Recent actions of the Michigan Legislature show a stark contrast between real regulatory reform and silly legislation. On the one hand the Senate passed Senate Bill 272, which contains meaningful regulatory reform along with teeth to enforce the provisions. SB 272 mandates several important changes to the environmental regulatory process in the state including the following provisions:

  • An agency shall not promulgate or adopt a rule more stringent than the applicable federal standard unless specifically authorized by statute;
  • A guideline, operational memorandum, bulletin, interpretive statement or form with instructions is considered merely advisory and shall not be given the force and effect of law … a court shall not rely upon a guideline, operational memorandum, bulletin, interpretive statement of forum with instructions to uphold an agency decision to act or refuse to act;
  • A rule shall not exceed the rule-making delegation contained in the statute authorizing the rule-making.

The legislation also requires that the agency consider exempting small businesses from rules that have a disproportionate impact on them. Also included in the legislation is a process for bringing legal action against the agency for violating provisions within the bill.

In contrast, House Bills 4615 and 4616 are exercises in political correctness. The bills would establish a so called “Benefit Corporation” for companies that provide social benefits that include preserving the environment, improving human health and promoting the arts and sciences. The corporation’s performance would be judged by a “third-party standard,” whatever that means.

Senators who supported important regulatory reform efforts found in Senate Bill 272 should be commended. Legislators in the House who have proposed silly legislation as evidenced by the introduction of House Bills 4615 and 4616 should cease and desist.