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Michigan Dems abolish panel that gives industry say in regulations

Democrats lauded the bill’s passage, saying it would remove an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that baked significant delays to the rulemaking process.

“Removing this bureaucracy leads to better decisions being made quicker,” Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, said in a Senate floor speech.

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But Republicans decried the move as “allowing bureaucracy to run wild” with regulations that could drive business out of Michigan and unfairly shut businesses and residents out of the regulatory process.

“You want to reform them, you want to give them more teeth, you want to give them a shorter timeline to get things done, let’s do it,” Sen. Ed McBroom, an Upper Peninsula Republican, told his colleagues. “But to just go back the way it was, and let the bureaucracy run roughshod over the citizens of this state more is a dynamically foolish mistake.”

Here’s what to know:

Contents
  1. What the committee does
  2. Why Democrats want to abolish it
  3. Other similar bills are under consideration

What the committee does

The Environmental Rules Review Committee is one of three oversight boards created during the administration of former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder that gave industry a greater voice in state decision making.

It is made up of appointees, including industry representatives, who vet new rules proposed by the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

When EGLE proposes a rule, the committee gets to review a draft and request changes. The committee also has the power to reject proposed rules, forcing EGLE to either work with the committee to resolve the dispute or submit a report to the governor defending its decision.

The rulemaking process can then proceed only if the governor sides with EGLE.

Why Democrats want to abolish it

Democrats and environmentalists have long decried the boards as “polluter panels,” arguing that allowing polluting industries to oversee environmental regulations is akin to letting the fox guard the hen house.

They also say the review boards waste public time and money by adding an extra step to an already-tedious regulatory process.

But proponents of the review panels argue their existence keeps state regulators honest, dissuading them from writing poorly-crafted regulations that outside groups are likely to challenge.

Other similar bills are under consideration

Senate Bills 393 and 394, sponsored by Sen. Rosemary Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, would do away with the Environmental Science Advisory Board and the Environmental Permit Review Commission. Like the rules review committee, both boards were created in 2018 to give outside parties new ways to influence state decision making.

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