Kansas voters will consider a constitutional amendment on their November ballots that would allow the Legislature to overturn agency regulations. Question 1, dubbed the “Rules and Regulations Amendment” or House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 5014, would allow the legislature to rescind state agency regulations, giving it, in effect, a “veto” on rules issued by Executive Branch agencies. This is the wording as it will appear on the ballot:
Legislative oversight of administrative rules and regulations.
Whenever the legislature by law has authorized any officer or agency within the executive branch of government to adopt rules and regulations that have the force and effect of law, the legislature may provide by law for the revocation or suspension of any such rule and regulation, or any portion thereof, upon a vote of a majority of the members then elected or appointed and qualified in each house.
The amendment’s campaign is led by the Kansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity. In a Zoom meeting attended by legislators and supporters, State Director Elizabeth Patton noted Kansas is considered the second-most regulated state in the nation per capita, with 3.9 million words in its regulatory code and over 70,000 rules for businesses and individuals. She added the bureaucracy is often referred to as “the 4th branch of government.” The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is the most active regulator. Patton says this amendment is intended to address those issues in three ways:
- Reduce costs for businesses and individuals
- Improve the efficiency of government
- Increase accountability of regulatory agencies and the legislature
Patton noted the measure passed with 2/3 bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate.
Rep. Fred Patton is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee:
“When we heard HCR 5014 in the House Judiciary Committee, not a single individual or organization testified against the resolution. Those testifying all supported the resolution and shared with the committee the need to restore the balance of power by providing legislative oversight to the rules and regulation process. It is important that HCR 5014 pass as it would provide the legislature the fundamental ability to check and balance the executive branch and would return lawmaking authority to the branch of government closest to the people, the legislative branch.”
Sen. Kellie Warren chairs that body’s Judiciary Committee:
“We have an opportunity to fight rising costs, increase government efficiency, and improve accountability with this missing puzzle piece. This is a commonsense but vitally important vote to make sure the legislature is doing its job and representing Kansans well. We need to vote yes on this constitutional amendment to ensure our system is better and Kansans across the state benefit from a smarter approach to red tape.”
Patton is optimistic about the prospects of Question 1 in November:
“I’m excited that this approach will change how our state government works. This is an amendment that will give power back to the people.”