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Caucus Report 14 – Reigning in Regulations

This week was “crossover week”, when legislation must pass either the House or Senate in order to be considered by the other before the end of the legislative session in June.

That means this week is typically an incredibly busy week on the House floor as members try to get their legislation through before May 1. This week was no exception.

The House Republicans moved swiftly on one of our final agenda items of the year – regulatory reform.

It’s a common saying that is all-too-accurate when describing legislation: The devil is in the details. Many times, legislation approved by a legislative body must be enacted by executive branch agencies. Sometimes, those regulations are more burdensome than the General Assembly intended, which sometimes leads to unintended consequences and new fees on people and businesses.

This year, the House Republicans included regulatory reform in our agenda after hearing from constituents on the campaign trail last fall. The voters told us that some regulations were getting out of control.

The bill passed this week seeks to slow down the unintended consequences by requiring the General Assembly take a vote on regulations proposed by South Carolina’s government – agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and others.

Currently, regulations become law if no action is taken within a certain number of days, and that action is typically only taken by the specific legislative committee that oversees the agency. This will require the entire General Assembly to pay attention to these regulations, and will require a new level of accountability to the agencies and unelected boards.

We also approved a similar piece of legislation that requires the General Assembly to approve any new administrative fees that agencies might impose – with a few exceptions for fees that are required by the federal government, require approval from multiple-state compacts, or are market-based (such as from the State Ports Authority).

The House also approved the conference report for the Voter ID legislation – after a compromise was hammered out by the House and Senate last week. The resulting bill looks much like the original House bill, with a few wording changes. This is the point where the bill stalled last year when the Senate never took a vote on the conference report. The Senate debated the state budget this week, so I hope our senators approve this conference report quickly next week.