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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: May 26, 2017 11:10 AM
From: Senator John R. Gordner
To: All Senate members
Subject: Proposed Legislation Providing Additional Legislative Oversight of the Regulatory Review Process
In the near future, I will be reintroducing legislation which will provide additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process.

Currently, when an agency proposes regulations, the agency is required to deliver the proposed regulations to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and to the legislative committees of jurisdiction on the same day. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House designate which committees have oversight over which state agencies for the purpose of reviewing regulations promulgated by those agencies.

This legislation will require that within 5 days of receipt of proposed regulations, the Chair of the committee must provide a paper or electronic copy of the proposed regulations to each committee member for their review. The Chair will also be empowered to hold hearings on the proposed regulations or to call a meeting to seek to have the committee, by a majority vote of the members, adopt official comments of the committee. Each member of the committee will still have the ability to individually submit comments to the Chair, IRRC and/or the agency.

When the agency submits final form regulations, the Chair of the committee will again be required to distribute a copy of the regulations to each member of the committee within 5 days. Many of the current provisions related to review of final form regulations will not be altered, but the following changes will be made to increase legislative oversight:
  • Time periods for review or action by the committees will be either for a period of calendar days or legislative days, whichever is longer, giving committees additional time to take action than what is provided for under current law (current law only uses periods of calendar days); and
  • Committees will have the ability to have IRRC remove from its agenda final form regulations which the committee either disapproves or requests additional time for review (current law allows IRRC to move forward with approval of regulations despite actions of the committee, but committees do have a period after IRRC approval to disapprove by advancing a concurrent resolution).
Additionally, the legislation will allow agencies to provide statements of purpose (SOPs) to IRRC and the committees, but will remove the requirement that those statements be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. There have been instances when courts have interpreted SOPs in a way that is either inconsistent with the regulations themselves or inconsistent with the intent of the General Assembly. This legislation seeks to correct those instances.

I introduced similar legislation, Senate Bill 562, during the 2015-2016 legislative session which was cosponsored by Sens. Scarnati, Corman, Mensch, Argall, Vogel, Folmer, Stefano, Scavello, Aument, Hutchinson, White, Ward, Rafferty and Dinniman. While Senate Bill 562 was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives, it was ultimately vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf. With that in mind, I intend to make modifications to the legislation this session to address some of the concerns Governor Wolf raised related to the promulgation of regulations when the General Assembly is not in session for extended periods of time.

Thank you for your consideration and please feel free to contact my office if you have any questions regarding this proposed legislation.

Introduced as SB977