Regulations in Need of Executive Scrutiny (REINS) Act

(2017 Wisconsin Act 57)

Reducing the burden of state-imposed government regulations on small, independent businesses requires reform of the processes by which state government agencies create regulations. Prior to the start of the 2017-2018 legislative session, we identified the following material weaknesses in Wisconsin’s regulation-making process:

  • state government agencies are required to prepare cost-benefit analyses of proposed regulations, but often lack the technical expertise and private sector experience to discern the actual compliance costs of proposed regulations;
  • during the regulation-making process, the compliance costs of a proposed regulation may become far greater than previously expected but there is no formal process in place to address this unforeseen circumstance; and
  • state government agencies rely heavily on ad-hoc advisory committees and advocacy organizations for guidance and input in the early stages of the regulation-making process.

The REINS Act effectively addresses these material weaknesses.

Approval by the Governor and the Wisconsin State Legislature is now required for proposed state government agency regulations in which the implementation and\or the compliance costs exceed $10 million over a two-year period. State legislators may request and receive independent cost-benefit analysis performed by trained economists when there is uncertainty regarding the financial impact of a proposed state government agency regulation. Finally, the REINS Act creates a new opportunity for small employers to advise state government agencies of their concerns about a proposed regulation before the agency begins drafting the proposed regulation.