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New legislation aims to curb state agency power, but at what cost?

Michigan State Capital building
Jimmy Emerson
Cole says that the bill will put power back in the hands of elected officials, but Hammond says it creates extra legal challenges to protecting local health.

Legislation to restrict the authority of state departments has passed the Michigan House and is making its way through the Senate.

House Bill 4205 would not let agency rules be any stricter than federal rules without proof that it’s necessary. 

Environmental groups are concerned. As the Great Lakes state, past legislatures have embraced a role of being a guardian of the lakes. Stricter agency rules were seen as part of the state being a good steward and an example for other states.

State Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, a sponsor of the legislation, and Sean Hammond, a member of the Michigan Environmental Council, joined Stateside today to discuss the legislation.

Cole said this bill will not stop state agencies from being able to do their jobs; it “just raises the bar for the justification for those regulations and rules,” and “provides greater voice for the legislature to make decisions on legislation rather than unelected bureaucrats.”

Hammond, on the other hand, said requiring proof of a rule’s necessity could have serious ramifications.

“There’s never a rule making where 100% of people are 100% happy,” Hammond said. “They could tie up a rule making beyond its normal 18 month to two-year timeline another five years or so, if not more, on complicated rule makings and cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars on a standard rule, and millions on some rules like clean up criteria or drinking water standards.”

Listen above for the full conversation.

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