June 5: News Conference Call on Regulation Interim Study

NEWS CONFERENCE CALL with the Platte Institute

Download file Nebraska REINS Act (Report in PDF Format)
Download file Jon Sanders (Author Photo)

June 3, 2019

Contact: Adam Weinberg
(402) 452-3737
aweinberg@platteinstitute.org

Legislature to Hold Interim Study on Regulation
New Report Offers Options for Limiting Red Tape

A news conference call with Platte Institute Government Relations Director Nicole Fox and Jon Sanders, Director of Regulatory Studies for the John Locke Foundation, will be held Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. Central Time.

To call in, dial (605) 475-4000, Access Code: 106202#. The call may be recorded for broadcast and will include Q&A.

Sanders is the author of the new Platte Institute report “Nebraska REINS Act: A good-government way to provide oversight of major regulations.” The report is attached in PDF format with an author photo and can be found online at PlatteInstitute.org/Policy.

The report discusses how the Nebraska Legislature can place a check on new, major regulations created by state agencies. The release comes as the Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee is set to begin an interim study (LR92) examining and comparing processes for adopting and streamlining state regulations.  

Sanders’ report presents the case for state laws known as REINS Acts, which stands for Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny.

State regulations have the force of law, but are not directly created by lawmakers. Instead, state agencies that typically report to the governor are responsible for creating rules that are meant to carry out the intent of legislators.

A REINS Act requires state agencies to measure the economic impact of newly proposed, major regulations before they are implemented. Elected officials then have the opportunity to vote for or reject a proposed rule when the cost to the state economy is expected to exceed a certain threshold.

State REINS Acts do not apply to regulations required under federal law, emergency regulations, existing state rules, or to minor regulations beneath the established cost threshold.

“REINS would slow the expanse of red tape in Nebraska. As a result, Nebraska would benefit from a stronger climate for economic growth,” Sanders writes in the report.

“It would be an especially timely addition after the executive and legislative reviews of all agency regulations and occupational licenses,” Sanders writes.

Here are additional highlights that will be discussed on the call:

  • A 2017 computer-based review of the Nebraska Administrative Code by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University found that Nebraska’s regulations contained 100,627 regulatory restrictions. At 7.5 million words long, it would take a person 10 weeks to read if they spent 40 hours a week just reading the code.
     
  • A 2015 performance audit from the Legislative Audit Office found several problems with Nebraska’s rulemaking process and with how agencies interpreted it. Notably, the audit found instances where agencies even skipped giving public notices or hearings.
     
  • REINS is narrowly focused on restoring legislative oversight to major regulations. In the first four years of Florida’s implementation of a REINS-like law only 36 of the 8,535 rules needed legislative review.
     
  • REINS Acts can compel state agencies to be more careful in crafting rules. Their interest will be to stay below the cost threshold for major rules, so as not to undergo the uncertainty of legislative review.
     
  • Under a REINS Act, when an agency needs to produce a rule that cannot stay below the cost threshold, they’ll want to work together with the Legislature to make sure the resulting major rule is acceptable to the Legislature. This aspect should open communications between agency staff and the Legislature and make the process more transparent.
     
  • A July 2017 Nebraska executive order called for a thorough review of state regulation by agencies, along with a completed report to be delivered to the governor by November 2017. However, as of June 2019, this report has not be made available to the Legislature or the public.
     

To schedule an interview with Jon Sanders or Nicole Fox on this topic, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 452-3737 or email aweinberg@platteinstitute.org.

The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. For more media resources, please visit PlatteInstitute.org/Media.   

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