This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

What a week. COVID-19 deaths passed 150,000, and are on pace to be 2020’s third-leading cause of death in the United States. Second-quarter GDP declined  9.5 percent from a year ago and 7 percent from the previous quarter. This was the steepest drop in U.S. history. The same day that was announced, President Trump proposed delaying the election, which is a power no incumbent politician should have. Congressional Republicans quickly shot down the proposal. In more uplifting news, NASA launched the Perseverance Mars rover, which will land in February, hopefully without the coronavirus on board. It will search for evidence of microbial Martian life. Here on Earth, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from crop marketing campaigns to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials accessing people’s medical records.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 54 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 79 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and seven minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 1,877 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,171 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 38 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,284 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,169 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,191 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 406 notices, for a total of 13,049 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,650 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,473 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,374 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 46,530 pages. It is on pace for 78,598 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. Three 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 $1.38 billion and $4.19 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 41 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 368 new rules affect small businesses; 15 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.

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