Resources for business regulation research?
January 8, 2009 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend any online source for federal regulations that impact businesses? Ideally I'd like one source that lists new laws and regulations before or as they come out.

I know that I'd go to, for example, for employee workplace safety regulations or the FTC for various trade related regulations. But is there one stop shopping, so to speak, for all of this stuff? A government site or a great blog? Here is an example of what I mean by a regulation that impacts business.

This is for research purposes; I'm not restricted to any particular industry. I also do not need a whole lot of depth on the regulation, just a heads up and then I can go research from there. Bonus points for any similar consolidated sources for state regulations.

I've tried google, the Small Business Administration, the Chamber of is somewhat helpful but ideally I'd like something that has a focus on new or pending regulations. Thanks for any assistance you can offer.
posted by txvtchick to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Federal Register.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2009

Best answer: Ironmouth is correct. Other than literally reading the Federal Register or Code of Federal Regulations, there is not likely to be anything that has everything you need.

The sheer amount of regulations that may effect any given industry in the United States is numerous that it would be unworkable to compile it. In the end, it would reproduce the Federal Register. That, or it would just be a service like Westlaw or Lexis/Nexis that just contains every law in searchable index.

For instance, I represent a lot of hospitals. They are regulated by OSHA, SEC, social security, ERISA,and inumerable other regulations the same as every other corporation in this country. But they have an added burden of having to comply with an inordinate amount of further regulations for the medical aspect of their business. I can't even begin to list every regulation that may effect just the medical aspect of it.

It is overwhelming to think about how many regulations come out daily from the federal government and its agencies.
posted by dios at 11:36 AM on January 8, 2009

This is a major reason why businesses join an industry trade group or hire a lobbyist. It's very complicated and no one is going to get it for free.
posted by Pants! at 11:43 AM on January 8, 2009

Pants! has it: this sort of thing is available, but you usually have to pay for it. The Federal Register, and the CFR, where all federal regulations are published, is, on average, about 300-600 pages per day, any of which has the potential to be relevant. But much of what goes in there, especially in the Register, has to do with ongoing agency business, not final rules. So Notices of Proposed Rulemaking, updates to previous Notices, Requests for Comment, responses to comments, etc. all go in the Register, and the vast majority of those have no immediate consequences for anyone, they merely document the ongoing process of the administrative state.

What you need to do, txvtchick, is pick an industry and join the relevant trade group. They'll have people working full time, parsing the Register as it's published and compiling relevant bits into useful documents. "Affecting business" simply isn't a useful category, as just about everything that federal agencies do "affects business" on some level.

If you can't afford to join (and it can be quite expensive), see if you can get access through an institution of higher learning. Business schools, law schools, etc. tend to have access to this kind of resources.
posted by valkyryn at 12:09 PM on January 8, 2009

I'd be remiss in not bumping State Net as they pay me -- we carry regulatory information for all fifty states and the federal government. If you're doing general research and aren't deep-pocketed, its probably not for you, though neither are Westlaw (who we used to provide data to) and Lex/Nex (whom we still do). Valkyryn is correct as to the nature of the registers -- we spend a fair amount of effort paring that content down into areas of downstream interest. He's also correct about trade groups: they make up a fair amount of the industry's business, as do lobbyists and -- sometimes surprisingly -- governmental agencies.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:02 PM on January 8, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys. These are helpful comments and leads.
posted by txvtchick at 5:57 PM on January 8, 2009

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