Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Senate Legislation Would Create Commission to Identify Outdated Regulations

Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) have introduced legislation creating a Regulatory Improvement Commission to review outdated regulations with the goal of modifying, consolidating, or repealing regulations in order to reduce compliance costs, encourage growth and innovation, and improve competitiveness. The Regulatory Improvement Act of 2013 liberates the regulatory reform debate from traditional political and ideological frameworks by employing a balanced approach to evaluating existing regulations, one that involves identifying regulations that are not essential to protecting broad priorities, like the environment, public health, and safety, but instead are outdated, duplicative, or inefficient

The goal of the Commission is to complement existing processes and to create a mechanism that acts expeditiously and incorporates wide stakeholder input. The goal of the Commission is not to circumvent congressional, executive, or agency authority, assured the Senators, but instead to complement existing processes and to create a mechanism that acts expeditiously and incorporates wide stakeholder input.

While regulatory self-review processes have been utilized for years with varying degrees of success, they noted, retrospective reviews often fall short in two ways: 1) internal pressures, from limited staff to extensive bureaucracy, limit the ability of individual agencies to effectively trim their regulations, and 2) the existing retrospective review processes tend to look at individual regulations in isolation, rather than considering the cumulative impact of regulations both within and across agencies.

The Commission will operate for a designated period of time and require congressional reauthorization each time a retrospective regulatory review is desired. Members of the bipartisan Commission will be appointed by congressional leadership and the President. The Commission will be tasked with first identifying a single sector or area of regulations for consideration. Upon an extensive review process, involving broad input from the general public and stakeholders, the Commission will submit to Congress a report containing regulations in need of streamlining, consolidation, or repeal.

The public and interested stakeholders will have several opportunities throughout the process to comment, including an initial public comment period directing the Commission’s area of focus as well as during a period of feedback on a preliminary draft of the Commission’s report to Congress.

Both houses of Congress will consider the Commission’s report under expedited legislative procedures, which allow relevant congressional committees to review the Commission’s report but not amend the recommendations. Within 30 days, each committee will be discharged of its consideration of the Commission’s report and the report (in legislative language) will be placed on the calendar of each house. Similar to the model for military base closing recommendations, the Commission’s report will be subject to an up-or-down vote without amendment.