Might it help if regulations had to have a lifespan written into them, so that some bureaucrat can’t write some stupid petty thing that continues to screw people 50 years later. I’d suggest 5 years or so. If it continues to be important, it must be brought before the legislature to be made more permanent.
If ALL laws were required to have a sunset clause (with a reasonable term), then the size of the legal code would be self limiting. You would add only truly important things if you were spending most of your time renewing existing desirable laws. (unless you let people get away with renewing “all existing laws” at once.)
“Self limiting”? No. Limited by the size of the government. All that would happen would be the beaurocracy growing enormously to handle the extra workload, and the renewal process being “streamlined” down to a rubber-stamp.
Rather than an absolute time limit, which would need to be tediously written in to a lot of pre-existing permanent laws, how about a “use it or lose it” procedure, sorta like adverse possession? If nobody else has been successfully prosecuted for violation of the specific law in question during the past, say, three years, then the defense gets to make an argument that the problem which the law was created to solve has BEEN solved. If successful, the law gets removed from the books, and if the problem crops up again, the legislature has to start over (though of course historical records would be available).
Naturally this creates an incentive for prosecutors to drag up obscure old laws more frequently, but sooner or later they’d have to choose between letting things lapse, or attracting the wrong kind of attention during same year the legislature was being re-elected.