Agreement on Senate's regulation of regulations bill unlikely as House prepares changes

03/23/2014 09:33 PM

House Democrats are about to give a major overhaul to the Senate Republicans’ top priority for the session, a measure aimed at giving legislators stronger oversight to regulate administrative regulations.

First, House Democrats plan to change it from being a constitutional amendment to a simple change of statutes.

Senate Republicans want to alter the constitution to allow a legislative committee to be able to overturn a regulation even when the full General Assembly isn’t in session. If a majority of the eight-member Administrative Regulation Review Committee vote that the regulation is deficient — even during the interim.

Rep. Johnny Bell, a Glasgow Democrat and co-chairman of the Administrative Regulation Review Committee, told Pure Politics that he has been working on major changes to the legislation. Instead of changing the constitution, he said he will amend the bill to make a statutory change to allow members of the committee to pre-file bills during the interim to undo regulations and would create a registry to publish details of the regulations being looked at and why the committee would approve or disapprove of them.

Bell said he researched the track-record of the administrative review panel and found that over the last 13 years it has found deficient 42 of the hundreds of regulations it had looked over.

But Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said that approach isn’t enough for Senate Republicans. And if that’s what the House decides to do, the two chambers won’t agree on this.

Stivers said the legislature needs to have more oversight of regulations, and changing the constitutional powers to restore balance to the process is the only way. For example, he pointed to the court’s ruling earlier this year that the Kentucky Racing Authority overstepped its bounds by issuing regulations to collect taxes on proceeds on instant racing. The courts ruled that only the General Assembly can approve taxes. And Stivers said that could have been caught earlier if the Administrative Review Committee had greater authority.

A constitutional amendment needs 60 votes to clear the House. And then the voters must approve it in the next election.

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