Author

Caitlin Styrsky

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

Federal Register weekly update: Tops 10,000 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 February 15 through February 19—the fifth week of the Biden administration—the Federal Register grew by 1,006 pages for a year-to-date total of 10,438 pages. During the same period of the Trump administration in 2017, the Federal Register grew by 658 pages for a year-to-date total of 11,788 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 436 documents:

• 384 notices

• two presidential document

• 13 proposed rules

• 37 final rules

One proposed rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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 Biden administration has issued three significant proposed rules and one significant final rule as of February 19.

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: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register 

Additional reading:

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2018



Federal Register weekly update: Biden administration publishes first significant final rule

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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 February 8 through February 12—the fourth week of the Biden administration—the Federal Register grew by 896 pages for a year-to-date total of 9,432 pages. During the same period of the Trump administration in 2017, the Federal Register grew by 690 pages for a year-to-date total of 11,130 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 472 documents:

• 374 notices

• six presidential document

• 34 proposed rules

• 58 final rules

One final rule concerning liquidity risk measurement standards was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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 Biden administration has issued two significant proposed rules and one significant final rule as of February 12.

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: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register 

Additional Reading:

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2018



Governors flex agency reorganization muscles

Governors in two states recently issued executive orders aimed at reorganizing agencies of the executive branch—with different results.

The Vermont House of Representatives on February 5 voted 108-40 to block Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s (R) executive order that would have established a new state law enforcement agency. Scott’s executive order, issued on January 14, would have merged all of the state’s law enforcement divisions under a newly created Agency of Public Safety.

Legislators argued that the proposed agency merger raised concerns about costs and agency independence that would be better addressed through the legislative process.

Vermont legislators previously blocked two of Scott’s executive orders aimed at reorganizing executive agencies. One of these orders—a proposal to merge the Vermont Lottery Commission and the Department of Liquor Control—was later approved via legislation.

In a statement following the House vote, Scott expressed appreciation for lawmakers’ interest in pursuing the reorganization plan through legislation.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) on January 19 issued a similar executive order that would restructure executive branch agencies by merging the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to form a new Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR). Noem argues that the merger will strengthen agriculture operations in the state while promoting conservation efforts.

The South Dakota State Legislature has the authority to oppose the merger, but no lawmakers had raised objections as of February 5.

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Federal Register weekly update: Biden administration publishes 23 final rules

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 Feb. 1 through Feb. 5—the third week of the Biden administration—the Federal Register grew by 922 pages for a year-to-date total of 8,536 pages. During the same period of the Trump administration in 2017, the Federal Register grew by 1,098 pages for a year-to-date total of 10,440 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 478 documents:

  • 392 notices
  • 10 presidential documents
  • 23 proposed rules
  • 53 final rules

The Biden administration more than doubled its final rule publication this week. The administration published 23 final rules last week and 10 final rules in its first week.

One proposed rule concerning critical habitat designations for the ringed seal and bearded seal was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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 Biden administration has issued two significant proposed rules as of Feb. 5.

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



OIRA reviewed 132 significant rules in January

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed a total of 132 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies in January 2021. The agency approved seven rules without changes and approved the intent of 57 rules while recommending changes to their content. Agencies withdrew 67 rules from the review process. One rule was subject to a statutory or judicial deadline.

OIRA reviewed 32 significant regulatory actions in January 2020, 17 significant regulatory actions in January 2019, 20 significant regulatory actions in January 2018, and 87 significant regulatory actions in January 2017. (During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 46 significant regulatory actions each January.)

OIRA has reviewed a total of 132 significant rules in 2021. The agency reviewed a total of 676 significant rules in 2020, 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.

As of February 1, 2021, OIRA’s website listed 14 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: 

https://ballotpedia.org/Completed_OIRA_review_of_federal_administrative_agency_rules

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Federal Register weekly update: Highest weekly presidential document total since 2017

Image of the south facade of the White House.

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 January 25 through January 29—the second week of the Biden administration—the Federal Register grew by 790 pages for a year-to-date total of 7,614 pages. During the second week of the Trump administration in 2017, the Federal Register grew by 686 pages for a year-to-date total of 9,342 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 488 documents:

• 419 notices

• 39 presidential document

• 7 proposed rules

• 23 final rules

President Joe Biden’s (D) 39 presidential documents rank as the highest weekly presidential document total since Ballotpedia began tracking changes to the Federal Register in 2017. President Barack Obama (D) issued 25 presidential documents—the second-highest weekly presidential document total since 2017—during his final week in office in January 2017. Presidential documents include announcements from the Executive Office of the President, such as executive orders, proclamations, and memoranda.

No proposed or final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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 Biden administration has issued one significant proposed rule as of January 29.

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: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register

Additional Reading:

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2018



Biden revokes Trump executive orders on regulatory practice

President Joe Biden (D) on Jan. 20, 2021, signed an executive order revoking six executive orders on agency regulatory practice issued by former President Donald Trump (R).

E.O. 13992 revoked the following Trump administration executive orders:

  • Executive Order 13771 (Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs): Established regulatory budgets for federal agencies and required agencies to eliminate two old regulations for each new regulation issued.
  • Executive Order 13777 (Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda): Established new regulatory reform officers and regulatory reform task forces to oversee the implementation of E.O. 13771.
  • Executive Order 13875 (Evaluating and Improving the Utility of Federal Advisory Committees): Directed agencies to eliminate non-statutory advisory committees whose missions have been accomplished, whose subject matter has become obsolete, whose primary functions have been assumed by another entity, or whose costs outweigh benefits.
  • Executive Order 13891 (Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents): Prohibited federal administrative agencies from issuing binding rules through guidance documents.
  • Executive Order 13892 (Promoting the Rule of Law Through Transparency and Fairness in Civil Administrative Enforcement and Adjudication): Required federal administrative agencies to provide the public with fair notice of regulations.
  • Executive Order 13893 (Increasing Government Accountability for Administrative Actions by Reinvigorating Administrative PAYGO): Required agencies to consider cost reduction efforts in administrative actions.

Biden’s executive order also abolished “any personnel positions, committees, task forces, or other entities” established pursuant to the revoked executive orders. These include the regulatory reform officer positions and the regulatory reform task forces established under E.O. 13777.

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Federal Register weekly update: One week, two administrations

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 Jan. 18 through Jan. 22, the Federal Register grew by 1,950 pages for a year-to-date total of 6,824 pages. The Biden administration began in the middle of the week at noon EST on Jan. 20. From Jan. 18 through Jan. 20, the Trump administration added 1,368 pages. From Jan. 21 through Jan. 22, the Biden administration added 582 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured 401 documents. The Trump administration added the following 166 documents:

  • 117 notices
  • one presidential document
  • 16 proposed rules
  • 32 final rules

The Biden administration added the following 235 documents:

  • 195 notices
  • 14 presidential documents
  • 16 proposed rules
  • 10 final rules

The Trump administration issued one proposed rule concerning national emission standards and two final rules regarding debt collection practices and the taking and importing of marine mammals that were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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 2021 issued three significant proposed rules and seven significant final rules.

The Biden administration issued one significant proposed rule regarding modifications to privacy rules promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration were regulatory actions. Some rules were deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which required 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



Federal Register weekly update: Trump administration’s highest weekly final rule total 

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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 January 11 through January 15, the Federal Register grew by 3,138 pages for a year-to-date total of 4,874 pages. Over the same period in 2020, 2019, and 2018, the Federal Register reached 1,730 pages, 106 pages, and 2,028 pages, respectively. As of January 15, the 2021 total led the 2020 total by 3,144 pages, the 2019 total by 4,768 pages, and the 2018 total by 2,846 pages. 

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 730 documents:

• 558 notices

• four presidential documents

• 50 proposed rules

• 118 final rules

One proposed rule withdrawing three proposed rules previously issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and three final rules concerning drinking water, unmanned aircraft systems, and small businesses certification were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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 2021 has issued two significant proposed rules and five significant final rules.

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.

Additional reading:

  • Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018.


Trump administration’s 2-for-1 regulatory policy in review

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) issued a 2020 update on the Trump administration’s 2-for-1 regulatory policy as part of the Fall 2020 edition of the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The 2-for-1 policy applies to economically significant rules—those with an anticipated economic impact of $100 million or more. The update featured the following highlights:

• Agencies eliminated $198.6 billion in overall regulatory costs across the federal government in fiscal year 2020.

• Agencies eliminated 5.5 regulations for every new significant regulation added.

• Agencies issued 538 deregulatory actions overall.

From 2017 to 2019, agencies eliminated a cumulative $50.9 billion in regulatory costs.

The Trump administration as of January 15, 2021, had yet to publish a formal update on the 2-for-1 regulatory policy. An analysis by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, however, concluded that the administration issued 101 completed deregulatory actions and 31 completed regulatory actions in fiscal year 2020 for a 3-to-1 ratio. OIRA reported a 1.7-to-1 ratio in 2019, a 4-to-1 ratio in 2018, and a 22-to-1 ratio in 2017.

President Donald Trump (R) enacted the 2-for-1 regulatory policy via Executive Order 13771 in January 2017. The order instituted annual regulatory budgets for federal agencies and required agencies to eliminate two old regulations for each new regulation issued. The future of the 2-for-1 regulatory policy under the incoming Biden administration remains unclear.

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