The best policy ideas often come from outside the halls of government. Sometimes, those ideas even get the attention — and approval — of Congress.
In a Bluegrass Beacon column earlier this year, I endorsed a policy idea by Alexandria resident Lloyd Rogers, a former judge-executive in Northern Kentucky, that would require an up-or-down vote in Congress for all future proposed regulatory changes that have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more. (Click on the above link and read the column, which also explains practically how having an act in place like the REINS Act would already have helped Kentucky communities grappling with the cost of outlandish regulations.
The policy, contained in the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS), was supported by U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis of Hebron, who sponsored the REINS Act. The measure passed the Republican-controlled House on Wednesday largely along party lines. The 241 to 184 vote included four Democrats.
In the earlier-mentioned column, I wrote that one of the primary reasons such policy is needed is because the current approach allows Congress to avoid accountability on controversial issues by writing vague laws requiring the benefits up front while leaving the more unpopular and costly elements to the bureaucrats who will implement the law later on. We wrote:
“Hyper-regulation doesn’t bother everyone in Congress. If some don’t want to be on the hook for a controversial law, they can pass one that’s vague enough to claim they supported ‘doing something about the problem,’ leaving regulators to the details of how policies are implemented.
“But this approach — and particularly its motivation — directly violates the constitution’s ‘non-delegation doctrine,’ which is that ‘Congress, not independent agencies, must make important policy choices, which form the core of legislative power,’ says Robert Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute.”
While the act faces longer odds in the Democratically controlled Senate, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has promised to fight tirelessly on the issue.