CategoryFederal

Federal Register weekly update: 14 new significant rules

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

From Sept. 13 through Sept. 17, the Federal Register grew by 1,234 pages for a year-to-date total of 52,070 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 576 documents:

  • 458 notices
  • 13 presidential documents
  • 46 proposed rules
  • 59 final rules

Six proposed rules, including a call for public input from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding authorization for the incidental taking of eagles, and eight final rules, including a court-ordered delay of a Food and Drug Administration rule concerning tobacco product warnings, were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Biden administration has issued 58 significant proposed rules, 63 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of Sept. 17.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017: Changes to the Federal Register 

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Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2019: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2019



U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) will not seek re-election in 2022

On Sept. 16, 2021, U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced he would not seek re-election in 2022. Gonzalez, who represents Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, said his choice to not seek re-election was a result of the current political environment: “Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” he said. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”

Gonzalez assumed office in 2019 after defeating Susan Moran Palmer (D) in the 2018 general election 57% to 43%. In the 2020 general election, he won re-election against challenger Aaron Godfrey (D) 63% to 37%. Gonzalez was one of 10 House members who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump (R) for incitement of insurrection on January 13, 2021.

As of September 2021, 22 members of Congress— five members of the U.S. Senate and 17 members of the U.S. House— have announced they will not seek re-election. Twelve members—five senators and seven representatives—have announced their retirement. All five retiring Senate members are Republicans, and of the retiring House members, four are Democrats and three are Republicans.

Ten U.S. House members are running for other offices. Four Republicans and three Democrats are seeking seats in the U.S. Senate, one Republican and one Democrat are running for governor, and one Republican is running for secretary of state. No U.S. Senate members are running for other offices.

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U.S. Census Bureau releases easier-to-use format of 2020 census data on Sept. 16

The U.S. Census Bureau released data from the 2020 census in an easier-to-use format to both the states and the public at data.census.gov on Sept. 16. The Census Bureau also delivered DVDs and flash drives of the data to state legislatures and redistricting authorities. It had previously announced that it would release this summary data by Sept. 30.

The data itself had already been released in a legacy format on Aug. 12, including demographic information for states, counties, and individual census tracts and blocks.

States have used the data to start redrawing congressional and state legislative district boundaries to reflect the results of the 2020 census.

The Census Bureau was originally scheduled to deliver redistricting data to the states by March 30, but the process was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sixteen states have constitutional deadlines requiring that they complete their legislative redistricting this year, and eight have such deadlines to complete their congressional redistricting.

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U.S. Senate confirms two nominees to federal district courts

The U.S. Senate confirmed two of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to Article III courts on Sept. 14. To date, 11 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed.

  1. David Estudillo, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, by a vote of 54-41.
  2. Angel Kelley, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, by a 52-44 vote.

Estudillo was nominated to the Western District of Washington on April 29 to replace JudgeRonald Leighton, who assumedsenior status on Feb. 28, 2019. Kelley was nominated to the District of Massachusetts on May 12 to replace JudgeDouglas Woodlock, who assumed senior status on June 1, 2015. Both of the nominees were rated as well qualified by the American Bar Association.

The confirmed nominees will join their respective courts upon receiving their judicial commissions and taking their judicial oaths.

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Federal Register weekly update: Tops 50,000 pages

Photo of the White House in Washington, D.C.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

From Sept. 6 through Sept. 10, the Federal Register grew by 934 pages for a year-to-date total of 50,836 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 449 documents:

  1. 354 notices
  2. Seven presidential documents
  3. 29 proposed rules
  4. 59 final rules

Three proposed rules, including a new mine safety program from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and two final rules, including a revision to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) hazard mitigation assistance and mitigation planning regulations, were deemed significant under E.O. 12866— defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Biden administration has issued 52 significant proposed rules, 55 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of Sept. 10.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017.

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2019.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, September 14-18, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened September 14-18, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, September 14, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) extended the state’s reopening plan, Safe Return, through Sept. 30. Reeves amended the original order to allow 75% capacity at businesses like gyms, restaurants, and retail shops, and permitted large indoor and outdoor gatherings.
  3. Federal government responses:
  4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed a requirement that international travelers from countries like China, Iran, and the United Kingdom deplane at one of 15 designated airports and undergo enhanced health screening.
  5. State court changes:
  6. Courts in Delaware resumed issuing failure to appear warrants for individuals who did not show up for court dates. The state suspended issuing such warrants in March 2020.
  7. Jury trials resumed in Iowa after several pilot trials received positive feedback from participating jurors and judges.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced he was adding a new color—gold—to the color-coding system that determined how schools could reopen. Counties with between 10 and 14.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people were classified as gold, allowing in-person learning. However, the gold category imposed limits on school gatherings and sports travel.
  3. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed an order instituting a three-phase system for reopening nursing homes to in-person visitation. The phases were based on the rate of testing, length of time since a new case, and community spread.
  4. Election changes:
  5. Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s order (R) directing counties to provide no more than one absentee/mail-in ballot drop box per county “lacked a legitimate basis in evidence” and was, therefore, “unreasonable and unlawful.” Frye did not rescind the order.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

  1. Election changes:
  2. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (R) signed H5305 into law, extending absentee voting eligibility to all qualified electors in the Nov. 3 general election. The legislation also established Oct. 5 as the start date for in-person absentee voting (i.e., early voting).
  3. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana Chief Judge Shelly Deckert Dick ordered Louisiana election officials to make available to voters in the Nov. 3 general election the same COVID-19 absentee ballot application used in the state’s summer elections. This application offered COVID-19-specific reasons for requesting an absentee ballot.
  4. Federal government responses:
  5. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) released the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy, which included guidance for working with states, tribes, territories, and local public health programs and a plan for distributing a vaccine as soon as one received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Thursday, September 17, 2020 

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that Oregon and Washington agreed to participate in a multistate pilot test of Apple and Google’s exposure notification technology. The technology notified individuals who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus based on geolocation data.
  3. Election changes:
  4. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued rulings extending the mail-in ballot receipt deadline and authorizing the use of drop boxes for returning mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
  5. Mask requirements: 
  6. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed an order imposing a fine of up to $100 for violating the state’s mask mandate. The order also imposed a $250 fine for attending indoor events with more than 25 people or outdoor gatherings with more than 100 people and a $500 fine for individuals organizing such events. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edward (D) announced bars, restaurants, and casinos could extend on-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages to 11 p.m. in parishes where bars were allowed to reopen.
  3. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) released guidelines for celebrating Halloween. The guidelines included a range of recommendations, including canceling hayrides and haunted houses, leaving treats in mailboxes or holding drive-through trick-or-treat events to maintain social distancing, wearing face coverings, and using video conferencing to host costume parties.
  4. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an executive order expanding indoor dining to 75% capacity.
  5. Election changes:
  6. United States District Court for the District of South Carolina Judge J. Michelle Childs issued a preliminary injunction barring election officials from enforcing South Carolina’s witness requirement for absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
  7. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that had extended absentee/mail-in voting eligibility to individuals with “pre-existing conditions that cause COVID-19 to present a greater risk of severe illness or death.”
  8. Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens issued a ruling extending Michigan’s absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline to Nov. 17 for ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 2. Stephens also authorized voters to allow anyone of their choosing to return their ballots between 5:01 p.m. on Oct. 30 and the close of polls on Nov. 3.
  9. Federal government responses:
  10. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Oct. 21.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.



President Biden announces eight additional nominees for Article III judgeships

President Joe Biden (D) announced his intent to nominate eight individuals to Article III judgeships on Sept. 8. With the addition of these eight, Biden has nominated a total of 41 individuals to Article III judgeships since the start of his term. To date, nine of Biden’s nominees have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The nominees announced on Sept. 8 are:

  1. Lucy H. Koh, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  2. Gabriel Sanchez, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  3. Holly Thomas, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  4. Katherine Menendez, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
  5. Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong, to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  6. David Herrera Urias, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
  7. Jennifer L. Thurston, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  8. Hernan D. Vera, to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

As of Sept. 1, there were 82 Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary of 870 total Article III judgeships. These judges serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, which created and enumerated the powers of the judiciary. They are appointed for life terms. A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away.

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SCOTUS announces it will hear oral arguments in person

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced on Sept. 8 that it would hear oral arguments in person for the first time since March 4, 2020, for its October, November, and December sittings.

However, the court will not be open to the public, in accordance with its current precautions in response to COVID-19. Argument audio will be streamed live to the public, as was the case during the 2020-2021 term. The audio files and argument transcripts for cases will be posted on the Court’s website following oral argument each day.

The Supreme Court’s October sitting is scheduled to begin on October 4. Nine cases have been scheduled for a total of nine hours of oral argument. 

October 4

  1. Mississippi v. Tennessee
  2. Wooden v. United States

October 5

  1. Brown v. Davenport
  2. Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC

October 6

  1. United States v. Zubaydah

October 12

  1. Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C.
  2. Hemphill v. New York

October 13

  1. United States v. Tsarnaev
  2. Babcock v. Saul

As of Sept. 8, the court had agreed to hear 33 cases during the term. Of those, 13 cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

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SCOTUS grants review in capital case

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Sept. 8 accepted a capital case to its merits docket for the 2021-2022 term. The case, Ramirez v. Collier, originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, located in New Orleans.

John Ramirez filed an emergency appeal with the court on Sept. 7 to postpone his execution and to hear his case on the merits. Ramirez was convicted of a 2004 murder and was sentenced to be executed on Sept. 9. Ramirez requested that his pastor be allowed to pray over him and physically touch him in the execution chamber while he was put to death. The State of Texas refused the request. Ramirez argued that this denial was a violation of his constitutional and federally protected religious rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. The state argued that it did not force Ramirez to violate his religion, rather, it was not meeting all of his religious needs. 

SCOTUS granted the emergency appeal to stay the execution and accepted the case for oral arguments this fall in order to consider the aid a spiritual advisor may or may not provide during an execution.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 34 cases for the 2021-2022 term. Two cases were dismissed after they were accepted. Fourteen cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.

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Biden withdraws Chipman from consideration for ATF director

President Joe Biden (D) announced on Sept. 9, 2021, that he was withdrawing David Chipman from consideration for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Chipman, a former ATF agent and senior policy advisor at Giffords, had been nominated in April 2021. The Senate Judiciary Committee declined to report on Chipman’s nomination favorably after it held hearings in May.

“We knew this wouldn’t be easy – there’s only been one Senate-confirmed ATF Director in the Bureau’s history – but I have spent my entire career working to combat the scourge of gun violence, and I remain deeply committed to that work,” Biden said. He did not name a new candidate for the position.

This is Biden’s second major nominee to withdraw. Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget, withdrew in February following bipartisan opposition to her selection. Tanden currently serves in the Biden administration as a senior advisor to the president.

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