Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 15, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Lawmakers on a powerful oversight committee are preparing for a potential “flood” of new rules and regs pushed by the regulation-friendly Evers Administration.
With his big-government initiatives stonewalled by the Republican-led Legislature, the Democrat is looking to govern by executive order and through costly rule changes pushed by state departments, Capitol insiders tell Empower Wisconsin.
“We may see a flood of rules over here before the end of the session,” said Mike Mikalsen, spokesman for state Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater). Nass is co-chair of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR).
“I think there are certain agencies holding on to hope that we get overloaded,” Mikalsen added.
He pointed to the Department of Natural Resources in particular. He said the DNR could try to cram Evers’ water quality agenda regulations through. They could be “very detrimental to farmers in Wisconsin.”
Nass has said the DNR no longer sees Wisconsin agriculture as a $104 billion industry but an industry regulators want to classify as a polluter.
The JCRAR, co-chaired by state Rep. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan), has seen a fairly steady flow of agency scope statements and proposed rule changes this year, according to committee officials. They say there’s a good chance the Evers Administration will use “broad rule authority” to try to slam through expanded regulations on business and individuals. That’s why, they say, it’s so important that “all hands are on deck” at the committees level to make sure the proposals are being thoroughly reviewed.
“There are going to be some nasty hearings next year when we start objecting to the (agencies’ proposed) rules,” one committee staffer told Empower Wisconsin.
JCRAR receives all scope statements (the explanation of the proposed rule) and the final draft of rules departments plan to promulgate.
Mikalsen said the rules committee is in a position of “playing goalie,” and state regulators are taking a lot of shots.
“The problem is goalies aren’t usually 100 percent, and they (the Evers administration) know that. It takes a lot of work to go through these documents, but we are keeping up the best we can,” one legislative aid told Empower Wisconsin.