Pay attention folks.  Our government is coming after your retirement…



On December 7th, the entirety of the Department’s semiannual agenda was made available online at www.dol.gov/asp/regs/agenda.htm and at www.regulations.gov. The regulatory agenda is a listing of all the regulations the Department of Labor expects to have under active consideration for promulgation, proposal, or review during the coming one-year period.

Live Q&A Sessions

We will host a series of live Q&A sessions with our leadership to answer your questions about our regulatory agenda:

How to Participate

  • Enter your question directly into the live chat window found at the links above
  • Use the hashtag #DOLREGS on Twitter
  • Call our National Contact Center at 1-866-487-2365
  • E-mail us at webmaster@dol.gov

Featured Items from the Regulatory Agenda

Lifetime Income Options for Retirement Plans

Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Topic: Lifetime Income Options for Retirement Plans

EBSA plans to enhance retirement security by reducing the chances that workers will run out of funds during their retirement years, supporting the Secretary’s good jobs for everyone policy.

Key Action: Request for Information (RFI)
The Department’s EBSA plans to publish an RFI in January 2010 to solicit views, suggestions and comments from the public on how to enhance retirement security for all workers by reducing the chances that workers will run out of funds during their retirement years. The RFI asks 37 specific questions designed to obtain focused commentary to help EBSA make its determinations.

Key Concern and Issues to be Addressed:
An ever increasing number of workers are looking to their defined contribution plans for their retirement security, but at the same time many workers are receiving their retirement benefits in lump sum distributions. This could increase the risk of running out of money after retirement.

The Department, in conjunction with the Department of the Treasury, anticipates publishing an RFI in January 2010 as a first step towards exploring what steps it can take to enhance retirement security and reduce the chances that workers will run out of funds during their retirement years.

Background
Traditionally, retirement security was provided to many workers through defined benefit pension plans sponsored by their employers because such plans are typically required to make annuities available to participants at retirement.Department of Labor data, however, show a trend away from employer sponsorship of defined benefit plans, toward sponsorship of defined contribution plans, e.g., 401(k) plans.

  • The number of active participants in defined benefit plans fell from about 27 million in 1975 to approximately 20 million in 2006.
  • By contrast, the number of active participants in defined contribution plans increased from about 11 million in 1975 to 66 million in 2006.

The result of these trends is that employees rather than employers are increasingly responsible for the adequacy of their retirement savings. In addition, because defined contribution plans typically distribute retirement savings in a lump sum payment, employees are also responsible for ensuring that their savings last throughout their retirement.

Specifically, the Agencies are exploring whether and how to enhance retirement security for employees in defined contribution plans by facilitating access to, and use of, lifetime income or other arrangements designed to provide a lifetime stream of income after retirement.


Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Reducing Coal Miners’ Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust

MSHA plans to reduce miners’ exposure to respirable coal mine dust which causes “Black Lung,” to protect coal miners, and promote the Secretary’s good jobs for everyone policy.

Related Materials


Labor Certification for Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment of H-2B Workers

Review of the H-2B regulations will assist in supporting the Secretary’s goal to increase workers’ incomes and narrow wage and income inequalities by protecting the wages and working conditions of both American workers and foreign nationals working temporarily in the United States; supporting the Secretary’s “good jobs for everyone” policy.

Related Materials


The Evaluation of Recruitment and Placement Results under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended (VEVRAA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

OFCCP will support the successful transition of servicemen and women into the civilian workforce, especially disabled veterans and those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

Related Materials


The Evaluation of Recruitment and Placement Results under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, (Section 503) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM)

The OFCCP is breaking down barriers to fair and diverse workplaces so that every worker’s contribution is respected.

Related Materials


Interpretation of the “Advice” Exemption of Section 203(c) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

Information helps workers make a more informed choice regarding their collective bargaining rights and acts to level the labor-management relations playing field, giving workers their voice in the workplace.

Related Materials


Request for Information: Airborne Infectious Diseases

Protecting workers from airborne infectious diseases supports the Secretary’s vision of “good jobs for everyone,” by securing safe and healthy workplaces for workers.

Related Materials


Amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Recordkeeping Regulations

This regulatory initiative will support the Secretary’s outcome goals of securing minimum wages and overtime particularly in high-risk industries and helping middle-class families remain in the middle class.

Related Materials

Other Regulations Currently Open for Comment

The following regulations are currently open for comment at Regulations.gov:

  • Temporary Agricultural Employment of H-2A Aliens in the United States, Interim Final Rule [Comment Now]
  • Request for Information Regarding Sections 101 Through 104 of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 [Comment Now]
  • Hazard Communication, Proposed Rule [Comment Now]
  • Respirable Coal Mine Dust: Continuous Personal Dust Monitor (CPDM), Request for Information [Comment Now]

Note: The Department’s Regulatory Plan, statement of regulatory priorities, and Regulatory Flexibility Agenda (which includes only those rules on its semiannual agenda that are likely to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities; and those rules identified for periodic review in keeping with the requirements of section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act) were made available for public inspection at the Federal Register on Friday, December 4th. The Regulatory Plan and the Regulatory Flexibility Agenda are a subset of the Department’s semiannual regulatory agenda.


DoL Policy/Regulatory Initiatives

(Report on the First 100 Days)

In her weeks in office, Secretary Solis has pursued an aggressive regulatory agenda to undo, or temporarily suspend to allow further review of, some of the regulatory efforts of the previous administration that had a detrimental impact on workers.

  • To combat the rush of rules out the door at the end of the previous Administration, Secretary Solis initiated steps to allow for the immediate review of all pending regulatory efforts, opinion letters, and other interpretive guidance and compliance assistance materials in process at the Department providing the Administration the time to ensure that they were all in the interest of working Americans.
  • During the last years of the Bush Administration, the Department issued a series of regulations that made the union financial reporting requirements not only overly burdensome but ineffectual. Since taking office, the Department has taken significant steps to undo the most burdensome of these regulations and put in place an enforcement regime that will make union and management transparency a reality:
    • The Department postponed the effective dates of rules that gave the Department the power to revoke the ability of smaller unions to file the more simplified LM-3 form, instead of the LM-2 form filed by larger unions. The Department delayed the effective date of this rule to October 19th, and submitted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to revoke the role, providing more time for analysis of the policy implications of this ruling and its effect on unions.
    • The Department announced that it will publish in its Spring Regulatory Agenda notice of an intended rulemaking to revise the Form LM-30 Union Officer and Employee Report implemented in 2007. The rulemaking is intended to review questions of policy and law surrounding these reporting requirements, and will focus on the changes resulting from a 2007 regulatory revision of the Form and instructions.
  • The Department took regulatory action on the previous Administration’s regulations on the H-2A program.
    • The Department published a notice in the Federal Register proposing temporarily to suspend final regulations titled “Modernizing the Labor Certification Process and Enforcement for Temporary Agricultural Employment of H-2A Aliens in the United States” (published December 18, 2008) and temporarily reinstate the rules that were in place on January 16, 2009, the day before the revised rules became effective.
  • The Department rescinded language in the H-2B regulations promulgated by the Bush Administration that stated that employers could deduct the cost of inbound transportation from the wages of their H-2B workers even if this resulted in a violation of the FLSA’s minimum wage requirements.
    • The Department published in the Federal Register a notice to withdraw an interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act contained in the preamble to a final rule published on December 19, 2008, governing the labor certification process and enforcement of worker protections under the H-2B nonimmigrant visa program. The preamble stated that the FLSA and its implementing regulations do not require employers to reimburse H-2B workers for relocation expenses even when such costs result in the workers being paid less than the minimum wage because they were not for the benefit of the employer. Because of the reach of FLSA coverage, any interpretation of FLSA regulations has wide-ranging effects; the interpretation of section 203(m) of the FLSA and its regulations in the preamble of the H-2B Final Rule may have ramifications well beyond the workers and employers subject to the H-2B rule and therefore requires further examination. The Department is especially sensitive to potential adverse impacts an interpretation might have on our nation’s most vulnerable workers, including low-wage U.S. workers and foreign guest workers.
  • The Department issued a final rule rescinding the regulations that implemented the now-revoked Executive Order 13201 (revoked by the President in Executive Order 13496). The regulations required government contractors and subcontractors to post notices informing their employees of certain rights under federal law and required contracting federal agencies and these employers to include certain provisions of EO 13201 in their contracts, subcontracts, and purchase orders.
  • The Pension Protection Act of 2006 established a new statutory exemption from ERISA’s prohibited transaction provisions for the provision of investment advice by a fiduciary adviser to participants and beneficiaries in participant-directed individual account plans (401(k) plans) and individual retirement accounts. Final investment advice rules were published on January 21, 2009. However, DOL has delayed the effective date of these rules until May 22, 2009 to permit further review.

Protecting and Promoting the Welfare of Workers
In addition to undoing past actions by the Bush Administration, Secretary Solis has taken several important steps to further protect and promote the welfare of workers.

  • The Department made significant strides forward in the development of rule addressing diacetyl by initiating a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel for occupational exposure to food flavorings containing the chemical. Diacetyl is a food flavoring most notably used in the production of microwavable popcorn and has been associated with the development of sometimes fatal respiratory illnesses in workers exposed to it, producing a condition popularly referred to as “Popcorn Workers Lung.”
  • The Department is currently working on regulations to implement President Obama’s Executive Order 13495 relating to service contracts. The Executive Order requires contractors to offer the right of first refusal to employees employed under the predecessor contract whose employment will be terminated as a result of the new service contract.

Budget Priorities in FY2010 Budget
The President’s 2010 Budget for the Department of Labor provides $13.3 billion. This first budget from Secretary Solis restores the Labor Department worker protection agencies’ staffing so they can vigorously enforce the laws they oversee and includes critical new investments for career pathways, transitional jobs, and programs that provide training for disadvantaged youth, ex-offenders, and returning servicemembers. These budget increases, in combination with funds available through the ARRA, will allow the Department to hire additional enforcement personnel, including hundreds of new FTE for the Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


Related Links:

CBO Analysis of H.R. 2920, the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2009 (PDF)

Memo from CBO Director Elmendorf to Rep. Hoyer discussing PAYGO Asset seizure plans

Boston Globe: Labor chief wants pension insurer on less risky path

HotAir: Exclusive: CBO predicts Social Security cash deficits in 2010-11; Update: Too much sunny optimism at CBO?

Examiner: Young Americans to be sold into slavery

Gary North: Social Security and Medicare: The Twin Disasters That Will “Break the Bank”

American Daughter: Breaking News — Fed to Steal State Pension Funds

NRTW: Union Watchdog Files Second Disclosure Request to Investigate Obama Labor Department Stonewalling

Big Government: Obama Administration Moves to Shutdown Disclosure of Big Labor-ACORN Connections

Big Government: A White House Power Grab that Congress and America Doesn’t See

Michelle Malkin: Hilda Solis approved as Labor Secretary: 17 Republicans vote no

NPR: California Pensions Forcing Cities Into Bankruptcy

Heritage Org: Morning Bell: Workers Deserve Better Than a Big Labor Lackey

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes – Secretary DoL (Solis)

WSJ: Targeting Your 401(k)

CRS: 401(k) Plans and Retirement Savings: Issues for Congress (PDF)

Workforce: House Democrats Contemplate Abolishing 401(k) Tax Breaks


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