In Case of Emergency, Break Rules

My first reaction to Steve Peoples’ story, yesterday, about legislation to expedite rules changes in light of fiscal emergency was that the day we listen to the Poverty Institute’s Linda Katz on the topic of “the way to run a business” is the day we ought to listen to her on the topic of “the way to run government.” My reaction upon returning to the story when time allowed this morning was to wonder why Peoples and the heavy-breathing Matt Jerzyk, while relying on usual suspects Linda Katz and ACLU-activist Steven Brown (as well as some anonymous “community leader,” in Jerzyk’s case), failed to point out the time-limited nature of the legislation and to explain explicitly what the bill does.
Here, offered with “partisan glasses” left on the endtable, is the bill under scrutiny:

35-3-16.1. Emergency rules and regulations required to address state fiscal crisis. – [Effective January 1, 2008 until August 1, 2008]. Any rules or regulations necessary or advisable to implement the reduction or suspension of appropriations to address a current or impending state fiscal crisis shall be effective immediately as an emergency rule upon the filing thereof on behalf of the sponsoring agency or department with the secretary of state and state agencies or departments related to such rules and regulations are hereby exempted from the requirements of subsections 42-35-3(b) and 42-35-4(b)(2) relating to agency findings of imminent peril to public health, safety and welfare and the filing of statements of the agency’s reasons thereof.

Here are subsections 42-35-3(b) and 42-35-4(b)(2):

If an agency finds that an imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare requires adoption of a rule upon less than thirty (30) days’ notice, and states in writing its reasons for that finding, it may proceed without prior notice or hearing or upon any abbreviated notice and hearing that it finds practicable, to adopt an emergency rule. The rule so adopted may be effective for a period of not longer than one hundred twenty (120) days renewable once for a period not exceeding ninety (90) days, but the adoption of an identical rule under subdivisions (a)(1) and (a)(2) is not precluded. …
Subject to applicable constitutional or statutory provisions, an emergency rule may become effective immediately upon filing with the secretary of state, or at a stated date less than twenty (20) days thereafter, if the agency finds that this effective date is necessary because of imminent perils to the public health, safety, or welfare. The agency’s finding and a brief statement of the reasons therefor shall be filed with the rule in the office of the secretary of state. The agency shall take appropriate measures to make emergency rules known to the persons who may be affected by them.

So, in the timespan between the passage of this legislation and August 1 of this year, solely toward the end of “implement[ing] the reduction or suspension of appropriations to address a current or impending state fiscal crisis,” an administrative agency would be exempt from litigation claiming that “appropriate measures” were not taken to notify affected parties and could enact policies with a longer duration than 120 days. Explanations and statements are required, by other statutes, upon filing.
Unless I’m missing something, this legislation would — within the limited scope of appropriations — accomplish simply a flip of onus, from the executive authority attempting to reduce the budget to the interested parties attempting to expand or maintain it. All rules will be made public and will be amendable through the usual democratic means. Folks who want the money back will just have to bring their case to the public, rather than simply waiting for an expiration of the hold or turning to the courts on procedural grounds.

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16 years ago

I’ve lost all faith in this ineffectual governor. He should just propose a budget raising income taxes and capital gains to 50% for “da rich”. Double the pay of teachers, babysitters and all other govenment tit suckers. Let cops and fireman retire at 31 instead of the elderly 41 they now have to struggle towards.
We can all then see the acceleration of what, lets face it, we are already seeing in slow motion. The “extreme makeover” of RI into “progreesive” Cuba. With one exception-THANK GOD—-open borders.

16 years ago

Any ineffectuality of the Governor is constitutional, Mike. He is simply not in a position to stop many of the G.A.’s self-inflicted wounds.
And that is the category that this bill, along with Charlene’s new anti-privatization law, is in. Rather than attempting to stop the bleeding, this bill’s sponsor wants to keep it going and even, remarkably, exacerbate it.

16 years ago

“Any ineffectuality of the Governor is constitutional, Mike. He is simply not in a position to stop many of the G.A.’s self-inflicted wounds.”
‘fraid not Monique. Someone willing to fight could take on the GA and win. Mayor Laffey was able to affect major change in Cranston, despite a veto-proof democrat majority on the city council. He simply took the case to the people. He filled auditoriums around the city and with all the facts assembled he spelled them out in plain english for all to hear. You should have heard the gasps in the audience when the public first leared about the crossing guards’ lucrative deal. You should have seen the heads shaking when the firefighters’ contract was exposed. The Governor has very much more at his disposal if he only had Mayor Laffey’s tireless energy, courage and conviction. The Carcieri administration has been a huge opportunity lost, for the Republican Party and for the state of Rhode Island.

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