This Week in Ridiculous Regulations   


Last week was low-drama by recent standards, but still had some important developments. The U.S. trade deficit set a record for the second year in a row, which fortunately has nothing to do with economic health one way or the other. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned. Gottlieb is an outspoken opponent of e-cigarettes, which make it easier for smokers to quit; my colleague Michelle Minton has more on that issue. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also proposed breaking up large technology companies, which is a misguided idea for a number of reasons. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from sewage incineration to pecan reporting.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 68 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 28 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 378 final regulations in 2019. At that pace, there will be 2,054 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 3,367 regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 400 notices, for a total of 3,391 in 2019. At that pace, there will be 18,430 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 22,205.
  • Last week, 1,326 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,307 pages the previous week.
  • The 2019 Federal Register totals 8,588 pages. It is on pace for 46,674 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. One such rule has been published this year. Six such rules were published in 2018.
  • The running compliance cost tally for 2019’s economically significant regulations currently ranges from $139.1 million to $175.8 million. The 2018 total ranges from $220.1 million to $2.54 billion, depending on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 14 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2018’s total was 108 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2019, 80 new rules affect small businesses; 5 of them are classified as significant. 2018’s totals were 660 rules affecting small businesses, with 29 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new final regulations:

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