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.
What We’re Working On
Research & Commentary: Can New York Afford Single-Payer Health Care?
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a single-payer health care plan being considered by New York legislators. “The New York Health Plan’s creators have greatly underestimated the costs of implementing and maintaining a single-payer health insurance system and the effects it would have on individual patients and the entirety of the health care marketplace,” wrote Glans. Read more
Texas ESAs Would Increase Teacher Pay, Study Finds
In this article published by School Reform News, Ashley Bateman writes about a new study from the Texas Public Policy Foundation that argues teachers in Texas would receive substantial pay increases if the state were to enact legislation establishing education savings accounts (ESAs). ESAs will increase teacher pay by “influencing budgets of public school districts and private schools, and … increasing competition in teacher labor markets while perhaps reducing bureaucratic inefficiencies.” This evidence runs contrary to arguments that claim ESAs will hurt teacher pay. One of the study’s co-authors, Vance Ginn, told Bateman, “[F]rom a public policy and political economy standpoint, teacher unions are fighting school choice the most. There’s a gap in the research, and if you can show teachers who are fighting against this that teachers will benefit from this program, it is more palatable to them. There would be money following the students and benefitting teachers in the process.” The study states some teachers could receive pay increases as high as $28,000 per year. Texas currently has no school-choice programs. Read more
Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Maine Considers Reviving Tip Credit
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a proposal that would reestablish tip credits in Maine. “Increasing the legal minimum wage is not an effective method of reducing poverty, and it harms workers by creating barriers to entry for less-skilled and less-educated people. Restoring the tip credit will allow employers to hire the workers they need, providing jobs that pay well above the minimum wage when tips are included. Businesses across Maine are calling for legislators to bring back the tip credit. Legislators should listen,” Glans wrote. Read more
Energy & Environment
Michigan Voters to Consider Banning Oil Shipments in Mackinac Pipeline
In this article for Environment & Climate News, Kathy Hoekstra writes about a proposal being pushed by environmentalists that would allow Michigan voters to break an agreement that currently allows a company to ship crude oil through a pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, located in the north end of the state. The proposal, sponsored by the group Keep Our Lakes Great, would ban oil from being transported through a 645-mile pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy. Four miles of the pipeline run under the Straits of Mackinac, the waterway separating Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas at the juncture of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The pipeline in question has carried light crude oil, light synthetic crude oil, and natural-gas liquids under the straits for 64 years. Every day, approximately 540,000 barrels of oil, or 22.7 million gallons, are transported through Line 5, which travels from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to southeast Michigan and Ohio. Keep Our Lakes Great must collect at least 252,523 valid signatures of Michigan voters in a 180-day period beginning May 1 for the proposal to be considered by the Michigan Legislature. Lawmakers can approve the measure, propose their own alternative, or reject it, which would automatically put it on the November 2018 ballot. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Michigan Adopts Most Innovative Teacher Pension Reform in the Nation
An article by Anthony Randazzo, Leonard Gilroy, and Daniel Takash of the Reason Foundation discusses the problems facing the Michigan Public School Employee System, including massive unfunded liabilities and growing contribution rates. However, thanks in part to work done by the Reason Foundation, the Michigan Legislature recently passed an innovative pension reform bill that focuses on reducing risk while stabilizing cost and preserving choice. Read more