Levin-Thompson Regulatory Improvement Act Unveiled

Washington, DC — Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., today launched a bipartisan effort to significantly improve the federal regulatory process. The two unveiled the revised Levin-Thompson Regulatory Improvement Act which they believe will result in smarter, more effective and more efficient regulations by improving the way agencies make regulatory decisions.

?Those of us who believe in the benefits of regulation to protect health and safety have a particular responsibility to make sure that regulations are sensible and cost-effective,? said Levin. ?When they aren?t, the regulatory process — which is so vital to our health and well being — comes under constant attack. By providing a common sense, moderate and open regulatory process, we are contributing to the well-being of that process and helping to immunize it from unfair attacks.?

?This legislation is an effort by both Republicans and Democrats to make our regulatory process work better,? said Thompson. ?We all share the same goals — clean air, clean water, a safe workplace. Senator Levin and I believe we should reach these goals in the smartest, most responsive and cost-effective manner.?

The Levin-Thompson bill is the product of months of discussion between the two lawmakers and builds on a bipartisan bill which was unanimously reported out of the Governmental Affairs Committee in 1995. Additional cosponsors include Senators John Glenn, D-Ohio., Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., Chuck Robb D-Va., Bill Roth R-Del., Jay Rockefeller D-W.V., and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. The Governmental Affairs Committee Affairs Committee intends to hold hearings on the legislation.

The Levin-Thompson bill offers a common-sense approach for cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment of major rules, the review of existing rules and executive oversight of the rulemaking process. It puts new requirements on the rules that have the biggest economic impact – that is, over $100 million on the U.S. economy. The legislation requires agencies to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the benefits of the rule justify its costs and whether the regulatory option chosen by the agency is more cost effective or provides greater net benefits than other options considered by the agency. A peer-reviewed risk assessment is triggered if the rule involves a risk to health, safety or the environment.

The bill improves the quality of government decision-making by instructing agencies to seek out smarter ways to regulate, including flexible approaches such as outcome-oriented performance standards. It also will modernize and improve rules already on the books through independent committees to advise agencies on rules that could be revised to substantially increase benefits to the public.

Finally, the bill puts into law the preview procedure now conducted by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and requires public disclosure of the review process.