This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The 2020 election is finally, mercifully, over. Barring a surprise in the Georgia Senate runoffs, we will continue to have divided government. This arrangement typically gives the slowest growing government—though with the tradeoff that positive reforms become more difficult, too. It was also a four-day work week for the federal government, which closed Wednesday in observance of Veteran’s Day. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from NASA rewards to Samoan swordfish.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 58 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 54 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,877 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,269 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 36 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,910 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,169 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,170 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 318 notices, for a total of 19,551 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,217 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,674 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,103 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 72,897 pages. It is on pace for 82,838 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. Four 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 $1.19 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 63 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 575 new rules affect small businesses; 24 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.