New Proposal Would Limit State Agency Rulemaking

Feb 3, 2015

The Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

A House committee Tuesday approved legislation that opponents say will prevent state agencies from enacting much-needed protections.  But proponents argue it will help ensure agencies don’t overstep their rulemaking authority.

Warsaw Republican Representative Dave Wolkins’ bill would add a new step to the state’s rulemaking process.  When agencies propose a rule, the legislature’s research bureau known as LSA will review each measure to determine whether the General Assembly or the federal government gave the agency authority to make that rule.  If not, LSA will alert lawmakers, the agency and the Attorney General’s office, which finalizes all state regulations. 

But Indiana Wildlife Federation executive director Barbara Simpson says many times federal regulators will only create rules that operate on the bare minimum, allowing states flexibility to go further.  She says Wolkins’ bill would eliminate that flexibility.

“We need the option to be able to go beyond the federal requirements of, let’s say, the Endangered Species Act,” Simpson said. “There are many other wildlife issues that benefit the state as a resource that’s going to require going beyond the federal minimums.”

But Wolkins notes the bill doesn’t give LSA the ability to halt the process; the agency could still move forward and create its rule.  He says LSA’s role would allow lawmakers to know if an agency is exceeding its authority before a rule is finalized. 

That means the legislature could step in, either to give the agency the authority to create the rule or halt it from going forward.