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Governors, Mayors Ask Trump to Halt Regulatory Comment Clock (1)

March 20, 2020, 5:51 PMUpdated: March 20, 2020, 7:24 PM

More than 1,000 proposed federal rules and regulatory actions are due to finish their public comment periods while stakeholders are distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Governors Association and others wrote to President Donald Trump.

Nine state and local government associations asked Trump to pause the comment periods for all active federal rulemaking and notices, according to their letter dated Friday.

The pandemic’s “extreme impact on normal working and living conditions will impair the ability of not only state and local officials, but also the general public, issue experts and others to provide thoughtful and meaningful participation and involvement in potential federal government actions that directly affect millions of people,” the groups wrote.

Signing on to the letter along with the governors association were the U.S. Conference of Mayors; National Conference of State Legislatures; National League of Cities; National Association of Counties; Government Finance Officers Association; Council of State Governments; International City/County Management Association; and National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers.

The website for commenting on federal proposals, regulations.gov, shows nearly 700 comment periods due to close within 30 days and more than 1,000 that will close in 90 days, according to the letter.

The letter urged Trump to “extend agency comment periods for a reasonable period of time.”

Similar letters sent earlier this week to Russell Vought, acting director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, also urged him to require federal agencies to extend their public comment periods. One letter came from the Center for Progressive Reform and another from a coalition of 170 groups including environmental, public-interest, and labor advocates.

The regulatory actions where comment periods close within 30 days cover a broad range of topics, including restrictions on companies’ “significant new use” of certain chemicals, filing fees for foreign investors giving notice of U.S. real estate and other kinds of transactions, applications to register new pesticides for use in the U.S., and rules for banks to satisfy the community reinvestment requirements in federal law.

Also pending with comments due by April 9 is a regulation to allow federal government employees to drop their union membership any time after their first year of membership, not just during a specified period each year. The proposal from the Federal Labor Relations Authority follows up on a decision it issued in February that was challenged in court by several federal workers unions.

(Updated with examples of pending regulations in 8th paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Marr in Atlanta at cmarr@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com

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