This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

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Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed 4 million last week. Deaths surpassed 140,000. Congress returned to session after its July 4 break and is putting together another stimulus package. The 2020 Federal Register also surpassed 45,000 pages, and is averaging 315 more pages per day than in past years, more than 10 percent over last year. On the bright side, baseball is back, the NBA is about to resume its season, and this analyst has missed them both. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from small satellites to lithograph emissions.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 79 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 71 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and eight minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 1,811 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,166 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were also 59 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,246 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,178 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,191 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 444 notices, for a total of 12,639 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 21,624 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,374 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,773 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 45,055 pages. It is on pace for 78,768 pages. The 2019 total was 70,938 pages. The all-time record adjusted page count (which subtracts skips, jumps, and blank pages) is 96,994, set in 2016.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Three such rules have been published this year. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $1.38 billion and $4.19 billion. 2019’s total ranges from net savings of $350 million to $650 million, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 39 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 346 new rules affect small businesses; 14 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.