Lawmakers Study Administrative Rules Process

Mike Seals - September 22, 2020 11:32 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – A group of state legislators on Tuesday held an interim study on the administrative rules process with the goal of analyzing potential improvements, changes or reforms so the Legislature is more involved in the process.

The Joint House and Senate study was heard before the Senate Rules Committee. It was held by State Reps. Tom Gann, R-Inola, and Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont, chair and vice chair, respectively, of the House Administrative Rules Committee, and State Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow.

“The focus of the study was to determine a baseline of information so legislators have a better understanding of the current status of the administrative rules process in relation to the Administrative Procedures Act,” Gann said. “I wanted to provide examples of areas of needed reform as well as where reduction of rules could benefit Oklahomans. I would also like to see greater participation among lawmakers and a more robust process in the Legislature as well as increased transparency.”

With administrative rules having the effect of law once approved by the Legislature, the lawmakers said it is incredibly important to make sure each rule is studied and that it follows statute and doesn’t create new state law. The problem is there are hundreds if not thousands of rules submitted each year, and the current process only allows them to be mass approved or to create individual resolutions that must then go through the legislative process if they desire to deny a rule.

Rep. Crosswhite Hader said she asked to be on the House Administrative Rules Committee and even campaigned on this issue because she sees it as one of the most important issues impacting Oklahomans.

“Agencies do their best to follow the guidelines the Legislature sets out when asked to promulgate rules to follow state statute, but it is the Legislature’s responsibility to maintain a check on those agencies to ensure they didn’t go beyond the scope of what is in the law,” Crosswhite Hader said. “This hearing was to help insure that all of the Legislature – the House and Senate – are on the same page when it comes to protecting citizens from agency overreach.”

Sen. Dahm said, “For years I have worked on limiting excessive regulation in our state. This interim study allowed members of the Legislature and the public to hear from experts across the country about reforms other states have enacted. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have this joint study with the House, the governor’s office and all those involved as we work together to make a better Oklahoma and a better business environment for the future.”

Sens. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, and Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, also took part in Tuesday’s study.

“Red tape and over regulation affect individual liberty and economic growth,” Daniels said. “We must streamline the elimination of egregious or unnecessary rules and regulations.  And the legislature must be more engaged in its administrative rules oversight responsibilities. The information and ideas provided by this study will help show us the way.”

Jech added, “The issue of administrative rules is an important one. I’m pleased that Senator Dahm and Representative Gann chose to present their joint study on this particular issue. I know that both legislators devoted much time and effort preparing for the study. There was some very important information presented, which will be very beneficial while drafting potential legislation for the upcoming session.”

Other speakers at Tuesday’s study included Cara Rodriquez with Glenn Coffee & Associates who spoke on the constitutional framework and administrative and legislative powers as well as the difference between rules, statute and executive actions and ways for lawmakers to assess the proper channel; James Broughel from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University who spoke on the regulatory burdens of the Oklahoma Administrative code and exploring reforms for Oklahoma; Peggy Coe and Chris Coffman with the Oklahoma Office of Administrative Rules who gave an overview of the process and a presentation on the forthcoming Administrative Rules Portal.

Rep. Gann gave an overview of the House process for the oversight of administrative rules, and Daniel Dew with the Pacific Legal Foundation spoke on administrative rule reform and best practices from other states.

PHOTO, BELOW: State Reps. Tom Gann, David Smith and Denise Crosswhite Hader participate in an interim study on administrative rules at the state Capitol on Tuesday.


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