Just call us Regulation Nation.
“One of the biggest issues facing small business is the continuing movement in the federal government to overregulate,” Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ Washington lobbyist Larry Innis said, “along with the permitting process gauntlet businesses must get through.
“For the past several years, there has been a strong signal from the Advisory Council of Marine Associations that regulatory reform must be a high priority,” Innis added. “Their recommendations play a key role in determining MRAA’s legislative priorities.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply start eliminating bad regulations? At the very least, agencies proposing a new rule should be required to fully review and analyze the indirect costs of their proposal. Right now, they conveniently only review indirect benefits, not costs. As we know, the indirect cost of environmental regulations, for example E15, can be particularly problematic for marine dealers, manufacturers and our customers.
A key first step is to simplify the out-of-control regulatory process. To that end, Innis will tell the upcoming advisory group meeting during the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in November that it’s important to fight "for" three key pieces of legislation. Each has been favorably reported out of the House Judiciary Committee and is awaiting floor action. They include major reforms ranging from how rules are made to how permits are granted in a timely manner. Moreover, they help to shed light on what Innis labels the "behind-closed-doors" process. They’d prohibit agencies from issuing new rules with no notice to the business community.
1. H.R 2641, entitled the RAPID Act (for the Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2013), is sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., while S. 1397 is the Federal Permitting Improvement Act sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. The RAPID ACT is a bipartisan bill streamlining permitting processes, particularly concerning environmental decision making. It contains other excellent provisions, too.
2. H.R. 2122 is sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., while S. 1029 is sponsored by Portman. Dubbed the Regulatory Accountability Act, both bills will modernize the outdated 1946 Administration Procedure Act.
3. H.R. 1493 is sponsored by Representative Doug Collins, R-Ga., and S. 714 sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Known as the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, they will bring much-needed transparency to the "sue and settle" process.
In combination, these bills would overhaul regulatory issues and streamline the permitting process by, for example, placing deadlines on agency reviews, prevent consent agreement abuse between special interest groups and agencies while increasing general transparency in rulemaking.
What’s the outlook? More than 300 trade associations including the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the MRAA, along with the Chamber of Commerce, are working to move these bills forward. According to Innis, sources on the Hill expect the House bills will see action in October or November. Optimism also prevails for positive action on the Senate side.
Finally, there might be a call for the industry to become directly engaged in support of these bills. In the meanwhile, if the bill sponsors are from your state, taking a moment to email a note of thanks to them for their support of badly needed regulatory reform will keep the bills at the top of their mind, Innis said. Like anything else, we need reform and we won’t get it sitting on our hands.