Regulatory Improvement Bill (S.981) Earns Widespread Support

Washington, DC–Senate Governmental Affairs Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN), along with Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), said they were pleased with the broad and growing support for their bill, the Regulatory Improvement Act (S. 981). The measure, they said, should be brought to the Senate floor later this Spring for consideration.

“Our legislation injects a great deal more common sense into the rulemaking process,” Thompson said. “Better use of modern decision-making tools such as risk assessment, cost-benefit analysis and peer review will help ensure that agencies produce the kind of sensible regulations the public has a right to expect.”

“Support for the bill is strong and growing,” Levin said, “including enthusiastic endorsement by the National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the American Farm Bureau, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Council on Education, among others.” Levin added, “We have a real shot at getting a better, more effective rulemaking process with this bill, and there is no doubt that improving the rulemaking process will result in better regulation.”

“The bill is based on the premise that Americans have a right to know how their regulations are made,” Thompson said. “This is not a novel concept. Unfortunately it has not been a consistent part of the federal regulatory process. But it is a concept that both Republicans and Democrats can–and have–supported.”

The measure was reported favorably on March 10 by the Committee on a 8-4 vote. Other cosponsors include Senators John Glenn (D-OH), Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Charles S. Robb (D-VA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), William V. Roth Jr. (R-DE), John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Rod Grams (R-MN) and John B. Breaux (D-LA).

The legislation would require cost benefit analysis for all regulations with an impact of more than $100 million a year, as well as a risk assessment for rules addressing a risk to health, safety or the environment. It would open the process to greater public scrutiny and participation and increase the government’s accountability. Several statements on the Regulatory Improvement Act (S. 981) follow.

 What Leaders Are Saying About S. 981
The Regulatory Improvement Act

“The Regulatory Improvement Act (S. 981)…is supported by the nation’s governors to ensure that regulatory agencies are as accountable as UMRA made Congress….Federal regulations must recognize the need to set priorities and focus on the most important objectives at the federal, state and local levels. For this reason, Governors have long believed that the use of appropriate risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis methodology will enable policymakers to ensure that increasingly limited public resources are used most effectively and efficiently to protect the well being of our citizens.”

Governor George V. Voinovich (R-OH)
Chairman, National Governors’ Association
Governor Thomas R. Carper (D-DE)
Vice Chairman, National Governors’ Association

“S. 981 would codify the President’s Executive Order 12866 combined with judicial review for enforcement for all agencies. Cost analysis and relative risk assessments are absolutely essential to spend scarce public funds where they would do the most good. S. 981 also establishes a process for the re-examination of existing regulations based on peer reviews. We strongly support these provisions.” 

Governor George V. Voinovich (R-OH)
Chairman, National Governors’ Association

Senator Richard Finan, Ohio
President, National Conf. of State Legislatures

Council Member Mark Schwartz, Oklahoma City
President, National League of Cities

Senator Jeff Wells, Colorado
Chairman, Council of State Governments

Commissioner Randy Johnson, Minnesota
President, National Assn. of Counties

“Government regulations have a dramatic impact on higher education….Regulations usually have the right societal intent behind them and clearly colleges should not be exempt. However, the regulations should at least consider the same cost effectiveness standards that the private sector must enforce on its economic decisions….The Regulatory Improvement Act will ensure that federal regulations are employed in the most beneficial and cost effective manner to bring accountability and common sense to the regulatory process.”

Sheldon Elliot Steinbach
American Council on Education on behalf of National School Boards Association
American Council on Education
American Assn. of Colleges and Universities
Association of American Universities
Assn. of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
Assn. of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
National Assn. for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
National Assn. of College and University Business Officers
National Assn. of Independent Colleges and Universities
National Assn. of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
National Assn. of Student Financial AidAdministrators

“…many scientists and engineers who have devoted their careers to working on environmental problems are puzzled as to why anyone would oppose S. 981. It is unclear why anyone would argue against obtaining better scientific information and analysis to aid federal officials and inform the American public when important regulatory decisions are made.”

Bruce Alberts, Ph.D.
President, National Academy of Sciences
Chairman, National Research Council

“In contrast to previous proposals, which I did not support, I believe that S. 981 casts the correct balance in encouraging appropriate analysis to assure effective and efficient regulation, in avoiding counterproductive, excessive review by the courts, and in ensuring that regulation moves swiftly to implementation to protect the health and safety of the American people and of the environment.”

Milton Russell, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Joint Institute for Energy and the Environment
Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Tennessee

“S. 981 contains a number of provisions designed to improve regulatory management. These provisions strive to make the regulatory process more intelligible and accessible to the public, more effective and better managed. Passage of S. 981 would provide a statutory foundation for such principles as openness, accountability and sound science in rulemaking.”

L. Nye Stevens
Director, Federal Management and Workforce Issues, General Accounting Office

“S. 981 will add statutory weight to the requirements imposed by the last four presidents–two Republicans and two Democrats–concerning regulatory analysis. The bill avoids the excesses of earlier regulatory reform legislation, while retaining the best features of the previous bills. It would strengthen future rules and ensure that the many environmental, safety and health safeguards these rules provide are had as inexpensively as possible.”

Paul R. Portney
President and Senior Fellow
Resources for the Future

“…this bill, if enacted in its present form, would represent an important step forward in the rigorous application of science and analytic methods in the regulation of hazards to human health, safety and the environment. If agencies implement faithfully the letter and spirit of this legislation, the American people can reasonable expect the government to save more lives and do more environmental protection than we are currently achieving through our fragmentary maze of regulatory programs.”

John D. Graham, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
Harvard School of Public Health

“Small businesses worry about government regulations because they care about their company’s success and survival. Because they have smaller budgets and profit margins than their larger competitors, the costs of compliance with federal regulations fall disproportionately on the backs of small business owners….By improving the regulatory process, this legislation will take much needed steps to ease the regulatory burden and enable small businesses to be even more successful and create jobs for others.”

Dan Danner
Vice President, Federal Government Relations
National Federation of Independent Business