Kansas Calls for Regulation Reform Amendment Convention

Published April 21, 2017

The Kansas Legislature officially approved a resolution calling for a national convention to draft and enact checks on federal agencies’ authority to create costly regulations without lawmakers’ approval.

In April, the Kansas House of Representatives enrolled House Concurrent Resolution 5003, asking Congress to call an amendment convention. The Kansas Senate approved the concurrent resolution in March, after the House approved the resolution in February.

HCR 5003, sponsored by state Rep. Steven Johnson (R-Assaria) in January, is based on model legislation known as the Regulation Freedom Amendment, which was proposed by the American Opportunity Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank.

As provided for in Article V of the U.S. Constitution, after 34 states call for an amendment convention, the gathering, consisting of commissioners selected by the individual state legislatures, is limited to consideration of an amendment requiring the federal government to enact the proposal specified in the call.

Lawmakers in 21 states have approved Regulation Freedom Amendment resolutions.

The amendment would create a new check on federal government agencies by requiring congressional approval before the executive branch can implement major regulations.

Real Costs to Consumers

Consumers ultimately pay the price for overregulation, Johnson says.

“The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, the Clean Power Plan rule, … things such as these cost millions, perhaps billions, of dollars to industry and are borne by consumers,” Johnson said.

“The goal that is stated for the Regulation Freedom Amendment is to end regulation without representation, such that there would be oversight of regulations,” Johnson said. “If one-quarter of the U.S. House or Senate object to the regulation, then congressional oversight would have to happen before enactment, rather than the possibility of review and repeal after the regulations are enacted by any regulatory authority.”

Johnson says the resolution is all about protecting freedom.

“We don’t want government deciding everything for us, and this is one more way to make sure that agencies can’t take those freedoms away,” Johnson said.

Government Gone Wild

Roman Buhler, director of the Madison Coalition, a nonpartisan organization working to restore a balance of state and federal power, says the proposed amendment would enable elected officials to keep unelected government bureaucrats in check.

“Ending the fear of capricious federal regulators, by requiring that Congress approve major new federal regulations, would be a powerful way to protect our constitutional rights and accelerate economic growth,” Buhler said.

“Just as states helped force Congress to propose the Bill of Rights, leaders in two-thirds of the states, working with allies in Congress, could potentially, over the next two to three years, force Congress to constitutionally require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress and permanently restore the Article I power of Congress,” Buhler said.