Stop Midnight Regulations

Date: September 12, 2016

Related Content: Issues State National Regulations

What are Midnight Regulations?

The term “midnight regulations” first came to small business owner’s attention in the final days of President Jimmy Carter’s Administration. During the period between Election Day and President Reagan’s inauguration day, the Carter Administration jammed through more than 10,000 pages of new regulations before President Reagan took control. These rules subsequently become known as “midnight regulations,” a term coined after the “midnight judges” appointed in the finals days of President John Adams Administration

Midnight regulations often represent poor public policy because they may not be fully analyzed for their impact on the economy and small businesses. The consequences of poorly crafted rules can be devastating for small businesses because these companies typically lack staff dedicated solely to discovering new regulatory requirements, developing a plan to comply, and implementing that plan. This task often falls on the small business owner, which takes time away from his or her ability to operate and grow the business.

What is NFIB doing about Midnight Regulations?

In January, NFIB wrote a letter to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for clarity on how the office would ensure agencies do not engage in midnight rulemaking. NFIB has yet to receive a response.

NFIB is also supporting the Midnight Rule Relief Act in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The legislation would put into place strong protections to prevent an onslaught of late-term regulations issued by a president and would provide small businesses relief from burdensome regulations.

Write your representatives and encourage them to support the Midnight Rule Relief Act

What are some possible Midnight Regulations?


Though DOL proposed changes to the rules covering overtime in 2015, one particular aspect of rule can be considered a dangerous midnight regulation. DOL has indicated that it may make substantive and burdensome changes to the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions – but it did not propose changes. NFIB argued in our comments that DOL should propose any changes specifically through a supplemental rulemaking for public comment. However, it is likely DOL will simply finalize whatever changes it wants to make so it can complete the rule before the end of the term. For more information on this rule and to read NFIB’s comments, visit

Paid Leave Requirement for Federal Contractors 

In February, DOL published a 286-page proposed rule that would require federal contractors to provide employees with 7 days of paid leave per year. In an effort to rush the rulemaking process, DOL initially provided just 30 days for the public to comment. Typically the public is given at least 60 days to comment. Asking small business owners to read, comprehend, and provide feedback to nearly 300 pages of dense regulatory text is unfair since these individuals are trying to run their businesses.

Midnight Regulations in the News

Related Content: Issues | State | National | Regulations

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