A bill that allows the GOP-controlled legislature to delay, change or permanently block state rules to protect the environment, consumer rights, and public health and safety, among other things, was given final approval by the Assembly and sent to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
The proposal, Senate Bill 15, would prevent a state agency from creating any new rules and regulations that cost a business or industry more than $10 million without legislative approval. The measure would also allow legislators to request a study of a proposed rule’s cost to the business community, independent of a state agency’s claims about the costs, and to file permanent objections to effectively kill it.
Senate Bill 15 is similar to a 2012 plan developed by a pro-business group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a special interest bill mill that unites business and other powerful special interests with state legislators around the country to develop “model” pro-business and social policies that can be introduced in state legislatures around the country. Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch fund ALEC.
The Assembly also approved another measure on Thursday to bridle state rules and regulations. Assembly Bill 317 creates procedures for the legislature and state agencies to continually review, change and repeal state agency rules. Assembly Bill 317 now goes to the Senate.
Both legislative proposals were backed by numerous powerful special interests – see here and here – led by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) , the state’s largest business group, and Americans for Prosperity, a rightwing electioneering group founded and funded by the Koch brothers.
WMC secretly raised and spent an estimated $18.6 million between January 2010 and December 2016 on outside electioneering activities to support Republican and conservative legislative and statewide candidates. In addition to its secret, outside spending on elections, WMC also represents more than a dozen special interests, including business, real estate, manufacturing, and construction, which contributed $16.7 million since January 2011 to current Republican legislators.