Chris Dickerson Jul. 20, 2016, 10:31am


AUSTIN — Attorney General Ken Paxton and a coalition of 14 other state attorneys general in asking Congress to rein in federal agencies that create and enforce regulations.

The letter, which was sent July 11 to House and Senate leadership, said federal agencies are acting outside their congressionally delegated authority, circumventing the law by issuing binding rules in the guise of “guidance” documents, failing to consider the costs of regulations, and unnecessarily overriding existing state laws.

“We urge Congress not simply to consider legislation but to take action,” the letter stated. “We have fought, and will continue to fight, this problem on a case-by-case basis in the courts. But the time for broader action by Congress is long overdue.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said one problem the letter highlights is the trend among agencies to make binding rules through so-called guidance documents. The letter cites the federal Administrative Procedures Act as requiring a notice and comment period for any change an agency wants to enact. This allows those affected to give their opinion and prepare.

Federal agencies have been avoiding this process with so-called guidance documents, which are meant to offer non-binding advice, but are increasingly being used to create new binding regulations and sanctions for those who don’t comply.

Federal agencies also are acting outside the bounds of their authority, and do not consider existing state law or the costs of regulation.

The letter explains that congressional action is needed because it can take years to block the unlawful initiatives in court, so long that many regulated entities will have spent significant time and money that they cannot get back.

Joining West Virginia and Texas on the letter were attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.

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