State attorney general urges president to protect individual rights from federal overreach

Staff Reports • Jun 14, 2017 at 7:19 PM

State Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III joined a coalition of 16 state attorneys general Tuesday to ask President Donald Trump to lead a regulatory reform effort to protect individual rights from regulatory overreach. 

In a signed letter to Trump, the coalition, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, said reforms are necessary to bring the current federal regulatory process under the rule of law.

“Federal agencies were created to administer the law. In too many instances they have tried to make law, to legislate, through guidance letters and the like. When steps like these are taken, the voice of the people through their elected representatives is not heard,” Slatery said. “And that is a problem, a constitutional problem, which we want the administration and Congress to address.”

The letter said under both Republican and Democratic presidents, rules, interpretations, guidance documents, etc., of federal agencies were treated as law. This creates uncertainty for businesses, communities and individuals who never know when the next rule or regulation, or new interpretation of an existing rule, will change their legal and financial obligations.

The coalition proposed practical steps to return power to the people’s elected representatives. The attorneys general wrote Congress could call on federal agencies to send their rules and rule-like documents for congressional review. Under the proposal, all current regulations would remain in place pending congressional review.

In the letter, the attorneys general identified regulatory overreach as the root cause of virtually all of their past and ongoing litigation against the federal government. The suggested reforms would help return lawmaking power to Congress and ensure the judiciary as an independent adjudicator of lawsuits between the federal government and the people.

Along with Tennessee and Texas, the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin joined the letter.

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