UPDATE: In action taken in late May, the amendment described below was NOT adopted by the Senate. It remains in the House budget. Now it is important that the House/Senate conference committee agree to drop it from the final budget.
This week the Massachusetts Legislature may enact an amendment to their budget that will bring state environmental and health regulation to a grinding halt.
Inspired by national anti-environmental groups who developed their strategies during the Newt Gingrich reign in Congress, Representative Rodrigues (D-Westport) was successful in attaching an amendment to the House budget that requires special cost-benefit analysis of regulations before they are put in place — and puts a 5-year expiration date on every regulation in the state!
State agencies already conduct detailed analyses while developing the regulations, and additional information regarding the economic impact – much provided by business and industry themselves – is always taken into account. This new requirement would add thousands of hours of additional effort to the agencies’ already-overflowing workload and discourage them from issuing needed regulations. It would give corporate lawyers many new tools to delay or weaken measures needed to protect the environment and health.
Senate Senator Brian Lees (R-Longmeadow) has proposed to add the measure as an attachment to the Senate budget If adopted as part of the Senate budget, the only thing that would prevent it from becoming law would be a veto from Governor Romney (which is not something that could be counted upon).
In previous years, environmental advocates like the Environmental League of Massachusetts have beaten back attempts to pass similar legislation. It has never managed to get out of the Natural Resources Committee. Attaching this dangerous bill to the budget is a back-door way to get it enacted without exposing it to the full scrutiny of public hearings and committee votes. Corporate lobbyists who want:to weaken environmental and public health protections are salivating at the prospects of this victory.
ACTION:The need for action is urgent. Please call your Senator today at 617-722-1455 and tell them you oppose Senator Lees’ Amendment #428.
We thank the Environmental League of Massachusetts for providing some of the information used in this article.