Governor-elect Scott Walker has announced another issue he wants a special session of the legislature to address. Walker wants an overhaul of Wisconsin’s overall regulatory process. Under current state law, when a rule is approved by a state agency, it has the force of law until the Legislature takes action or it is legally challenged. “Really the best way to describe this, this is about empowering the people through their elected representatives,” said Walker. “If anything, it’s taking power away from the unelected bureaucracy, and making sure that people who have to be accountable to the voters are ultimately the ones who have the final say.”
Walker cited as an example a problem within the state Department of Commerce. “I’ve had homebuilders bring up to me changes that were made years ago, where they’ve got a whole division that regulates building, and where they had a wind bracing requirement that has them build homes to the level of a hurricane. I don’t think any of use have seen a hurricane here in the state of Wisconsin.”
Walker’s legislation will take a multi-pronged approach to improve Wisconsin’s regulatory climate. First, it will state that an agency may not create rules more restrictive than the regulatory standards or thresholds provided by the Legislature. Second, it will allow rules to be challenged in the county circuit court where the plaintiff resides, something current law requires to occur only in Dane County. Third, the legislation will require the Governor to approve proposed rules. Additional regulatory reforms will be included in the final version of the special session legislation.
“Wisconsin needs jobs and this rule making proposal is not going to create jobs, it is only going to add another layer of bureaucratic red tape to our state government,” said state Representative Gary Hebl, the ranking Assembly Democrat on the Legislature’s Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules
“Walker’s claims that the agencies are running wild with their rule-making authority are simply inaccurate,” said Hebl. ” Walker either just does not understand the rule making process or is purposefully distorting the facts in an attempt to grab more power for himself.” Hebl said in the regular course of the legislative review process for administrative rules there are at least five separate checks on the agency’s rule-making authority.
But the governor-elect says the current administrative rule making authority is restricting job creation. “I campaigned on a pledge of creating 250,000 jobs. I plan on meeting that, and one of the most effective ways of doing that is empowering our small businesses in this state, to go ahead and do their business, get their job down, and not be over restricted by the government.”