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SPOTLIGHT
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Regulation nation and congressional response

Published on -9/25/2013, 9:59 AM

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

The alphabet soup of federal agencies is on an all-out push to produce new regulations: from the EPA, to OSHA, to HHS. According to the Heritage Foundation, during President Barack 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.

Consider the story of Marty the Magician. Marty owns a rabbit as part of his act. He was informed by federal regulators he has to file a "contingency plan" for handling his bunny in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Marty is subject to an unannounced home rabbit inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture once a year to evaluate his plan, and he will be required to carry a copy of the contingency plan with him at all times.

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 parents want and students will eat. The regulation will cost schools at least $3.4 billion to implement -- taking much of that money out of the classroom.

The 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.

Hays-based Sunflower Electric has been unable to bring much needed new power generating capacity online in Holcomb because of federal rules. Now, Obama's EPA 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 abortion coverage in all insurance plans, even by employers who hold Constitutionally-protected rights of conscience opposed to 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 effects 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 affect small businesses before the regulation is finalized.  At a minimum, small businesses and all of America should know why and how agencies make decisions that so affect our daily lives.

The House also passed a bill this summer, called the REINS Act, to require all large 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 no longer would 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.

When dealing with a huge Washington bureaucracy, legislative proposals like these are a necessary check on this ongoing D.C. power grab.

Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., represents

the Big First District in Kansas.

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