Federal News Roundup
In spite of statements last month to the contrary, the Office of Management and Budget still has not released more than $19 million in funds that Congress earmarked for public libraries under the 1982 continuing resolution.
The state of New York, which had cancelled a lawsuit it was planning to file in order to recover its share of the funds, now will go ahead with its plans to sue, a spokesman said last week.
At issue is the executive branch's authority to withhold the funds pending a rescission from the $71.5-million appropriation for public libraries passed by Congress under the Library Services and Construction Act. The Reagan Administration has proposed reducing that amount to $51.8 million.
A letter sent by the U.S. Comptroller General to the budget office last month asserted that spending under the President's proposed budget, rather than the level set by the Congress, was illegal.
Edwin L. Dale Jr., spokesman for the budget office, said the officials there were "still working on" the issue of whether the Administration is legally required to release the funds.
In what some critics have claimed is an attempt to bypass the Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services has published a "proposed rule" that would require federally supported family-planning projects to notify the parents of "unemancipated minors" who are provided with prescription birth-control devices and drugs. The proposed rule was published in the Feb. 22 Federal Register.
If put into effect, the rule would amend the regulations that govern the program for family-planning services, funded under Title X of the Public Health Services Act. The department would modify the regulation, according to the secretary, Richard S. Schweiker, in response to an amendment passed by Congress last August. The amendment requires family-planning projects to "encourage" family participation, but specifies that parental notification is not required.
The rule was a source of controversy before its publication (see Education Week, Feb. 24.), with critics claiming that the rule ignored the intent of Congress, and supporters saying that it would return to parents their lawful rights. The controversy can be expected to accelerate now that the rule has actually been published.
Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted in writing no later than April 23 to Marjory Mecklenburg, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, Room 725H, 200 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201.