MHARR Supports Legislation to Advance Regulatory Reform

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Washington, D.C., December 19, 2017 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has announced its support for legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) that would enshrine in federal law the sweeping regulatory reforms implemented in recent Executive Orders issued by the Administration of President Donald J. Trump.

 Under H.R. 2362, the “Lessening Regulatory Costs and Establishing a Federal Regulatory Budget Act of 2017” – which was marked-up and approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on November 30, 2017 – the provisions of Trump Administration Executive Orders 13771 (“Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”) issued January 30, 2017 and 13777 (“Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda”), issued February 24, 2017 — would effectively be memorialized federal law.

Among other things, the proposed bill would require federal Executive Branch agencies — including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which comprehensively regulates the construction and safety of manufactured housing in the United States — to: (1) remove unnecessary or outdated regulations when significant new regulations are issued; (2) establish institutional mechanisms and procedures to carry out ongoing regulatory reform initiatives and “identify regulations that are appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification;” and (3) “prudently manage and control the cost of planned regulations through an annual budgeting process.”

Under the bill, federal agencies, including HUD, would be required to establish a Regulatory Review Task Force that would be responsible for “ongoing evaluations of regulations and other regulatory actions and make recommendations … to the head of the agency regarding repeal, replacement, or modification of regulations and regulatory actions.” (Emphasis added).

The inclusion of “regulatory actions” in the bill is significant, in that the review mandated by the legislation would include not just officially-designated “regulations,” but other actions having de facto regulatory impacts as well, including: “any other regulatory guidance, statement of policy, information collection request, for, or reporting, recordkeeping, or disclosure requirements that impose a burden on the public or governs agency operations.” This is particularly important for the manufactured housing program, where such pseudo-regulatory mandates have regularly been abused by the program, its administrators and its entrenched, revenue-driven contractors for decades to impose costly, unjustified and baseless requirements and procedures on the manufactured housing industry and manufactured housing consumers in violation of applicable law.

Such actions under the current program administrator, include, for example, but are not limited to: (1) HUD’s program of expanded in-plant regulation which altered the nature and objective(s) of in-plant regulatory activity by Primary Inspection Agencies and HUD’s so-called “monitoring” contractor without any type of rulemaking procedures contrary to applicable law; (2) HUD’s abuse of the “interpretive bulletin” process to mandate substantive changes to the federal manufactured housing installation standards for “frost-free” installations; (3) new regulatory mandates for “attached” garages, carports and other similar features adopted under the guise of “interpretation,” without notice and comment procedures as required by law; and (4) continuing abuses and manipulations of Subpart I that have distorted the regulatory process and shifted undue power, authority and influence to unaccountable, revenue-driven program contractors.

Extending statutory procedural and due process protections to encompass pseudo-regulatory actions of this type is also consistent with Trump Administration policy as recently enunciated by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA): “The [Trump] Administration has reinforced the importance of fair notice and due process.  In particular, this means that agencies should closely examine their use of sub-regulatory actions, such as guidance documents, enforcement manuals, interpretive rules, ‘FAQs’ and the like.  Such documents can serve an important role in explaining existing statutory or regulatory requirements; however, they should not be used to impose new or additional legal obligations or requirements. *** Limiting guidance to its intended purpose of clarifying existing law rather than making new law will provide greater transparency about the regulatory process and ensure that regulated entities and the public have notice an opportunity to comment on significant changes in regulatory requirements.” (Emphasis added).

Accordingly, MHARR, in communications with Rep. Meadows and his staff, has stated that it fully supports H.R. 2623 and its ultimate adoption by Congress, and stands ready to assist in the effort to enact that legislation into law.

In Washington, D.C., MHARR President and CEO Mark Weiss stated: “For an industry like manufactured housing, which is expressly recognized by federal law as a crucial national source of affordable housing and home-ownership, but simultaneously subject to comprehensive federal regulation, it is essential that such regulation not only be reasonable, but also fully cost-justified in providing protection for consumers. Federal manufactured housing law, as upgraded and reformed by Congress in 2000, already requires that federal manufactured housing standards, regulations and interpretations meet these twin criteria. These existing mandates, however, will be materially strengthened, reinforced and supplemented by the procedures and mechanisms that would be institutionalized in federal law by the ‘Lessening Regulatory Costs and Establishing a Federal Regulatory Budget Act of 2017.’ This legislation will help to curb and bring to an end a train of abuses that has gone-on for decades, but has particularly worsened during the tenure of the current manufactured housing program administrator, that has seen the HUD program and its contractors either ignore or bypass required procedures and substantive mandates on a regular basis. MHARR, accordingly, fully supports the adoption of this legislation by Congress and congratulates Rep. Meadows and his colleagues for bringing this key measure before Congress.”

 The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of independent producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.