Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/04/2004 09:07 AM Senate FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 424(JUD) "An Act relating to review by the Legislative Affairs Agency of certain state agency regulations proposed for adoption, amendment, or repeal under the Administrative Procedure Act; repealing provisions relating to annulment of regulations; and providing for an effective date." This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance Committee. Co-Chair Wilken stated that this bill, Version 23-LS0732\U, "would establish a formal process in which a Legislative review would be included when specified State agencies' regulations are being developed after legislation is adopted. He noted that several fiscal notes accompany the legislation. BARBARA COTTING, Staff to Representative Jim Holm, the bill's sponsor, affirmed Co-Chair Wilken's remarks. She commented that "Legislators are often surprised" by how laws they have enacted are enforced by regulation. She reviewed that, under current law, the lone individual specified to review regulations is the Attorney General. This legislation, she continued, would implement a formal process that would require the Legislative Legal Division of the Legislative Affairs Agency to review regulations, written by the various agencies, in order to determine whether the regulations comply with statutory authority and Legislative intent. She stated that were non-compliance determined, the appropriate people would be notified "and the Legislature can act." She stressed that this process would have a positive impact on the State's economy because the Legislative intent would be upheld and a more stable environment would be created. Senator Dyson asked whether the sponsor's handout titled "Steps in the Regulation Adoption Process" [copy on file] outlines the current process. Ms. Cotting affirmed that it does. Senator Dyson asked where, in the current process, the proposed procedure would be implemented. Ms. Cotting responded that the proposed Legislative Legal review would occur between Steps Four "Department of Law opens file" and Five "Agency publishes and distributes public notice, add't notice information, and regulations". Senator Dyson asked for further information regarding the process that would be implemented were Legislative Legal to determine that the regulations were non-compliant. Ms. Cotting responded that, "at that point, written notice" would be provided to the Department of Law, the agency that developed the regulations, the Regulation Review Committee, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House. Senator Dyson asked what action might occur upon notification; specifically in a situation where the agency disregarded the notice. Ms. Cotting responded that other than notification of non- concurrence, the State's Constitution regarding separation of powers would not allow the process to be halted. Senator Dyson surmised therefore, that the option in that case would be to adopt more State statutes in order to allow more conformity to occur. Ms. Cotting agreed. Senator Dyson noted that other states have allowed their legislature to change regulation by resolution. He asked whether this process would require a Constitutional amendment. Ms Cotting affirmed that it would. She noted that another component of this bill would remove that provision from State statute, as it was declared unconstitutional. Senator Bunde recalled that a similar proposal by the Legislature had previously been "soundly rejected" in a statewide ballot. DEBRA BEHR, Assistant Attorney General, Legislative & Regulations Section, Office of the Attorney General, Department of Law, affirmed that such language had been on a Statewide election ballot in 1980, 1984, and 1986, and had, she continued, been defeated each time by voters. Senator Bunde commented that were a Legislative Legal review process added to the current process, modifications to the process might occur over time. He opined that were this process implemented, the Legislature might benefit by being forewarned that changes might be required "sooner than later." However, he cautioned that, without additional staff, the volume of regulations that occur on an annual basis might overwhelm Legislative Legal personnel. Ms. Behr stated that the Legislative Affairs Agency's initial fiscal note, in addition to requesting an additional attorney position, reflected funding from the Legislature. However, she noted that that fiscal note was zeroed out by the House of Representatives Finance Committee. She pointed out that the Department of Law's indeterminate fiscal note #6, which accompanies the bill, is the result of uncertainty regarding the level of resources that might be provided by the Legislature as well as the effect on the level of support the Department of Law would be required to provide to the process. Senator Bunde asked the number of regulations that would have been reviewed the previous year, were this process in effect. Ms. Behr responded that this legislation would establish a priority system in that reviews could be limited to regulations resulting from new legislation or expanded to review regulations pertaining to regulations that the Legislature might perceive "to have major policy implications." She reiterated that, in addition to this unknown element, Legislative Legal workloads during the Legislative Session would require Legislative Council prioritization. Senator Bunde asked for further information regarding the determinations of major policy implications by Legislative committees. Ms. Behr referred the Committee to the prioritization procedure language located in Section 2, subsection (b)(1) and (2) on page two, lines 7-13 that reads as follows. (b) Reviews shall be conducted under (a) of this section in the following order of priority: (1) proposed regulations that would implement newly enacted legislation; (2) proposed regulations requested in writing to be reviewed by a standing committee, the Administrative Regulation Review Committee, or the legislative council as implicating major policy development. Ms. Behr stated that this language would assist in avoiding review of every regulation which could, she exampled, range from reviewing regulations pertaining to non-major priority things such as the raising of fees five dollars or increasing continuing education requirements for hairdressers. Therefore, she stated that the bill, as written, would allow regulations to be reviewed as desired by the Legislature. DAVE STANCLIFF, Staff, Administrative Regulatory Review Committee, Office of Senate President Gene Therriault, stated that this legislation would develop a "cooperative quality review" process that, by allowing the Legislature to be involved in the process, would serve to encourage that regulations are "written more carefully." He noted that were a prioritization process developed, Legislative Legal staff would work with the Department of Law and the various departments' regulation writers to enhance the process. Furthermore, he continued, that were the system to work as intended, the Legislature could increase funding if so desired. Senator Olson asked how controversial, high visibility regulations such as those pertinent to the Department of Fish and Game would be addressed. Ms. Behr stated that the Department of Fish and Game is exempt from this review proposal as that Department has its own Board and has a different regulation process. Co-Chair Green moved to report the bill from Committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, CS HB 424(JUD) was REPORTED from Committee with zero fiscal note #4, dated March 24, 2004 from the Department of Health and Social Services; zero fiscal note #5, dated March 25, 2004 from the Legislature; and indeterminate fiscal note #6, dated March 24, 2004 from the Department of Law.