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EPA Drops Tough New Lead Paint Rule In Face Of Industry Opposition

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LEAD PAINT
AP

If you're not a regular reader of Professional Door Dealer magazine, you may have been unaware of the lobbying battle over a proposal to toughen lead paint rules in schools, day care facilities and homes. The Environmental Protection Agency dropped on Friday an effort to add more testing requirements to existing lead paint rules in the face of fierce opposition from construction groups and other businesses. The original rule requires strict regulations for businesses that repair old buildings to ensure low levels of lead, a substance that has been found to cause brain damage in children.

The proposal was strongly opposed by the home-building lobbying groups, which claimed that it would cost an extra $100 to $500 per project and hurt business. Recently, the Window and Door Dealers Alliance made the battle a top priority and "organized industry leaders to attend a White House meeting with top Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs officials in order to present the industry case against the regulation," National Glass Association vice president David Walker told Glass magazine.

In addition, the industry pressured members of Congress, including Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) who offered last week an amendment to an appropriations bill that would make it more difficult for the EPA to enforce its Lead: Repair, Renovation and Painting rule.

In Switch, FAA Allows Aircraft Companies To Certify Safety Of Its Products

Today's must-read: The Seattle Times has an excellent look at how a new Federal Aviation Administration program gives aircraft companies the power to certify the safety of their own planes.

Until now, the FAA appointed inspectors at the companies or outside contractors to report directly to the agency. Now, those those in-house staffers who assess the safety of products will report to the companies themselves. The self-certifying program applies to nine companies, including Northwest Airlines, Gulfstream, and Jamco, a supplier to Boeing and Airbus -- and by next year, aerospace giants like Boeing will join the program. The FAA emphasized that only companies with a track record of competence can qualify.

But aviation safety experts, such as Jim Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, criticized the new approach.

"The federal government, because of shrinking resources, is turning over key parts of transportation-safety oversight" to private industry, Hall told the Seattle Times. "History tells us this could be a very dangerous path," he said, citing the 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia as a possible consequence of self-regulation.

Greyhound Supports Bus Safety Bill

Bus safety legislation got a major boost with the support of a bipartisan group of senators and Greyhound, the nation's largest bus company.

The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, which was proposed in the wake of several high-profile fatal bus accidents earlier this year, requires safety improvements in the manufacture and operation of buses, and gives regulators more tools to crack down on unsafe drivers. Over the course of a few days in March, 17 people were killed in two separate bus accidents.

"I applaud Greyhound for their commitment to passenger safety and I hope others will follow their lead on this critical issue. Congress must move forward on passing this bipartisan legislation before more lives are wasted in tragedies that are entirely preventable," Sen. Hutchison (R-Texas) said.

U.S. Attorney: Nursing Home Billed Medicare For 'Worthless' Care That Led To Deaths

A nursing home chain that complained two weeks ago about lower Medicare reimbursement rates under health care reform was accused today of billing Medicare and Medicaid for "worthless" care that lead to deaths and injuries.

In the first such suit ever filed in Kentucky, the U.S. Attorney's office in the eastern district of the state filed a complaint alleging that a nursing home owned by Carespring Health Care Management defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by submitting bills for systemically poor care of residents -- numerous patients suffered serious injuries and five patients died from 2004 to 2008, according to the complaint, reported the Lexington Herald-Leader. Officials at Villaspring Health Care and Rehabilitation have been cited several times for inadequate care in previous years.

On June 11, Carespring filed a comment with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, complaining about a proposed recalibration of the formula used by the agency to reimburse health facilities. "If the expectation is for us to continue to provide excellent care to the Medicare beneficiaries, ample reimbursement is a necessity in providing this care and to offset the rising costs of operations and staffing."

CFPB Picks Up The Pace Of Staffing

The pace is picking up at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In addition to naming Richard Cordray as the new director in a much-anticipated decision, the new bureau has lured 172 staffers from other regulatory agencies, about half the number who were approached and offered transfers, according to a Treasury department inspector general's report released on Friday. The bureau is also hiring to fill several positions and has received several thousand applications. Areas that need people include the Supervision, Fair Lending and Enforcement division and the Consumer Education and Engagement division.

In addition to its Washington headquarters, the bureau plans to set up three regional offices in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. And the bureau's Consumer Response Center will begin taking website inquiries, phone calls and complaints starting on Thursday.

On a related front, iWatchNews.com has an excellent series of stories called "Debt Deception", profiling a variety of Americans who are suffering from borrowing nightmares, which the CFPB is intending to address. On Friday, Amy Biegelsen reported on Mildred Morris, a single mother in West Virginia who lost her Pontiac Sunfire after using it to secure a $700 loan to pay for her son's college dorm fee.

Goldman Floods Regulators To Influence Dodd-Frank

In other Dodd-Frank news, the Sunlight Foundation has a new feature that tracks every disclosed meeting financial regulators have with lobbyists, executives from Wall Street and the financial industry.

Goldman Sachs dominates the 2,000-plus meeting list with 83 meetings -- including one day, June 14, when the firm's reps went to four separate meetings with CFTC officials to discuss swaps-trading rules.

After Goldman comes JP Morgan Chase, with 73 meetings, Morgan Stanley, with 58 meetings, and Bank of America, with 55 meetings.

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