Wisconsin Legislature Puts ‘REINS’ on State Agencies’ Rulemaking

Published July 22, 2017

The Wisconsin legislature passed a bill to require legislative approval before state agencies can make costly regulatory rule changes.

The Wisconsin Senate Chief Clerk reported on June 22 Senate Bill 15 (SB 15), sponsored by state Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), had been approved by both houses.

SB 15, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, awaits consideration by Gov. Scott Walker (R). On June 16, Walker’s deputy communications director, Thomas Evenson, told Wisconsin State Journal reporter Mark Sommerhauser the governor “looks forward to signing the bill into law.”

In Wisconsin, there is no deadline for the governor to act on a bill after passage by the legislature.

Putting People in Power

Eric Bott, director of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, says the REINS Act restores some government accountability to the people.

“The Wisconsin REINS Act flips the scales, putting the power over costly regulations back in the hands of the people, through their duly elected representatives,” Bott said. “By adding an additional check on regulations costing more than $10 million, the bill will slow the growth of the regulatory state, resulting in lower compliance costs for employers and consumers in Wisconsin over time.”

Reducing Regulatory Overload

LeMahieu says his bill will help protect taxpayers from abusive government agencies.

“State agencies currently have the power to pass harmful regulations that can cost Wisconsin businesses and citizens tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs and lost revenue,” LeMahieu said. “Taxpayers have a right to know what expensive bureaucratic mandates will cost. The REINS Act places added scrutiny on the most expensive rules and prevents them from going into effect right away.”

‘Critical’ Reforms

SB 15’s effects may not be immediately obvious, LeMahieu says, but the bill will make a big difference in people’s lives.

“On a day-to-day basis, most people will observe little change from this bill,” LeMahieu said. “However, the REINS Act is critical because administrative rules in Wisconsin have the force of law, even though they often contain provisions never authorized by the legislature.”