How Are New Regulations Impacting the Business Community in 2020?

‘Regulations’ have a significant impact on how a business operates.  A change in law or policy from government can alter how a business operates and, in some instances, even impact the very profitability of an organization. In some instances, a business may be forced to cease operations if the regulatory landscape changes too suddenly and dramatically.

It is therefore no surprise that CEOs across America frequently complain when the regulatory environment changes too abruptly and does not allow for opportunity to adjust to these regulatory changes. Many business owners across a wide range of industries have started lobbying, with an even greater sense of urgency, to have their voice heard. It is critical for leaders to help shape and influence the terms of any new policy. Businesses recognize the need to be intimately involved with the drafting of these new laws to ensure that their ideas and input are considered.

 

Agriculture in 2020

The regulation of agricultural biotechnology is predominantly the role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversee how farmers raise livestock, grow crops, harvesting fish and raise other types of animals on farms, ranches, or sometimes in their natural habitats.

Farmers utilize a variety of methods and technologies to increase their yield, but it is critical to keep abreast of laws that regulate how new technologies are to be implemented. Farmers that are interested in utilizing certain types of fertilizers’ or even gene-editing technology where scientists attempt to modify a plant’s genome to get desired characteristics from their crops need to make sure they keep abreast of new federal laws. It is incumbent upon all farmers to speak with a qualified attorney that is familiar with how technology is legally allowed to modify the genome of crops so as to produce higher yields with the use of lawful chemicals and lawful processes. New regulations in this area will impact the success of farmers and ranchers and will also affect the price of food for consumers but following the law requires careful observance to new developments in this area. The federal government has yet to fully address how to regulate these new human and animal foods that will be derived from new plant varieties produced by genome editing. Therefore, it is critical that farmers and those in agriculture must be ready to have their voices heard when new laws are being discussed in state and federal legislatures.

 

 Automotive in 2020

In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) create and enforce regulations on motor vehicle safety.  A wide range of businesses must follow the laws and policies promulgated from these regulatory agencies. The manufacture of motor vehicles, sales of automobiles, auto repair and maintenance services for cars, trucks, trailers, and other motor vehicles as well as salvage operations must follow the rules established by the regulating agencies. It is critical for participants in the automotive industry to stay abreast of new developments and regulatory changes that will affect the profitability of the business.

The Trump administration is set to roll back many of the Obama-era Clean Car Standards that was intended to limit methane and other greenhouse gas emissions by raising fuel efficiency standards for newly manufactured vehicles. The Clean Car Standards hopes to freeze vehicle emissions standards for model years 2020 through 2026 thru the newly proposed 'Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles'  proposed rule. This proposed change will most certainly affect the retail prices of automobiles when consumers shop for new vehicles in the coming years.

 

Construction in 2020

The effect of regulations on the construction industry from Washington is a significant factor because infrastructure is a common topic of political discussion. The construction industry employs a significant percentage of the U.S. population and changing policies will affect the financial fortunes of many construction companies. There has been much discussion in Washington about passing a big infrastructure investment plan to rebuild bridges and roads in America for some time but the lack of bipartisanship among Republicans and Democrats has stymied any actual funding of these proposed plans.

The scope and timing of any big infrastructure plan will affect the fortunes of many construction business but equally important is the role of regulation on how these businesses operate. Deregulation has been a constant theme of the Trump presidency and the ability to more easily obtain permits for construction projects will lower costs and remove uncertain and delay. The jobs of millions of construction workers are affected by the success of the Trump administration to remove burdensome rules that slow down projects. The construction industry reaches to many Americans both as workers and as clients. The construction industry is made up of those businesses engaged in the construction of buildings or engineering projects. With Trump’s recent moves toward deregulation, there may be opportunities for construction company owners.

Construction business owners need to maintain vigilance on how deregulation effects their business. While it is possible that relaxed regulations will lead to greater revenue in 2020 it is still important to maintain compliance for existing laws to avoid expensive fines and penalties. Irrespective of any changes to existing policy, construction businesses still need to maintain compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, maintain insurance premiums when mandated by agencies, follow environmental regulations, follow state and local licensing and permitting requirements and keep up with building codes.

 

Financial Services in 2020

The regulatory reforms defined by the financial crisis of 2009 and misconduct issues of that era are not going to disappear anytime soon. The financial services industry more so than most other industries will be expected to maintain compliance with a plethora of regulations so as to maintain the financial system resilience and its very stability. Federal regulations in this area will continue to affect banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, and other in the financial services. While the financial services industry has always been heavily regulated, there will likely be even more regulation due to the increased variety of new and innovative financial products. Crypto currencies, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and exotic derivative instruments are all examples of likely increased scrutiny by regulators due to the opaqueness and complexity of these markets. More regulation in the financial services industry will likely mean there is an increased need for more workers in the financial services industry to manage the paperwork required by regulators for businesses to stay in compliance.

 

Pharmaceuticals in 2020

Pharmaceutical companies are heavily regulated to make certain they’re in compliance with federal safety laws. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure that new drugs are tested for safety. The high cost of prescription drugs in America is a hot issue in this election year. The potential for new regulations and laws in this area could mean less out-of-pocket expenses for medicine. As a result, this could mean more expensive insurance plans for employers that provide this benefit to their employees.

In addition, government regulations can impact the process for bringing new pharmaceuticals to market and restrict drugs to protect consumer safety. These regulations for drug manufacturers may result in delays in breakthroughs for treatment of disease and higher costs to consumers because drugs companies want to recoup their investment.

Included in this area of law is Medicaid, which is a government program that provides health coverage to certain categories of low-asset people, particularly those with disabilities and the elderly. States are heavily involved with this program and there are different types of Medicaid rules for eligibility based on income, age, and disability.

Laws concerning “Medicaid expansion,” which is part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obama Care”) expanded the eligibility of more participants to cover more low-income Americans. States have made the determination whether or not to participate in this program. These regulations will predominantly affect seniors and the elderly across the country. Healthcare business will mostly feel the impact of the adoption of these regulations, and it will require a greater attention to the effect of these regulations on the business operations.

 

Transportation in 2020

The transportation industry like the construction industry will be in the lookout for whether an infrastructure bill passes in 2020. In addition, they will be on the lookout for regulations that affect self-driving cars, drones and other means of shipping.  Regulations for truck drivers will likely continue to change in 2020, and in many cases are expected to become more restrictive for the transportation industry. Burdensome regulations will have an impact for shipping companies and truck drivers that work for those companies, along with independent drivers.

The Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General (DOT OIG) has long been involved in auditing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) medical certification procedures and its registry of medical examiners. Existing medical rules are intended to ensure that truck drivers are healthy enough to operate their vehicles. In 2020 there will likely be increased federal scrutiny to ensure that these drivers are properly screened and to look for fraud in truck driver medical certification.

This is one example of how federal regulators are tightening control of truck drivers to ensure they comply with federal rules to keep unqualified drivers off the road with the hopes of reducing the number accidents. New technologies are being adapted to ensure increased compliance with the maximum hours of service a person may drive thru the use of electronic logging devices (ELD). Increased regulatory scrutiny means there is an increased risk of greater monetary penalties in 2020 for businesses out of compliance.

 

Conclusion

Attorneys that advise businesses across a wide range of industries need to stay in contact with regulators at both the federal and state level for any changes set to take place in 2020 as government oversight of most businesses in 2020 are set to increase despite lip-service to deregulation. It is critical for businesses to communicate with the politicians and their staff on a regular basis that are involved in setting the regulatory landscape for almost all industries in America in 2020. Businesses need to have a legal department that keeps abreast of these new laws even before these changes take place, not only to make sure that they are and in compliance with these new rules but also to influence the drafting of these rules before they get implemented.  Businesses that fail to keep abreast of new rules could face costly penalties and possibly even be forced to temporarily or permanently cease operations. The contrast between the pathways for businesses to thrive by working with their regulators or alternatively allowing themselves to go bankrupt by not working with their regulators has never been starker in America.