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House Ponders Ban On Federal Regulations

With Congress poised to approve a bill that would enforce a moratorium on new federal regulations, President Clinton last week ordered all federal agencies to issue reports by June 1 recommending which rules should remain on the books.

Mr. Clinton also asked regulators and those affected by rules to discuss ways to "reduce hassle and still achieve the public interest."

The President's announcement came as the House was poised to pass HR 450, a bill that would ban any new federal regulations until the end of the year. The ban would be retroactive to Nov. 20.

The House was to vote on the bill late last week, and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to mark up a similar bill, S 219, this week.

President Clinton did not say last week whether he would veto any regulatory moratorium. But Sally Katzen, the administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's office of information and regulatory affairs, said in a statement that the legislation "in its current form [is] not acceptable."

Human Capital

The National Science Foundation announced plans late last month to award $8 million in grants this year to researchers who are studying ways to increase people's capacity for productive citizenship.

The Human Capital Initiative is the product of a five-year-old effort to bring together research in anthropology, political science, economics, education, psychology, sociology, and other disciplines.

"Why do some of our citizens turn to criminal or abusive behavior, or fail to graduate from high school, or end up in low-paying jobs?" asked Cora Marrett, the n.s.f.'s assistant director for social, behavioral, and economic sciences. "The answer to these kinds of questions hinges on our ability to answer one central scientific question: What determines the capacity for productive citizenship?"

She said the N.S.F. also plans to begin work next year on a longitudinal database to track how people develop skills over time.

More information is available from Daniel Newlon, Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation, Room 995, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22230; (703) 306-1753. The e-mail address is

Immigration Suit

A federal judge in San Diego has thrown out a lawsuit filed by California officials seeking to recoup an estimated $2.4 billion from the federal government for services the state provides to illegal immigrants. The suit, filed last April, seeks $1.7 billion for the estimated cost of educating undocumented students.

U.S. District Judge Judith Keep's decision follows a December ruling that dismissed a similar suit filed by the state of Florida. Texas, Arizona, New Jersey, and New York have also filed similar suits, but not all seek a payback for education costs.

Judge Keep said that there is no legal precedent for a state to sue the federal government for failing to enforce immigration laws.

Gov. Pete Wilson of California pledged to appeal the ruling.

His statement also termed a prison-construction bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives a "major legislative victory," noting that it would authorize $650 million to defray state and local prison costs related to illegal immigrants.

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