The NRCA is working to advance legislation that is designed to address a top priority for roofing contractors, which is providing relief from burdensome regulations. The focus is on regulatory reform due to the many concerns of members over the dramatic increase in new regulations being issued by the federal government. In recent years, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, National Labor Relations Board and other agencies have caused numerous regulations to promulgate that are having significant effects on roofing contractors.
The cost of the expansion of regulations to the U.S. economy is significant. In 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration estimated the total cost of compliance with all federal regulations across the nation was $1.75 trillion annually. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a market-oriented think tank in Washington, DC, estimated the nationwide cost of all regulations at $1.9 trillion in 2013. With more regulations in the pipeline, there appears to be no end in sight to this trend. NRCA expects the Obama administration to be very active in issuing new regulations during the president’s final year in office.
To address this concern, NRCA is working with members of Congress and allied organizations in support of legislation to reform the process under which federal agencies develop regulations. The intent is to reform the process so that final regulations are more effective in achieving desired public policy goals while minimizing adverse effects on employers.
While there are different regulatory reform bills currently before Congress, the most comprehensive is the Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 185/S. 2006). This legislation is designed to reform the Administrative Procedure Act, the primary federal law governing agency procedures, which has not been updated in 70 years. If enacted, this bill will require federal agencies to choose the lowest cost rulemaking alternative that meets statutory objectives, improve agency fact-finding processes, require formal rule makings in more situations to increase opportunities for public input, and fortify judicial review of new regulations. Ultimately, these reforms will enable federal agencies to produce regulations that achieve the goals that Congress intended while minimizing the costs on employers and the economy.
NRCA believes that enactment of the Regulatory Accountability Act would provide more opportunities to prevent burdensome regulations from being issued. For example, had the judicial review provisions of the bill been in effect in 2010 when OSHA issued its residential fall protection directive that NRCA strongly opposed, our chances of prevailing when we challenged that regulation in court would have been much greater.
The Regulatory Accountability Act was approved by the House of Representatives in 2015 with significant bipartisan support. Our goal now is to get the 60 votes needed to move this bill through the Senate in 2016, which will mean getting several Democrats to join Republicans in supporting the bill.
NRCA will continue to make regulatory reform legislation a top priority in order to reduce regulatory burdens on our members until that goal is achieved.
Duane Musser is the Vice President of Government Relations of the NRCA.