Regulatory Reform Bills up for Vote by House Committees

The following regulatory reform bills are anticipated to go to the House floor during the week of July 23.

Summary of Bills

H.R. 3862, the “Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2012”

Environmental advocacy groups sue federal agencies to issue regulations and then agencies settle these lawsuits behind closed doors. Only after a settlement agreement or consent decree has been agreed to does the public have a chance to provide any comments. This is a pointless exercise because the damage has already been done.

More troubling, these settlements often allow advocacy groups and agencies to effectively dictate major policy on their own by circumventing the protections that exist for public participation in out regulatory system. Many regulations, including many of the more controversial and costly regulations over the past two years, have been developed through this process.

The “Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2012” would promote public participation, openness and transparency in the regulatory process by requiring agencies to notify the public of these lawsuits before they are settled and by making it easier for all interested parties to have a meaningful voice in the process.

H.R. 4607, the “Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2012”

When there is a lame-duck President, agencies rush rules through the regulatory process after a presidential election and prior to the inauguration of a new President. The “Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2012” would address the problem of midnight rules by prohibiting agencies from proposing or finalizing major rules during this so-called “midnight period.” These major rules include rules that would likely have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.

H.R. 4078, the “Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012”

The “Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act of 2012” would prohibit agencies from promulgating “significant” regulations, including those that have an annual cost to the economy of $100 million or more, until the unemployment rate is 6 percent or less.

H.R. 373, the “Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2012”

The “Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2012” would improve upon and help fulfill the promise of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. The new legislation would provide Congress and the public with better information on the effects of unfunded mandates, including those imposed on the private sector.

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