The Leaflet: Wisconsin Becomes First State to ‘REIN’ in Regulations

Published June 22, 2017

Wisconsin will soon become the first state to implement the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, or REINS Act, when Gov. Scott Walker (R) signs the bill into law. The Wisconsin version of the REINs Act is modeled after a federal bill by the same name. It would require legislative approval for any regulation or rule proposed by state agencies that would have an economic impact of more than $10 million in its first two years.

In a press release reacting to the bill’s passage, H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, said the bills passage will be “[o]ne small step for legislative responsibility, one giant leap for constitutional restraints on executive authority in Wisconsin. The legislative branch alone is charged with making laws, yet for decades legislators have shirked this responsibility by delegating this power to executive agencies and then complained when administrative agency bureaucrats went beyond what the law allowed or what legislators said they intended. Every state should enact a REINS act and the federal government should adopt it as well.”

In the October issue of Wisconsin Business Voice magazine, Scott Manley, senior vice president for Government Relations at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, says Americans pay more on regulations than on food and clothing, adding, “Every dollar a business spends to comply with regulation is a dollar they cannot spend to raise employee wages, hire new employees or invest in research or product development.”

Supporters of the REINs Act argue regulations are a tax on businesses and consumers but do not go through the legislative process and are often invisible to those who end up paying for them. In response to the passage of the REINs Act in Wisconsin, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said, “The cost of the federal regulations is now greater than personal and corporate income tax collections combined. Though Washington has been unable to control regulations, Wisconsin has now made clear that they can and will. The REINS Act—blocked by special interests in Washington—can be enacted in Wisconsin to reduce the costs and delays of overregulation.”

The REINS Act will not only add transparency and accountability to a regulatory system that has none, it will also give a greater voice to the public. While Wisconsin became the first state to pass this regulatory reform, it likely won’t be the last. Other states and the federal government are expected to consider similar reforms in the coming months and years.

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