Author

Caitlin Styrsky

Caitlin Styrsky is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Federal Register weekly update: Total documents published in 2020 tops 20,000

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From September 14 to September 18, the Federal Register grew by 2,702 pages for a year-to-date total of 59,172 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 49,634 pages and 48,200 pages, respectively. As of September 18, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 9,538 pages and the 2018 total by 10,972 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 608 documents:

• 449 notices
• five presidential documents
• 55 proposed rules
• 99 final rules

Four final rules concerning railroad construction, financial requirements for swap dealers, bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis, and pension benefit statements were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 24 significant proposed rules, 54 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of September 18.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: Changes to the Federal Register

Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2018



Checks and Balances: Department of Justice proposes modernization of Administrative Procedure Act

The Checks and Balances Letter delivers news and information from Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, including pivotal actions at the federal and state levels related to the separation of powers, due process and the rule of law.

This edition:In this month’s edition of Checks and Balances, we review a legal challenge to 2020 census changes; a proposal from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to modernize the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA); and agency rulemakings from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the DOJ that seek to limit the use of guidance documents.

At the state level, we examine a concurring opinion from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice expressing misgivings about judicial deference as well as procedural challenges to coronavirus response efforts.

We also highlight new scholarship proposing that internal administrative law changes, rather than judicial action, can narrow applications of Chevron deference as well as new findings from Ballotpedia’s survey of all 50 state constitutions and administrative procedure acts examining whether state administrative agencies can choose whether to follow formal adjudication procedures. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 176 proposed rules and 267 final rules added to the Federal Register in August and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.



In Washington

Census changes face challenge 

  • What’s the story? A three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on September 10 blocked a Trump administration effort to exclude people who reside in the United States without legal permission from the census numbers used to allocate congressional representation. 20 states joined with cities and counties to file a lawsuit on July 24 arguing that the July 21 presidential memorandum “Excluding Illegal Aliens From the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census” violates the U.S. Constitution’s mandate to count “the whole number of persons in each State.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) filed a similar lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on July 28, arguing that the memo also violates separation of powers principles and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
  • The U.S. Constitution requires the enumeration of all persons in each State. Congress delegates authority to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to carry out the census and determine which persons qualify as inhabitants for the purposes of congressional apportionment.
  • The Trump administration argues that the DOC in prior censuses has interpreted its delegated authority to exclude persons residing in the country without lawful permission. The memorandum states that excluding “illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of Government.”
  • Judges Richard C. Wesley, Peter W. Hall, and Jesse M. Furman held in a per curiam opinion that the Trump administration memorandum violates statutory requirements mandating that apportionment must be drawn from the number of residents living in each district, regardless of their legal status. The president’s supervisory authority of agency heads allow him to retain “some discretion in the conduct of the decennial census and resulting apportionment calculation,” wrote the judges in a per curiam opinion. “Nevertheless, where the authority of the President (or other members of the Executive Branch) to act is derived from statutes passed by Congress, the President must act in accordance with, and within the boundaries of, the authority that Congress has granted.”
  • The Trump administration will likely appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The California lawsuit was still pending as of September 11, 2020.
  • Want to go deeper?

DOJ urges Congress to modernize administrative procedures

  • What’s the story? The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on August 11 released a report recommending that Congress update and improve the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The DOJ argued that the APA framework fails to sufficiently manage modern regulation and falls short of promoting agency accountability, transparency, and public engagement.
  • Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told Reuters that the agency wants to work with Congress to revise the APA because the legislation “no longer reflects how the regulatory process actually works.”
  • The report, entitled “Modernizing the Administrative Procedure Act,” is based on proposals presented by regulatory professionals during the DOJ’s December 2019 summit on APA modernization. The report examines the development of administrative agencies over the 74 years since the passage of the APA, recommends legislative action to improve the APA, and considers takeaways from the Trump administration’s regulatory approach that could contribute to APA modernization, according to the DOJ.
  • Prior to 1946, no federal laws governed the general conduct of administrative agencies. The APA established uniform rulemaking procedures for federal agencies to propose and issue regulations, put forth procedures for issuing policy statements and licenses, and provide for judicial review of agency adjudications and other final decisions. The legislation remains largely unchanged today.
  • Want to go deeper?

Agencies move to rein in guidance practices

  • What’s the story? The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Justice (R) issued recent rulemakings aimed at implementing President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13891, which aims to prohibit federal administrative agencies from issuing binding rules through guidance documents. Agencies were required to comply with the order’s directives by June 27, 2020, but some agencies received extensions.
  • Noting that “the public often treats guidance from agencies as binding, even if it technically is not”, the final rule from the DOL, published on August 28, creates a searchable database of all agency guidance documents; requires that significant guidance documents (those with an economic impact of $100 million or more, among other factors) undergo a notice-and-comment review process prior to implementation; and allows the public to petition the DOL to amend or withdraw guidance documents.
  • The interim final rule from the DOJ, released on August 26, prohibits the agency from using guidance documents as substitutes for regulations; limits the agency’s ability to use guidance documents in civil and criminal enforcement actions; requires a notice-and-comment review process for significant guidance documents as well as approval by an agency official appointed by the president; mandates that all agency guidance documents be made available in a searchable database; and allows the public to petition the DOL to amend or withdraw guidance documents.
  • Want to go deeper?

In the states

Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice expresses misgivings about judicial deference

  • What’s the story? Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David N. Wecht on July 21 issued a concurring opinion in Crown Castle NG East LLC and Pennsylvania-CLE LLC v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission expressing what he called “deep and broad misgivings” about the court’s practice of deferring to state agency interpretations of statutes and regulations.
  • The case challenged the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) interpretation of a statute governing public utilities. The PUC argued that the court should defer to its statutory interpretation because of the subject matter’s highly technical nature. The court, however, refused to defer to the PUC’s interpretation because it found the statute in question to be clear and unambiguous.
  •  “A court does not defer to an administrative agency’s interpretation of the plain meaning of an unambiguous statute because statutory interpretation is a question of law for the court,” wrote Justice Sallie Updike Mundy in the opinion.
  • In a concurring opinion, Justice Wecht expressed uncertainty about the court’s deference practices. Wecht pointed to the lack of clarity surrounding the court’s approach to deference, arguing that the court’s deference doctrines aren’t clearly distinguishable and have been, in their words, “thrown together over time.”
  • Ballotpedia tracks state approaches to judicial deference as part of The Administrative State Project. Since 2008, Wisconsin, Florida, Mississippi, Arizona, and Michigan have taken executive, judicial, or legislative action to limit or prohibit judicial deference to state agencies.
  • Want to go deeper?

Coronavirus emergency powers challenged on procedural grounds to mixed results in state lawsuits 

  • What’s the story? The following lawsuits claim that state responses to the coronavirus pandemic in Arkansas and Alabama violated the Administrative Procedure Acts (APA) in their respective states:
    • Arkansas: A group of Republican lawmakers on September 3 filed suit against Arkansas Department of Health Director Dr. Jose claiming that the agency’s coronavirus-related health directives violated the state APA by not first receiving legislative approval. Moreover, the lawsuit claims that Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) emergency declaration—first issued in March and since extended—violates the state APA, which mandates that emergency rules may not be effective for more than 120 days and that successive emergency rules may not be adopted earlier than 30 days after the expiration of the previous rule. Hutchison disagreed with the lawsuit, arguing that the legislative review of emergency rules would delay the state’s public health response.
    • Alabama: An Alabama judge on August 11 dismissed a procedural challenge to Governor Kay Ivey’s (R) authority to issue a mask mandate, but failed to provide an explanation for his reasoning. The plaintiffs alleged that the Alabama Board of Health failed to meet statutory notice and administrative review requirements prior to the issuance of the mask mandate in violation of the state APA. In their motion to dismiss, state officials argued that Ivey incorporated the order into a gubernatorial proclamation under her own authority, granted by the Emergency Management Act. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Greg Griffin dismissed the case without comment. The plaintiffs plan to appeal the decision.
  • Ballotpedia provides the text of all 50 state APAs as part of The Administrative State Project. Click here for complete coverage.

Narrowing Chevron Deference through Administrative Law

New scholarship from law professor Christopher Walker argues that Chevron deference can be narrowed through internal changes to administrative law processes rather than judicial action. Walker focuses on the use of Chevron deference in the context of immigration policy, arguing that the application of Chevron to immigration questions is inappropriate since immigration policies are most often formulated through adjudication rather than rulemaking. Walker proposes that federal regulators should shift the formulation of immigration policy from adjudication to rulemaking in order to shore up Chevron’s theoretical foundations of agency expertise, deliberation, and political accountability.

“Indeed, on closer examination, the theoretical foundations for Chevron deference crumble in the immigration adjudication context. Chevron’s core rationale for congressional delegation and judicial deference—agency expertise—is particularly weak when it comes to immigration adjudication. Unlike in other regulatory contexts, the statutory ambiguities immigration adjudicators address seldom implicate scientific or other technical expertise. The second leading and related rationale— deliberative process—is even weaker here than in other adjudicative contexts. After all, immigration adjudication is on the fringe of the ‘new world of agency adjudication.’ It is not formal adjudication under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), lacking many of the signature procedural protections afforded in APA-governed formal adjudication. The third central rationale—political accountability—may at first blush seem compelling in immigration adjudication, due to the Attorney General’s final decision-making authority. Building on Hickman and Nielson’s framing, however, we argue that agency-head review is necessary yet insufficient for Chevron’s accountability theory. The theory should encompass a robust public engagement component, with public notice and an opportunity to be heard for those—beyond the parties in the adjudication itself—who would be affected by the agency’s statutory interpretation. Agency adjudication seldom provides that, and perhaps even less so when it comes to immigration adjudication.”

  • Want to go deeper?

Ballotpedia study shows that 46 states allow administrative agencies to choose whether to follow formal adjudication procedures

A Ballotpedia survey of all 50 state constitutions and administrative procedure acts (APAs) concluded that 46 state constitutions or APAs allow administrative agencies to choose whether to follow formal adjudication procedures in administrative hearings as of August 2020.

  • Forty-six states allow administrative agencies to choose whether to go through formal adjudication or use informal procedures
  • Four states, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, sometimes require agencies to use formal adjudication to resolve cases
  • No states require agencies to follow formal adjudication procedures in all cases

Ballotpedia examined provisions permitting state agencies to use informal adjudication here.


Regulatory tally

Federal Register

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s recent regulatory review activity includes:

  • Review of 64 significant regulatory actions. Between 2009-2016, the Obama administration reviewed an average of 53 significant regulatory actions each August.
  • Eight rules approved without changes; recommended changes to 51 proposed rules; five rules withdrawn.
  • As of September 2, 2020, OIRA’s website listed 120 regulatory actions under review.
  • Want to go deeper? 
  • Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA. To view this project, visit: Completed OIRA review of federal administrative agency rules

This Checks and Balances newsletter is part of Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, a nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that also features the latest data on federal regulatory activity, including a rolling page count of the Federal Register and the volume of rulemaking.

You can view an index of these pages here. View the pages and you will come away knowing the difference between the administrative state, the regulatory state, and the dark state—and so much more. New entries to our encyclopedia are added weekly.



Federal Register weekly update: Lowest final rule total since first week of January

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From September 7 to September 11, the Federal Register grew by 1,112 pages for a year-to-date total of 56,470 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 48,546 pages and 46,848 pages, respectively. As of September 11, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 7,924 pages and the 2018 total by 9,622 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 402 documents:

• 336 notices
• five presidential documents
• 30 proposed rules

• 31 final rules

One final rule concerning gluten-free food labeling was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that it could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 24 significant proposed rules, 50 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of September 11.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: Changes to the Federal Register

Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2018


Arizona judge declines to rule on constitutional challenge to agency adjudication process

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Douglas Gerlach on September 9 upheld a decision by then-Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) Director Gregory McKay in a case challenging the constitutionality of the procedural due process protections available to individuals during the agency’s adjudication of child abuse allegations.

McKay placed Phillip B. (the only name provided) on the child abuse registry despite a finding by an administrative law judge (ALJ) that no probable cause existed to do so. Arizona law permits the DCS director to substitute his own judgment for that of the ALJ.

Mr. B. challenged the low standard of proof (probable cause) in the agency’s review process; the lack of cross-examination of witnesses; and the unilateral power of the DCS director to reverse an ALJ’s findings. The DCS director, according to the challenge, is not an impartial adjudicator because he exercises both investigatory and adjudicatory functions.

Gerlach declined to rule on the constitutional challenges raised by Mr. B. for factual reasons. He wrote in part that the bias challenge “flies in the face of well-settled law that ‘the combining of investigatory and adjudicatory functions [in a single agency] does not violate due process’ unless actual bias is shown.”

Mr. B. plans to appeal the decision.

“The court decided not to review the myriad due-process and separation-of-powers problems for factual reasons,” said attorney Aid Dynar of the New Civil Liberties Alliance in a statement. “At the same time, the court decided not to take a look at the facts to avoid the serious legal problems with Arizona’s administrative law. The court’s double-dodge offers an enticing recipe for appeal, and that is precisely what we plan to do.”

Read more about the case in the September 2019 edition of Checks and Balances: The Checks and Balances Letter: September 2019

Additional reading:


Federal Register weekly update: 2020 page total tops 55,000 pages

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From August 31 to September 4, the Federal Register grew by 1,714 pages for a year-to-date total of 55,358 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 47,114 pages and 45,543 pages, respectively. As of September 4, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 8,244 pages and the 2018 total by 9,815 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 588 documents:

• 474 notices
• six presidential documents
• 39 proposed rules
• 69 final rules

One final rule concerning covered brokers and dealers under the Dodd Frank Act was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that it could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 24 significant proposed rules, 49 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of September 4.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: Changes to the Federal Register

Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2018


OIRA reviewed 64 significant rules in August

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed a total of 64 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies in August 2020. The agency approved eight rules without changes and approved the intent of 51 rules while recommending changes to their content. Agencies withdrew five rules from the review process.

OIRA reviewed 49 significant regulatory actions in August 2019, 35 significant regulatory actions in August 2018, and 12 significant regulatory actions in August 2017. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 53 significant regulatory actions each August.

OIRA has reviewed a total of 427 significant rules so far in 2020. The agency reviewed a total of 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.

As of September 2, 2020, OIRA’s website listed 120 regulatory actions under review.

OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.

Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA. To view this project, visit:

Completed OIRA review of federal administrative agency rules

Additional reading


DOJ urges Congress to modernize administrative procedures

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on August 11 released a report recommending that Congress update and improve the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The DOJ argued that the APA framework fails to sufficiently manage modern regulation and falls short of promoting agency accountability, transparency, and public engagement.

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told Reuters that the agency wants to work with Congress to revise the APA because the legislation “no longer reflects how the regulatory process actually works.”

The report, entitled “Modernizing the Administrative Procedure Act,” is based on proposals presented by regulatory professionals during the DOJ’s December 2019 summit on APA modernization. The report examines the development of administrative agencies over the 74 years since the passage of the APA, recommends legislative action to improve the APA, and considers takeaways from the Trump administration’s regulatory approach that could contribute to APA modernization, according to the DOJ.

Prior to 1946, no federal laws governed the general conduct of administrative agencies. The APA established uniform rulemaking procedures for federal agencies to propose and issue regulations, put forth procedures for issuing policy statements and licenses, and provide for judicial review of agency adjudications and other final decisions. The legislation remains largely unchanged today.

Additional reading:


Federal Register weekly update: Highest weekly proposed rule total since February

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From August 24 to August 28, the Federal Register grew by 1,620 pages for a year-to-date total of 53,644 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 45,872 pages and 44,814 pages, respectively. As of August 28, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 7,772 pages and the 2018 total by 8,830 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 603 documents:

• 468 notices
• two presidential documents
• 65 proposed rules
• 68 final rules

Two final rules concerning the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and loans within the Farm Credit System were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 24 significant proposed rules, 48 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of August 28.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: Changes to the Federal Register

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2018


Federal Register weekly update: Highest weekly page count of 2020 to date

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From August 17 to August 21, the Federal Register grew by 2,084 pages for a year-to-date total of 52,024 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 44,536 pages and 43,500 pages, respectively. As of August 21, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 7,488 pages and the 2018 total by 8,524 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 563 documents:
• 451 notices
• 3 presidential documents
• 24 proposed rules

• 79 final rules

Three final rules concerning Department of Defense grants and cooperative agreements, corrected air pollutant emission standards for plywood and composite wood products, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 24 significant proposed rules, 46 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of August 21.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Additional reading:

 



Federal Register weekly update: Two new significant final rules on food labeling and air pollutants

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From August 10 to August 14, the Federal Register grew by 1,866 pages for a year-to-date total of 49,940 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 42,798 pages and 42,016 pages, respectively. As of August 14, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 7,142 pages and the 2018 total by 7,924 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 484 documents:

• 392 notices
• 11 presidential documents
• 30 proposed rules

• 51 final rules

Two final rules concerning gluten-free food labeling and air pollutant emission standards for plywood and composite wood products were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 24 significant proposed rules, 43 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of August 14.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017: Changes to the Federal Register

Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2018


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