Federal File: 'Squeal' Rule; Streamlined Rule; Advocay Rule
The proposed federal regulation to require federally funded clinics to notify parents whose daughters have purchased prescription contraceptives is scheduled to take effect on Feb. 25, but the rule is facing three separate court challenges.
The so-called "squeal" rule, published in the Federal Register on Jan. 26, requires clinics around the country to notify parents within 10 days if they prescribe contraceptives for girls under the age of 18.
Separate lawsuits challenging the regulation have been filed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.
In addition, spokesmen for the State of New York, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Constitutional Rights said that a suit would be filed on behalf of the state and the organizations.
The regulation, which covers clinics funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, was made final earlier than the department's officials had expected, due to opposition to the rule by the department's new Secretary, Margaret M. Heckler, last year when she was a member of Congress.
New guidelines designed to simplify procedures used by state and local governments in commenting on, complaining about, or requesting changes in, federal education programs were published in the Federal Register on Jan. 24.
The proposed regulations, which affect programs administered by the Education Department and 26 other federal agencies, were designed to "streamline" the comment process, which is considered burdensome to state and local governments.
The regulations ask each state to designate a single state official to serve as a "point of contact" with federal agencies, and they require agency heads to "consult with" those officials at least 30 days before a new federal initiative is put in place.
The agencies would not be required to make changes requested by the states, however. Comments regarding the new "comment rules" will be accepted by the departments until March 10.
Another set of proposed rules--those designed to tighten restrictions on lobbying by federal grant recipients--was scheduled for publication in the Federal Register late last week.
The new regulations, promulgated by the Office of Management and Budget, would prohibit organizations that both receive government grants and engage in "political advocacy" from conducting both kinds of activity out of the same office.
They would also prohibit officials of such organizations from collecting parts of their salaries for lobbying and parts for administrative activities; organizations or officials who violated the rules would lose federal funds.
Prohibited lobbying activities would include: political campaign work, "communication" with elected or appointed officials, participation in federal rule-making proceedings, and participation in litigation as a "friend of the court."--ew