Rulemaking to protect people’s health and safety is latest target of Republican majority power grab

HARRISBURG, April 20 – Democratic members of the House State Government Committee today unanimously stood firm against legislation that would upend the state’s regulatory process, which protects Pennsylvanians, for no good reason and at great cost to taxpayers, according to the committee’s Democratic chair, Margo Davidson, D-Delaware.

According to Davidson, the Republican majority forced votes on bills that would require state agencies to pick two random regulations to repeal for each new one proposed and establish a redundant and costly independent office to do the same (H.B. 939), as well as give legislators the power to veto state agency rulemaking at the expense of people's health and safety while minimizing the legislature’s accountability for such vetoes (H.B. 950).

“These bills are more examples of this gerrymandered Republican majority running amok -- wanting to circumvent the courts and undermine the governor’s office, wanting to be judge and jury, executive branch and the courts -- over all Pennsylvanians while doing nothing to actually protect the health and prosperity of our citizens,” Davidson said. 

Davidson said the Office of the Independent Repealer as proposed in H.B. 939 would waste taxpayer money to create a new yet duplicate independent entity to perform tasks already being accomplished through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. The bill also fails to explain how instituting this entirely new bureaucracy driven by political appointees would ensure public health, safety and environmental protection in Pennsylvania or lead to greater efficiencies.

“With no criteria or analysis required, it seems House Republicans are simply basing regulations on quantity instead of quality,” Davidson said. “The notion that regulatory policy should be based on the number of regulations that exist rather than on the public purpose of those regulations is foolish, if not dangerous. Adding this cost to the state budget and to government while programs and services to help people hang in the balance shows us exactly where Republican majority priorities lie.”

Davidson said she views H.B. 950 as another power grab attempt by the Republican majority legislature under a Democratic governor, seeking to weaken rulemaking processes and squash any regulation they don’t like or, more to the point, regulations their wealthy corporate donors don’t like. 

“The state agencies drafting these regulations have boots on the ground and are most equipped to determine the efficacy of them,” Davidson said. “There are already processes in place for lawmakers to weigh in on the regulatory process. It is clear the Republican majority cannot simply focus on what Pennsylvanians truly need but instead push out bills that threaten protections for people, including voting rights and now rights to clean air and water and safety in the workplace. It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire in this committee each week with gratuitous bills and ludicrous suggestions.”

Both bills passed 15-10 without Democratic support and will move to the full House for consideration.