Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the federal government is required to give notice of significant rulemaking activities by publishing semi-annual regulatory agendas (unified agendas) that describe current and intended activity on federal regulations and standards. Typically, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) issues an April regulatory agenda sometime during the summer and an October regulatory agenda sometime in the winter.
No current year regulatory agendas have been published. The only regulatory agenda published in 2012, was for the fall of 2011. And despite promises that an April 2012 regulatory agenda was forthcoming, no agenda was published. This has caught the attention of Republicans in Congress. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) sent a letter to the President in late August stating: “Concerns about bad press in an election year are no excuse for keeping these plans under wraps. With regulatory burdens already hindering job creation, the American people are entitled to know the full magnitude of new Obama Administration regulations coming down the pike.”
On November 1, 2012, Congressman John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, issued a press release stating that he had been informed that the 2012 spring regulatory agenda would not be published and that OIRA was now focusing on publishing the fall regulatory agenda. The Committee has asked for an explanation as to why no spring agenda was published and has further asked for the anticipated date of the fall agenda publication. Additionally, the Committee is seeking information as to exactly what the U.S. Department of Labor submitted for both the spring and fall agendas, along with expected dates for issuance of final rules.
There are roughly 140 federal regulations awaiting final approval at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Among them are OSHA’s final standards regulating Crystalline Silica, Confined Spaces in Construction, Electrical Power Transmission and Distribution, Electrical Protective Equipment, Beryllium and Food Flavorings Containing Diacetyl and Diacetyl Substitutes. Also, given the importance of the Injury and Illness Prevention (I2P2) standard to Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels, there is no doubt that employers can anticipate a proposed rule on that topic in the near future.