In response to a U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee hearing titled, “Regulation Nation: The Obama Administration’s Regulatory Expansion vs. Jobs and Economic Recovery,” ABC Sept. 20 called for comprehensive regulatory reform and offered its support for a series of bills that will help achieve that goal.
In a letter sent to the chairman and ranking member of the committee, ABC pointed out that for the last four years, the White House has encouraged federal regulatory agencies to assert their power through rulemaking. Because these agencies have operated relatively unchecked, many rulemakings are based on poor or incomplete economic cost-benefit forecasting and data, resulting in higher costs for the construction industry.
“It is particularly alarming that small businesses, which comprise the vast majority of the industry, are disproportionately affected by the administration’s irresponsible approach to regulation,” the letter stated.
To address these issues, ABC called for comprehensive regulatory reform, including across-the board requirements for departments and agencies to appropriately evaluate risks, weigh costs and assess the benefits of all regulations. ABC also offered its support for four pieces of legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that they believe could create help achieve reform.
The bills ABC supported include:
The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 (H.R. 3010), which would provide earlier outreach to the public and earlier access to information, in addition to allowing for greater stakeholder input and mandatory public hearings on the most costly proposals. Under this bill, agencies will be required for the first time to look at potential indirect and cumulative economic impacts. They also will be held accountable if the data or analyses rules are based on are deficient or unsound, and will be required to adopt the least burdensome regulatory option, unless a strong reason can be provided not to do so.
The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011 (H.R. 527), which requires agencies to closely look at the impact of a rule on small businesses, gives the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy more authority and requires more in-depth “regulatory flexibility” analyses during the federal rulemaking process. In addition, this bill aligns with President Obama’s Executive Order 13563, which requires agencies to conduct a retrospective analysis of existing rules to determine which need ones to be modified or reformed.
The Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 4078, Title II), which prohibits future lame-duck administrations from issuing midnight regulations with an economic impact of more than $100 million between the election and inauguration.
The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2012 (H.R. 4078, Title III), which promotes enhanced openness and transparency in the regulatory process in situations where entities sue agencies with the objective of forcing them into confidential settlements in order to expedite regulations—often in unreasonable timeframes that do not allow for data collection, science-driven research or proper cost estimates. This bill would require agencies to seek public feedback prior to entering into such settlements with courts, providing regulated industries proper notice and making it possible for stakeholders to participate in the actual settlement negotiations.
ABC believes that passing these legislative policies would be a positive step toward creating jobs and much-needed regulatory reform which are imperative at a time when the construction industry faces an unemployment rate greater than 11 percent.
To view the full letter and read more about the proposed legislation, click here.