February 12, 2014
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Senate approved a measure last week that would let Kentuckians vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to prohibit the adoption of administrative regulations it finds deficient.
Currently, when the General Assembly isn’t in session, lawmakers on a review panel can vote to find administrative regulations deficient. The executive branch can choose to enact the administrative regulations anyway.
Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, proposes amending the State Constitution to give the General Assembly the authority to block those regulations it finds lacking.
“It is the legislature’s responsibility as the law-making body of government to determine what public policy should govern the people,” Bowen told lawmakers. Currently, lawmakers don’t fully have that authority, he said.
The measure would allow the full General Assembly or a committee appointed by the legislature to review and approve or reject administrative regulations proposed by the executive branch throughout the year. Supporters of the bill say this expands the ability to address deficient regulations legislatively outside of the annual sessions.
“It preserves one of the most basic tenants of a democratic form of government: A balance of power, a system of checks and balances,” Bowen said.
Some lawmakers said the measure would give the legislative branch too much power and expressed concern that it could possibly allow a committee smaller than the full General Assembly to void administrative regulations that could have statewide implications.
The legislative branch “has achieved a sufficient degree of legislative independence to fulfill our constitutional duty,” said Senate Democratic Whip Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville. “This proposed amendment would usurp the executive branch and take on elements of all three branches.”
Senate Bill 1 was approved on a 24-14 vote and now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
As with any amendment to the Constitution, it would be posed to voters on the November ballot for final ratification before it could go into effect.