The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has ignored and outright broken the law for over 40 years and has explicitly declared their intention to continue along the same path. Texas on the other hand honors its responsibility to review regulations.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) of 1980 requires federal agencies to review regulations over 10 years old that affect small businesses and small entities. The law does not just apply to the HHS, but to all federal regulatory agencies. Although many agencies have openly disregarded the review requirements, “HHS acknowledges…its constituent agencies have been some of the worst offenders.” HHS failed to comply, and got a special exception in 2021 that required them to review regulations within 5 years. If a rule was not reviewed within the five-year time frame, the rule would simply expire.
Here’s a piece of irony: HHS argues that reviewing regulations is “too difficult” and “too costly” to administer, and that reviewing all of these rules in such a short period of time would create a “terrible strain on staffing resources.” They argue that forcing their staff to review the backlog of regulations will “at best, distract them from more important work.” These rules create similar difficulty, strain, and distraction for small businesses, but that’s just too much for the HHS to handle.
In order to meet the rule review deadline, HHS would need to conduct roughly 680 reviews a year for the next five years. Unfortunately this seems unlikely, given that they have roughly 17,000 rules and that 85% of regulations created before 1990 have never been reviewed or edited.
The US Dept of HHS has a budget of over $1.6 trillion – over 27% of the entire US budget – and over 83,000 employees. They stall and complain because reviewing their regulations is too difficult, but expect small businesses and entities with limited staff and resources to comply with the regulations they refuse to review. It is estimated that HHS regulations alone add $230 billion to the costs of small business annually, and that revised rules would save up to $27.8 billion.
But did you know that our own State of Texas Sunset Advisory Commission reviews entire state government agencies? They have a published plan, with clear objectives, and have been in compliance with requirements similar to the RFA and sunsetting laws since 1977. In the 2021 legislative session, the Commission completely reviewed 19 state entities, made 115 recommendations, and adopted 114 management directives to streamline and reduce regulations imposed on Texans, and increase the efficiency of state government. The impact of these reviews is astounding – saving Texans over $945 million, with only a cost of $37.2 million in Commission expenses. Since 1985, the Commission has enjoyed a “Return of $18 for every $1 appropriated to the Sunset Commission.”
While Texas has been working to abolish, consolidate, and streamline government agencies, eliminate unnecessary licensing barriers, and strengthen agencies’ accountability, the federal government continues to pass more rules and regulations that “empower the powerful at the expense of everyday Americans and small businesses.”
How many small businesses have to sink before Texans decide to get off the ship? How many livelihoods will be ruined by allowing the feds to keep making their rules without due process of law? It’s time to hold them accountable, and it’s time to let Texans run Texas businesses! The time is now to get out from under “180,000 pages of federal laws, administered by 440 separate federal agencies, and 2.5 million unelected bureaucrats,”(Miller, pg.88).