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U.S. Council on Environmental Quality Issues Climate Change Guidance for NEPA Reviews of Clean Energy Projects

In the January 9 Federal Register, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published updated Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change for the assessment and disclosure of climate impacts related to agency environmental reviews conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NEPA review focus of the guidance is federal agency permitting for clean energy and other infrastructure projects and is designed to provide more clarity and predictability for conducting agency reviews. The guidance highlights existing tools and best practices.

Waters of the United States (WOTUS) New Rule Effective February 28

Hoping to finalize a stable rule that the regulated community can trust, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Corps of Engineers (COE) have promulgated a new rule defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The new rule is the latest episode in a series worthy of an Oscar nomination for best documentary that began in 2015 during the Obama administration.  See earlier rules at 80 FR 37054 (June 29, 2015); 84 FR 56626 (October 22, 2019); 85 FR 22250 (April 21, 2020). The agencies describe this latest iteration as “a clear and reasonable definition of waters of the United States” that is designed to “reduce the uncertainty from constantly changing regulatory definitions that has harmed communities and our nation’s waters.”

2023-2024 Kansas Legislative Session Anticipated Deadlines

The Kansas Legislature convened the first day of the 2023 Session at 2 p.m. on January 9, 2023. Here I outline the anticipated deadlines for introduction and consideration of bills and they must be adopted as part of the Joint Rules of the Senate and House of Representatives for the 2023-2024 biennium. The legislature anticipates a 90-day session, but the length of the session is fluid.

Proposed Rule for Outsourcing by Investment Advisers

The Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing a new rule under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 that would require registered investment advisers to satisfy specific requirements if they outsource certain services or functions. The Proposed Rule (Rule 206(4)-11) imposes due diligence and monitoring obligations for the engagement and retention of service providers and includes changes to Form ADV and to the recordkeeping requirements under Rule 204-2. Investment advisers should become familiar with the Proposed Rule to ensure timely compliance, if it is adopted.

Congress and Regulators Issue Welcome Deadline Relief for Group Health Plans

Sponsors of group health plans received welcome relief from Congress and regulatory agencies which should make health plan administration and reporting less burdensome. The relief comes in the form of a permanent extension of certain Affordable Care Act reporting deadlines, a temporary reprieve from new prescription drug reporting requirements, and a two-year continuation of the ability to offer telehealth and remote care services under HSA-compatible high deductible health plans.

Coming Soon: A Nationwide Ban on Noncompete Agreements?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced new proposed regulations today that, if adopted, will ban the use of noncompete agreements for most workers nationwide. The proposed Non-Compete Clause Rule will prohibit all employers – regardless of size – from imposing covenants not to compete on employees and independent contractors, with no carve-out available that would permit the use of noncompetes with executives or other highly-compensated workers. The rule is not yet in effect, and if enacted, it will not prohibit the continued use of properly drafted non-disclosure and non-solicitation clauses under federal law.

Key Provisions of SECURE 2.0

Congress recently approved some of the most sweeping changes to retirement plans in decades. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 includes the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022. SECURE 2.0 makes numerous changes to qualified retirement plans, 403(b) plans, 457(b) plans, individual retirement accounts, and other employee benefits. The changes are designed to enhance access to retirement savings, preserve income, and lessen administrative burdens.

Employers will need to modify certain aspects of plan administration and make decisions about which optional plan provisions to adopt. This post provides an overview of the most relevant provisions of SECURE 2.0 and their effective dates. We will provide more detailed discussion of SECURE 2.0 and its implications in subsequent posts.

New Federal Protections for Pregnant and Nursing Employees to Take Effect in 2023

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law two laws protecting pregnant and nursing mothers. The two laws were included as part of the bipartisan funding package passed by Congress in late December. The two laws are the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the PWFA), and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act. Together, the PWFA and the PUMP Act are rare bipartisan laws aimed at enhancing protections for pregnant and nursing mothers in the workplace.

Miya’s Law: What Florida Landlords and Tenants Should Know About New Rules for Florida Landlords and Property Managers

Key components of a new law aimed to increase residential tenant safety became effective on January 1, 2023. The law, codified as Florida Statutes Section 83.515, and commonly referred to as “Miya’s Law,” is named after Miya Marcano, an Orlando college student who was tragically murdered in her apartment by a maintenance worker who entered her unit with an apartment key fob. Miya’s Law imposes heightened duties on Florida landlords and property managers. Florida landlords and property managers should be aware of these changes to ensure compliance with the law.

Coming Soon: Retirement Plan Changes Under SECURE 2.0

Legislation included in the huge omnibus spending bill approved by Congress in the waning days of 2022 will require employers to reevaluate and revise the 401(k) and 403(b) retirement plans they sponsor. Now officially known as the SECURE Act 2.0 of 2022, the legislation combines provisions of three separate bills that enjoyed bipartisan support throughout 2022. However, much like its predecessor, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act passed in late 2019, SECURE 2.0’s fate was not known until it was included in must-pass legislation at year’s end.

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