Opinion Columns & Blogs

Rep. Tim Huelskamp: Regulations are out of control

From job-killing regulations to invasions of our privacy, the executive branch in Washington, D.C., is out of control.

According to the Heritage Foundation, during President Obama’s first term in office, the annual regulatory burden on the economy increased by $70 billion. And in 2012 alone, the president’s team put forward 2,605 new rules. Of those new rules, 69 cost more than $100 million, but only two rules actually decreased regulations.

In Kansas, we know a little bit about federal rules and regulations causing us headaches.

New school lunch regulations have taken away the flexibility of local school districts to provide meals that parents want and students will eat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to list the lesser prairie chicken as endangered, even though Kansas has enough birds to still allow them to be hunted.

Sunflower Electric Power Corp. has been unable to bring much-needed new power-generating capacity online in Holcomb because of federal rules. Now Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a rule that even the EPA admits would prevent coal-fired plants from being built for nearly two decades. This will lead to more expensive, less readily available power to our local economy.

Regulations even threaten our religious liberties. A rule promulgated by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the name of Obamacare mandated coverage of abortion drugs in nearly all insurance plans, even by employers who hold constitutionally protected rights of conscience and oppose it.

Last week, I worked with my House Small Business Committee to pass our Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2013. This proposal requires the federal government to account for the real economic impact of any new regulation. It also requires regulators proposing new regulations to identify alternatives that would minimize any adverse impacts on small businesses.

Further, I amended the bill to increase transparency in these agencies. My amendment requires federal agencies to turn over all information on how proposed rules impact small businesses before the regulation is finalized.

The House also passed a bill this summer, called the REINS Act, to require all major regulations to gain congressional approval before taking effect. If Washington adopted this approach, Americans could rest easier knowing bureaucrat-filled agencies inside the D.C. beltway would no longer be free to pass regulations that strain the bounds of common sense – like their abandoned proposal to limit the ability of kids to work on farms.