Senate Republicans seek to rein in governor’s unchecked overreach

Senate Republicans are promoting a change to the state Constitution that would preserve legislative authority in the face of unchecked, executive overreach.

Governor institutes deficient regulations without oversight

Under the existing system, the governor can institute administrative regulations – at his or her whim – to implement the laws that the legislature passes. The governor’s unilateral capacity to institute regulations – even deficient ones – is an unchecked, unabated executive power.

A panel of legislators – an equal number of Democrats and Republicans – can review a governor’s administrative regulations and declare them deficient. The legislature only has the power to declare a governor’s regulation deficient: the legislature can do nothing more.

“Currently, the legislature has no impact on the viability of the regulation, because the Governor can unilaterally decide to implement a regulation even if it exceeds the statutory authority of the executive branch,” said Senate President Robert Stivers.

Regulation overload

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, “[t]he governor and executive agencies issue about 700 regulations each year to implement various laws approved by the legislature.”

The Herald-Leader reported that “[s]tate government has about 4,000 regulations.”

“We just think there are way too many regulations in state government,” Stivers said, “and want to do something about all that over-regulation by government agencies.”

Stivers’ proposal: “If we find a regulation deficient, then it can’t be instituted.”

Stivers told The Washington Post:

“What I’m planning on doing is introducing a bill that would basically say, if we find a regulation deficient, then it can’t be instituted,” he said. “The rationale being, we set the policy, and the governor, whomever it may be, creates or drafts a reg that we don’t believe is in conformity with the intent of the legislation, then we can draw that reg back in.”

Stivers cited deficient environmental, education, and healthcare regulations as driving Senate Republicans to propose a mechanism by which the legislature not only can declare a governor’s regulation deficient but also can block it.

Reasserting legislative authority

Stivers affirmed that Senate Republicans want to preserve “the institutional integrity of the legislative branch as it relates to the executive branch.”

Read about this and Senate Republicans’ other priorities for the 2014 General Assembly at

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