Thompson, Breaux, Lott Introduce Regulatory Right-To-Know Bill

Washington, DC — Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN), Senator John Breaux (D-LA), and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) today introduced the “Regulatory Right-To-Know Act” of 1999, legislation that would require the government to disclose the benefits and costs of federal regulatory programs to the American public.

“It’s time that we acknowledge the public’s right to know the benefits and costs of government regulations,” Thompson said. “The Regulatory Right-to-Know Act bill will shed light on the benefits and costs of federal regulations, and it will hold federal regulators more accountable for making smart, cost-effective decisions that get real results.”

“Every American has a right to know what their government is doing,” Senator Breaux said. “The goal of our bill is simple — to give Americans and Congress more information about what and how our government is regulating.”

Although the federal government in recent years has provided scattered information on the costs and benefits of federal regulations, there is no permanent requirement to do so on a regular basis. The federal government has largely ignored the “off-budget” costs of government regulations — the economic burdens that federal regulations place on the private, state and local sectors. These “off-budget” costs can be enormous. Moreover, there is no systematic process for assessing the benefits of regulatory programs.

The legislation would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide Congress with a report on the total annual benefits and costs of federal regulatory programs each year, along with recommendations for improving them. It also requires the OMB to analyze the impact of federal rules on small business, the private sector, government, wages and economic growth.

“This bill will hold federal regulators accountable and reduce needless waste and red tape,” Thompson said. “It will help us find ways to better protect public health, safety and the environment, and to ensure a stable economy.”

Estimates place the cost of federal regulations as high as $700 billion a year — almost $7,000 for the average American family. The goal of this legislation is to provide the information necessary to make regulatory programs more efficient, accountable and fair.