04/11/2011 12:17 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2011

Despite Massive Leaks That Pollute Groundwater, Nuclear Agency Has Never Fined Violator

Welcome to "The Watchdog," which will keep a close eye on regulatory agencies and how their actions impact the lives of everyday Americans. Though the rules and regulations they write -- from determining how much arsenic is allowable in your drinking water to whether your favorite TV show can drop the F-bomb in primetime -- affect all of us, their deliberations and the way that lobbyists influence their decisions receive very little coverage. To make sense of these debates, follow the implementation of health care and financial reform and decipher the minutia of the Federal Register, "The Watchdog" is on the case. If you have any tips, send them to marcus@huffingtonpost.com.

04/11/2011 11:33 AM EDT

Florida Lawmakers May Gut Rule That Keeps Charities From Making False Claims

Lawmakers in Florida want to repeal laws that keep charities from making false claims, regulate telemarketers -- despite the fact that telemarketing complaints are the top subject of complaints to a state consumer hotline -- and force auto repair shops to give you estimates.

Four-term legislator Rep. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) told the House Appropriations Committee that the bill would ease regulation and costs for more than 100,000 people or businesses and repeal "unnecessary licensing requirements," reports The Florida Times-Union.

The legislation, CS/HB 5005, passed through the committee despite testimony by some industries that they didn't actually want to be deregulated.

Per the Times-Union:

By repealing the statute that makes charities and fundraising businesses register with the state, the bill would also eliminate rules that forbid fundraisers working for charity from making false claims, or not delivering their collections to the charity. Both of those could arguably still be prosecuted as criminal fraud but in the current fundraising statute they are felonies.

Rep. Hukill, the deregulation bill's chief supporter, did not return several calls for comment from The Huffington Post.

04/11/2011 11:17 AM EDT

The Wake-Up Call: Despite Massive Leaks, NRC Has Never Fined Violator

• Despite massive leaks that pollute groundwater, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has never fined a violator -- not even plant operators that repeatedly leaked tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen and a common byproduct of nuclear fission that can cause cancer. Per the Asbury Park Press's extensive report:

"The critics says the NRC's lax oversight has allowed the radioactive leaks to go on for decades -- with little regard for the public's health."

• NY Fed chairman Bill Dudley made a speech, entitled "Regulatory reform of the global financial system", at a meeting hosted by the Institute of Regulation & Risk in Tokyo: "Already, some bankers are arguing that it is time to get back to “business as usual.” We have seen that “business as usual” results in unacceptable outcomes."

• The U.S. Coast Guard found its response to the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year was hampered by a lack of preparation and forethought, according to the agency's own internal review. The review said that the Coast Guard's ability to respond to environmental catastrophes had "atrophied over the past decade," possibly because the agency had focused on meeting new homeland security requirements, according to a report dated January 2011.

• Part-time workers at Japanese nuclear plants are often paid less and exposed to more danger than full-time employees. Some of them are hired by local gangsters -- these contract employees live in "constant fear of getting fired, trying to hide injuries to avoid trouble for their employers, carrying skin-colored adhesive bandages to cover up cuts and bruises."