Gov.-Elect Walker Proposes Regulatory Reforms

MacIver News Service

[Madison, Wisc…] Governor-elect Scott Walker wants to curb state agencies from promulgating rules that exceed the intent of the enabling legislation passed by members of the legislature.

Walker says the rules and regulations created and enforced by state agencies often go far beyond specific language outlined in state statutes, and serve to complicate Wisconsin’s regulatory climate.  The incoming Governor says he is troubled by the notion that unelected government officials, on occasion, try to assume the same power held by elected officials in the legislature.

“For too long the over regulation of business has stifled job growth within our state and repelled job creators from others,” Walker said Tuesday when outlining some of his proposed changes to Wisconsin’s rulemaking process. ” The common sense reforms contained in our proposal will take the power of regulating away from unelected bureaucrats and put it back where it belongs—in the hands of the people.  I believe the Legislature should exclusively have the power to create laws.”

Walker is proposing legislation would prevent agencies from creating rules more restrictive than those passed by the legislature, although rules to be challenged in circuit courts where the plaintiff resides, and require the governor to approve proposed agency rules.

“This is about empowering people through their elected officials.  If anything it is taking power away from the unelected bureaucracy,” Walker said.

The former Republican lawmaker from Wauwatosa summarized  a three-prong approach to regulatory reform. Under Walker’s plan:

  • An agency may not create rules more restrictive than the regulatory standards or thresholds provided by the Legislature
  • Individuals who challenge rules will have their plea heard in the county circuit court where the plaintiff resides, as opposed to Dane County as current law directs
  • In addition to the tradtional Legislative oversight, the Governor will also have to approve proposed rules promulgated by state agencies

The Governor-elect announced that additional regulatory reforms will be included in the final version of the special session legislation

Democrats accuse Walker of making a power grab.

“This scheme politicizes the implementation of laws by inserting the governor directly into the rules process and creates another layer of bureaucracy,” said Senator Mark Miller (D-Monona).

Miller continued by questioning whether certain agencies can legally be held accountable by other branches of the state government.

“There are also serious constitutional concerns about whether another independently elected constitutional officer like the Superintendent of Public Instruction can be required to seek the approval of the Governor before carrying out their duties,” Miller said.

Walker argues his ability to veto proposed rules should be no different than his ability to veto legislation as part of checks and balances.

Walker will be sworn in as governor on January 3rd.  He has announced plans to immediately declare a state of economic emergency and call a Special Session of the legislature to address Wisconsin’s economic climate and job creation.  His proposal for regulatory reform will be one of the items included in the Special Session call.