Tuesday, September 24, 2019

House Passes Bill To Require Repeal Of 2 Regulations For Every New Regulation Adopted, Create Duplicate $695,000 Office Of The Repealer

After being voted down in April, House Republicans revived and passed House Bill 1055 (Klunk-R-York) by a vote of 103 to 98.  The bill would enact an arbitrary requirement for state agencies to repeal 2 regulations for every new regulation a state agency wants to adopt.
Under this legislation, an agency would have to decide whether a new regulation to regulate PFAS chemicals, for example, was more important than an existing regulation covering hazardous waste disposal or surface coal mining they would need to repeal.
The bill would also create a new bureaucracy-- the Independent Office of the Repealer-- which would cost $695,000 in the first year to identify regulations or statutes for change or repeal based on rules the Office would adopt without benefit of any public input.
The rules the new Office would develop and adopt would judge whether regulations and statutes are “unreasonable, unduly burdensome, detrimental to the economic well-being, duplicative, onerous, defective or is in conflict with another statute or regulation” and “defying a common sense approach to government.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for action.
Taxpayers Already Pay For Multiple “Repealers”
Taxpayers already pay for 4 other systems to review regulations and statutes.
First, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, the first independent reviewer of state agency regulations created by the General Assembly in 1982, already has the authority to review existing regulations.
Section 8.1 of that law says: “The commission, on its motion or at the request of any person or member of the General Assembly, may review any existing regulation which has been in effect for at least three years. If a committee of the Senate or the House of Representatives requests a review of an existing regulation, the commission shall perform the review and shall assign it high priority. The commission may submit recommendations to an agency recommending changes in existing regulations if it finds the existing regulations to be contrary to the public interest under the criteria established in section 5.2. The commission may also make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor for statutory changes if the commission finds that any existing regulation may be contrary to the public interest.”
Note it even says if any committee of the Senate or House asks to have the IRRC perform a review of a regulation, it will do it.  It can also make recommendations for changing statutes.
Second, House and Senate committees and their many staff people all have continuous oversight authority over state agencies and their programs and regulations and can do their own review and hold hearings to solicit public comments at any time on any regulation or statute.
House and Senate members get ideas from the public all the time about statutes and regulations that need to be changed or repealed.
Third, in the case of environmental regulations, any person can submit a rulemaking petition to the 20-member Environmental Quality Board to make recommendations on changing an existing regulation or adopting new ones.
Individuals, companies and even children have petitioned the EQB over the years for changes in stream classifications, to adopt climate regulations and to prohibit diesel truck idling.
Fourth, Executive Order 1996-1 issued by Gov. Tom Ridge is still in effect and it requires state agencies to evaluate existing regulations using the same criteria as new regulations.
At the Department of Environmental Protection in 1996, Executive Order 1996-1 resulted in a systematic review of regulations carried out over several years through the Regulatory Basics Initiative by working through a transparent process with DEP’s public advisory committees on section by section reviews of regulations and technical guidance.
The result of that effort was saving individuals, businesses and local governments $138 million in compliance costs, the elimination of nearly 5,000 pages of outdated regulations and more than 1,700 pages of unneeded technical guidance and 29 packages of regulatory changes.
House Bill 1055 requires no such transparent process or working with stakeholders.
Part Of Series Of Bills
This bill is one of a series of bills House Republicans have passed attacking regulations and statutes driven in large part by their concerns about “overzealous” environmental protection programs.
In April, House Republicans passed-- 
-- Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing: House Bill 806 (Keefer-R-York) would authorize the General Assembly to kill an economically significant final regulation by doing nothing.  It would require all final regulations with an estimated economic impact of $1 million or more to be submitted to the General Assembly for a vote by concurrent resolution.  If the House and/or Senate fail to take action to approve the final regulation, the regulation is deemed not approved and the regulation shall not take effect.
-- Waiving Penalties/Providing Defenses To Violators: House Bill 762 (O’Neal-R- Washington) requires all state agencies to establish a new bureaucracy in the form of a Regulatory Compliance Officer with no oversight of any kind giving him the ability to issue an opinion on what any person’s obligations are under the laws administered by that state agency (within 20 business days) which can be used as a “complete defense” against any enforcement proceeding.  The Officer can also review any fine or penalty issued by the agency before it is imposed and set guidelines for waiving that penalty if the person being penalized “has taken or will take [steps] to remedy the violation.” DEP, on average, issues 31,000 permits and approvals a year-- surely 1 Compliance Officer can handle all those questions without delays.
-- Require Third Party Permit Reviews: House Bill 509 (Rothman-R-Cumberland) requires all state agencies to establish a new bureaucracy in the form of third party permit review programs that delegate decision-making authority to persons other than the public agency with the legal authority to make those decisions with no conflict of interest or other protections for the public or applicants.
-- Repeal Any Regulation At Any Time: House Bill 430 (Benninghoff-R-Mifflin) authorizes the General Assembly to repeal any regulation at any time by concurrent resolution, with review by the Governor. 
These bills have been opposed by the PA Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Fund and many other groups.
House Republicans have also teed up two other bills that propose “reforms” to DEP’s environmental permit reviews, primarily by demolishing them--  House Bill 1107 (O'Neal-R- Washington) and House Bill 1106 (Puskaric-R-Allegheny). 
The debate prior to a final vote started Tuesday in the House on House Bill 1106.
The primary impact of these bills, if they become law, would be to stop development in its tracks for 3-5 years and cut the public out of all environmental permit reviews.
These bills have been opposed by the PA Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Fund and many other groups.
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