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June 23, 2017Published Article

REINS Act on Verge of Becoming Law

This week the Wisconsin Assembly passed legislation known as the REINS Act (Senate Bill 15), which significantly amends Wisconsin’s administrative rulemaking process. The legislation’s name is based on a similar federal bill called the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act.”

Below is a summary of the legislation:

  • Department of Administrative Review of Statements of Scope: Under current law, before an agency begins to work an administrative rule, it must submit a statement of scope (scope statement) to the governor for his or her approval. This legislation requires that the scope statement be sent to the Department of Administration, which must determine whether the agency has explicit authority to promulgate the rule and submit its determination to the governor, who may approve or reject the statement of scope.
  • Economic Impact Analysis: The legislation provides that if an economic analysis indicates that it will cost $10 million or more for businesses, local government units, and individuals to comply with the rule over any two-year period, that agency may not continue to promulgate the rule. However, an agency may continue to work on the rule if: 1) the legislature enacts a bill that authorizes the rule’s promulgation, 2) the agency modifies the rule so that compliance will be less than $10 million of any two-year period.
  • Independent Economic Impact Analysis: The legislation allows a co-chair of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) to request that an independent economic impact analysis be prepared for the proposed rule. The co-chairperson of the JCRAR must prepare the independent economic impact analysis, and the person preparing analysis must complete it within 60 days.
  • Exempts Certain DNR’s Rules: An amendment to the legislation makes a significant change from the original language. Specifically, the amendment exempts rules promulgated by the Department of Natural Resources that are no more stringent than required by the Clean Air Act.

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk, which he is expected to sign into law.

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