Attorney General Reyes joins 15-state coalition, tells Congress to rein in federal agencies

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined a coalition of 15 state attorneys general in urging Congress to rein in federal agencies, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 21, 2016 | Composite image, St. George News

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.

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1 Comment

  • Brian July 21, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    The only chance for our nation to get back to the Constitution is for the states to assert themselves, so I applaud this effort.

    Most American’s don’t realize that almost all of the freedoms, security, and prosperity we enjoy depend on the two most basic fundamentals of the Constitution: the separation of powers and checks and balances.

    The Founding Fathers designed the Constitution to keep human nature in check. Human nature is to grab power or not release it when it comes through circumstance. The 3 branches of government were meant to keep each other in check. The states were to keep the federal government in check, and vice versa.

    Most of what is wrong in our government right now is because those checks and balances are being ignored. The courts are legislating from the bench, rather than interpreting the law. The alphabet soup agencies (IRS, CIA, EPA, etc) are legislating through regulations far outside their authority. The Senate and House are relinquishing their power to the executive branch by allowing more and more egregious executive orders and signing statements. Most states are just rolling over and playing dead. And the people reject politicians that understand these principles and instead embrace populist politicians that offer them free stuff or have outrageous plans to change everything through dictatorial means (which never last, and never end well).

    Until at least 34 states get back on the Constitutional bandwagon we’ll only continue to slide down the slippery slope. Honestly, the only hope for our nation is the people wising up and electing principled people at the state level, and then the states uniting to hold the federal government to the Constitution. Unfortunately I don’t have much hope of that happening.

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