Regulations: Major Overhaul Needed

Posted December 5, 2014 at 5:08 pm

(l/r) Reps. Todd Young (R-IN) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL) discuss their respective plans for regulatory reform during a meeting of the Regulatory Improvement Council. 

The cost for American’s to comply with federal regulations reached $1.863 trillion in 2013, an average of $14,974 per house, according to a Competitive Enterprise Institute report. The cost of compliance and the need for an institutionalized, structural change in how regulations are developed and enforced was the primary discussion during a recent meeting of the Regulatory Improvement Council attended by TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci.

“These figures do not include state and local compliance,” said Ricci, “Companies want to and can play by the rules, even bad rules if necessary; but they cannot play if they do not know the rules. This continued environment of business uncertainly, coupled with the cost of compliance, hinders business and personal income growth.”

The one-day program included nearly 30 CEOs and government relations professionals from manufacturing–related associations, congressional leaders from both parties and representatives from federal agencies. While there was disagreement on specific regulations, there was a consensus that there should be a more systematic approach to regulatory accountability and reform that should rest with elected representatives.

There was particular emphasis on the negative impact of financial regulations through Dodd-Frank on access to capital and investment, and federal and state interpretation of various aspects of the EPA’s rulemaking process and enforcement in U.S. waters. In addition, several agencies outlined their priorities for the next two years, with OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab emphasizing their efforts to improve temporary worker safety and protecting healthcare workers from infectious disease, including proper training and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Reps. Todd Young (R-IN) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL) were optimistic that Congress could find opportunities for bipartisan cooperation, specifically on regulatory reform. Each lawmaker outlined their own plan for improving the process of review and accountability for new regulations.

Rep. Young recently reintroduced the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require any rule or regulation with an economic impact of $100 million or more, to come before Congress for an up-or-down vote before taking effect.

 “Congress has a tendency to pass vague, sweeping legislation that delegates the responsibility of writing the rules to federal agencies,” said Young.  “By requiring a vote from Congress before major regulations could take effect, we ensure that Americans can hold their elected officials accountable for overly burdensome regulations resulting directly from legislation passed by Congress.”

Rep. Murphy’s plan includes the creation of a bipartisan Regulatory Improvement Commission (RIC) charged with eliminating, modifying or updating regulations. “Regulatory accumulation—the layering of new rules atop old rules year after year, decade after decade,” said Murphy, “is smothering economic innovation and entrepreneurship in America. Regulations, once enacted, linger on the books forever, achieving the political equivalent of immortality, often becoming outdated, irrelevant and burdensome. But the solution isn’t just fewer regulations; it’s smarter regulations.”

The two congressman promised to continue their focus on regulatory reform and to work together to develop a process that allows for true oversight, review and accountability to “fix the system not just specific regulations.” 

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