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Guest Article

Obama Administration to Make Regulatory Review

(aka Freeze on Regulations by Obama Administration)

One of the first items of business for the Obama administration was a "Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments and Agencies" issued by Rham Emanuel shortly after noon on Inauguration Day. The memo is comparable to a similar memo issued in the first days of the Bush administration. OMB has issued a memo about implementation of the review.

What does this mean to employee benefits? The long-term effects are unpredictable, but the DOL investment advice regulations printed in the Federal Register on January 21 are clearly covered.

Given the public objections to those regulations from Rep. George Miller (House Education and Labor Committee Chairman), it looks as if those are likely to see some changes.

Some other benefits-related regulations within the "not yet effective" window of Emanuel's memo are:

  • DOL final regulations on civil penalties under ERISA 502(c)(4), published 1/3/09
  • PBGC final regulations on allocation of unfunded vested benefits to withdrawing employers from a multiemployer pension plan, published 12/30/08
  • IRS proposed regulations with respect to the calculation of the amounts includible in income under section 409A(a) and the calculation of the additional taxes under section 409A(a), published 12/8/08

There are other examples, but in our practice it's interesting to note that many IRS and DOL promulgations are not referred to as "Regulations" or "normally published in the Federal Register." But we may soon see promulgations from Treasury, IRS, DOL or other agencies telling us which of their publications are within these rules.

Thomas Campbell Farnam
The Farnam Law Firm
Employee Benefit Matters Exclusively

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