This Week in Ridiculous Regulations


Happy new year. The new 116th Congress was sworn in last week, and the partial federal shutdown continued. Some of 2018’s year-end regulatory data is now available. Wayne Crews crunched some numbers here and here, garnering coverage in the Washington Examiner, Investor’s Business Daily, and elsewhere.

Right now is a weird time for regulation. The shutdown has lasted for several business days, and the Federal Register has slowed to a trickle. Wednesday and Thursday’s edition, for example, contained a combined zero proposed regulations and zero final regulations. Thursday’s edition was one page long, consisting solely of two notices, which might be a record. An average day’s edition contains about 270 pages and more than a dozen new final regulations.

For this week’s data, remember that the shutdown is throwing a wrench into the projections for 2019 totals. Also note that they line up with the calendar year, which started mid-week. For now, just consider the projections a form of entertainment. They will likely return to normal levels after the shutdown ends. As with previous shutdowns, the net impact on regulatory output will likely be about nil. Agencies are changing when they publish, not how much they publish.

New rules last week, such as they were, range from Alaskan airspace to California safety zones.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 10 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 92 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every 16 hours and 48 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 1 final regulation in 2019. At that pace, there will be 84 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 3,367 regulations.
  • Last week, 439 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,599 pages the previous week.
  • The 2019 Federal Register totals 33 pages. It is on pace for 2,750 pages. The 2018 total was 68,082 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. No such rules have been published this year, with just one since last June 12. Six such rules were published in 2018.
  • The running compliance cost tally for 2019’s economically significant regulations is currently zero. The 2018 total ranges from $220.1 million to $2.54 billion.
  • Agencies have published no final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2018’s total was 108 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2018, 656 new rules affect small businesses; 29 of them are classified as significant. 2018’s totals were 660 rules affecting small businesses. 29 of them were significant.

Highlights from selected All final rules published last week:

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