SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined a coalition of 15 state attorneys general in urging Congress to rein in federal agencies that create and enforce regulations.
The letter, sent July 11 to the House and Senate leadership, explains that federal agencies are acting outside of their congressionally delegated authority, circumventing the law by issuing binding rules in the guise of “guidance” documents, failing to consider the costs of regulations and unnecessarily overriding existing state laws.
“Federal regulatory overreach has long been a concern, but the extent of the problem has in recent years become unprecedented in our nation’s history. Such over regulation places undue burdens on the average citizen and taxpayer,” Reyes said.
“It chokes small businesses, stifles First and Second Amendment rights and negatively impacts industries as diverse as agriculture, ranching, mining, manufacturing, finance and technology, without providing meaningful land management, consumer protection, education, innovation or other social goals that were intended,” he said.
“(The letter) urges Congress to put meaningful checks on federal agencies so that lawmaking returns to its constitutional roots – in the legislative branch – and away from unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats.”
One problem the letter highlights is the trend among agencies to make binding rules through so-called guidance documents.
The letter cites the federal Administrative Procedures Act as requiring a notice and comment period for any change an agency wants to enact. This allows those affected to give their opinion and prepare.
Federal agencies have been avoiding this process with guidance documents, which are meant to offer nonbinding advice but are increasingly used to create new binding regulations and sanctions on those who don’t comply.
Additionally, Reyes said, federal agencies also are acting outside the bounds of their authority and without consideration for existing state laws or the costs of regulation.
The letter explains that congressional action is needed because it can take years to block the unlawful initiatives in court, forcing many regulated entities to spend significant time and money that they cannot get back.
Attorneys general signing the letter represented the states of West Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
- Regulatory reform letter-c1 sent July 11 to the House and Senate Leadership.