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house Bill H.R. 469

Sunshine Act: Making it Harder For Agencies to Adopt Regulations Through “Sue-and-Settle” Arrangements

Argument in favor

This bill would put a stop to “sue and settle” tactics that allow federal bureaucrats to implement regulations while sidestepping the transparency afforded in the normal rulemaking process through public comment periods.

55McCoy's Opinion
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10/25/2017
We need to limit the power of government and the independence of bureaucrats.
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Amanda's Opinion
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10/25/2017
Government decisions that impact the people should be made and carried out with complete transparency.
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Harry's Opinion
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10/25/2017
Any additional burdens should be on the hovernment. Regulations by their nature restrict personal freedoms, and making it hard for the gov't to limit or abridge them is for the publics betterment. We have learned that bureaucrats lose sight of commonsense quickly with regulations such as the attempt to call wet puddles in back yards as wetlands.
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Argument opposed

This bill is a solution in search of a problem that imposes burdensome requirements on agencies and courts that delays litigation aimed at requiring federal agencies to fulfill their regulatory obligations.

Aaron's Opinion
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10/25/2017
Agencies should be able to make regulations based on scientific evidence and what’s in the best interest of consumers and the environment. Anyone who says they’re opposed to this notion should check their conscience.
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OlderNWiser's Opinion
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10/25/2017
Will the majority of today’s Republican Party not rest until all of us who aren’t wealthy, white, nor corporations are dead? The destruction of the federal government has been sold by corrupt and profoundly impaired people through propaganda and out right lies for the destruction of the entire middle-class and lower-class. Are there enough robots to replace the hard work all of us do who are not wealthy? No! We, the people, need every protection we can get.
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John's Opinion
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10/25/2017
Anything so glibly named by this Administration should be suspect. Sunshine for Who? The Devil is in the Details, folks...Wake Up!
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed October 25th, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 234 Yea / 187 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law
    IntroducedJanuary 12th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 469?

This bill — known as the Sunshine Act — would restrict the ability of federal agencies to participate in so-called “sue and settle arrangements” by changing the process for developing consent decrees and settlement agreements that require agencies to take specific regulatory actions. Consent decrees allow agencies to take regulatory action without public notice or comment periods. They’re reached after an advocacy group files suit against a company or municipality for violating a law or an agency for missing a rulemaking deadline, causing regulators to pursue a settlement that dismisses the suit in exchange for regulatory action.

The bill would require that proposed consent decrees and settlement arrangements be published in the Federal Register for public comment 60 days before a court filing is made, and the federal agency would have to respond to all public comments. The head of a federal agency or the Attorney General (if the Dept. of Justice is involved) would be required to certify approval of certain types of settlement agreements and consent decrees. The same-day filing of complaints and pre-negotiated consent decrees and settlement agreements in cases looking to compel agency action would be prohibited.

A court would be prohibited from approving a consent decree or settlement agreement unless it incorporates adequate time and procedures for agencies to comply with statutes governing rulemaking. Courts would be required to closely scrutinize consent decrees and settlement agreements when agencies try to modify them, but modifications would be allowed if circumstances have changed.

The bill’s full title is the Sunshine for Regulations and Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2017.

Impact

Groups that would engage in sue and settle tactics; federal agencies; and the courts.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 469

$9.00 Million
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost $9 million over the 2018-2022 period.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced this bill to inhibit the ability of federal agencies to circumvent established regulatory processes by entering into so-called “sue and settle arrangements” using consent decrees:

“The Sunshine Act represents a commitment I made to regulatory reform in my first term in office. Consent decrees weren’t designed as tools for back-room deals without the input of the people they impact most. I’m proud to have worked with Senator Grassley to curb this mischief by bringing transparency and accountability to the federal rulemaking process. This legislation lessens the power of bureaucrats to burden hardworking Americans with rules that bog down our economy and erode Americans’ right to know about and respond to federal rulemaking.”

House Democrats expressed opposition to this bill, writing in its committee report:

“As with all the anti-regulatory proposals this Committee has considered in this Congress, H.R. 469 is a solution in search of a problem. Notwithstanding a lack of credible evidence that agencies ‘‘collude’’ with plaintiffs to enter consent decrees or settlement agreements, this legislation will impose new burdensome procedural requirements on agencies and courts. As a result, well-funded third-party interests will have further opportunities to delay the resolution of litigation intended to force agencies to meet their legal obligations. And, the bill will make it harder to resolve such litigation quickly and cost-effectively.”

This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line 15-8 vote and has the support of 21 cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Republicans.


Of NoteCongressman Collins’ press release notes that over 100 regulations were adopted through consent decrees and settlement agreements during the Obama administration, with a total estimated annual cost of more than $100 billion. Collins offered as an example the MACT Utility Rule, which has an annual cost of $9 billion and enacted emissions regulations outside the purview of the Clean Air Act through a consent decree responding to a lawsuit which cited the Clean Air Act.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: BCFC / iStock)

AKA

Congressional Article I Powers Strengthening Act

Official Title

To impose certain limitations on consent decrees and settlement agreements by agencies that require the agencies to take regulatory action in accordance with the terms thereof, and for other purposes.

    We need to limit the power of government and the independence of bureaucrats.
    Like (60)
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    Agencies should be able to make regulations based on scientific evidence and what’s in the best interest of consumers and the environment. Anyone who says they’re opposed to this notion should check their conscience.
    Like (115)
    Follow
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    Will the majority of today’s Republican Party not rest until all of us who aren’t wealthy, white, nor corporations are dead? The destruction of the federal government has been sold by corrupt and profoundly impaired people through propaganda and out right lies for the destruction of the entire middle-class and lower-class. Are there enough robots to replace the hard work all of us do who are not wealthy? No! We, the people, need every protection we can get.
    Like (92)
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    Government decisions that impact the people should be made and carried out with complete transparency.
    Like (55)
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    Anything so glibly named by this Administration should be suspect. Sunshine for Who? The Devil is in the Details, folks...Wake Up!
    Like (19)
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    The public at large is tired of their “OFFICIALS” voting for Corp that already abuse the system ment to protect THE PEOPLE.
    Like (19)
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    This is just another way Republicans are trying to stifle the ability of our federal agencies to do their jobs and implement regulations that need to be implemented. Everything from environmental regulations to consumer protections could be delayed under this legislation. Republicans need to let the federal government do its job and stop trying to obstruct every regulation that needs to be on the books.
    Like (16)
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    We need to stop corporations from attacking the only power in our society that prevents (sort of) the rich from enslaving the poor — the government. It’s our check and balance against wealthy power.
    Like (13)
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    Any additional burdens should be on the hovernment. Regulations by their nature restrict personal freedoms, and making it hard for the gov't to limit or abridge them is for the publics betterment. We have learned that bureaucrats lose sight of commonsense quickly with regulations such as the attempt to call wet puddles in back yards as wetlands.
    Like (12)
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    Another attempt to weaken judiciary by restricting rule changes resulting from court actions. Stop attacking the judiciary
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    Ii would love to have another working class Joe like myself explain to me how they came to believe profiteers are to be trusted to have our best interests at heart when nothing about humanity in contemporary times, or in the entire history of human civilization for that matter, suggests this rose-colored ithinkiIng anything but uniforrmed blather.
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    This bill appears to be the complete antithesis of GOP values of fiscal responsibility. It adds multiple layers of red tape for victims to complete. It also appallingly ignores that legislative branches central responsibility to
    Like (7)
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    Regulations protect the public more often than harming them. The current Congress should know this by now; many were around long enough to know why they were established in the first place.
    Like (6)
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    Whenever a bill has a happy, innocent name, you know it's evil and they're trying to obscure. See: patriot act
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    This bill is being cosponsored by only Republicans, and the craziest Republicans, in fact. Word of advice: Never trust a bill that only Republicans are supporting.
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    Agencies already have incredible power, they should not be allowed to abuse it. Sue and settle is not only an abusive tactic, but it makes the law less predictable which is bad for everyone. There is already a formal rule making process for agencies and the formal process is not too burdensome. Agencies are given incredible power, so much power that I would have thought it unconstitutional. If agencies are going to enjoy the powers of the legislative, judicial, and executive branch, they should at least be limited to the formal notice-and-comment rule making procedures when making law.
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    Most of these agencies shouldn’t even exist, yet they’re constantly passing regulations that We The People must obey or pay consequences. The executive branch has essentially usurped the power of the legislative branch all in the propagandist name of “best for the people and/or environment”. ABSOLUTELY NO LAW OR REGULATION should be passed in a republic without transparent debate and the requisite votes in its congress. When that ceases to happen, then we have lost the republic. When that ceases to happen, we move closer to tyranny.
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    Transparency is vital to maintain a free society. Back room deals are not transparent.
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    This is an attempt to choke out our voices when we disagree with a government agency. Are they planning to notify every citizen of the timeline deadline or how to use this system? For that matter, will government agencies even be forthcoming about what they are doing? I have ZERO trust for the Republicans! They are SNEAKILY taking our money & giving it to the rich, ignoring science in every department and eliminating the middle class!
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    Allowing public intervention between matters of individuals or tribes and the state is just another delay tactic to keep those people from getting justice. Consent decrees are primarily used for settlement when a federal agency needs a directive in order to force them to comply with the law. Frankly that shouldn't even be up for public debate.
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