OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Biz group to slap price tag on red tape September 9, 2014

the-hillTHE BIG STORY

The National Association of Manufacturers is poised to issue what the powerful business trade is describing as a landmark study of the annual cost of federal regulations.

And public interest groups are poised to push back.

On Wednesday, NAM president Jay Timmons will unveil the report looking at the annual impact of federal red tape on the U.S. economy, manufacturers and small businesses.

“Manufacturers have long cited more and more complex regulations as a barrier to their growth, and today, we have new data demonstrating the true burdens shouldered by manufacturers throughout the supply chain, particularly the smallest firms, in complying with growing federal mandates,” Timmons will say Tuesday, according to a prepared statement.

—Why the study matters:

There remains significant disagreement in Washington about how to calculate the costs and benefits of regulations imposed by federal agencies, though numerous attempts have been made to assess the annual price tag.

Among them was an oft-cited and oft-criticized study commissioned by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, which placed the annual costs at roughly $1.75 trillion.

The figure was disputed by proponents of stronger health and safety protections, who suggest it was inflated via the use of a cost metric created by World Bank officials. Those officials later said it was misused in the SBA report.

Now, public interest groups appear ready to pounce on the NAM report, after getting wind that its authors, Nicole V. Crain and W. Mark Crain, are the same economists behind the SBA report.

“We won’t know until tomorrow what methodology the Crains have employed for the NAM-sponsored report; for now, they are all keeping the study and its results close to their chest until the big release,” said James Goodwin, an analyst for the Center for Progressive Reform. “What is clear is that the study must be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism, given their history.”

Whether or not it was accurate, the figure in SBA’s report was widely referenced in media reports and congressional hearings, often by proponents of regulatory reform legislation.

Ahead of November’s pivotal elections, the NAM study is certain to be fodder for business groups and their allies in Congress, who intend to make the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda a top campaign issue this fall.

ON TAP FOR WEDNESDAY:

Congress is in session, as the House and Senate embark on a short but likely action-packed legislative session in which they’ll grapple with regulatory reform, seek to avert a government shutdown and consider a constitutional amendment on campaign finance.

Congressional leaders from both parties and both chambers will head to the White House to discuss foreign policy matters with President Obama.

The National Association of Federal Credit Unions launches its three-day Congressional Caucus. Highlights from Wednesday’s speaker lineup include Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray.

House Agriculture subcommittee will examine the U.S. Forest Services’s proposed ground water directive. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell will testify. http://j.mp/1qeCcaT

House Ways and Means subcommittee will holding a hearing looking at the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. http://j.mp/1BqqP2c

The House Natural Resources Committee will call Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe in for a transparency hearing to explain why his agency hasn’t been responding to subpoenas from the panel about some FWS rules. http://j.mp/1ujcLFi

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing examining ways to improve the freight rail system, including possible new regulations. http://j.mp/1tIwNKF

TOMORROW’S REGS TODAY:

The Obama administration will publish 231 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Wednesday’s edition of the Federal Register.

Here’s what to watch:

-The Coast Guard will implement new rules for sailboats. Sailboats will be required to carry enough life jackets for all passengers, under the new rules.

Previously, only commercial sailboats that carried passengers for hire were required to carry life jackets, but now all sailboats will be subject to these requirements.

“The Coast Guard is now requiring the use of wearable personal flotation devices for individuals on board those vessels,” the agency says.

The new rule goes into effect in 30 days.  http://j.mp/1lQTcTn

-The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will implement new standards for manufactured or mobile homes. HUD’s new installation standards include new requirements for ground anchors, which secure the homes from movement.

“The performance of conventional ground anchor assemblies is critical to the overall quality and structural integrity of manufactured housing installations,” the agency says.

The new rules go into effect in 60 days. http://j.mp/1qD21R4

-The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will consider new rules increasing the size of its definition of a small business in the manufacturing industry. At the same time, the agency is also considering raising the refining capacity for small businesses in the petroleum industry to no more than 200,000 barrels per day. These rulings would allow more companies on the fringe to fall into the small business category. http://j.mp/1qec6VF

-The Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering new transportation planning regulations that were developed by state and local agencies. Two branches of the Transportation Department — the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) — are seeking comments from the public on how to implement these proposed rules. http://j.mp/1qJItck

NEWS RIGHT NOW

WOTUS: The House of Representatives passed legislation seeking to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the United States” rule to clarify the agency’s regulatory authority over smaller bodies of water: http://j.mp/1uuYDIb

SAND TRAP? The golf industry is teeing off on the Environmental Protection Agency‘s controversial plan, because they are concerned it could include ponds on courses, The Hill’sLaura Barron-Lopez reports. http://j.mp/1qCcUCQ

FERGUSON FALLOUT: A bipartisan group of senators is blasting the Pentagon for helping to “militarize” local police departments around the country with assault weapons and armored vehicles, which they say laid the groundwork for what unfolded in Ferguson, Mo., last month. http://j.mp/1qempJe

—At a hearing Tuesday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) criticized Ferguson police for creating the appearance of a “war zone” and treating protesters  like “enemy combatants,” following the police shooting of an unarmed black man last month in the St. Louis suburb. http://j.mp/Yuvtym

HONOR EXTENDED: Under new regulations from the Office of Personnel Management, civilian federal employees who are killed on the job are eligible for flag recognition honors if they die as a result of a criminal act, terror strike or natural disaster.

GOP v. NLRB:  Senate Democrats are rallying behind a former National Labor Relations Board member who is up for a controversial reappointment after her former term was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. This comes despite fierce opposition from Republicans, who may be powerless to prevent the nomination of Sharon Blockhttp://j.mp/1wcxPiQ

HOME DEPOT: Senate Democrats are calling for a federal investigation of Home Depot’s recent data breach, where hackers may have gained access to the credit and debit card information of millions of shoppers, The Hill’s Julian Hattem reports. http://j.mp/1xF2vv1

NUKES: Senators on both sides of the aisle attacked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday, as lawmakers considered two new nominees from President Obama, The Hill’s Tim Cama reports. http://j.mp/1wcz3uJ

BY THE NUMBERS

262 – Number of House votes in favor of legislation to halt the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule.

152 – Number of votes against.

35 – Number of Democrats who broke party lines to support the measure.

1 – Number of Republicans (Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey) who broke GOP ranks to vote against the bill.

QUOTES OF THE DAY:

“I have heard from many of my constituents that this rule would force them to prove that large mud puddles and ditches on their property are not federally regulated waters. I support this bill because sometimes, a mud puddle is just a mud puddle.” – Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) on the WOTUS rule.

“We have departed from reality,” – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), in response to GOP criticism of the rule.