Wyatt Employment Law Report

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President Obama Orders Regulatory Agencies to Allow More Public Input Into Regulations

By Edwin S. Hopson

On July 11, 2011,President Obama issued an Executive Order directed at regulatory agencies requiring them, consistent with existing law, to do what his Executive Order 13563 did regarding executive branch agencies.  That is each agency, such as the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is directed to:

”Within 120 days of the date of this order, each independent regulatory agency should develop and release to the public a plan, consistent with law and reflecting its resources and regulatory priorities and processes, under which the agency will periodically review its existing significant regulations to determine whether any such regulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed so as to make the agency’s regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving the regulatory objectives.”

It also instructs agencies as follows:

“Wise regulatory decisions depend on public participation and on careful analysis of the likely consequences of regulation. Such decisions are informed and improved by allowing interested members of the public to have a meaningful opportunity to participate in rulemaking. To the extent permitted by law, such decisions should be made only after consideration of their costs and benefits (both quantitative and qualitative).”

The new Order also states “Executive Order 13563 set out general requirements directed to executive agencies concerning public participation, integration and innovation, flexible approaches, and science. To the extent permitted by law, independent regulatory agencies should comply with these provisions as well.”

The effect of this new Executive Order on the NLRB’s proposed regulations that would speed up the representation election process is not known.  However, Senator MikeEnzi(R-Wyo.), the Rrnking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee called on the NLRB to follow the new Executive Order and criticized the Board for not permitting more public participation prior to issuance of its proposed regulations. See http://help.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=c08f491c-6363-4529-8cf2-a1df744a2a7a&groups=Ranking