July 19, 2016 –Attorney General Sean Reyes joined a coalition of 15 states attorneys general in urging Congress to rein in federal agencies that create and enforce regulations.
The letter, sent July 11 to 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. Overregulation places undue burdens on the average citizen and taxpayer. It is choking small businesses and stifling first and second amendment rights. It negatively impacts diverse industries such as agriculture, ranching, mining, manufacturing, finance and technology, without providing meaningful land management, consumer protection, education innovation or other objectives federal regulations were supposed to achieve,” said Attorney General Reyes. “This letter urges Congress to put meaningful checks on agencies so that lawmaking returns to its constitutional roots — in the legislative branch — and away from unaccountable, unelected federal 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 so-called guidance documents, which are meant to offer non-binding advice, but are increasingly used to create new binding regulations and sanctions on those who don’t comply.
Additionally, Federal agencies also are acting outside the bounds of their authority and without consideration for existing state law 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, so long that many regulated entities will have spent significant time and money that they cannot get back.
States signing the letter were West Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.