Comprehensive legislation aimed at improving and streamlining the federal regulatory process was introduced in the Senate late yesterday, backed by a broad range of political, consumer and business interests.
The "Regulatory Flexibility and Administrative Reform Act of 1979," over 80 pages long, is a mix of key provisions from four earlier bills.
The new proposal was introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Culver (D-Iowa) and Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.), and jointly referred to the Judiciary and Government Affairs subcommittees, where markup is scheduled to begin today.
The measure, which was also endorsed by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Charles McC. Mathias (R-Md.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), has already generated the support of the White House and is looked upon favorably by consumer groups.
"This legislation represents a practical, workable approach to regulatory reform," said Culver, chairman of the Judiciary Committee's administrative practices subcommittee. He said it would improve government operations "while at the same time safeguard vital rules in such areas as health, safety and the government."
Kennedy said the proposal "will provide a necessary handle to control excessive government regulation," and added that the goal of the legislation was to "improve, and not cripple, the regulatory process."
The bill incorporates key parts of Kennedy's earlier proposals, including a "High Noon" provision, that provides for overall review of all agencies on a fixed scheduled by the President and a newly established Committee on Regulatory Evaluation.
Other Kennedy proposals in the bill include a requirement that agencies take the action that has the least anti-competitive effect when promulgating regulations and a rule that all communications between regulators and outside lobby groups be recorded on a log.
Provisions of the bill that came from earlier Culver proposals would require that all agencies give favorable consideration to regulatory alternatives that have the least impact on small business and that present regulatory oversight efforts be consolidated under a single regulatory policy board.
That board would combine the existing Regulatory Council and White House review groups under one roof with the statutory power to oversee all agency operations.
The bill also calls on agencies to conduct cost-benefit analysis for proposed regulations, and generally take the most cost-effective path.
Further, the bill would allow judicial review of proposed legislation.