by Dick Hall-Sizemore

In a couple of recent posts, much has been made of Governor-elect Youngkin’s comments about reviewing regulations. After thinking about this promise and remembering similar promises by former governors, I decided to undertake one of my favorite exercises: poking around in the Code of Virginia a little bit. I found two items directly relevant to this discussion: one I was vaguely aware of and one I was not aware of.

First, the one that I was unaware of. This promise of Youngkin is no big deal because he will merely be following the law. Sec. 2.2-4017 requires:

Each Governor shall mandate through executive order a procedure for periodic review during that Governor’s administration of regulations of agencies within the executive branch of state government. The procedure shall include (i) a review by the Attorney General to ensure statutory authority for regulations and (ii) a determination by the Governor whether the regulations are (a) necessary for the protection of public health, safety and welfare and (b) clearly written and easily understandable.

I was vaguely aware of the General Assembly having some power to review new regulations. Indeed Sec. 2.2-4014 authorizes a standing committee of either house of the General Assembly to file an objection to any regulation proposed in its field of jurisdiction. Furthermore, the statute goes on to establish a procedure whereby the General Assembly may suspend the effective date of a final regulation and, subsequently, nullify all or a portion of the regulation.All the criticism tends to overlook why there are regulations in the first place. Despite what some people may think, bureaucrats are not out there making regulations willy-nilly, mainly for the fun of it. For many good reasons, legislation is written in general terms, setting out the main policy objectives. The statutes direct the applicable agencies to develop regulations to implement the general policies set out in law.

So, if you think there are too many regulations, don’t blame the regulators; they are just doing what the law tells them to do. If you think some of the existing regulations are no longer needed or do not achieve what they were intended to do, don’t worry: the law requires the incoming governor to conduct a review of all regulations and identify those that are no longer needed. And, if you object to some proposed regulations, tell your legislator: the legislature has the ability to nullify proposed regulations.

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7 responses to “Bureaucrats Are Not Running Amok”

  1. how_it_works Avatar

    Yea, like the law requires localities to complete a CAFR and Manassas Park never did for one year.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      BTW, as part of the bureaucracy, CAFRs are now called ACFRs.

  2. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Regulations as a rule do not appear out of thin air. The Assembly orders them, some federal law requires them, or some special interest group seeks their creation by a citizen board (usually to screw their competitors or limit access to a lucrative profession.). I was long familiar with both items you cite, Dick, and have seen the legislative review used to block proposed regs. Sen. Wagner was an activist chairman of a commission on that topic for a while. A Governor promising to review and reduce “red tape” is SOP. Probably something Patrick Henry talked about. Let’s see if anything happens, because it is easier said than done.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Hey! How was SA? Did you get out west or north of the city? BTW, if you’re able to handle hills, north of SA about an hour is Natural Caverns. Discovered after federal laws on cave preservation, they’re almost pristine. Little bit of up and down in high humidity, gets a bit sweaty, but well worth it.

  3. DJRippert Avatar

    Hmmm … pretty thin. Seems to me that, at least at the federal level, a lot of legislation is interpreted, re-interpreted and then re-re-interpreted by regulatory bodies rather than the legislature.

    The Waters of the US controversy comes to mind.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Eventually, the courts figure it all out.

  4. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    It’s easier to pass the buck to the bureaucrats so there is someone other than a delegate or senator to blame. Youngkin could do one of the few things that Trump got right. Require the rescinding of two or three existing regs for each new one.

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