[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 43 (Wednesday, March 5, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 12434-12436]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-04647]


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DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

28 CFR Part 32

[Docket No.: OJP (BJA) 1646]
RIN 1121-AA80


Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program

AGENCY: Office of Justice Programs, Justice.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) of the U.S. Department of 
Justice proposes this rule to amend the regulation that implements the 
Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) Act and associated statutes. 
Generally speaking, these laws provide financial support to certain 
public safety officers, or their survivors and families, when such 
officers die, or become permanently and totally disabled, as a result 
of line-of-duty injuries, or when they die of heart attacks or strokes 
sustained within statutorily-specified timeframes of engaging or 
participating in certain line-of-duty activity. The proposed rule would 
amend the implementing regulation in order to change the definition of 
``Spouse.''

DATES: Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must 
be submitted on or before April 4, 2014. Comments received by mail will 
be considered timely if they are postmarked on or before that date. The 
electronic Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) will accept comments 
until Midnight Eastern Time at the end of that day.

ADDRESSES: Please address all comments regarding this rule by U.S. 
mail, to: Hope Janke, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of 
Justice Programs, 810 7th Street NW., Washington, DC 20531; or by 
telefacsimile to (202) 354-4135. To ensure proper handling, please 
reference OJP Docket No. 1646 on your correspondence. Comments may also 
be sent electronically through http://regulations.gov using the 
electronic comment form provided on that site. An electronic copy of 
this document is also available at the http://regulations.gov Web site. 
OJP will accept attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, 
WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF formats only. The public's opportunity to 
comment through http://regulations.gov terminates at midnight Eastern 
Time on the day that the comment period closes. All comments received 
via U.S. mail, or an express mail carrier, must be postmarked on or 
before the day that the comment period closes.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Hope Janke, BJA, OJP, at (202) 514-
6278, or toll-free at 1 (888) 744-6513.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

[[Page 12435]]

I. Posting of Public Comments

    Please note that all comments received are considered part of the 
public record and made available for public inspection online at http://www.regulations.gov. Information made available for public inspection 
includes personal identifying information (such as your name, address, 
etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter.
    If you wish to submit personal identifying information (such as 
your name, address, etc.) as part of your comment, but do not wish it 
to be posted online, you must include the phrase ``PERSONAL IDENTIFYING 
INFORMATION'' in the first paragraph of your comment. You must also 
locate all the personal identifying information that you do not want 
posted online in the first paragraph of your comment and identify what 
information you want the agency to redact. Personal identifying 
information identified and located as set forth above will be placed in 
the agency's public docket file, but not posted online.
    If you wish to submit confidential business information as part of 
your comment but do not wish it to be posted online, you must include 
the phrase ``CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS INFORMATION'' in the first paragraph 
of your comment. You must also prominently identify confidential 
business information to be redacted within the comment. If a comment 
has so much confidential business information that it cannot be 
effectively redacted, the agency may choose not to post that comment 
(or to only partially post that comment) on http://www.regulations.gov. 
Confidential business information identified and located as set forth 
above will not be placed in the public docket file, nor will it be 
posted online.
    If you wish to inspect the agency's public docket file in person by 
appointment, please see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT paragraph.

II. Background

    The Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) Program (established 
pursuant to the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Act of 1976 proper and 
certain associated statutes, enacted in 2001) is administered by the 
Office of Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice. The PSOB 
Program provides a one-time financial payment to the statutorily-
eligible survivors (including ``spouse[s]'') of public safety officers 
who die as the direct and proximate result of (actual or presumed) 
traumatic personal injuries sustained in the line of duty, as well as 
educational assistance for their ``spouse[s]'' and certain of their 
children. Alternatively, the PSOB Program provides a one-time financial 
payment to public safety officers themselves who are permanently and 
totally disabled as the direct and proximate result of personal 
injuries sustained in the line of duty, as well as educational 
assistance for their ``spouse[s]'' and certain of their children.
    Following the recent Supreme Court decision in United States v. 
Windsor, 570 U.S. ------(2013), OJP is proposing this rule to amend the 
regulatory definition of ``spouse'' under the program, at 28 CFR 32.3. 
The proposed rule would recognize, as a matter of federal law, a person 
who lawfully enters into a marriage in one jurisdiction as a ``spouse'' 
for purposes of the program, even when living in another jurisdiction, 
and without regard to what the law of that other jurisdiction may 
provide. Consonant with prior program regulations, however, an 
exception to this general rule would apply where there is credible 
evidence that more than one person may be the public safety officer's 
spouse. In such cases, the PSOB Program would look to the jurisdiction 
with the most significant interest in the marital status of the 
officer.
    As provided in 42 U.S.C. 3796c-2, any final rule promulgated 
pursuant to the proposed rule would ``apply to any matter pending on, 
or filed or accruing after, the effective date'' of that final rule.

III. Regulatory Requirements

Executive Order 12866 and 13563--Regulatory Planning and Review

    This proposed rule has been drafted and reviewed in accordance with 
Executive Order 12866, ``Regulatory Planning and Review,'' section 
1(b), Principles of Regulation, and in accordance with Executive Order 
13563, ``Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,'' section 1(b), 
General Principles of Regulation. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 
direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available 
regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select 
regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential 
economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive 
impacts, and equity). The costs of implementing this proposed rule 
would be minimal, as it would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments, or on the private sector.
    The Office of Justice Programs has determined that this proposed 
rule is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under section 3(f) of 
the Executive Order, and accordingly this rule has not been reviewed by 
the Office of Management and Budget.

Executive Order 13132--Federalism

    This proposed rule would not have substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the federal government and the 
States, or on distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government. The PSOB program statutes provide 
benefits to individuals and do not impose any special or unique 
requirements on States or localities. Therefore, in accordance with 
Executive Order No. 13132, it is determined that this proposed rule 
does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

Executive Order 12988--Civil Justice Reform

    This proposed rule meets the applicable standards set forth in 
sections 3(a) & (b)(2) of Executive Order No. 12988. Pursuant to 
section 3(b)(1)(I) of the Executive Order, nothing in this proposed 
rule or any previous rule (or in any administrative policy, directive, 
ruling, notice, guideline, guidance, or writing) directly relating to 
the Program that is the subject of this rule is intended to create any 
legal or procedural rights enforceable against the United States, 
except as the same may be contained within part 32 of title 28 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of small entities for the following reasons: this 
proposed rule addresses federal agency procedures; furthermore, this 
proposed rule would make amendments to clarify existing regulations and 
agency practice concerning public safety officers' death, disability, 
and education benefits and would do nothing to increase the financial 
burden on any small entities. Therefore, an analysis of the impact of 
this proposed rule on such entities is not required under the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.).

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This proposed rule would not impose any new reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

[[Page 12436]]

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This proposed rule would not result in the expenditure by State, 
local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private 
sector, of $100,000,000 or more in any one year, and it will not 
significantly or uniquely affect small governments. The PSOB program is 
a federal benefits program that provides benefits directly to 
qualifying individuals. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary 
under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

List of Subjects in 28 CFR Part 32

    Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Disability benefits, 
Education, Emergency medical services, Firefighters, Law enforcement 
officers, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Rescue squad.

    Accordingly, for the reasons set forth in the preamble, part 32 of 
chapter I of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations is proposed to 
be amended as follows:

PART 32--PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS' DEATH, DISABILITY, AND EDUCATIONAL 
ASSISTANCE BENEFITS CLAIMS

0
1. The authority citation for 28 CFR Part 32 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. ch. 46, subch. XII; 42 U.S.C. 3782(a), 
3787, 3788, 3791(a), 3793(a)(4) & (b), 3795a, 3796c-1, 3796c-2; sec. 
1601, title XI, Public Law 90-351, 82 Stat. 239; secs. 4 through 6, 
Public Law 94-430, 90 Stat. 1348; secs. 1 and 2, Public Law 107-37, 
115 Stat. 219.

0
2. Section 32.3 is amended by revising the definition of ``Spouse'' to 
read as follows:


Sec.  32.3  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Spouse means someone with whom an individual entered into marriage 
lawfully under the law of the jurisdiction in which it was entered into 
and from whom the individual is not divorced, and includes a spouse 
living apart from the individual, other than pursuant to divorce, 
except that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, to determine 
whether an individual is a spouse of a public safety officer within the 
meaning of this definition when more than one individual is purported 
to be such a spouse, the PSOB Program will apply the law of the 
jurisdiction that it determines has the most significant interest in 
the marital status of the public safety officer:
    (1) On the date of the officer's death, with respect to a claim 
under subpart B of this part or by virtue of such death; or
    (2) As of the injury date, with respect to a claim not under 
subpart B of this part or by virtue of the officer's death.
* * * * *

    Dated: February 21, 2014.
Karol V. Mason,
Assistant Attorney General.
[FR Doc. 2014-04647 Filed 3-4-14; 8:45 am]
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