22nd Alaska State Legislature
HB 158 Would Guide Regulation Writers
(JUNEAU) -- State regulations would have to hew more closely to the intent of state law under a bill introduced in the House of Representatives Wednesday that could drastically reduce conflicts between the legislative and executive branches of government.
While the Legislature passes bills into law, the regulations detailing how they apply in specific cases are written by the executive agencies without legislative oversight or approval, leading sometimes to unexpected results, said Rep. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage), chair of the Administrative Regulatory Review Committee.
"The administrative branch of Alaska's government has broad powers to interpret legislative language and intent in writing regulations, but this has too often resulted in regulations that subvert the original purpose of the legislation," said McGuire. "By requiring regulation writers to conduct more judicious review of statute and legislative intent, House Bill 158 will drastically limit the possibility of subjective interpretation of state law."
The bill would require regulation writers to adhere to the "Clear Statement Doctrine," a standard adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court, and cited by the state of Alaska in its defense of the Katie John v. Alaska lawsuit. In that case, the state argued that the Interior Department regulations exploited ambiguity in federal law to improperly extend federal subsistence management authority to state waters.
HB 158 would also require that each bill would include language granting the executive branch the authority to write regulations to implement it, McGuire said.
"This bill is the first major step toward a more user-friendly process of writing regulations that will bring more consistent fulfillment of legislative intent in regulations," said McGuire. "In the future, when the public sees a notice of proposed regulations they need not fear that the final regulations will end up looking nothing like the original statute."
HB 158 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
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