Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Critics Say Rulemaking Bill Nixes Indiana's Flexibility

Rob Slaven

A House committee Tuesday approved legislation that opponents say will prevent state agencies from enacting much-needed protections.  But proponents argue it will help ensure agencies don’t overstep their rulemaking authority.

Rep. Dave Wolkins’ (R-Warsaw) bill would add a new step to the state’s rulemaking process.  When agencies propose a rule, the legislature’s research bureau, the Legislative Services Agency, will review each measure to determine whether the General Assembly or the federal government gave the agency authority to make that rule. 

If not, LSA will alert lawmakers, the agency and the Attorney General’s office, which finalizes all state regulations. 

But Indiana Wildlife Federation executive director Barbara Simpson says many times federal regulators will only create rules that operate on the bare minimum, allowing states flexibility to go further.  She says Wolkins’ bill would eliminate that flexibility.

“We need the option to be able to go beyond the federal requirements of, let’s say, the Endangered Species Act," Simpson says.  "There are many other wildlife issues that benefit the state as a resource that’s going to require going beyond the federal minimums.”

But Wolkins says LSA’s role would allow lawmakers to know if an agency is exceeding its authority before a rule is finalized.

“Gives us a red flag up front as opposed...when you go in and correct things after the fact, it costs a whole lot more money to do it,” he says.

But Wolkins notes the bill doesn’t give LSA the ability to halt the process; the agency could still move forward and create its rule.  That means the legislature could step in, either to give the agency the authority to create the rule or halt it from going forward.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.