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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

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

    July 6, 2015 8:28 AM

    It was a short work week due to the July 4 holiday, but regulators still managed to publish 34 proposed regulations and more than 90 final regulations covering everything from cranberries to rules of acquisition.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 91 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 64 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 51 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 1,602 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,071 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total of 3,154-plus.
    • Last week, 1,478 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,343 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 38,258 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 75,312 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Fourteen such rules have been published so far this year, one in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $1.14 billion to $1.22 billion for the current year.
    • 133 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 269 new rules affect small businesses; 40 of them are classified as significant. 
  • Independence Day? Yeah, Right: A Fourth of July Roundup of Federal Regulation

    July 1, 2015 10:47 AM

    Congress is in recess and can’t do any more damage as the Fourth of July approaches, but federal agencies remain in business until they enjoy their federal holiday on Friday.

    That matters. In our annual Ten Thousand Commandments, we show that those federal agencies now do the bulk of lawmaking in the founders’ republic, never mind their having been elected by no one. And over-regulation is a bipartisan phenomenon.

    At calendar year-end 2014, the Federal Register stood at 77,687 pages. The Register is the daily depository of federal rules, regulations, notices and presidential documents. While that’s “only” the sixth highest level ever, five of those six have occurred under the current administration.

    Among those pages, there were 3,554 final rules (with another 2,383 at the proposed stage). Congress passed 224 laws during the year. So the multiple of agency rules over laws was 16. I like to call that multiple the “Unconstitutionality Index.”

    So here we are, at nearly mid-year. What have the agencies been up to in 2015?

    Well, the Federal Register stands at 37,845 pages as of today, July 1.

    The number of final rules issued so far in 2015 is 1,568. Of these, 130 are considered “significant” under E.O. 12866. Often that means they may cost over $100 million annually, sometimes they are considered significant for other more or less dramatic reasons, like when they do something “serious,” “material,” or “novel.”  

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

    June 29, 2015 2:14 PM

    The big news from last week was the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision, which upheld the IRS’ right to issue regulations directly contradicting legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president. But other agencies also issued more than 60 new regulations covering everything from cotton farmers’ conduct to infant formula.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 64 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 81 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 38 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 1,511 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,071 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,343 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,542 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 36,780 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 74,757 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Thirteen such rules have been published so far this year, two in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $1.50 billion to $1.57 billion for the current year.
    • 125 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 261 new rules affect small businesses; 37 of them are classified as significant. 
  • One Nation, Ungovernable? Confronting the Modern Regulatory State

    June 22, 2015 4:05 PM

    (Note: What follows is a hyperlinked version of the introductory paragraphs to the chapter of the same name in the new Fraser Institute/Mercatus Center book What America’s Decline in Economic Freedom Means for Entrepreneurship and Prosperity, edited by Donald J. Boudreaux.)

    When policymakers neglect federal regulation, they ignore arguably the greatest element of governmental influence in the United States’ economy and perhaps in society itself. One cannot prove it, but it would be no great surprise to find the regulatory enterprise to constitute a greater bulk than federal spending. As a policy concern, regulation merits attention like the $18 trillion national debt receives. This essay provides a roadmap for focusing attention on regulation.

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

    June 22, 2015 9:40 AM

    The Federal Register passed the 35,000-page mark with new regulations covering everything from food additives to chimpanzees.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 81 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 64 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 4 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 1,446 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of exactly 3,064 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,542 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,752 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 35,437 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 75,078 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Eleven such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $1.39 billion to $1.46 billion for the current year.
    • 119 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 255 new rules affect small businesses; 35 of them are classified as significant. 
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    June 15, 2015 7:45 AM

    It was a prolific week for the Federal Register, with more than 1,700 pages covering everything from real estate appraisal to water banks.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 64 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 65 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 38 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 1,365 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of exactly 3,020 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,752 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,344 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 33,895 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 74,989 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Eleven such rules have been published so far this year, two in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $1.39 billion to $1.46 billion for the current year.
    • 114 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 235 new rules affect small businesses; 34 of them are classified as significant. 
  • How Many Significant Regulations Escape Congress' Notice?

    June 11, 2015 1:06 PM

    The Spring 2015 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions was released in late May, presenting recently completed actions and ongoing priorities of the federal bureaucracy. It covered 3,260 rules and regulations in the pipeline.

    Among these, there are 205 “economically significant” rules highlighted; this subset sports economic impacts of $100 million or more annually.

    Shortly after the Agenda appeared, the Environmental Protection Agency’s sweeping new Clean Water Rule on nationwide permitting on private property was released and got a lot of attention in the news. It’s known as the Waters of the United States rule, and promises huge burdens on landowners and farmers who have no “navigable waters” on their property. Congress is looking at ways to respond to one of the most notorious current regulations.

    Yet, when I glanced at the list of economically significant rules in the Unified Agenda, this heavyweight wasn’t listed among them.

    Incredibly, EPA lists the Clean Water Rule as merely “other significant” (a category defined in Executive Order 12866). The agency had received over a million comments on the rule that it apparently played a role itself in soliciting to reinforce this power grab.

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

    June 8, 2015 2:44 PM

    New regulations last week covered everything from growing cherries to airport security fees to preventing collisions at sea.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 65 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 70 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 35 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 1,301 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of exactly 3,012 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,344 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 980 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 32,143 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 74,406 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Nine such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $1.36 billion to $1.44 billion for the current year.
    • 109 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 220 new rules affect small businesses; 33 of them are classified as significant. 
  • Obama Has Issued More "Economically Significant" Rules in 6.5 Years than Bush Did in Eight

    June 4, 2015 12:27 PM

    It happens to be the case that, in terms of overall counts of rules and regulations published in the Federal Register as final rules, the George W. Bush administration tops that of Barack Obama.

    In its first six years, The Bush administration issued 24,241 rules; an average of 4,040 annually.

    The Obama Administration, in its first six years, issued 21,804, for an average so far of 3,634 each year.

    That Republicans are heavy regulators is no surprise. Books have been written about business as usual under the GOP once it gains power. News reports today in fact illustrate that Republicans will extend Obamacare subsidies in the event of a Supreme Court decision finding them illegal in the dozens of states that didn’t set up their own health care exchanges.

    That means future Republicans candidates in the America of tomorrow are likely to defend positive rights to Obamacare funded by others either with or without a Supreme Court victory this month, just as they now do with respect to programs like Medicare and Social Security spawned by their progressive nominal opponents. (Alternatively, rising insurance rates could lead to insurance company demonization sufficient enough to effect the transformation to a single-payer system that some planners preferred in the first place; if that happens, Republicans will ultimately defend that too.)

  • Here Are All 205 "Economically Significant" Rules in the Spring 2015 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations

    June 2, 2015 11:15 AM

    The Spring 2015 Unified Agenda of Federal Deregulatory and Regulatory Actions was released by the Obama administration just before Memorial Day weekend.

    It’s less of a “memorial” to the American idea of liberty than a monument to red tape.

    Many recognize that the already obscure (but eye-opening) document tends to be released just before holiday weekends, as if to escape notice.

    The Agenda is a twice-annual cross-section of the regulatory state. It’s a pipeline showing the flow of rules and regulations at the "Active" (pre-rule, proposed and final rule states), "Completed" and "Long-term" phases.

    The total number of rules in the Agenda is 3,260; that consists of 2,323 Active, 477 Completed and 460 Long-term.

    Items featured or prioritized in the Agenda vary over the years, creating confusion and making it hard to compare Agendas. For example, the Obama administration recently to de-emphasize some "Long-term" rules, when those are actually very important to know about for planning purposes.

    Often the rules listed are holdovers from prior years. Nonetheless, since over 3,500 rules are finalized each year (there were 3,554 in 2014); this just tells us that many rules never appear in the Agenda at all.

    Except for the long-term category, there are fewer rules compared to last spring; but the new Agenda contains one of the costliest rules, the national ozone standard from the Environmental Protection Agency among much else.

    A portion of these rules, like the ozone standard, are officially considered “economically significant” which means they have economic effects (usually costs rather than savings) of at least $100 million every year.

    Economically significant leaves out those matters that agencies prefer not to recognize as such.

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