COLUMBUS—State Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) today introduced legislation in the Ohio Senate, which seeks to reform Ohio’s state agency rulemaking process and ensure that rules are filed in a timely and fair manner. Senator Uecker serves as vice chair of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, which is responsible for oversight of the agency rulemaking process.

The bill is supported by the Small Business Council of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, consisting of employers with between one and 400 employees.

“Whether you own a small business or are simply dealing with over regulation as an individual, we can all agree that strengthening efficiency and transparency will be a positive thing for the state's rulemaking process,” said Uecker.

Uecker introduced similar legislation during the 131st General Assembly.

Components of the legislation include:

  • If an agency improperly establishes a rule through policy, instead of through formal rulemaking, the committee will have the authority to call the agency before the committee to explain why they are using informal policy instead of an actual rule.
  • The committee may then vote to ask the agency to write a formal rule in lieu of an informal policy.
  • This review process also extends to inaction on rules that state agencies are statutorily required to propose but have failed to do so. The bill provides JCARR with the ability to ask why the rules have not been proposed as required by the legislature.
  • Agencies will be required to follow a process of self-examination to search for policies that should be formalized in rulemaking and a summary report must be sent to JCARR.
  • A person may petition an agency to write rules if they have been partner to an adjudication, an order, or civil action.
  • If adversely impacted by a policy that did not go through rulemaking, a person may have a cause of action in court and receive court costs and attorney fees.
  • Adds a seventh prong to JCARR invalidation criteria that would allow the committee to initiate an invalidation if a rule imposes a fee that is not reasonable or fairly related to the cost incurred by the agency. For example, if an agency attempted to profit from fees by charging much higher than cost.
  • Allows JCARR to review rules between 5-year rule review periods if a rule has an unforeseen effect on business. This would require a vote of JCARR as an initial hurdle before requesting such review.
  • Expands the definition of adverse impact on business to include rules that are likely to reduce the revenue of a business or increase the expenses of the business, as opposed to simply charging a new fee to the business as result of the rule.

If enacted, this legislation will help ensure that Ohioans attempting to understand regulation will know that the regulations will be codified in the Ohio Administrative Code, eliminating burdensome searches for informal policies that are less public and more difficult to discover. It will also provide them with an opportunity to receive email alerts when such rules are proposed and to speak in a public hearing.

By adding the seventh prong for unreasonable or unfair fees, the legislature will have stronger oversight over various state agency fees to ensure the amounts being charged relate to the purpose of their existence.                                                                                                                           
Together, the bill will help Ohio businesses better understand, comment and influence the drafting of rules being proposed by state regulatory agencies.

Senate Bill 221 will be referred to a Senate standing committee for further consideration. 

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