Tag Archives: regulation

Federal Register Near Record Pace

This year’s Federal Register is on pace to be 80,190 pages long. That’s an average of 220 pages of fresh proposed rules, final rules, notices, and more every single day.

If this pace keeps up, this year’s Register will make for slightly easier reading than 2010, which set a new record with an 81,405 adjusted page count.

Think about that for a second. 160,000 pages in two years. Even Stephen King couldn’t write that much. Amazing that so many people claim this or that part of the economy is unregulated. With 165,000 pages already in the Code of Federal Regulations and more coming every day, it just ain’t so.

Regulation Roundup

Here’s a fresh batch of regulatory bloopers:

  • Flirting is illegal in Haddon, New Jersey. (see § 175-12)
  • It is illegal to play cards on the street in Madison, Iowa.
  • In Haverbill, Massachusetts, it is illegal for women to wrestle.
  • It is a felony for bears to wrestle in Alabama.
  • You may now sit outside year-round in Stratford, CT if you like.
  • Talk about attention to detail. Massachusetts state law requires gift certificates to be valid for at least 7 years.
  • In Florida, it is illegal to release 11 helium balloons per day. 10 is ok, though.
  • Adams County, CO requires all male massage parlor workers to wear white shirts and white pants. Transparent clothing is expressly forbidden.

What Shrinking Government?

I have a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post:

Richard Cohen fretted that Tea Party activists have “shrunk the government.” He need not worry. Federal spending has gone from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.8 trillion in 2011. Thirty percent spending growth in three years is hardly shrinkage. Even under the Boehner plan, federal spending will continue to increase every year for at least the next decade.

Meanwhile, federal agencies continue to finalize more than 3,500 new regulations per year. They repeal almost none, no matter how loud the Tea Party’s howls.

If anything, Tea Party activists have been devastatingly ineffective at shrinking government. Mr. Cohen can rest easy.

Ryan Young, Washington

The writer is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Bipartisan Regulatory Reform

Usually, “bipartisan” means “twice as stupid.” But for real regulatory reform to happen, both parties need to be involved. President Obama’s recent executive orders requiring agencies to comb their books and repeal unneeded regulations should save a few billion dollars. But that’s just a drop in a $1.7 trillion bucket. Over at Fox Forum, I explain one bipartisan idea that could potentially save much more:

Agencies cannot be trusted to clean out their own books because they have no incentive to. Agency administrators want to maximize their
missions and budgets. Having them police themselves will not yield real savings.

There is a relatively easy fix: get independent outsiders with no stake in the outcome go through the Code of Federal Regulations make the
repeal recommendations. President Obama should appoint a bipartisan repeal commission to do just that and then send its package of repeal
proposals to Congress.

Congress, worried about backlash from interest groups with vested interests in existing rules, would have every incentive to water down
the package. To avoid that, Congress should impose on itself a requirement to have a straight up-or-down vote on the package within a
short time-say, 10 legislative days-with no amendments allowed.

Read the whole thing here.

Regulation of the Day 190: How to Behave While in a Forest

Since time immemorial, Cook County, Illinois has had very strict personal conduct regulations for its forests. Among other things, it has been illegal to:

  • Hang out (only applies to felons)
  • Tell fortunes
  • Have your fly open
  • Juggle
  • Do a somersault
  • Park illegally (redundant?)
  • Perform acrobatic stunts

All those clandestine activities are now legal. Those laws are at least 100 years old, and were mainly intended to prevent traveling circuses and carnivals from setting up shop in the forests surrounding Chicago. No citations for any of these offenses have been issued within living memory.

That’s why Cook County’s forest preserve took the hygienic step of repealing the regulations. If a rule isn’t going to be enforced, or if it is clearly a relic of the horse-and-buggy era, it shouldn’t be on the books. Legislators around the country at all levels of government would do well to follow the example that Cook County’s forest preserve has set. It’s the regulatory version of spring cleaning.

We Need Regulators, Not Interveners

The Constitution’s Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce. What does that mean, exactly? Over at the Daily Caller, my colleague Jacque Otto and I explain that regulation is about making commerce regular: no barriers to entry or trade, clear, understandable, and consistent rules, and so on.

Most of what people call regulation doesn’t have anything to with regular commerce. These kinds of rules are more accurately called interventions.

These interventions didn’t appear out of thin air, either:

One important reason regulators intervene is that many businesses want them to — businesses spend considerable effort and resources lobbying Washington to that end. For the most part, American companies compete on quality, price, or other consumer preferences. But on too many occasions, some companies try to use regulatory interventions to dispatch the competition. Sprint’s efforts to squander AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile are emblematic of this troubling trend.

Lessons abound for antitrust regulators — sorry, interveners.

Regulation Roundup

Some of the stranger goings-on in the world of regulation:

Starting July 1, it will be illegal to use someone else’s Netflix password in Tennessee, even with their permission.

Buffalo, New York fines 400 citizens over  the length of their lawns. Record rains during the month of May meant record grass growth, which can be difficult for residents to keep in check.

-In the wake of a court decision making it illegal to dance inside the Jefferson Memorial, activists are holding a dance party this weekend. Leonard Pitts has a good column explaining what the kerfuffle is about.

Texas is continuing its fight against TSA pat-downs. The legislature recently introduced a bill that would treat the pat-downs as sexual harassment, punishable by a $4,000 fine and a year in jail. It was withdrawn after the TSA threatened to ground all outbound flights from Texas. Looks like lawmakers want to reintroduce the bill in an upcoming special session. Utah is considering similar legislation.

The FCC would like you to pay more for Internet telephony. Traditional landline-based networks have been lobbying the FCC on this issue for some time; now their anti-competitive efforts are bearing fruit.