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Bill that curbs rules stricter than fed level heads to gov's desk

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Nearly two dozen bills addressing criminal justice reform are headed to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Lansing — A bill that would stop state agencies from adopting without explanation any rules stricter than federal rules is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Senate concurred on the controversial bill 23-14, seven years after Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation. But the bill’s sponsor said Tuesday that he had worked with the governor to come up with legislation “significantly different” from what was proposed in 2011.

Opposed by many environmental groups, the bill would require state government agencies to present evidence of a “clear and convincing” need when adopting any rule stricter than federal standards.

Democrats opposed the bill, arguing that the bill cedes local control to the federal government and curbs the powers of the incoming Democratic administration of Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer.

The legislation allows lawmakers some say in agency rule-making by requiring directors to produce “a statement of the specific facts that establish the "clear and convincing need” to adopt the rule. Directors would present that information to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

The rule-making process usually bypasses the Legislature, Rep. Triston Cole said Tuesday.

“I’m looking for clarification on how they come about and why they come about, and this legislation gives us that avenue to see that,” the Mancelona Republican said.

Cole said the legislation would not affect the strict lead and copper rules Snyder implemented after the Flint Water crisis because the bill is not retroactive, nor would it affect the expected lowered PFAS chemical threshold recommendation from the state's Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, Cole said, since there is no existing federal rule, only a health advisory level.

Snyder vetoed a similar bill in 2011 because, in the past, Michigan residents and businesses had asked the state “to promulgate regulations that go beyond existing federal standards.”

Snyder will review the legislation to determine “whether the Legislature has addressed the concerns that led to the first veto, in addition to anything that may have arisen since then,” said his spokesman, Ari Adler, last week.

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