Hatch, Blunt, Ernst introduce legislation to reduce outdated regulations

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lawmakers Friday proposed a new approach to tackling the problems posed by outdated regulations. Sens. Orrin Hatch, Roy Blunt and Joni Ernst, introduced S. 1683, the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act of 2015, also referred to as SCRUB Act. This bill establishes a commission-based procedure to reduce the federal regulatory burden on the economy.

Hatch said:

The accumulated weight of federal regulations is holding back job creation and hurting family budgets. Every president since Jimmy Carter has acknowledged the need to get outdated regulations off the books. Nevertheless, both Democrat and Republican administrations have failed to make meaningful reductions in the unnecessary costs that red tape imposes on the economy.

To turn this longstanding commitment of both parties into a reality, we need to take the responsibility of reviewing old regulations away from the bureaucrats that keep failing at that task. The SCRUB Act provides a powerful, fair and proven means of achieving this common-sense, bipartisan goal.

Unjustified costs of old regulations

Federal regulations now impose a burden of $1.88 trillion on the economy, according to a recent study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. That amounts to roughly $15,000 per household, 11 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, and nearly $500 billion more than individual and corporate federal income tax revenue combined, said a release by the offices of Hatch.

At the end of 2014, the “Code of Federal Regulations” contained a massive 175,000 pages of regulations in 236 volumes. Nevertheless, retrospective review efforts by administrations of both parties have consistently failed to yield meaningful reductions in the regulatory burden. In fact, one study by the American Action Forum found that the Obama administration’s retrospective review plans actually imposed $23 billion in new costs on the economy, said the release.

“American households, family farms and small businesses are hampered under the current weight of federal regulations,” Ernst said. “The SCRUB Act is a common-sense proposal that enacts meaningful reforms to our federal government’s outdated and vast regulatory system, and works to ease the burden on household and small business budgets. This legislation forces Washington to stop and consider the real impact of existing major regulations felt by families in Iowa and across the country.

“Additionally, the SCRUB Act lays the foundation to find inclusive solutions to unlock the drivers of our economy who have been stymied by unnecessary overregulation, ease the burden on Americans’ pocketbooks and open up new opportunities lost by a cloud of overregulation.”

Using past successes to guide a new approach

The SCRUB Act establishes a bipartisan commission modeled on previous successes to review existing federal regulations and identify those that should be repealed to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens. The act sets the commission’s goal as the reduction of at least 15 percent in the cumulative costs of federal regulation with a minimal reduction in the overall effectiveness of such regulation.

Upon the commission’s review, the legislation requires that annual and final commission repeal recommendations for presented as joint resolutions for expedited consideration and approval by Congress. If the commission’s recommendations are enacted, repeal is required by law.

The legislation prioritizes for review regulations that are major rules, have been in effect more than 15 years, impose paperwork burdens that could be reduced substantially without significantly diminishing regulatory effectiveness, impose disproportionately high costs on small businesses or could be strengthened in their effectiveness while reducing regulatory costs.

It also establishes additional key factors to be taken into account when identifying regulations for repeal. For example, regulations: that have been rendered obsolete by technological or market changes; have achieved their goals and can be repealed without target problems recurring; are ineffective; overlap, duplicate or conflict with other federal regulations or with state and local regulations; or impose costs that are not justified by benefits produced for society within the United States.

For any given regulation, the commission is authorized to recommend either immediate repeal or repeal through a flexible “cut-go” process, whereby agencies would have to offset the costs of new regulations by repealing Commission-identified regulations of equal or greater cost.

These procedures allow speedy repeal in the most urgent cases and staggered repeal, modification or replacement of others to assure a smooth process for agencies, affected entities and the public.

Coordinated efforts across Capitol Hill

Rep. Jason Smith has introduced H.R. 1155, companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on regulatory reform, commercial and antitrust law held a hearing on the bill March 2, and the full judiciary committee voted to approve the legislation and send it to the House floor March 24.

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5 Comments

  • NotSoFast June 29, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Makes sense to me.

  • Brian June 29, 2015 at 8:52 am

    All laws should have maximum 10 year sunset clauses in them so they are required to be reviewed and either debated and extended another 10 years, or they go in the dust-bin of history as useless and burdensome. The same should apply to regulations (which are now far more prevalent and burdensome than actual laws).

    • NotSoFast June 29, 2015 at 10:26 am

      Your making some sense too.
      Only problem I see is the possibility that any new law/ regulations requires hiring manpower to oversee (lord it over) the task. And once a new union job position is created, fat chance your going to show anyone the sunset clause door.
      The EPA is an example. I bet they still have 1000 folks still evaluating the chloroform uses in hair spray that was causing a hole in the earths shield 25 years ago. (Granted, some of them might be working on the importance of methane gas in cow pies now). Enjoy the sunset.

  • KarenS June 29, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Let’s see, Hatch has been in the Senate for 38 years and now he is concerned about government red tape. Looks like he is going back on his promise that this would be his last term. What a surprise.

  • izzymuse July 2, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Hatch is outdated and needs to be replaced.

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