Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R, NC-5) re-introduced legislation to shed light on how federal policies impact the budgets of state and local governments and private sector employers. The Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, H.R. 899, will fix loopholes within the bipartisan regulatory reform act known as UMRA. Foxx was joined in the introduction by four bipartisan cosponsors: Representatives Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Collin Peterson (D-MN).
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx -- "Every year Washington imposes thousands of rules on local governments and small businesses. Hidden in those rules are costly mandates that stretch state and city budgets and make it harder for North Carolina businesses to hire.
"At the very least policymakers and unelected regulators should know the price of what they dictate. The Unfunded Mandates Information & Transparency Act will help restore honesty and transparency to federal mandates and ensure Washington bureaucrats are held accountable for seeking public input and considering the negative consequences, in dollars and in jobs, prospective mandates will impose on the economy.
"Six years of work have gone into advancing this legislation, and there should be no further delay to its passage. Times are tight for families across this country. Millions of Americans remain unemployed, and many more still rely on small businesses and local governments for jobs, health care, public safety, and education. Washington should think carefully before it decrees regulation that could siphon from the limited dollars cities and small businesses use to keep people employed and localities functioning."
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez -- "This bill will further protect state and local governments from unfunded mandates that are unnecessary and costly," said Sanchez. "These unfunded mandates waste time and money for our local government systems. Our bill will require public reporting by federal agencies on these mandates and will hold the federal government more accountable on how mandates may cost local governments."
Congressman James Lankford -- "States, local governments, and businesses face a never-ending wave of new federal regulations and mandates, which bog down their government or business. There must be a way to force the federal government to think through the effects of each regulation and prioritize any essential regulation. The Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2013 will place the spotlight on every future mandate and allow local governments and businesses to push back before rules take effect. I am proud to join Rep. Foxx in taking these positive steps to help ensure agencies consistently consider responsible alternatives. This bill is a first step in an important overhaul effort for a more commonsense regulatory structure."
Congressman Mike McIntyre -- "Reducing regulations, helping small businesses, and eliminating unfunded mandates for state and local governments are keys to helping create jobs and put people to work. This bill is a great step toward reforming the regulatory process, streamlining government, and saving taxpayers' time and money. Let's pass this common sense bill now!"
Congressman Collin Peterson -- "While I believe we could go even further in reforming the regulatory process, I believe this bill is a step in the right direction to modernize and open up the process of federal mandates. More transparency is needed to start shining light on the impact regulations have on our local communities. Policy should be written in an open and fair process rather than behind closed doors by lobbyists."
H.R. 899 will increase transparency about the costs imposed by unfunded mandates and will hold government accountable for considering those costs before passing them onto local governments and small businesses. The legislation expands the scope of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA), which was passed to ensure public awareness of the financial burden federal mandates place on employers and state and local governments. Current loopholes within UMRA allow certain regulatory bodies to escape public reporting requirements and incentivize others to forego publicizing regulatory proposals. Foxx's legislation will correct this.
Specifically, H.R. 899 will:
Impose stricter and more clearly defined requirements for how and when federal agencies must disclose the cost of federal mandates;
Ensure those who will be affected have the opportunity to weigh in on proposed mandates;
Equip Congress and the public with tools to better determine the true cost of regulations; and
Provide an accountability mechanism to ensure the federal government and its independent regulatory agencies adhere to the provisions set forth by H.R. 899 and its predecessor, UMRA.
Foxx's legislation also requires the federal government to report how legislative changes to existing federal grant programs might shift costs to state, local, and tribal governments. For instance, grant programs which are administered by states can be altered by federal legislation such as No Child Left Behind and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under H.R. 899 the federal government would be statutorily required to report how such changes would impact state or local government budgets.