Number:  112-4
Date:  December 2, 2011

House Passes H.R. 527
The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011

On December 1, 2011, the House passed H.R. 527, the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011, by a vote of 263-159.  The bill would amend the process that Federal agencies use to analyze and develop new regulations.  It would also require agencies to periodically determine whether existing regulations are necessary.  The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

H.R. 527 contains the following provisions of interest to SSA:

  • Would amend the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) to define “economic impact” with respect to a proposed or final rule as any direct economic effect on small entities from such rule and any indirecteconomic effect on small entities that is reasonably forseeable resulting from such rule.
  • Would require initial and final regulatory flexibility analyses to describe alternatives to proposed rules that:  1) maximize the beneficial significant economic impact on small entities or,  2) as currently required by the RFA, minimize any adverse significant economic impact on such entities.
  • Would require each agency, within 3 days of Federal Register publication, to prominently display in plain language on its website a summary of information contained in its regulatory flexibility agenda.
  • Would expand regulatory flexibility analyses to include descriptions of why agency action is being considered and the legal basis of such action.  Would require website publication of final analyses.
  • Would require, not later than 270 days following enactment of the legislation, the  Small Business Administration (SBA) Chief Counsel for Advocacy to issue rules governing compliance with RFA requirements.
  • Would authorize the Chief Counsel to intervene in agency adjudication of rules on small entities and inform an agency of the impact of its rulemaking. 
  • Would require agencies to notify the Chief Counsel prior to publication of any proposed rule, providing all information used in making the rule and information on the potential adverse and beneficial economic impacts on small entities.
  • Would require, not later than 180 days after enactment of the legislation, publication of a plan in the Federal Register to review all existing and new rules that have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.  The review process would determine whether the rules should be continued, changed, or rescinded.  Would require agencies to report annually on results of the review to Congress, the SBA Chief Counsel, and the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Would provide for judicial review, including Federal appeals courts, of a final rule to ensure the rule is RFA compliant.
  • Unless otherwise noted, provisions would be effective upon enactment.