This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Contact lens GettyImages-923807142

Photo Credit: Getty

The spring 2020 Unified Agenda was published on August 17. Due four months ago, it collects every rulemaking agency’s plans for upcoming regulations. The fall 2020 edition is due in October, and this analyst is skeptical that it will appear on time. The number of new rules this year surpassed 2,000 last week. The 2020 Federal Register surpassed 50,000 pages, and is on pace to exceed last year’s edition by more than 12 percent. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from cooking with energy to contact lens prescriptions.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 78 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 51 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and nine minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,061 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,161 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 24 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,380 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,169 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,146 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 392 notices, for a total of 13,911 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 21,117 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 2,082 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,863 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 52,024 pages. It is on pace for 79,792 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 46 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 411 new rules affect small businesses; 18 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.