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Limited Number of Regulations


Federal regulations cannot exceed four times the size of federal statutes.

Limited Number of Regulations: Proposed Language

The total size of all regulations issued by all agencies and departments of the United States, measured in bytes of text, shall not exceed four times those contained in all federal statutes, and any regulations in excess of such amount shall be void as of January 1 of each even-numbered year in the reverse order of the promulgating agency’s priority. No later than November 1 of each odd-numbered year, Congress shall publish the bytes of text in all federal statutes effective for the following year, and the President shall publish the bytes of text in all regulations of all agencies by priority number for the following year.


The number of federal laws and related regulations with which we must live seems to depend on the source. One report summarized the statements of various members of Congress, showing much disagreement on the subject. One thing is undisputed. There are too many. Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations (the part written by the Internal Revenue Service) contains 20 volumes, or 13,458 pages. At the same time, the Internal Revenue Code written by Congress contains 3,387 pages, meaning that the regulations were four times larger than the law in pages without adjustment for the size of the print.

One thing is clear which is that the more laws and regulations we have, the less rule of law we have. Rule of law is a fundamental discipline essential to the continuation of democracy and freedom. We have all heard that the Affordable Care Act is 2,700 pages long and that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was close to that. Who do you suppose writes these laws? Who gives instructions to the secretaries in the back room about what to put in these laws? Who decides whether certain provisions should be included or left out? Or what provisions from other laws should be copied and pasted in? Who reads these laws? Why is it that after the Affordable Care Act was passed Congress immediately had to pass amendments containing hundreds of pages? Computers are handy, but they are used by Congress without discipline to give us runaway laws. If members of Congress had to write these laws themselves without the support of any staff, we can be sure they would be substantially shorter and restrain Congress from much of the complexity and cross-referencing it now uses.

One must also realize that in addition to regulations promulgated by agencies with the permission of Congress, those agencies in turn issue bulletins, executive directives, and other orders to facilitate the management of their mission.

We will let the voters put restraint on the amount of laws created by Congress but believe the number of regulations should not exceed in quantity some factor of those laws. Since the Internal Revenue regulations are considered some of the most complex we have and since the ratio was four to one in 2006, we believe the four times ratio is appropriate.

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