Wisconsin Business Groups Divided Over Rulemaking Bill

Date: March 15, 2016

NFIB questions constitutionality and necessity of AB 251.

Wisconsin Business Groups Divided Over Rulemaking Bill

The Wisconsin State Assembly recently passed Assembly Bill 251, which would authorize greater legislative oversight over state agency rules by blocking proposed rules that would cost more than $10 million to implement.

Here’s a closer look at the bill:

  • AB 251 would require that a hearing be held before an administrative rule is drafted. Currently administrative rules must have a public hearing, as well as a review by the governor and three legislative committees, before they are published.
  • Under AB 251, the Department of Administration would review the economic impact analysis for each agency’s proposed rule, and lawmakers would be authorized to launch an independent economic impact analysis for use in challenging an agency analysis.
  • If the proposed rule’s compliance costs exceed $10 million, AB 251 would require the state agency to ask the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules to either withdraw the rule, modify the proposal or introduce a bill authorizing the proposed rule.

Many groups have weighed in on the proposed bill, which has yet to go before the Senate. Bill Smith, NFIB’s Wisconsin state director, told the Wisconsin State Journal that small business did not ask for this legislation, which could limit court challenges to administrative rules if the Legislature votes in favor of them.

WPR public radio also reported NFIB’s opposition: “We don’t need the law. We don’t need this change. We already have a review process for small business, and we need to focus on making sure agencies comply with that particular process,” Smith said. Smith also noted to WPR that AB 251 could be unconstitutional because it could allow state lawmakers to stop state agency work on federal rules.

In addition to NFIB, the Legislative Council, Wisconsin Utilities Association, Tavern League of Wisconsin, Clean Wisconsin, MillerCoors and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress oppose AB 251. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce supports the bill.

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