NRCA continues working to enact legislation that would address a top priority for members—providing relief from burdensome federal regulations. The House of Representatives already has approved several regulatory reform bills this year, but the ultimate test will be whether any legislation can be approved by the Senate in the current hyperpolarized political environment.
Because many members have concerns regarding the dramatic increase in federal regulations in recent years, most notably by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, NRCA remains focused on regulatory reform. Although NRCA has successfully worked with Congress to repeal several burdensome regulations under the Congressional Review Act and brought attention to other rules now being reviewed by the Trump administration, it is clear fundamental reform of the regulatory process still is necessary.
The costs of regulations significantly affect the U.S. economy. In 2011, the Small Business Administration estimated the total cost of compliance with all federal regulations across the nation was $1.75 trillion annually. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a market-oriented think tank, estimated the cost at $1.963 trillion in 2016. Although the Trump administration is expected to be less aggressive than the Obama administration with issuing regulations, NRCA intends to work with officials of both parties to reduce or prevent long-term regulatory burdens.
To achieve this goal, NRCA has reached out to members of Congress and allied organizations to develop legislation that would reform the process under which federal agencies develop regulations. The proposed reforms provide a more transparent process for developing regulations so stakeholders have more opportunities to provide input about how proposed regulations affect them earlier in the process. The reformed process should make final regulations more effective for achieving policy goals while minimizing adverse effects on employers.
In recent years, NRCA supported several regulatory reform measures that were approved by the House. Unfortunately, the bills died when the Senate failed to consider them because of a lack of bipartisan support and the increasingly polarized political environment. NRCA now is working to cultivate greater bipartisan support for regulatory reform in the Senate.
Regulatory Accountability Act
The focus in the Senate is on the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) (S. 951), introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). The legislation is designed to reform the federal rulemaking process under the Administrative Procedures Act, the primary law governing agency procedures, which has not been updated in more than 70 years. If enacted, the bill would require agencies to choose the most cost-effective rulemaking alternative that meets statutory objectives, improves agency cost-benefit analyses, increases opportunities for stakeholder input and fortifies judicial review of new regulations. Ultimately, these reforms will inject more transparency and accountability into the rulemaking process, resulting in regulations that achieve the policy goals Congress intends while minimizing economic costs.
Although the House already has approved the RAA, the outlook in the Senate is highly uncertain because 60 votes are needed to approve the legislation. With Republicans, who often are more favorable to regulatory reform, in control of 52 seats, it will be necessary for at least eight Democrats to support the RAA. Rank-and-file Democrats are under pressure from the party's leadership not to give Republicans legislative victories, making Senate passage of the RAA a formidable obstacle that only can be overcome with a strong grassroots advocacy effort by NRCA and allied business groups working together with employers across the nation.
The RAA recently was approved by a Senate committee with the support of all Republicans but only one Democrat. With only one other Democrat co-sponsoring the bill to date, at least six additional Democrats are needed to vote in favor of the bill when it comes to the Senate floor.
It is critical all NRCA members participate in this effort by contacting their senators to support the RAA. If you have not already done so, please visit the NRCA Grassroots Advocacy Network at roofingadvocacy.nrca.net to quickly and easily send an email of support to your senators. This is particularly important if you operate in the states of Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as senators from these states are potential swing votes. If you wish to take further action and invite one of your senators to visit your business and discuss the effects of regulations on your company and the roofing industry, contact NRCA's Washington, D.C., office at (800) 338-5765.
Regulatory reform through enactment of the RAA can only happen with strong grassroots advocacy from NRCA members. Help us advocate for this critical reform to prevent future federal regulatory burdens from affecting your bottom line.
Duane L. Musser is NRCA's vice president of government relations.