« Ind. Law - "I’ve written more marijuana stories in the last few months than I have in the last few decades" | Main | Ind. Courts - And what about Allen County? »

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Agencies find way to skirt rules freeze"

Supplementing this ILB post from March 1, 2013, Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has a story today headed "Agencies find way to skirt rules freeze: Moratorium exceptions let 30 new regulations kick in." Some quotes:

On Gov. Mike Pence’s first day in office, he signed an executive order creating a moratorium on state rules and regulations.

The freeze was meant to give the Indiana Office of Management and Budget a chance to review the myriad rules and weed out burdensome or unnecessary policies.

But the moratorium isn’t absolute. First, any rules agencies had already started were allowed to continue through the long process, which involves publication and hearing requirements.

And Pence also included a number of exceptions, which state agencies have been using to get around the current ban.

So far the Office of Management and Budget has approved about 30 new rules and regulations – with a handful of others waiting for action. Two have been denied.

The exception used most often to bypass the moratorium is for rules whose predominant purpose and effect are to address matters of emergency or health or safety. One example was licensing and operational standards for health facilities.

Another common exception is for a rule that must be passed to meet a federal requirement or mandate. This was used on a number of rules in the Medicaid arena involving mental health services.

State Budget Director Chris Atkins said since the guidelines were spelled out to agencies early, some haven’t even tried to start the rulemaking process for rules that don’t expressly fall under an exception.

In the first five months of 2013, the notices of intent to file a new rule have dropped 72 percent from the same period in 2012. * * *

While the moratorium is in place, OMB staffers have started to review the rules already in the books.

Atkins said the next step is to ask the public for help in identifying burdensome rules. This can either mean a rule is unnecessary or too expensive to comply.

The state will set up a website to get these opinions, and it will drive the focus of the review. The department will also look specifically at permitting processes people must use.

“Once we gather ideas from the public we will have a better idea what to target for recommendations,” Atkins said.

Eventually it could fall on agencies to rescind rules or the legislature could eliminate them en masse.

Legislators have already gotten more interested in the process.

Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, former chairman of the Administrative Rules Oversight Committee, said the legislature this year passed legislation to more systematically review administrative rules that have a statewide impact of $500,000 or more.

He acknowledged the need for agencies to use rules to implement state laws. If not, legislators would be in session year-round.

“But it’s hard for citizens to track the rules process,” Young said. “And once these rules go in unless it’s really outrageous it’s really difficult to get them out.”

ILB: A minor quibble with the beginning of the story:
Indiana has 11,000 pages of administrative rules that Hoosiers have to wade through every day.

They govern everything from building codes and election procedure to hunting limits and traffic citations.

These regulations are formulated by state agencies to implement laws passed by the Indiana General Assembly.

If citizens want to "wade though" the building codes, they will have to go to the library or buy a copy. As the ILB has noted a number of times in the past, these codes are simply incorporated by reference in the Indiana rules, because the trade organizations that write them have copyrighted them and sell them for $$$.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 24, 2013 01:29 PM
Posted to Indiana Government