, the Congressional Review Act, legislative rulemaking, suspensions, and litigation abeyances to reverse long standing environmental rules. Johnson noted that when President Joseph Biden took office, he reversed many of President Trump’s deregulatory efforts using these same tools, indicating how hard it is for presidents to deregulate permanently. Johnson cautioned that a future deregulatory president, however, may have a “deregulatory ally in the judicial branch” considering the U.S. Supreme Court has become increasingly less deferential to agencies.
- In an Urban Institute report, Brian J. Cook, director of higher education policy at the Institute, outlined steps colleges and universities can take to increase student diversity after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race-conscious admissions policies are unconstitutional. Cook noted that institutions could diversify their recruiting lists by reaching out to students who performed well on standardized tests but may not be considering college and by promoting awareness of financial aid early in the application process. Cook also recommended creating more transfer opportunities and partnerships between community colleges and private nonprofit schools. Cook concludedthat no race-neutral practice will promote diversity as much as a race-conscious admissions policy and that the higher education community must continue exploring ways to increase diversity in a new legal context.
- In an essay in The Regulatory Review, Martin Kwan and Ken Fu, legal researchers, endorsed several reasons to regulate the sale and use of hidden cameras, but cautioned against an outright ban. First, Kwan and Fu highlightedthat existing privacy laws vary and would make enforcement of a ban difficult. Second, Kwan and Fu argued that there are limited justifications for public use of hidden cameras where courts do not accept secretly recorded footage as evidence. Lastly, Kwan and Fu advocated for a balanced approach to restrict the sale of hidden cameras to specific professional groups, including journalists, who have a public duty to inform.