Ringing in the New Year is a family affair in our house. We make use of hats and noise makers leftover from birthday celebrations and crank up the music for a dance party in the family room. The dance-a-thon lasts all of 20 minutes—just long enough to burn some energy and settle the kids down for a family movie, followed by our own New Year’s countdown. Our party is a lot like being in New York City’s Times Square, minus millions of people, Ryan Seacrest and the enormous crystal ball.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are set to ring-in the New Year in similar fashion to 2016 by debating regulatory reform legislation sometime this month. The House passed several bills in early January last year, including 8th District Congressman Jason Smith’s SCRUB Act (the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act), but the bills didn’t make it through the Senate.
It’s a new year though, a new Congress and, most importantly, a new presidential administration—one that has promised less regulatory red tape. After eight years of seemingly countless rulemakings and executive actions, Farm Bureau members have plenty of ideas of where to begin with cuts, rollbacks and reforms.
The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the primary law governing the rulemaking process, is more than 70 years old. It’s older than many federal agencies and certainly older than the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act and many, many more laws and regulations. The law has changed very little over seven decades, and we believe it’s time for updates.
The Regulatory Accountability Act, a bill passed by the House last year and likely to be on the agenda again, would revise the APA to improve the transparency of the rulemaking process and accountability of agencies for their decisions. Agencies would have to conduct public outreach earlier, hold hearings for the most costly regulations and choose the least costly option to achieve congressional intent. These changes make sense, are much-needed and benefit everyone.
In addition to tackling the rulemaking process itself, the Trump administration and Congress must deal with a number of onerous regulations that have been enacted or are tied up in the courts, including the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) final rule. Some executive actions can be undone quickly while final agency rules may take a bit longer to fix.
The 2017 “to do” list is long, so let’s get started. Join us in ringing in the New Year by renewing the call for regulatory reform.