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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - Update on - Senate committee to consider "no more stringent" on steriods bill

After much testimony, HB 1351 passed out of House committee earlier today. It did so after a major amendment by the author, Rep. Wolkins. The amendment would limit the bill's requirements to future rules only.

Although the bill's author constantly referred to "a person in LSA" who would review the rules, the LSA fiscal note reads:

Office of Regulatory Accountability (ORA) : This bill establishes the Office of Regulatory Accountability (ORA) within the Legislative Services Agency. The estimated annual cost of the ORA could be about $475,000. The estimate includes the cost of salary and fringe benefits for five employees and rent for office space. The Legislative Services Agency is funded through General Fund appropriations. * * *

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) within the Ohio General Assembly is a similar office to the ORA proposed by this bill. JCARR reported actual expenditures of about $400,000 during FY 2014. For FY 2015, JCARR was appropriated about $460,000 for operating expenses. JCARR is staffed by five employees.

A representative of the Manufacturers Ass'n. testified in favor of the bill, pointing to a DLGF error that no one had caught, problems with a Dept. of Revenue Bulletin, and with a Form that DLGF was promulgating. Apparently these are the kinds of problems he anticipates that the "person in LSA" will be able to catch. When asked for details, he testified that "either LSA catches it or I or a legislator would bring it to them." Then, he said, the GA would pass legislation to clarify its intent. He was asked: Can't that happen now? (And I would ask, is this LSA office to become a location for special pleading, once the pubic rulemaking process has concluded?)

Justin Schneider from the Farm Bureau cited several Indiana court cases limiting an agency's rulemaking to the parameters set by its statutory authorization. Indeed, the ILB quoted one of those opinions yesterday in the footnote to this post. He cited the court opinions as a reason why this new legislation is needed, I cited it as a reason why it is not needed -- precisely because the court is there, and that is its role, to mediate disputes where an agency may be acting outside its statutory authority.

In closing, Rep. Wolkins cited the Court of Appeals opinion this week in the high-fenced hunting case as a reason why his new legislation is needed. He said that DNR acted outside its bounds, and it took years for the issue to be decided.

But the issue arose because the statutes are unclear. Although the General Assembly has had years to clarify the law relating to high-fenced hunting and the authority of DNR, they still have not acted. (See, eg, this Feb. 3rd story by Ryan Sabalow, IndyStar)

If the GA has not acted to give (or revoke) clear authority in this high profile case, is it likely they will act quickly to clarify each of the issues the LSA may bring up as it reviews each and every rule, policy document, form and bulletin that originates from a state agency in the future? Or will today's bill simply result in a gigantic pile-up of perceived problems for the General Assembly to address?

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 3, 2015 01:14 PM
Posted to Indiana Government