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August 06, 2012
House passes regulatory freeze until employment numbers rise

The House of Representative recently passed a bill called the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act that would ban significant new regulatory action until the Secretary of Labor reports that the average unemployment rate is 6 percent or less. Advisors to President Obama suggest the president would veto such a bill if it made its way to his desk. The measure is H.R. 4078.

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According to the bill, “significant regulatory action” is a regulation having an annual cost to the economy of $100 million or more; an amendment to the bill sets the threshold at $50 million. The definition also includes actions that would adversely affect the economy, productivity, competition, environment, public health or safety, small entities, communities, or local governments and tribes.

The unemployment rate is currently just over 8 percent and has not been below 6 percent since July of 2008. The bill is not expected to make it through the Senate.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), H.R. 4078 would delay or prohibit federal agencies from taking regulatory actions in certain instances, modify the process agencies must follow for developing consent decrees and settlement agreements, and broaden the scope of analysis agencies must undertake when developing new regulations.

OSHA Secretary David Michaels said recently at the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) 2012 Professional Development Conference that it takes OSHA an average of 8 years or more to adopt a new safety and health regulation. See the related story OSHA Head Michaels Gives "State of the Agency" Report to Safety Pros.

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