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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • Regulator: True Ridesharing Illegal in California

    September 15, 2014 11:34 AM

    In the past, I’ve noted that carve-outs for ridesharing providers leaves more innovative and disruptive business models—particularly future automated services—illegal. While self-driving on-demand transportation services are still a ways off, California’s Public Utilities Commission last week sent letters to Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar warning them that operating commercial carpooling services they have proposed is illegal. (See the letter to Uber here.)

    This is not surprising. The narrow carve-out secured by Uber et al. in California, the “Transportation Network Company,” basically only authorizes taxi-like services that utilize digital hail networks across a distributed ownership model. True commercial ridesharing where co-passengers face individualized fares has long been illegal across the country.

  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    September 15, 2014 7:51 AM

    The number of new regulations topped 2,500 on the year, while the Federal Register added 1,853 pages to end the week just shy of the 55,000 mark.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 64 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register. There were 62 new final rules the previous week.

    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 38 minutes.

    • So far in 2014, 2,521 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,561 new regulations this year. This would be the lowest total in decades; this will likely change as the year goes on.

    • Last week, 1,853 new pages were added to the Federal Register.

    • Currently at 54,872 pages, the 2014 Federal Register is on pace for 77,503 pages. This would be the 6th-largest page count since the Federal Register began publication in 1936.

    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Twenty-nine such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.

    • The total estimated compliance costs of 2014’s economically significant regulations currently ranges from $7.62 billion to $10.87 billion. They also affect several billion dollars of government spending.

    • 206 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.

    • So far in 2014, 483 new rules affect small businesses; 70 of them are classified as significant. 

    Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    September 8, 2014 6:25 AM

    It was a short week due to the Labor Day holiday, but agencies still managed to issue more than 60 new regulations and push the Federal Register over the 53,000-page mark.

  • Strengthening Executive Branch Review of Federal Regulations

    September 3, 2014 9:37 AM

    This week marks the due date of public comments on the 2014 edition of the Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulation

    Unable to resist the urge, we filed comments: The Federal Office of No: Enhancing the Executive Branch Role in Challenging Federal Regulation.

    Despite this Office of Management and Budget report’s being the federal government’s only picture of itself with respect to regulatory benefits and costs, just seven rules in the document featured both benefit and cost analysis.

    Yes, seven rules, in an era in which dozens of departments and agencies issue over 3,500 rules and regulations every year.

    Independent agencies like those implementing the Dodd-Frank financial law (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission) get a pass.

    Agency guidance documents, memoranda, bulletins and notices also get no review, and were never even subject to the Administrative Procedure Act process that governs ordinary regulation.

    There are plenty avenues for making government bigger. So it makes one wonder, what if the president used the “pen and phone” to shrink government rather than grow it?

  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    September 3, 2014 7:12 AM

    In a week like any other, federal agencies issued regulations for everything from dairy farmers’ profit margins to Canadian apple exports.

  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    August 25, 2014 8:07 AM

    The Federal Register burst past the 50,000-page mark with Friday’s 878-page effort, which also contained 21 final regulations and four “significant” documents.

  • Voter Ignorance and Political Reform

    August 20, 2014 3:43 PM

    If you’re a voter in Los Angeles, you just may wind up with an unexpected windfall the next time you cast your ballot.  The Los Angeles Ethics Commission last week recommended that the City Council consider using cash prizes to encourage registered voters to actually vote. Commission President Nathan Hochman tossed out figures of $25,000 and $50,000, to be potentially awarded to one or more randomly chosen voters in each election. This is sure to find a place on the annual “The Government Is Spending My Money on What?” lists in the fiscal conservative world.

    Of course not everyone is in favor of encouraging larger numbers of people to vote in the first place, prize or no prize. Last summer our friends at the Adam Smith Institute in London brought to our attention a poll by Ipsos-MORI on the startling degree to which much of the general public misunderstands important public policy topics. The poll finds that large chunks of the British public wildly overestimate the amount of taxpayer money spent on things like foreign aid and unemployment benefits while underestimating the amount spent on government pensions. Ipsos also found that perceptions of the rates of social indicators like teen pregnancy and violent crime are much higher than they actually are.

  • New RegData Site Makes it Easier to Track Regulation

    August 19, 2014 2:45 PM

    About three years ago, our friends at the Mercatus Center launched a website called RegData that compiles a searchable database on many facets of regulations. For the first time, it also quantified just how many regulatory restrictions are in the 175,000-page Code of Federal Regulations. By doing text searches for terms such as “must,” “shall,” “shall not,” and the like, they found that, as of 2010, there have been more than one million regulatory restrictions. Ten Thousand Commandments turns out to be an understatement, by a factor of one hundred.

    This week a major RegData revamp was released, with more data that is more searchable than before. Head on over and play with the search tools for a bit and see what you’ll find. There is also a short instructional video where Patrick McLaughlin walks you through the site.

  • Red Tapeworm 2014: Are Environmental Protection Agency Regulations Declining? Don't Bet on It

    August 19, 2014 12:56 PM

    This is Part 26 of a series taking a walk through some sections of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State (2014 Edition)

    Back when the House Oversight committee in 2010 asked businesses, trade groups and think tanks which regulations they considered most burdensome, there were more than 160 responses filled with recommendations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) easily dominated the regulatory burden reported by private enterprise.

    In the bar chart nearby one can see that EPA rules finalized in the Federal Register during the first term of the Obama administration rose steadily from 441 to 635 between 2009 and 2012 (a 44 percent increase). But then they suddenly dropped 19 percent to 514 in 2013.

    In the past year, EPA rules in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations pipeline also dropped; 20 percent, from 223 to 179. That’s the lowest level of the decade. And for the second time, the Environmental Protection Agency does not appear among the top-five rulemaking agencies as far as the Unifed Agenda count is concerned. (EPA ranks sixth with 179 rules; refer Table 5 in Ten Thousand Commandments).

    EPA also ostensibly doesn’t rank among the agencies with the most rules in the Unified Agenda impacting small business anymore; note the bar chart’s implausible 88 percent drop from 49 EPA rules impacting small business to only six in 2013.

    A falloff does not square with the level of regulatory impact driven by the EPA. Earlier editions of “Tapeworm” addressed overall rule delays and reporting delays as well as OMB memos affecting reporting policy for the Unified Agenda that reduced rule counts compared to prior years. Also only one Agenda, not the required two, appeared in 2012.

    Washington Post headline summed up: “White House Delayed Enacting Rules Ahead of 2012 Election To Avoid Controversy.”

  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    August 18, 2014 7:14 AM

    75 new regulations, from tax delinquents to spectrum auctions.


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