Friday, April 23, 2021

Senate Committee Meets April 27 To Consider Bills To Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing, Repeal Regs Because They Have Too Many Words, Shield Law Breakers, And More

Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee is scheduled to meet on April 27 on a veritable smorgasbord of bad ideas to allow the General Assembly to kill regulations by doing nothing, repeal regulations because they have too many words, shield law breakers from enforcement actions, end public participation in rulemaking and more.

Senate Republicans are playing catch-up with House Republicans who last week moved their own versions of many of these bills.

The Senate bills include--

-- Killing Regs By Doing Nothing/Office of the Repealer/Repeal 2 Regs For Every New Reg  Because They Have Too Many Words/Compliance Officers: Senate Bill 32 (Phillips-Hill- R-York) is a catalog of really bad ideas for “reforming” the regulatory process because it would allow the General Assembly to kill final regulations by doing nothing; create an Office of the Repealer to recommend existing regulations to repeal; require the repeal of two regulations for every new regulation adopted presumably for no other reason than they have too many words; require agencies to have a Compliance Officer to help shield law breakers from enforcement actions (see Senate Bill 29) and more.  Read more here.

House Republicans last week moved their version of the bill killing regulations by doing nothing-- House Bill 72 (Keefer-R-York), shielding law breakers from enforcement action-- House Bill 288 (O’Neal-R-Washington)-- Read more here; and the Office of the Repealer-- House Bill 939 (Klunk-R-York) which are now on the House Calendar for action.  Read more here.

-- Killing Regulations By Doing Nothing-Again: Senate Bill 520 (DiSanto-R-Dauphin) contains the single provision authorizing the General Assembly to kill economically significant regulations by doing nothing.  Read more here on the same bill from last session.

House Republicans moved their version of this bill last week-- House Bill 72 (Keefer-R-York)-- which is now on the House Calendar for action.  Read more here.

-- End Public Participation/Rulemaking During An Emergency: Senate Bill 533 (Yaw-R- Lycoming) would prohibit any public participation in state agency rulemaking and policy making processes during a declared state emergency and prohibits agencies from adopting regulations.

This is aimed directly at killing DEP’s proposed regulation reducing carbon pollution from power plants consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative under the guise of being focused on responding to an emergency.  

The Senator said so in his co-sponsor memo.   Read more here.

-- IRRC-Super Regulation Veto Agency: Senate Bill 126 (Brooks-R-Crawford) would require the automatic review of all “economically significant regulations” with an $1 million or impact adopted after the legislation is enacted and after the regulation has been in place for three years.

The promulgating agency is required to prepare a review of the regulation it then forwards to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.  The IRRC will then determine if the regulation is in the public interest after a 30 day public comment period.

So, the five members of the IRRC become a super veto agency for any regulation-- which have the force of law-- from any other state agency they have jurisdiction over without any further review by the General Assembly and the Governor as currently happens.

The only recourse would be to appeal the IRRC’s decision to Commonwealth Court.

The General Assembly itself gave up on these so-called sunset reviews of state agencies and programs a long time ago because they essentially became a costly, time-consuming exercise with little benefit.

Now, some want to revive this process for regulations.

-- Don’t Tell The Public Why A Regulation Is Being Proposed: Senate Bill 426 (Gordner-R- Columbia) would make an already lengthy and convoluted process for the review of regulations by the General Assembly longer and more convoluted.

But the real kicker in this bill is that it prohibits agencies from publishing statements with regulations explaining the purpose of the regulation, why the regulation changes are being made and what those changes are.

These statements are particularly useful for the public to help them understand why environmental regulations are being proposed.  Read more here about last session’s bill on the same topic.

The reason Sen. Gordner wants to get rid of these statements?  “There have been instances when courts have interpreted SOPs in a way that is either inconsistent with the regulations themselves or inconsistent with the intent of the General Assembly.  This legislation seeks to correct those instances.”  Read more here.

Gov. Wolf vetoed similar legislation in 2016-- Senate Bill 562. Read more here.

-- Mandate Private Contractor Review of DEP Permits: Senate Bill 28 (Phillips-Hill-R-York) requires all state agencies to establish a program to review permit applications by private contractors for applications that have been “delayed,” eliminating agency review of permit applications on behalf of the public and adding more state bureaucracy and cost on taxpayers.

The bill has many fatal flaws, including no conflict of interest provisions that would prohibit a third party permit reviewer from reviewing their own permit applications.

It sets a standard 30 day window for agency review of permit applications which eliminates the ability of the public to comment on permit applications required by other state and federal laws.

The bill also lacks any deadline for a review and decision by the third party permit reviewer on applications, which is allegedly the reason for the legislation in the first place.

If legislators are worried about delayed permit reviews, at a May 2019 hearing by the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, the Cumberland County Conservation District testified it took an AVERAGE of 33 business days (more than 6 calendar weeks) for a consultant to get back to the District with corrections.  Read more here.

Also remember, DEP is processing 94 percent of its permit applications within the Permit Review Guarantee Program deadlines, even in a pandemic.

House Republicans moved their version of this bill last week-- House Bill 139 (Rothman-R-Cumberland-- which is now on the House Calendar for action.  Read more here.

The meeting will be held in the Senate Chamber starting at 11:00 a.m.  Watch here live.

Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams) serves as Majority Chair of the Committee and can be contacted by sending email to: or calling 717-787-4651.  Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: or calling 717-787-5970.

Related Articles This Week:

-- Senate Republicans To Gov. Wolf: We Will Reject Any Nominees To PUC Until You Withdraw Your Executive Order Joining RGGI Carbon Pollution Reduction Program For Power Plants 

-- Republicans On House Committee OK Bills Killing Regulations By Doing Nothing; Shielding Law Violators; Mandating Private Review Of DEP Permit Applications

-- Republicans On House Committee OK Bill Setting Up Office Of The Repealer To Recommend Repeal Of Existing Regulations

Senate Republican 2021 Environmental & Energy Agenda - Bad

-- Republican Bills Again Seek To Make Road Dumping Of Conventional Drilling Wastewater Legal

-- Senate Republicans Introduce Bill To Let Companies Decide When To Report Spills That Pollute Receiving Streams, Harm Public Health

-- Republicans Introduce Bill Saying DEP Permit Applicants Are Always Right, Eliminates Public Comments; Add Other Bills To Their Environmental Agenda

-- PA Senate Republican Caucus Files Lawsuit Against Delaware River Basin Commission Over Shale Gas Drilling Moratorium

-- Senate Republicans To Gov. Wolf: We Will Reject Any Nominees To PUC Until You Withdraw Your Executive Order Joining RGGI Carbon Pollution Reduction Program For Power Plants 

-- Republicans On Senate Environmental Committee Approve Letter Urging IRRC To Disapprove Reg. Reducing Carbon Pollution From Power Plants

-- Senate Republican Bills Kill Regulations By Doing Nothing, Shield Violators From Enforcement

-- Senate Republicans Want To Mandate Private Contractor Permit Reviews, Eliminating DEP’s Review On Behalf Of The Public

-- Sen. Yaw Bill Would Load Up Renewable Energy Projects, Makers Of Energy Efficiency Products, Biomass, Coal Waste Plants, Alternative Fuels, Even High-Efficiency Locomotives With Bonds To Make Them Less Competitive

-- Sen. Yaw Introduces Bill To Preempt Local Governments From Requiring New Buildings Use Climate-Friendly Energy Sources

-- Sen. Yaw Plans Bills To Stop State From Supporting Solar Energy Projects With Any Foreign Components; Adopt A Moratorium On Rulemaking During A Declared Emergency

Senate Republican 2021 Environmental & Energy Agenda - Not Bad

-- Senators Laughlin, Haywood Announce Bipartisan Bill To Increase AEPS Solar Share To 5.5%

-- Sen. Scavello Reintroduces Legislation To Enable Community Solar Projects

-- Senate Committee OKs Bill To Encourage Development Of Clean Vehicle Infrastructure- Electric, Natural Gas, Hydrogen

-- Senate Committee Unanimously Reports Out Bill To Control Overuse Of Fertilizer On Turf

[Posted: April 23, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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