This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

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Last week’s drama over the combined COVID-19 spending bill and omnibus budget bill ran over into Christmas, spoiling a three-day work week in Washington. In happier news, the COVID-19 vaccine had already reached a million people by Christmas Eve. This is a major accomplishment, considering the disease has existed for barely a year. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from fighter jets to non-small businesses.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 53 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 85 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 10 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 3,295 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,348 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 26 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 2,124 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 361 notices, for a total of 22,094 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,452 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,326 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 2,288 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 84,198 pages. It is on pace for 85,562 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 78 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 657 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.