Introduced Version Senate Bill 156 History

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Senate Bill No. 156

(By Senators McCabe and Minear)


[Introduced February 11, 2005; referred to the Committee

on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]


A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §29A-8-1, §29A-8-2, §29A-8-3, §29A-8-4, §29A-8-5, §29A-8-6 and §29A-8-7, all relating to the creation of the "West Virginia Regulatory Flexibility Act"; legislative purpose; definitions; analysis of cost to state filed with Legislative Auditor; issuing rules in two or more parts; provisions not to apply in case of emergency; and requiring agencies to review rules after enactment of said article.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §29A-8-1, §29A-8-2, §29A-8-3, §29A-8-4, §29A-8-5, §29A-8-6 and §29A-8-7
, all to read as follows:

§29A-8-1. Short title.

This article may be cited as the "West Virginia Regulatory Flexibility Act."
§29A-8-2. Legislative findings.

(a) The Legislature finds that:
(1) In numerous instances compliance with the rules promulgated by state agencies imposes unreasonable burdens on individuals of limited means and on businesses and organizations engaged in or planning business projects on a small scale;
(2) A regulatory dilemma has developed in which efforts to protect the health, safety and economic welfare of the people of this state have created a burden of required legal, accounting and consulting services which is causing economic harm to individuals and organizations of limited resources;
(3) This burden is adversely affecting competition in the marketplace;
(4) The sheer scope and volume of rules already in place has created high entry barriers in many industries, and discouraged potential entrepreneurs from introducing beneficial products and processes;
(5) The practice of treating all regulated individuals, organizations, businesses and business activities as equivalent, for purposes of regulatory and paperwork requirements, has led to inefficient use of the resources of some state agencies and to enforcement problems;
(6) The collection of information by the state has not weighed adequately the privacy rights of individuals and enterprises against the state's need to know because the design of the regulatory process has encouraged regulators to treat information as a free commodity; and
(7) The deep public dissatisfaction with the regulatory process has stemmed in large part from a public perception of the failure of burdensome rules to correct key problems.
(b) The Legislature declares it to be in the best interest of its citizens that this state establish as a principle of regulatory issuance that regulatory and informational requirements fit the scale of the persons and activities being regulated. Fewer and simpler requirements should be required of individuals, small organizations, small businesses and larger private entities engaged in business activity on a small scale. To achieve these ends, state agencies should issue regulations which are proportionate to the size and scope of the business or activity being regulated.
§29A-8-3. Definitions.

As used in this article:
(a) "Administrative rule" or "rule" means any agency statement which is made, adopted and promulgated pursuant to law, is of general applicability and continuing effect and which implements or interprets any law or policy and applies to persons engaged in business.
(b) "Business" means any trade, business or professional entity or activity which is conducted for profit.
(c) "Small business" means any independently owned and operated enterprise which is not dominant in its field of operation; has less than thirty employees and gross receipts of less than four million dollars; or, any other business which an agency using this criteria would deem as a small business.
(d) "Small organization" means any unincorporated business, sheltered workshop or nonprofit enterprise which is not dominant in its field of operation; has gross receipts of less than four million dollars; or, any other organization which an agency using this criteria would deem a small organization.
(e) "State agency" or "agency" means each of the principal departments in the executive branch of the state government, and all boards, divisions, commissions, agencies, departments, councils, authorities, offices or officers within any departments authorized by statute to make, adopt or promulgate rules.
§29A-8-4. Analysis of impact on small business.
(a) Prior to submitting a proposed administrative rule, each state agency shall conduct an analysis for the purposes of determining: whether the proposed rule will affect small businesses and, if so, the availability and practicality of less restrictive alternatives that could be implemented to achieve the same results of the proposed rule; the approximate amount of legal, enforcement, consulting and accounting costs to the state which would be required; and, the approximate overall cost to small businesses to which the rule would apply.
(b) The agency preparing any administrative rule shall submit the rule, together with the analysis required in this section, to the legislative auditor. The legislative auditor shall review the proposed rule and the analysis concerning the effect, if any, the rule will have on small businesses and shall, within ninety days of receipt of the proposed rule and analysis, issue to the agency a statement containing comments on the impact of the proposed rule. The statement must expressly comment on the impact of the proposed rule on small businesses.
(c) If the legislative auditor determines a proposed rule will affect small businesses, he or she shall direct the state agency to prepare a business impact statement to later be submitted to the legislative auditor and to the joint committee on government and finance. The statement shall contain the following: (1) A narrative explanation in plain, easy-to-read language of the effect of the rule on small business, the basis for its enactment, and why the rule is needed; (2) an identification and estimate of the number of small businesses subject to the proposed rule; (3) the projected reporting and record keeping required for compliance with the proposed rule, including the types of professional skills necessary for preparation of the report or record; (4) a statement of the probable effect on small businesses; and (5) a description of any less intrusive or less costly alternative methods of achieving the purpose of the proposed rule.
(c) The head of the agency proposing an administrative rule shall issue a notice that the analysis of costs and benefits and any statement on the impact of the proposed rule made by the legislative auditor is on file with the Secretary of State and the notice is to be included with the public notice which is to be distributed to interested persons and published in the state register pursuant to the provisions of article three of this chapter.
(d) The legislative auditor and the Secretary of State shall maintain a file of all administrative rules submitted to them pursuant to this article along with the analysis of costs and benefits and the statement of impact.
§29A-8-5. Rules issuing in two or more parts.

(a) Whenever both the results of the analysis by a state agency and comments by the legislative auditor indicate the desirability of promulgating rules which differ with respect to their substance or applicability to various segments of the businesses or business activities to which the rules would apply, the agency shall issue the new rule in two or more parts, with each part containing varying requirements for performance or reporting, to persons, business concerns and organizations of varying economic sizes and resources engaged in business activities of varying scope. These varying requirements shall take into account: (1) The capitalization, annual income, number of employees and such other factors as bear on the ability of the regulated persons, concerns or organizations to sustain the costs attached to compliance with the rule; and (2) the value of the regulated activities to the economy of the state and the welfare of its citizens.
In establishing segments of regulated businesses or business activities for the purposes of this section, agencies shall establish objective and uniform criteria to facilitate determinations by those engaged in the businesses and business activities of the applicability of rules issued hereunder.
(b) Whenever a state agency proposes to issue or issues a rule, any business affected directly or indirectly by the rule may at any time apply to the agency for any exemption to the rule as it believes to be authorized by subsection (a) of this section. The agency shall review all applications and may include any exemptions requested in its official standards for exemptions upon finding that the public health, safety or welfare will be protected. Within sixty days after its receipt of an application the agency shall inform the applicant of: (1) Its rejection of the application and its reasons therefor; or (2) its approval of the application and the approximate date when the exemptions will be included in the agency's official standards. If an agency response is not postmarked within sixty days from the date of receipt of an application, the application shall be considered approved.
(c) The head of any agency issuing a rule in two or more parts, shall transmit a copy, together with statements and comments made by the legislative auditor, to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Delegates.
§29A-8-6. Provisions not to apply in case of emergency.

The provisions of this article may not apply when an agency finds that an emergency exists which requires the immediate adoption of a rule and states in writing its reasons for that finding pursuant to the provisions of section fifteen, article three of this chapter.
§29A-8-7. Agencies to review rules after enactment of this

During the five-year period beginning with the date of enactment of this article, each agency shall review its substantive rules which are in effect on that date and make the determinations to which section four of this article refers with respect to each rule.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to check the increasing burden of administrative rules on individuals and organizations, by providing flexibility in how the state agencies and private businesses are to be affected by rules.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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