You just might get your voice back

Four Freedoms -- Freedom of SpeechIowans who look at the happenings in Des Moines and wonder, “Where did my voice go?” may not have to wonder much longer.

Senate File 114, offered last week by state Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale), would require all state agencies to include a citizen-feedback component to their rulemaking and regulatory processes. The bill is comprehensive, spanning all regulatory authorities in state government.

The bill would create the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, which will advise the administrative rules coordinator on rulemaking issues. The committee would not be paid, but would have travel expenses reimbursed by the state.

SF 114 would also require, as is practicable, that all administrative agencies hold rulemaking hearings in various locations throughout the state via the Iowa Communications Network or other electronic means. It also states that a hearing must be held in a particular city or county if 25 of more people request such a hearing take place.

The proposed legislation requires that the principal reasons for and against a rule must accompany every adopted rule. And, it requires that every notice of intended action or public without notice contain a jobs impact statement detailing the impact a proposed rule would have on state agencies, local governments, the public, and the regulated entities, including regulated businesses and self-employed people affected by the rule.

SF 114 also requires every agency to prepare a jobs-impact statement every five years for every rule it administers. The statement must be published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin. Agencies are already required to review their rules every five years, but the bill would create additional procedures and criteria for those reviews.

The bill would also require agencies to create their own ad-hoc citizen review committees, as is practicable, to review all proposed rules and regulations. Membership of the committees must adequately represent a cross-section of interests and opinions regarding the proposed rule.

SF 114 also requires a full review of all EPA and Iowa Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations with regard to the current and projected financial impact they have on Iowa cities.

A number of lobbyist declarations have been made with regard to the proposed legislation. All of them are declared “undecided” on the bill.