March 21 was supposed to be memorable day, and not just because it was the first day of spring. It was supposed to be the day that would end our wait for the effective date of some new federal regulations. As it turns out, we’ll have to give it a bit more time.
One of the Trump administration’s first executive actions in January was to issue a directive that would freeze for 60 days the effective date of federal agency final rules that had been published in the Federal Register but had not taken effect. Several regulations that were set to become effective, some of which pertained to federal grant programs, were then placed on hold. For example, the Department of Education at the time had published a final rule on the open licensing requirement for competitive grant programs, but in light of the directive, the effective date was delayed until March 21.
So we eagerly anticipated Monday as a turning point for these regulations in waiting, yet we have since learned that the effective date has been pushed back yet again. “The additional delay will allow the department the opportunity for further review of the final regulations,” the Department of Education states in a March 21 Federal Register announcement. The effective date on the open licensing requirement is now delayed until May 22, and the agency is accepting comments on it until April 20.
The Department of Education was not alone. The Environmental Protection Agency in January delayed the effective dates of five regulations to March 21. The date has again been pushed back to May 22. The agency’s reasoning was more detailed. “EPA is taking this action to give recently arrived agency officials the opportunity to learn more about these regulations and to decide whether they would like to conduct a substantive review of any of those regulations,” it explained. “If agency officials decide to conduct a substantive review of any of those regulations, EPA will take appropriate actions to conduct such a review, including, but not limited to, issuing a document in the Federal Register addressing any further delay of the effective date of such regulation. If agency officials decide not to conduct a substantive review of [one of the five] regulations, it will become effective on May 22.”
Careful review of regulations may be beneficial at times, but creating such lengthy delays can frustrate stakeholders that must comply with these regulations, assuming they do become effective. We would hope that all of these reviews are completed as of May 22. Let’s not waste any more time on this. The clock is ticking.
What is your response to the effective date delays of these final regulations? We’d love to hear from you.