By Carol L. O’Riordan
Welcome to the world of “midnight regulations” – a regulatory phenomenon that occurs from time to time in Washington, D.C., when one administration leaves office and a new one comes in.
The Hill reported on January 19, 2017, just a day before the inauguration of President Donald Trump, that many federal regulatory agencies were flooding the Federal Register with notices of new rules that they wanted to publish before the inauguration. The new president has called for a freeze on new regulations, so as far as the agencies were concerned, a deadline was looming.
The “midnight regulations,” according to the article, “represent a final attempt by the Obama administration to leave a mark on Washington’s rulebooks before Trump takes over at the White House.”
Another way of putting it is that an agency chose to take a particular action because it believed that a certain rule that it had in mind — concerning wages and hours for workers, or financial disclosure for companies, or the use of pesticides on crops — was desirable in carrying out the agency’s mission, and it wouldn’t get a chance to put the rule out after January 20.
Once a regulation takes effect, Congress can move to repeal it within 60 legislative days after it is issued. But Congress probably won’t want to take the time to go after all these last-minute rules. A lot of them will stay on the books.
So that means that companies that are regulated by a federal department or agency – which pretty much means all companies – now need to see whether the feds successfully dropped a new regulation into the Federal Register just before President Trump took office.
We think that major regulations, affecting whole industries in a significant manner, are more likely to attract Congress’s attention and possibly to be rolled back, with the president’s signature of course. Regulations that are of narrower application won’t be seen as worth the time. But these narrower regulations can still affect your company in a significant manner.
Going through thousands of pages of regulations can be time-consuming. We are prepared to help you wade through all these words and paragraphs and find what’s relevant to you.