Summary: H.R.2313 — 96th Congress (1979-1980)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Conference report filed in House (05/01/1980)

(Conference report filed in House, H. Rept. 96-917)

Federal Trade Commission Improvements Act of 1980 - Amends the Federal Trade Commission Act to authorize appropriations through fiscal year 1982 for the functions of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at the following levels: $70,000,000 for fiscal year 1980, $75,000,000 for fiscal year 1981, and $80,000,000 for fiscal year 1982.

Directs the FTC to reopen any cease and desist order if the person subject to the order files a request which makes a satisfactory showing of the changed conditions warranting the modification or setting aside of such order.

Directs the FTC to publish a preliminary regulatory analysis for each proposed rule, and a final regulatory analysis for each final rule. Requires these analyses to include the objectives of the regulation, alternatives to the rule, and the projected benefits and adverse economic effects.

Requires the FTC to publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, prior to the notice of proposed rulemaking currently required, to describe the regulatory objectives and to solicit public comment.

Requires publication of a semiannual regulatory agenda listing the rules that the FTC expects to propose or promulgate in the upcoming year.

Limits the FTC's current authority to compensate interests which would otherwise not be adequately represented for the costs of participating in rulemaking proceedings. Reduces the aggregate compensation level per fiscal year from $1,000,000 to $750,000. Sets a $75,000 ceiling on the amount of compensation paid to any person per rulemaking proceeding, and limits to $50,000 per fiscal year the amount of public participation funds which may be received.

Requires that 25 percent of the total compensation per fiscal year be set aside for persons who would be regulated by the proposed rule. Directs the FTC to establish a small business outreach program to solicit comment from small businesses which would not be adequately represented at such proceedings.

Includes a provision designed to insure the independence of presiding officers in rulemaking proceedings. Prohibits a presiding officer from consulting any party or person with respect to any fact in issue unless notice and opportunity for participation is given.

Directs the FTC to promulgate rules providing that ex parte contracts with the Commissioners be on-the-record.

Requires the Commission to establish a plan for reducing the reporting burdens on small businesses with respect to the Quarterly Financial Report (QFR) Program. Directs the FTC to submit such plan to Congress by December 31, 1980.

Specifies and clarifies procedures with respect to the disclosure of materials obtained by compulsory process for law enforcement purposes, the disclosure of confidential commercial and financial information and trade secrets, and the confidentiality of line-of-business reports.

Eliminates the current criminal penalties for failure to comply with a subpoena or lawful requirement of the Commission, but retains such penalties for noncompliance with judicial orders.

Includes a new civil investigative demand (CID) procedure to be used by the FTC in precomplaint actions.

Gives a party which has relied in good faith on Federal Reserve Board regulations, a defense based on such reliance in any FTC enforcement action.

Prohibits the FTC from exercising its current authority under the Lanham Trademark Act for cancellation of a trademark, on the ground that such trademark has become the generic name for the product.

Eliminates the authority of the FTC to promulgate any rule in the pending children's advertising proceeding, or in any substantially similar proceeding, on the basis that such advertising constitutes an unfair act or practice in or affecting commerce. (Leaves unaffected other authority of the FTC to regulate such area.) Suspends through fiscal year 1982 the FTC's authority to regulate commercial advertising on the basis of such unfairness standard.

Suspends the children's advertising proceeding until the Commission complies with a new rulemaking provision, which requires the FTC to include in the proposed rulemaking notice the text of the rule and alternatives.

Authorizes the FTC to use funds authorized by this Act to promulgate the current or similar trade regulation rule concerning funeral industry practices (Federal Register, August 29, 1975, p. 39901) only to the extent that such rule: (1) requires fee or price disclosure; and (2) prohibits persons furnishing goods and services relating to funerals from engaging in specified practices, such as misrepresentation.

Provides that a State requirement which affords to consumers as great a level of protection as the funeral industry requirement of this Act shall not be pre-empted as long as the State effectively enforces its requirement.

Authorizes the FTC to use funds authorized by this Act to investigate or prosecute agricultural cooperatives only to the extent that the conduct at issue violates the antitrust laws or the Federal Trade Commission Act, in excess of the immunity afforded such cooperatives by the Capper-Volstead Act. Prohibits the use of authorized funds for the investigation of agricultural marketing orders.

Exempts the business of insurance from the investigative and reporting powers of the FTC, except for investigations relating to antitrust violations. Permits the Commission to conduct studies and prepare reports on the business of insurance only when requested by a majority of the members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation or the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. Stipulates that the authority created by any such request terminates at the end of the particular Congress.

Permits the FTC to participate in a Department of Health and Human Services study of health insurance policies sold to Medicare-eligible persons.

Prohibits the FTC from promulgating any trade rule or regulation with respect to the development and utilization of standards or certification activities on the basis of unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. (Leaves unaffected other authority of the Commission to regulate such area.)

Sets forth no provisions with respect to used motor vehicles or savings and loan institutions.

Directs the FTC to submit any final rule it promulgates to Congress for review. Permits both Houses of Congress to disapprove by concurrent resolution a proposed rule within 90 calendar days of continuous session of its submission. Requires such resolution to be referred to the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce or the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Makes it in order to move to discharge such Committees from further consideration if the resolution is not reported out within 75 calendar days of continuous session after referral. Makes it in order at any time after either Committee has reported, or been discharged from consideration of, such resolution, to move to proceed to its consideration. Makes such motion privileged in the Senate and highly privileged in the House, and non-debatable. Limits debate on the resolution to ten hours.

Directs the Comptroller General to examine this review procedure for FTC rules and report to Congress by the end of fiscal year 1982.

Provides for an expedited judicial review of the constitutionality of such review procedure.

Requires the Consumer Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to hold oversight hearings on the Commission at least once every six months through fiscal year 1982.