Some Regulations are Just Plain Dumb-A column by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill

June 18, 2018

Some regulations are just plain dumb. One of the more egregious examples I’ve encountered is a rule that required a Springfield-area magician to register his rabbit—Casey—with the government, create a disaster contingency plan for his rabbit, anticipate surprise visits from federal regulators, and create travel contingency plans anytime they leave the state.

That’s not only silly, it’s a huge waste of time and money for everyone involved—which is why I successfully fought to fix this regulation. The final result came after years of calling on both past and present Secretaries of Agriculture to make a commonsense exemption to this rule, one that’s explicitly permitted under the 2014 Farm Bill I helped pass.

Of course, not all regulations are dumb, silly, or stupid. Many of them we have for good reason.

In this country, there are basic regulations to protect our health and safety—cars are required to have airbags and seatbelts, children’s toys are safe, and power plants can’t belch harmful smoke and chemicals unchecked. These are facts that we take for granted that wouldn’t be possible in a place like China, thanks to reasonable American regulations.

Clearly not all regulations are created equal. So when I spotted regulations that kept seniors from getting affordable hearing aids over-the-counter, I fought to pass a law to change it—which I’m hopeful means we’ll see a dramatic drop in prices. And when the federal government wanted to make someone driving a combine from one field to another get a commercial driver’s license, or tried regulating farm dust, I called it out for what it is—dumb.

So when it comes to government regulations, I’m a bit like Goldilocks. It’s easy to tell when there’s too much or too little regulation—the challenge is finding that just right sweet spot so we’re protecting our health and safety while not being so aggressive that we hinder the ability of farmers to farm, businesses to operate, and consumers to get the safe goods and services they need.

That’s why I worked across the aisle to pass into law bipartisan reforms to cut red tape and streamline the federal permitting process for the largest and most complex infrastructure projects that our country so desperately needs, and worked with my Republican colleagues to reduce regulations on small community banks so they have the ability to lend to small businesses and families that are looking to invest in their communities.

That’s why when President Obama’s EPA proposed the Waters of the U.S. rule, I told them to go back to the drawing board because it went too far. And that’s why I supported a bipartisan push to give Missouri’s wood stove manufacturers more time to transition to new federal emission standards, so we can achieve those improvements in a smarter way.

When it comes to regulations, I’ll always fight for commonsense, reasonable rules that protect consumers and keep Missourians safe and healthy. But when I see the government try to enact dumb regulations—like on a small-town magician and his bunny—I’m always eager to arm-wrestle federal bureaucrats on Missourians’ behalf.

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