Category Archives: regulation

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

In a very busy week, President Trump signed Phase One of a trade agreement with China on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Senate ratified the USMCA trade agreement and began President Trump’s impeachment trial on the same day. New final regulations for the week range from wheeled stretchers to electronic detonators.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 66 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 62 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 33 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 139 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 2,896 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were also 42 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 83 on the year. At that pace, there will be 1,730 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,106 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 384 notices, for a total of 698 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 14,542 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,493 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,308 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 3,227 pages. It is on pace for 67,230 pages. The 2019 total was 72,561 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. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations is currently zero. 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 five final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 20 new rules affect small businesses; two 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 final regulations:

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

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The new year started off with a literal bang, though as of this writing the worst Iran scenario seems to have been avoided. The Senate is poised to move on its two biggest items, impeachment and the USMCA trade agreement, though the timelines for both are uncertain. On the regulatory front, the 2020 Federal Register took just five working days to exceed 1,000 pages. New final regulations for the week range from air compressors to beef promotion.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 62 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 48 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 20 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 83 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 2,965 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were also 28 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 41 on the year. At that pace, there will be 1,465 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,106 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 281 notices, for a total of 412 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 14,715 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,308 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,194 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 1,730 pages. It is on pace for 61,786 pages. The 2019 total was 72,561 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. Four such rules were published in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations is currently zero. 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 three final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 12 new rules affect small businesses; one of them is classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 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.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Happy New Year, everyone. We’re doing a slightly different format this week, on account of the new year starting mid-week. With just two days’ worth of data so far, year-to-date totals and annual projections for 2020 are not yet very informative. Also, Wayne Crews did a year-end look at regulation in 2019 for Forbes, and I did one here. In another piece, Wayne found that for every law passed by Congress in 2019, agencies issued 28 new regulations. He calls this ratio the Unconstitutionality Index. See also related coverage in the Washington Examiner (twice) and the Epoch Times. With those bases already covered, this week’s roundup will simply summarize last week’s new regulation highlights so they don’t get lost in the ether. Back to business as usual next week.

From the 27 final regulations issued from December 30-31, 2019:

From the 21 final regulations issued from January 2-3, 2020 (no Federal Register on New Year’s Day):

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

In the Media: Regulation

Wayne Crews and I are both quoted in an Epoch Times writeup on regulatory burdens in 2019.

How Much Federal Regulation Was There in 2019?

Happy New Year, everyone. Now that 2019 is just about over, we have some data on how much new regulation hit the books. Note that these numbers are preliminary and might change. The source for most of the numbers is FederalRegister.gov. The page number counts are taken from the Federal Register’s daily digest email. Wayne Crews’ Ten Thousand Commandments also has abundant data.

The general story the numbers tell is that the Trump administration has been steadily increasing its pace of regulatory activity. It has enacted some positive reforms through Executive Order, such as its one in, two out rule, and two orders to make regulatory dark matter more transparent. Dark matter is regulation that has the force of law, but never went through the proper public notice-and-comment rulemaking process. The administration missed an opportunity to codify these reforms in proper legislation when Republicans held both chambers of Congress, so these reforms are vulnerable to reversal when the White House eventually changes hands. In the long run, this may end up as the Trump administration’s biggest missed opportunity.

Deregulatory efforts will likely continue in 2020, but will likely to be more than offset by regulatory increases elsewhere. Trade barriers have more than doubled since 2017. While the USMCA trade agreement will keep tariffs against Canada and Mexico in check, it contains substantial new regulatory burdens and non-tariff trade barriers. Upcoming agreements with China, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, if these happen, due in part to USMCA’s precedent, will also likely contain substantial new regulatory burdens.

The emerging antitrust alliance between national conservatives on the right and progressives on the left may also result in major new regulatory barriers against competition that will not necessarily show up in rule counts or Federal Register page counts.

With that for context, here are some early data on new regulation in 2019:

  • There were 2,106 proposed regulations in 2019. This is very close to 2018’s 2,072 proposed regulations, and a nearly 15 percent increase from the Trump administration’s first year figure, 1,837 proposed regulations in 2017.

  • 2,964 final regulations. This is down from 2018’s 3,367 final regulations and 2017’s 3,280 final regulations. This makes 9,405 new final regulations during the Trump administration from its January 20, 2017 inauguration through year-end 2019. At that pace, it will likely pass the 10,000 mark in February or March 2020.

  • 21,804 agency notices. This is where a lot of regulatory dark matter appears—rules which have the force of law, but were never put through the proper rulemaking process, which includes a public notice-and-comment period. 2019 was down slightly from 2018’s 22,025 notices and 2017’s 22,137 notices. From inauguration through year-end 2019, the Trump administration issued 64,485 agency notices.

  • 72,561 Federal Register pages. This is the highest figure of the Trump era, and a sharp increase over the Trump administration’s first two years. Using adjusted page counts, the 2018 Federal Register was 64,582 pages, and 2017’s was 61,950 pages. Significantly, 2019’s page-count increase happened despite near-zero activity during the month of January, when the federal government was partially shut down. It is likely that at least some pages that would have appeared in January instead appeared during later months, resulting in little total change. But it is also possible items were simply never published—which likely represents decreased transparency rather than decreased activity. We will likely never know the exact balance.

Interesting, and busy, times are ahead.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Federal workers got a three-day week as a Christmas present this year. Agencies still put out 323 notices, 50 proposed regulations, and 1,342 Federal Register pages. Just two more Federal Register editions remain in 2019. New final regulations for the week range from guaranteed housing loans to mercury management fees.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 35 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 63 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every four hours and 48 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,937 final regulations in 2019. At that pace, there will be 2,961 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 3,367 regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 323 notices, for a total of 21,589 in 2019. At that pace, there will be 21,676 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,656.
  • Last week, 1,342 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 2,064 pages the previous week.
  • The 2019 Federal Register totals 71,734 pages. It is on pace for 72,313 pages. The 2018 total was 68,302 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. Four such rules have been published this year. Five such rules were published in 2018.
  • The running cost tally for 2019’s economically significant regulations currently ranges from savings of $4.39 billion to $4.08 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The 2018 total ranges from net costs of $220.1 million to $2.54 billion, depending on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 66 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2018’s total was 108 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2019, 492 new rules affect small businesses; 22 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.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Congress finished the year with a bang. In a two day span the House impeached the president and passed the USMCA trade agreement. Both chambers passed a massive spending bill to fund the government through next September. The 2019 Federal Register also surpassed 70,000 pages. Meanwhile, agencies published new regulations ranging from bunker fuel to irradiated drugs.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 63 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 64 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 40 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 2,902 final regulations in 2019. At that pace, there will be 2,974 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 3,367 regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 447 notices, for a total of 21,266 in 2019. At that pace, there will be 21,787 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,656.
  • Last week, 2,064 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,155 pages the previous week.
  • The 2019 Federal Register totals 70,391 pages. It is on pace for 72,115 pages. The 2018 total was 68,302 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. Four such rules have been published this year. Five such rules were published in 2018.
  • The running cost tally for 2019’s economically significant regulations currently ranges from savings of $4.39 billion to $4.08 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The 2018 total ranges from net costs of $220.1 million to $2.54 billion, depending on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published 65 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2018’s total was 108 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2019, 488 new rules affect small businesses; 21 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.