Election week was a busy one on the regulatory front, with new rules on everything from fuel taxes to wireless spectrum. With the Senate changing hands in January, we’ll soon find out if agencies will engage in a midnight rush of rulemaking before the Republicans take over. This phenomenon is most apparent when the White House changes parties, but can happen when Congress switches over, too.
On to the data:
- Last week, 59 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register. There were 60 new final rules the previous week.
- That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 48 minutes.
- So far in 2014, 3,063 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,545 new regulations this year.
- Last week, 1,450 new pages were added to the Federal Register.
- Currently at 65,229 pages, the 2014 Federal Register is on pace for 75,497 pages. This would be the 6th-largest page count since the Federal Register began publication in 1936.
- Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. 37 such rules have been published so far this year, two in the past week.
- The total estimated compliance costs of 2014’s economically significant regulations currently ranges from $7.60 billion to $10.85 billion. They also affect several billion dollars of government spending.
- 250 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
- So far in 2014, 576 new rules affect small businesses; 85 of them are classified as significant.
Highlights from selected final rules published last week:
- Both economically significant rules this week come from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. One rule, regarding end-stage renal disease, “would save over $4.4 billion in gross payments over FYs 2016-2020. The gross savings would be primarily achieved from the reduced payment amounts for items and services.” Because this is all spending and not compliance costs, I am scoring this rule as zero-cost in our running compliance cost tally.
- The second rule covers home health agencies. It estimates “a net reduction of $21.55 million in calendar year 2015 burden costs related to the certification requirements for home health agencies and associated physicians.” Since this involves compliance costs, we are scoring this rule as saving $21.55 million in our running compliance cost tally.
- The Personnel Management Office is revising its pension policies for the spouses of deceased separated employees.
- The FAA has new guidelines on how to spend revenues from fuel taxes.
- The Treasury Department is revising its in-house standards for ethical conduct.
- The FCC is preparing a spectrum auction to reallocate how different bandwidths of wireless signals may be used.
- The EPA is withdrawing an earlier rule on air quality in Indiana.