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DEEP, DARK, AND UNACCOUNTABLE: Agencies Use Regulatory ‘Dark Matter’ To Avoid Trump Admin Reforms

‘It’s uncertain how many federal regulatory agencies exist.

Ethan Barton writes: Government agencies use “regulatory dark matter” to insert themselves into everyday life without congressional or public approval, a conservative nonprofit watchdog group reported Tuesday.

“The problem with regulatory dark matter is that it allows the executive branch of our government to rule sectors of our economy through mere announcements, rather than actual lawmaking or even proper rule-making.”

Federal regulatory orders include presidential and agency memoranda, guidance documents, bulletins and public notices that don’t require prior congressional consent, and empower the government to interfere in business and personal lives, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute report.

 “There are hundreds of ‘significant’ agency guidance documents now in effect, plus many thousands of other such documents that are subject to little scrutiny or democratic accountability.”

“Congress needs to take back its authority over federal agencies,” CEI Vice President Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. said. “The problem with regulatory dark matter is that it allows the executive branch of our government to rule sectors of our economy through mere announcements, rather than actual lawmaking or even proper rule-making.”

Crews praised President Donald Trump’s efforts to curb government regulations, but said agencies “can still create dark matter behind the scenes,” and that additional congressional action is needed to curb the problem.

Recent examples of federal regulatory dark matter include Obamacare mandate waivers that extended employer mandate deadlines, Department of Justice guidance on transgender students, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s driverless car guidance.

“Congress lacks a clear grasp of the amount and cost of the thousands of executive branch” dark matter regulations, the CEI report said … (read more)

Source: The Daily Caller

What is Regulatory Dark Matter?

How do regulations get made? Agencies have to follow specific procedures, first outlined in the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. The trouble is that many agencies simply ignore the law. Wayne Crews documents several cases of such procedural abuse in his new paper, “Mapping Washington’s Lawlessness 2016: A Preliminary Inventory of ‘Regulatory Dark Matter.’”

The rulemaking process has been updated and amended over time, and it can get technical. But the basic principles are pretty simple. For a detailed look at the process, see Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito’s excellent primer. Wayne’s point is that more and more often, agencies are ignoring proper procedure. Perhaps folks at the EPA, HHS, and other agencies should read Dudley and Brito.

The first principle is that only Congress can legislate. Agencies can’t just unilaterally issue regulations; Congress has to pass legislation directing them to issue rules. Agencies do have some discretion, but their regulations do have to have statutory authority. More and more, agencies are flouting Congress and acting on their own. In 2014, Congress passed 224 laws—while agencies issued 3,554 regulations. Recent examples of non-congressional legislating include net neutrality, carbon emissions, and subsidies to health insurance exchanges—which led to the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case.

Another principle is public participation and transparency. Before a new regulation can take effect, an agency has to publish a proposed version of the rule in the daily Federal Register. Once it’s published, that opens a comment period where anyone, from the general public to policy experts, can submit comments about the rule. Comment periods vary, but typically last from 30 to 90 days. Agencies are required to respond and take into account the public’s comments before the final version of the regulation takes effect. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Tokyo’s Sleeping Drunks Get Turned into Living Billboards to Promote Awareness

Japan is one of the hardest working countries in the world. So, at the end of the week, Japanese salary men and women let their hair down with very surprising consequences: Drunk Sleeping.

For RocketNews24 writes:

It happens to pretty much everyone at least once in their lifetime. You’re out drinking with friends and feeling pleasantly buzzed when you get roped into doing a couple of Sambuca shots. Then it suddenly hits you: you’ve drunk too much….

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For Japanese people, however, the effects of alcohol are often so much worse. Many Asian people simply cannot tolerate alcohol well, so when they drink more than they should – even if that’s just a few beers – their bodies simply shut down and they fall asleep, dead to the world around them.

We’ve all seen photos of the guy passed out on the floor of a Tokyo subway train, and many have no doubt wondered why, particularly in as conservative a society as Japan’s, this behaviour could ever be considered acceptable. But the truth is, while Japan values hard work over pretty much anything else, its people are also extremely willing to forgive drunken mishaps precisely for that reason. If a salaryman overdoes it and passes out on the train, he was probably just kicking back after a tough week at the office, fellow passengers think as they step over his legs or gently nudge him off their shoulder on the train. Those college kids who can barely stand? They probably just passed some big exam or were offered a job after they graduate.

Getting drunk is something that people do to let off steam, and goodness knows the Japanese have a lot of that pent up inside them.

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But besides the trauma they put their body through when drinking to excess (there’s a reason they call it alcohol poisoning, after all), sleeping drunks also risk physical injury, being robbed, and become a hazard to others, so it does seem strange that people should tolerate the behaviour when they can’t the stuff that causes it.

In order to address the situation, Japan’s Yaocho Bar Group decided to turn a few of Tokyo’s snoozing boozers into living billboardsRead the rest of this entry »


Pop-Mech Auto-Focus: Now That Cars Have Black Boxes, Am I Being Tracked?

Who gets access to the info in your vehicle’s event data recorder?

A black box, formally known as an event data recorder (EDR), and informally known as a narc-in-the-box, logs a variety of data regarding the operation of the vehicle in which it’s installed. The good news is that event-data-recorder-0914-mdnEDRs do not (yet) track your location, nor do they beam real-time information to feds, cops, carmakers, or mothers-in-law. That’s what your smartphone is for.

EDRs, standard these days in 96 percent of new cars, do, however, take note of how fast you’re going and whether you’re wearing your seat belt, along with details like the status of your car’s throttle and brakes at any given moment. This is the sort of data most likely to have legal implications, particularly in the event of an accident. Police and lawyers can indeed subpoena the data from your car’s EDR and use it against you. The info can also make its way into the hands of your insurance company, which might join authorities in taking a dim view of the fact that you thought to apply the brakes only after you’d sailed off the end of the pier toward that passing barge hauling kittens and dynamite…(read more)

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