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Laws & Regulations

Summary of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

2 USC §1501 et seq (1995)

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) was enacted to avoid imposing unfunded federal mandates on state, local, and tribal governments (SLTG), or the private sector. Most of UMRA's provisions apply to proposed and final rules:

  • for which a general notice of proposed rule making was published, and
  • that include a Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure of funds by state, local, or tribal governments (SLTG), in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100 million or more in any one year.

If a rule meets these conditions, the agency must:

  • Prepare a written statement that includes:
    • the legal authority for the rule,
    • a cost-benefit assessment,
    • a description of the macro-economic effects, and
    • a summary of SLTG concerns and how they were addressed.
  • Consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives and select the least costly, least burdensome, or most cost-effective option that achieves the objectives of the rule, or explain why the agency did not make such a choice.
  • Consult with elected officers of SLTG (or their designated employees with authority to act on their behalf) to provide meaningful and timely input in the development of proposed rules containing significant federal intergovernmental mandates.

Section 203 of UMRA applies to all regulatory requirements that might significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Before establishing a requirement that might significantly or uniquely affect small governments, §203 requires federal agencies to develop a plan to:

  • provide notice of the requirements to potentially affected small governments;
  • enable officials of small governments to provide meaningful and timely input for any proposal containing significant federal intergovernmental mandates; and
  • inform, educate, and advise small governments on compliance with the requirements.