This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

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COVID vaccine rollout has started. While immunizing millions of people will take several months, it looks like the worst is almost past. For scientists to come up with a vaccine for a brand-new disease in about one year is an achievement without precedent in human history. Public policy lessons abound about the need for openness and cooperation, letting innovation happen, speeding up regulatory approvals, and cleaning out #NeverNeeded regulations. President Trump’s final Federal Register, at 82,254 pages and counting, is already the longest ever issued by a Republican president, with two weeks left in the year. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from showerheads to steroids.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 85 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 67 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 59 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 3,242 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,335 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 43 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 2,098 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,158 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was also 2,158 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 473 notices, for a total of 21,733 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,356 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 2,288 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,881 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 82,524 pages. It is on pace for 84,892 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. Five 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 $2.04 billion and $5.69 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 76 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 645 new rules affect small businesses; 26 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.