FMCSA releases rulemaking on... rulemaking

Aiming to save time and money, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finalized a new regulation that helps streamline and speed up the rulemaking process for what are considered “routine or noncontroversial” rules.

Aiming to save time and money, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finalized a new regulation that helps streamline and speed up the rulemaking process for what are considered “routine or noncontroversial” rules.

Typically, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) established in 1946, government agencies must publish all proposed new regulations in the Federal Register at least 30 days before they take effect – and they must provide a way for interested parties to comment, offer amendments, or to object to the regulation.

Some regulations require only publication and an opportunity for comments to become effective, while others need one or more formal public hearings. Said hearings and subsequent adoption, rejection, or modification of subsequent comments may take several months if not years for rules to become final.

Now, FMCSA has created a rulemaking short cut for issues deemed routine or non-controversial. In such instances, regulatory changes will become effective a specified number of days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. That is, unless the agency receives written adverse comments or written notice of intent to submit adverse comments by the date specified in the direct final rule.

“These new procedures will expedite the promulgation of routine or noncontroversial rules by reducing the time and resources necessary to develop, review, clear, and publish separate proposed and final rules,” FMCSA said in its filing, stressing again that it will not use this “direct final rule” process for complex or controversial topics, such as safety issues.

FMCSA’s move received broad support within the industry back in March when the agency began work on the “direct final rule” imitative, drawing positive endorsements from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), and the American Trucking Associations.

“This is just streamlining the rulemaking process, to help expedite things,” Clayton Boyce, ATA’s vp-public affairs and press secretary, told FleetOwner.

“Obviously, our only concern is that this ‘direct final rule’ process not be used on safety issues as those are automatically controversial,” Boyce said. “But in other areas, it makes sense. If you publish a rule and no one comments on it, then you know you are good to go on it.”

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