By M.D. Kittle MacIver News Service | June 12, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] - Wisconsin this week could become the first state in the nation to pass a REINS Act, legislation demanding greater oversight of state bureaucratic rule-makers.
The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny, commonly known as the REINS Act, is slated for floor debate Wednesday in the Assembly, where the bill enjoys wide support from majority Republicans.
Early last month the Senate passed the bill - co-authored by Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) and Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee).
Last session the Assembly passed a similar REINS Act bill on a party-line vote, but it died in the Senate as time wound down on the session.
Neylon says the GOP majority in the Assembly hasn't changed its stance.
"I think we are in a very good position. There is no wavering support. I believe it will (pass) on a party-line vote," he said.
Gov. Scott Walker included the reform measure in his biennial budget plan, but REINS was one of 83 "non-fiscal" policy items stripped from the Joint Finance Committee's starting budget document.
"State agencies currently have the power to pass harmful regulations with little oversight from the legislature that can cost Wisconsin businesses and citizens tens of millions of dollars in compliance and lost revenue," LeMahieu said in a statement following passage. "The REINS Act improves transparency in the rule making process and gives the legislature more power to hold unelected bureaucrats accountable."
The REINS bill is similar to legislation moving through Congress, but with lower thresholds. It provides greater legislative oversight of the regulations adopted by state agencies. Any rule or regulation with an economic impact of more than $10 million would require legislative approval.
And it gives the Legislature's Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules more muscle. The committee would be empowered to request a public hearing earlier in the rule-making process and call for an independent review of the proposed regulation's economic impact.
Democrats insist the REINS Act would undermine regulations designed to protect the public. The left-leaning Sierra Club described the federal REINS Act legislation as "clearly an imprudent if not perhaps Machiavellian attempt to chip away at the regulatory process."
Some environmentalists last session claimed the REINS Act would slow down the rules-making process. That "misleading" message ended up slowing down the legislative process, ultimately killing the bill, Neylon said. READ it HERE