Category Archives: regulation

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

After last week’s insurrection at the Capitol, the outgoing president, several elected officials, and their supporters have some soul-searching to do. Meanwhile, agencies continued to issue new rules, ranging from showerheads to motorcycle brakes.

On to the data:

  • In the first week of the year, agencies issued 49 final regulations.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 26 minutes.
  • It’s a bit early for annual projections, especially with a new administration coming in on January 20, but so far, we’re on pace for 1,225 final regulations for all of 2021. 2020’s total was 3,353 final regulations.
  • There were 21 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week. With the same caveat, that’s on pace for 525 proposed regulations for the full year. 2020’s total was 2,149 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 403 notices, for a total of 10,75 in 2021. 2020’s total was 22,480.
  • Last week, 1,733 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 3,150 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 1,733 pages, on pace for 43,325 pages in 2021. The 2020 total was 87,352 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. There are no such rules so far in 2021. Agencies published five economically significant rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • There is no cost data yet for 2021’s economically significant rules, since there have not yet been any. The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 billion, mostly from estimated savings on federal spending. The exact number depends on discount rates and other assumptions.
  • Agencies have published two final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020. 2020’s total was 79 significant final rules.
  • In 2021, one new rule affects small businesses. It is not classified as significant. 2020’s totals were 668 rules affecting small businesses, 26 of them significant.

Highlights from last week’s new 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 made it. 2020 was rough, but as I argued last week, it was not the worst year ever. 2020 was also the rare year where the work week and the calendar year both ended on the same day, which makes this week’s regulation roundup a lot easier. For the some of the year-long totals, see my earlier post and Wayne Crews’s Forbes article. This post will concentrate on week-long totals. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from pale cyst nematodes to tipping.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 58 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register in a four-day week, after 53 the previous (three-day) week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 54 minutes.
  • Federal agencies  issued 3,353 final regulations in 2020. 2019’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 20 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 2,149 on the year. 2019’s total was 2,158 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 386 notices, for a total of 22,480 in 2020. 2019’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 3,150 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 1,326 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 87,352 pages, the second-highest of all-time and the largest from a Republican president. 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. Agencies published five such rules in 2020, and four in 2019.
  • The running cost tally for 2020’s economically significant regulations ranges from net savings of between $2.04 billion and $5.69 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 published 79 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” in 2020. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • In 2020, 668 new rules affect small businesses; 26 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, 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.

Regulation in 2020: Some Quick Numbers

The 251st and final issue of the 2020 Federal Register was released this morning. Here are some of the initial findings:

  • Federal agencies issued 3,353 final regulations in 2020. This is up from 2,964 regulations in 2019, or an 11 percent increase.
  • This was the second-highest total of Trump’s presidency, just behind 2018’s total of 3,368.
  • Since 1993, federal agencies have issued 111,065 final regulations.
  • Since 1975, federal agencies have issued 208,155 final regulations.
  • Although the Trump administration claims to have eliminated more than 600 regulations during 2020 as part of an effort to get rid of #NeverNeeded regulations harming the COVID-19 response, few of these went through the proper rulemaking process. This means they were not recorded in the Federal Register. My colleague Alex Reinauer tallied fewer than 60 rules properly removed as of October.
  • That said, removed rules still count as new rules in the Federal Register’s accounting rules. So this year’s rule and page counts capture a modest amount of deregulation, as well as new regulation.
  • Some of President Trump’s most significant increases in regulatory burdens will not show up in The Code of Federal Regulations or the Federal Register. These include its doubling of tariffs, its immigration restrictions, its threats to regulate political speech, and its antitrust investigations and lawsuits against tech companies, each of which could have billions of dollars of economic impact.
  • Compare this to the $100 million threshold for a regulation to count as “economically significant.”
  • While only five economically significant rules appeared in the 2020 Federal Register, the Trump administration is clearly imposing economically significant regulatory costs through other means.
  • 2020’s unadjusted page count is 87,351 pages. This number will later be adjusted to subtract skipped and blank pages—usually a little less than a thousand pages in recent years. This is the second-longest edition in the Federal Register’s 85-year history, and the largest ever from a Republican administration by a mile—literally.
  • The previous GOP record was 80,700 pages in 2008, George W. Bush’s final year in office. With standard paper size of 11.5 inches in height, President Trump’s final Federal Register is 1.2 miles longer than President Bush’s.
  • The 87,352-page Federal Register would stack more than 7 feet, 3 inches tall. This is two inches taller than NBA great Shaquille O’Neal.
  • Federal agencies issued 22,480 notices in 2020. These are often as innocuous as announcements of upcoming hearings or address changes. But agencies have also used notices to enact significant policy changes without putting them through the required notice-and-comment rulemaking process.
  • One of the Trump administration’s biggest positive regulatory contributions is an executive order directing agencies to be more transparent about their use of guidance documents and prevent their abuse. CEI’s Wayne Crews had spent years promoting this reform. As a result, most federal agencies issued rules in 2020 implementing new guidance document processes.

Wayne Crews and I will have more say about regulation in 2020 soon.

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter. See also neverneeded.cei.org for reform ideas. My article on why 2020, though difficult, was not the worst year ever, is here.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Last week’s drama over the combined COVID-19 spending bill and omnibus budget bill ran over into Christmas, spoiling a three-day work week in Washington. In happier news, the COVID-19 vaccine had already reached a million people by Christmas Eve. This is a major accomplishment, considering the disease has existed for barely a year. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from fighter jets to non-small businesses.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 53 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 85 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every three hours and 10 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 3,295 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,348 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 26 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 2,124 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,158 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was also 2,158 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 361 notices, for a total of 22,094 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,452 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,326 new pages were added to the Federal Register in a three-day week, after 2,288 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 84,198 pages. It is on pace for 85,562 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. Five 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 $2.04 billion and $5.69 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 78 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 657 new rules affect small businesses; 26 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.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

COVID vaccine rollout has started. While immunizing millions of people will take several months, it looks like the worst is almost past. For scientists to come up with a vaccine for a brand-new disease in about one year is an achievement without precedent in human history. Public policy lessons abound about the need for openness and cooperation, letting innovation happen, speeding up regulatory approvals, and cleaning out #NeverNeeded regulations. President Trump’s final Federal Register, at 82,254 pages and counting, is already the longest ever issued by a Republican president, with two weeks left in the year. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from showerheads to steroids.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 85 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 67 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every one hour and 59 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 3,242 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,335 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 43 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 2,098 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,158 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was also 2,158 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 473 notices, for a total of 21,733 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,356 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 2,288 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,881 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 82,524 pages. It is on pace for 84,892 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. Five 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 $2.04 billion and $5.69 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 76 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 645 new rules affect small businesses; 26 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.

To-Do List for 2021: Just Get Rid of AB5

It isn’t just Washington that gets a fresh start in January. California gets one, too. One of the top items on the Golden State’s policy agenda should be getting rid of what’s left of Assembly Bill 5, the controversial gig-worker law. As I argue this morning in several California newspapers, including the Orange County Register:

California’s unemployment rate is at 9.3 percent, compared to 6.7 percent nationally. California voters helped by passing Proposition 22 in November, which exempts app-based rideshare and delivery companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash from California’s Assembly Bill 5 “gig work” law. This comes months after the state legislature passed an “oops” bill to exempt thousands of other workers that AB5 accidentally threw out of work, from journalists to musicians. Now that AB5 no longer applies even to its primary ridesharing targets, the legislature should just get rid of AB5 altogether. Meanwhile, the rest of the country should learn from California’s experiment.

Read the whole piece here. For more on AB5, see other pieces by Ryan RadiaSean Higgins, and me.

Recent Media Appearances

In early November, I was invited on Bob Zadek’s show for a thoughtful hour-long conversation on antitrust law. Audio and an AI-generated transcript are here.

In late October, I was on Jim Blasingame’s Small Business Advocates radio show, also to talk about antitrust.

Earlier this week, I spoke to One News Now’s Chris Woodward about regulations.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

The midnight regulatory rush is on, with one of the year’s highest weekly page counts last week. The 2020 Federal Register is on pace for 84,415 pages. This would exceed seven of the Obama administration’s eight Federal Registers, and would be the second-highest count in its 85-year history. The number of proposed regulations also passed 2,000 for the year. Despite all this activity, the Fall 2020 Unified Agenda, in which rulemaking agencies disclose their planned upcoming rules, has still not been published. It was due in October. Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from AM radio to overflight fines.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 65 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 73 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 35 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 3,090 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,314 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 37 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 2,021 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,168 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,170 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 412 notices, for a total of 20,804 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,315 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 2,278 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,821 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 78,697 pages. It is on pace for 84,415 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. Five 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 $2.04 billion and $5.69 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 73 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 605 new rules affect small businesses; 24 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them classified as significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

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

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Thanksgiving was rather different than most years, and not in a good way. Hopefully, with viable vaccines on the way, it will be back to normal in 2021. The number of new final regulations this year passed the 3,000 mark, and has already surpassed last year’s total with more than a month to go. The 2020 Federal Register surpassed 76,000 pages, and is already the Trump administration’s longest by more than 5,000 pages.Regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from milk flexibilities to electronic groundfish monitoring.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 73 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 69 the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 18 minutes.
  • Federal agencies have issued 3,025 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,302 new final regulations. Last year’s total was 2,964 regulations.
  • There were 35 proposed regulations in the Federal Register last week, for a total of 1,984 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,166 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,170 proposed regulations.
  • Last week, agencies published 406 notices, for a total of 20,392 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,262 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
  • Last week, 1,821 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,692 pages the previous week.
  • The 2020 Federal Register totals 76,417 pages. It is on pace for 83,424 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. Five 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 $2.04 billion and $5.69 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 70 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
  • So far in 2020, 597 new rules affect small businesses; 24 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.

This Week in Ridiculous Regulations

Thanksgiving will be a little different this year. With the recent news about promising COVID-19 vaccines, next year’s turkey celebration should be closer to normal. In other news, the famous Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico has become another 2020 casualty. It will close due to structural damage sustained in recent storms. On the other hand, a SpaceX rocket safely took four astronauts to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from cherry marketing subcommittees to groundfish specifications.

On to the data:

• Last week, 69 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 58 the previous week.
• That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 26 minutes.
• Federal agencies have issued 2,952 final regulations in 2020. At that pace, there will be 3,280 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 1,949 on the year. At that pace, there will be 2,166 new proposed regulations in 2020. Last year’s total was 2,170 proposed regulations.
• Last week, agencies published 435 notices, for a total of 19,986 in 2020. At that pace, there will be 22,207 new notices this year. Last year’s total was 21,804.
• Last week, 1,692 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,674 pages the previous week.
• The 2020 Federal Register totals 74,593 pages. It is on pace for 82,882 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. Five 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 $2.04 billion and $5.69 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 70 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” so far this year. 2019’s total was 66 significant final rules.
• So far in 2020, 588 new rules affect small businesses; 24 of them are classified as significant. 2019’s totals were 501 rules affecting small businesses, with 22 of them classified as significant.

Highlights from last week’s new regulations:

• Marketing Order No. 966 for tomatoes grown in Florida has been amended.
• The government’s Cherry Industry Administrative Board is implementing subcommittee size and new term limit rules.
• There is a new Tehachapi Mountains viticultural area.
• National Environmental Policy Act compliance from the Forest Service.
• The Environmental Protection Agency will be enforcing parts of the Clean Air Act as they are written. This qualifies as an economically significant policy change with estimated savings of $860 million to $1.5 billion in present value terms.
• Health care for astronauts.
• Export regulations from the Industry and Security Bureau.
• Guidance document policies from the Peace Corps.
• Fees for trademarks.
• Bird hunting in Alaska.
• Eligibility for subsidized flood insurance.
• Call authentication trust anchor.
• A regulatory cleanup initiative from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Children and Families Administration. They will go through their existing rules and fix typos, mistakes, and references to other regulations.
• Cooperative agreements between NASA and commercial firms.
• Minimum standards for intercity passenger rail service.
• Last week: Samoan swordfish. This week: Samoan bottomfish.
• Harvesting specifications for groundfish caught in Alaska.

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