Lawmakers Propose More Limits To State Agencies’ Regulatory Power

Bill Would Set 7-Year Expiration Date On Administrative Rules

Wisconsin State Capitol
Justin Kern (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Republican state lawmakers are making another move to give themselves more power over state agencies.

Under a new proposal at the state Capitol, state agencies’ administrative rules would expire every seven years, and lawmakers would have more power to block their renewal. Right now, administrative rules don’t have expiration dates.

Under the new plan, rules would go up for review one year before their expiration date. If no lawmaker objects, they would be renewed automatically.

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If a lawmaker objects, the rule — and others related to it — could be blocked.

Environmental groups oppose the bill, arguing it could have unintended consequences.

“If somebody had an issue with the walleye bag limit, and they objected, they have to object to that entire section, so they’re knocking out every bag limit for every fish species in the state,” said Bill Davis, director of Wisconsin’s chapter of the Sierra Club.

Supporters of the proposal say it will cut down on unnecessary and burdensome regulations in the state

“We’ll find a lot of duplication, a lot of outdated and a lot of unnecessary regulations that will be taken off the books, because we’ve not reviewed some of the rules ever,” said Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Wisconsin Independent Businesses, the Wisconsin Realtors Association and the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association have all registered support for the bill.

Disability Rights Wisconsin, the Sierra Club, Clean Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign are opposed.

The proposal comes after Gov. Scott Walker signed the REINS Act earlier this summer, which requires legislative approval for any agency rule that would cost businesses or taxpayers more than $10 million.

The bill has yet to receive a vote in committee.