As I was saying …

The return of the regulators

Federal regulatory agencies are required by law to issue semiannual summaries of regulations expected to have a significant economic impact. In 2012, like every year, those regulations were to have been issued in April and October. Well, they weren't. Instead, one summary was published Dec. 21, 2012 (the Friday before Christmas). The law simply was ignored.

I suppose we should be grateful for small favors. We now have seen the agenda, and to put it politely, a small army of speed readers would hang themselves before they were able to finish it.

The rules will come, and they will keep coming. During the past 90 days alone, 5,500 proposed regulations have been issued by federal agencies.

We now know our friends at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have a busy year planned. Expect to see a notice of proposed rule making regarding worker exposure to silica (found in cement products) in May, new reporting requirements for tracking ergonomic injuries, and at least more discussion about what OSHA calls its Injury and Illness Protection Program (I2P2) whereby employers must identify hazards in the workplace and find solutions for them regardless of whether they are regulated separately. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for I2P2 is scheduled for December.

We also know our friends at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be back in the regulatory arena having unsuccessfully attempted to regulate water as a pollutant. It seems flowing water might disturb sediment at the bottom of streams, says the EPA, thereby causing pollution. A federal court, thankfully, thought that was a bit of a stretch even for the EPA.

We expect to see a lot of activity at the National Labor Relations Board, as well, where attempts have been made to do by fiat what couldn't be done legislatively, namely to expedite union organizing.

And at last count, there were some 12,000 pages of regulations written for complying with the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—coming from multiple agencies.

This year, we expect to see the economy slug along at a growth rate of 2 or 3 percent. One recent report concluded the cost of federal regulation to the U.S. economy is more than $1.75 trillion annually. These two data points are not exactly coincidental.

NRCA will continue to combat unnecessary, counterproductive and excessive regulations. You can help by letting us know when you encounter them—and by continuing to fight the good fight.

Bill Good is NRCA's executive vice president.


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