By Dean Lerner
Gov. Terry Branstad’s Executive Order Number Eighty requiring additional “stakeholder” involvement in rule-making is long overdue — especially for those who believe that regulated industries don’t yet have enough control over their own regulation.
An example of how this works: After the Legislature passes Iowa’s statutes, and the governor signs them into law, agencies are to promulgate rules to implement the law. The Department of Inspections and Appeals is required to promulgate rules related to health care facility standards.
The law already requires that these rules “ … not be arbitrary, unreasonable, or confiscatory … and that the department … shall have the burden of proof to establish that such rules … meet such requirements and are consistent with the economic problems and conditions involved in the care and housing of persons in these facilities” (Code section 135C.2).
In addition, the law authorizes only “minimum standards” to be applied to these facilities, and even requires that the rules “shall be formulated in consultation with affected industry, professional, and [other] groups. …” (Code section 135C.14).
Within the last few years, as part of the DIA’s appropriations (budget) language, the Legislature added the following departmental requirement: “It is the intent of the general assembly that the department … continuously solicit input from facilities [it regulates] to assess and improve the [department’s] level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.”
These same rules are also subject to myriad filing requirements and extensive public notice before implementation (Code section 17A.14).
Additionally, by law, any rule can be objected to, delayed, and even eliminated through actions taken by legislative members of the Administrative Rules Committee, the governor, and others (Code section 17A.4).
So, with Branstad and his appointees in charge of any new regulations, and in control over the elimination of existing regulations, and with industry essentially already in the driver’s seat when it comes to regulations anyway, why issue another executive order?
Better yet, how did the laws for establishing regulations come to be so dominated by special interests, instead of public interests? We suspect campaign contributions.
Iowans might prefer an executive order establishing a “stakeholder group” to provide input on campaign finance reform, rather than the charade we’ve been offered.
Dean Lerner served as deputy director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals from 2002 to 2007 and as DIA director from 2007 until 2012, when Gov. Terry Branstad replaced him. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org