Saturday, May 23, 2020

Senate Committee Meets May 27 To Consider Republican Bill To Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing

The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee is scheduled to meet on May 27 to consider legislation that authorizes the General Assembly to kill any final regulation by doing nothing.
Senate Bill 5 (DiSanto-R-Cumberland) would require legislative approval of any economically significant final regulation or final-omitted regulation that has an impact of $1 million or more on a regulated community.
The bill requires the Independent Fiscal Office to estimate the cost of the regulation.  There is no requirement to calculate the environmental or economic benefits of a regulation or compare the cost to doing nothing.
In order for a final regulation approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission to go into effect, the Senate and House would have to adopt a concurrent resolution approving the regulation.
If one or both of the chambers failed to act, the final regulation would be deemed NOT approved and would be prohibited from taking effect.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 11:30 and will be available online from the Senate Chamber.
Identical Republican legislation-- Senate Bill 561-- passed the Senate in June of 2017, but the bill died in the House.
Groups like the PA Environmental Council have opposed the legislation saying Pennsylvania already has one of the most robust regulatory review processes in the United States with multiple opportunities for stakeholders and the General Assembly to influence the content of regulation, including having members of the Senate and House sitting on the Environmental Quality Board that adopts DEP’s regulations.  (Read more here about how regulations are adopted.)
The Council also raised a concern about the constitutionality of Senate Bill 561 with respect to separation of powers of the legislative and executive branches of government.
House Republicans have their own version of this bill-- House Bill 806 (Keefer-R-York)-- which they passed in April of 2019 as part of a package of regulation-killing and maiming bills.  Read more here.
This is the second attempt this year by Republicans to indefinitely delay or kill critical regulations.  They passed Senate Bill 327 this month which would have prohibited agencies from finalizing any regulations for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, which if it lasts as long as the opioid emergency declaration, could block regulations for years.
Fortunately, Gov. Wolf vetoed the bill.  Read more here.
3 Front War On The Environment
This is all part of a three front war conservative Pennsylvania Republicans have been fighting against environmental programs and funding for the last decade--
-- Starving environmental agencies for funding so they have to cut staff and programs and then turn around and say they can’t do their job [they did this again on April 21];
-- Adding even more layers of bureaucracy and procedures to block environmental regulations, reduce environmental standards and give regulated entities more control over these programs [they’ve done this before too, several times]; and
-- Using every chance they get to cut funding to support community-based projects to protect and restore the environment, improve recreation opportunities and land conservation efforts that real people-- voters-- overwhelmingly support [the Senate Bill 327 is the latest attempt which Gov. Wolf vetoed].
The COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest excuse Republicans are using to try to eliminate state environmental programs and funding.
Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-4651, via fax to: 717-264-6100 or via a contact form on his website.  Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-5300 or send email to:
(Photo: Sen. DiSanto.)
Related Articles:
[Posted: May 23, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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