US House Passes Legislation Targeting Regulatory Burdens

Would require Congress to scrutinize and approve rules having $100 million or more impact on the economy before they could be imposed on employers

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On December 7, 2011, the U.S. House passed H.R. 10, the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act”, by a margin of 241 to 184. The AGC-supported bill would require Congress to scrutinize major rules and affirmatively approve any new major rule before it could be imposed on employers. The REINS Act is limited to new “major rules” (i.e., rules having an impact on the economy of $100 million or more), therefore impacting only a small fraction of all rules promulgated each year (about 26 rules in the pipeline meet that threshold. They include new regulations on Crystalline Silica, Hours of Service and Hazardous Communications), while covering those with the most significant impact on the economy.

Contractors and project owners must already comply with a myriad of complex federal, state and local legal and regulatory requirements throughout the construction process including, but not limited to, zoning, procurement, environmental, labor, and health and safety. Meeting these requirements has become an increasingly burdensome responsibility for contractors and, in some cases, delaying, if not threatening construction projects and increasing the cost of doing business. Recent studies have put the current regulatory compliance price tag on American businesses and individuals at more than $1 trillion annually.

AGC supported the REINS Act and sent Congress a letter of support. AGC also provided Congressional leaders information earlier this year on specific regulations impacting the construction industry at a hearing on regulatory roadblocks.

In addition to the REINS Act, the House passed two bipartisan bills last week that would require federal agencies to take additional steps to ensure their regulations are not unduly burdensome on businesses. The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act passed 263-159 and the Regulatory Accountability Act passed253-167. Together, these bills will limit the regulatory burdens placed on businesses and individuals.