The state Assembly is scheduled to vote this week on legislation granting the governor oversight of state agencies’ rule making authority. The bill, part of Governor Scott Walker’s special session on jobs and the economy, provides the governor with more input into the process whereby state agencies develop the rules to implement new laws. It’s a wide ranging proposal, and one that has drawn criticism from Democrats in the legislature. “It’s almost like the governor becomes a dictator,” said state Representative Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) during a committee hearing on the measure. “It is almost like a dictatorship where the governor has the last say on everything that is promulgated out of the rules.” Representative Tony Staskunis (D-Milwaukee), also voiced concerns over the amount of authority the governor would have. “The governor of our state is now stepping in, and he’s going to be a lawmaker. He’s going to be a super lawmaker. I just really fear that we’re giving too much lawmaking authority to the executive branch,” Stankunis said.
But Mike Huebsch, a former Republican lawmaker who’s now Governor Scott Walker’s Department of Administration Secretary, said the proposal is drafted with the legislature in mind. “It does not in any way, in my opinion, inject the governor to greater influence over what the legislature can and should do with the rules,” Huebsch said. “What it does is provide accountability, that the governor must have seen the rule before it’s sent to you for review. What we are going to do with this is require a governor to actually review, first of all the scope by which those rules are going to be written, and make sure that lines up with what the legislature directed in the law . . . and on the back end then make sure that before they are submitted to you for review, that this is in fact what he or she agrees that this is what the rule should be.”
Is the intent of the bill to reign in the authority of the Department of Natural Resources? “It seems like this bill is more directed to DNR than any other agency,” said Hebl. “DNR has gotten a lot of the attention lately,” said Huebsch. “But if were doing this about ten, fifteen years ago it could have been the Department of Transportation, at another time it could have been the Department of Commerce.”
The bill (AB 8) is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly on Wednesday, the day after Walker is to deliver his State of the State address.