Senator Whittemore, Representative Martin, and members of the State and Local Government Committee. My name is Pete Didisheim, I am the Advocacy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and I appreciate this opportunity to testify in opposition to LD 1274.
LD 1274 would create major new uncertainties for routine technical rules developed by state agencies. Such rules would be provisionally adopted for 12 months following their completion, but would not become final until the end of the 12 month period or until or unless the governor decided to refer the rule to the Legislature for review in the same manner as a major substantive rule. If that happens, then the rule would be in limbo for an extended period, which could be much longer than a year, as it worked its way through the legislative process.
This bill would create a cloud of uncertainty over all new routine technical rules—which would be highly disruptive for the businesses, agencies, schools, communities, non-profit organizations, hospitals, and countless institutions and Maine people who are affected by the routine technical rules promulgated by state agencies.
State agencies focus on hundreds of routine technical rules each year, involving a broad range of stakeholders in the process of modifying rules so that they more effectively achieve the purposes of the laws under their jurisdiction. State agencies are required to file their annual rulemaking schedule with the Secretary of State each year (5 MRSA § 8060), which is then posted on the Secretary of State website—and the list of routine technical rules that would be encumbered by LD 1274 is very long. The Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry, for example, lists 90 rules in its current rulemaking schedule; the Bureau of Financial Institutions lists 55 rules; the Bureau of Public Safety lists 91 rules; the Department of Economic and Community Development lists 23 rules; and this is just a small sampling. All these rules would be given an automatic year-long delay, at a minimum, if LD 1274 were adopted.
When the Administration and the Legislature worked on LD 1—the Regulatory Reform Package—in 2011, one of the top concerns was to make the rulemaking process more predictable. LD 1274 would take us in the opposite direction. No matter how important it is to get a rule into place, it would face a delay and uncertainty if these provisions were added to the Administrative Procedures Act.
This cloud of uncertainty could keep the people, businesses, and organizations that depend on state agency rules from making investment decisions, organizational decisions, and personnel changes—for fear that they could be rendered moot by the legislature. We see no reason why the finality of state agency rulemakings for routine technical rules should be thrown into doubt—which is what would happen if LD 1274 were to become law.
For these reasons, we urge the Committee to oppose LD 1274. Thank you for your consideration of these comments, and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.