As the 2013 legislative session begins to move toward adjournment, it looks like the General Assembly is taking its practice of pulling complex and controversial bills out of thin air and passing them before anyone even has time to respond to the next level. Among today’s examples: a giant new bill to rewrite dozens of state regulations  — many dealing with important environmental protections.
Today, the Senate Rules Committee took up House Bill 74. Prior to the meeting, the bill was a modest three-page proposal entitled “Periodic Review and Expiration of Rules.” After the meeting it was a 56 page monster with scores of separate sections entitled the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2013.” Don’t look for it online though — things are moving so fast the General Assembly website hasn’t even caught up yet.
Included changes deal with everything from Clean Air Act permits to underground strorage tanks to limiting the ability of local governments to regulate the “storage, retention, or use” of asphalt pavement. It also includes a new laws to invalidate agricultural purchases that are conditioned upon an agricultural producer being a union or non-union employer and gives any third party who is dissatisfied with a decision of the Environmental Management Commission about a water quality permit to intervene and contest the matter.
It’s getting to the point at which one has to wonder why the folks running things on Jones Street don’t just save us the time, money and aggravation and send over one big memo listing all the changes to state law that they have decided to bestow upon the citizenry.