Summary: S.343 — 104th Congress (1995-1996)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate amended, 2nd committee reporting (05/26/1995)

Comprehensive Regulatory Reform Act of 1995 - Amends the Administrative Procedure Act to define "Director" as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

(Sec. 3) Amends the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to revise the matters exempted from provisions governing agency rulemaking procedures, specifically including as an exempted matter, an interpretive rule, general statement of policy, guidance, or rule of agency organization, procedure, or practice that is not generally applicable and does not alter or create rights or obligations of persons outside the agency. Revises and expands the information which must be included in a notice of proposed rulemaking to include: (1) a succinct explanation of the need for and specific objectives of a proposed rule, including an explanation of whether a rule is a major rule; (2) an explanation of the specific statutory interpretation under which a rule is proposed; (3) the proposed provisions of the rule; (4) a summary of any initial regulatory analysis as required for any major rule; (5) a statement that the agency seeks proposals from the public and State and local governments for alternative methods to accomplish the objectives of the rulemaking that are more effective or less burdensome than the approach used in the proposed rule; (6) a description of any data, methodologies, reports, studies, or scientific evaluations available to the agency for the rulemaking, including an identification of each author of such information and the purposes for which the agency plans to rely on it; and (7) a statement specifying where the file of the rulemaking proceeding may be inspected or obtained.

Revises provisions of existing law governing A.P.A. exemptions for those rules which an agency, for good cause, finds that providing notice and public comment is contrary to an important public interest or is unnecessary due to the rule's insignificant impact.

Requires an agency, whenever the provisions of a final rule are different from the provisions of the proposed rule, to publish in the Federal Register a notice of the final rule, together with the required relevant information that was not previously published in the Federal Register.

Requires agencies to provide a period of not less than 60 days for interested persons to participate in a rulemaking. (Existing law provides no minimum comment period.)

Authorizes agencies to use alternative notice of proposed rulemaking procedures in order to collect relevant information and to identify and elicit full and representative public comment on the significant issues of a particular rulemaking.

Sets forth provisions: (1) authorizing agencies to establish reasonable procedures to regulate the course of informal public hearings; (2) requiring more detailed statements of the basis and purposes of final rules; (3) requiring publication of final rules (those that create restrictions) in the Federal Register at least 60 (currently, 30 ) days before they become effective; (4) expanding the rights of petition under the A.P.A. to allow each person subject to a major rule to petition for advice or interpretation regarding the application of the rule, or for a variance or exemption; and (5) requiring each agency to maintain a rulemaking file and index comprising of the complete preliminary and final regulatory analysis and transcripts of any hearings for possible judicial review.

(Sec. 4) Defines "major rule" to include a rule or a group of closely related rules that the proposing agency, the Director, or a designee of the President determines is likely to have an annual effect on the economy of $50 million or more in reasonably quantifiable increased direct and indirect costs, or has a significant impact on a sector of the economy.

Authorizes an agency proposing the rule, the Director, or the designee of the President to designate as a major rule any rule or group of closely related rules which is likely to result in: (1) a substantial increase in costs or prices for wage earners, consumers, individual industries, nonprofit organizations, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; (2) significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, health, safety, or the environment, or the ability of enterprises whose principal places of business are in the United States to compete in the domestic or export markets; (3) a serious inconsistency or interference with an action taken or planned by another agency; (4) the material alteration of the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs, or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (5) disproportionate costs to a class of persons within the regulated sector, and relatively severe economic consequences for the class.

Declares the following not to be a major rule: (1) a rule that involves Federal internal revenue laws; or (2) a rule or agency action that authorizes the introduction into, or removal from, commerce, or recognizes the marketable status, of a product.

Requires each Federal agency, before publishing notice of proposed rulemaking for any rule, to determine whether the rule is or should be designated a major rule. Requires the agency to issue at the time of the notice of proposed rulemaking for a major rule, an initial cost- benefit analysis which shall be summarized in such notice.

Authorizes any person subject to a major rule to petition the agency, the Director, or the designee of the President to perform a cost-benefit analysis.

Prohibits an agency from promulgating a final rule unless it finds that: (1) the rule's potential benefits justify its potential costs; and (2) such rule will produce the most cost-effective result of any of the reasonable alternatives that the agency has discretion to adopt.

Subjects, to the extent that it relates to an agency's decisional responsibilities or the statute granting it authority to act, rule cost-benefit analyses and risk assessments to judicial review.

Suspends all statutory or Federal judicial deadlines that require an agency to promulgate a rule until the requirements of this section are satisfied.

Requires each agency to prepare and publish in the Federal Register a proposed schedule for the review of: (1) each agency rule that is in effect and which, considering its future impact, would be a major rule; (2) each agency rule that is inconsistent with, or duplicative of, any other obligation or requirement established by Federal statute, rule, or other agency statement, interpretation, or action that has the force of law; and (3) each agency rule that has been selected for review.

Requires each agency, within five years for rules that take effect after enactment of this Act, or seven years for rules in effect upon enactment of this Act, to review: (1) each rule on the schedule; (2) each major rule promulgated, amended, or otherwise renewed by an agency after enactment of this Act; and (3) each rule promulgated after the enactment of this Act that the President or the President's designee selects for review. Authorizes an extension of no more than a total of ten years for completion of such review.

Requires the head of each covered agency to prepare, based on specified principles, a risk assessment and risk characterization for each major rule that relates to health, safety, and the environment and for each proposed or pending major cleanup plan. Requires any risk assessment to: (1) clearly separate hazard identification from risk characterization; and (2) make clear the relationship between the level of risk and the level of exposure to a potential hazard.

Requires the head of each agency to: (1) promote the early involvement by all stakeholders in the development of risk assessments; and (2) provide an opportunity for public participation and comment.

Prohibits an agency from refusing to approve a substance or product on the basis of safety where it presents a negligible or insignificant human risk under the intended conditions of use.

Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology or the Director to develop a systematic program for the peer review of specified matters, including: (1) risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses for major rules; (2) certain quantitative estimates of risk or hazard that are used in making regulatory determinations; and (3) any other significant or technical work product. Requires peer review and agency responses to: (1) be made available to the public for comment; and (2) be made a part of the administrative record for purposes of judicial review.

Requires the Director or designee of the President to establish oversight procedures for agency compliance and ensure such compliance with this Act. Allows implementation of such procedures only after opportunity for public comment.

Amends the Regulatory Flexibility Act to authorize an affected small entity to petition for the judicial review of a final rule when an agency: (1) has certified that such rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities; (2) has prepared a final regulatory flexibility analysis; or (3) did not prepare certain regulatory flexibility analysis under the Act.

(Sec. 5) Amends judicial review provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act to require a reviewing court to set aside agency actions, findings, and conclusions which are found to be without substantial support in the rulemaking file, viewed as a whole.

Requires a reviewing court to: (1) hold erroneous and unlawful an agency interpretation that is either other than the interpretation of the statute clearly intended by the Congress, or outside the range of permissible interpretations of the statute; and (2) hold arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion an action that an agency has either improperly classified an interpretation as being within or outside the range of permissible interpretations, or has not explained in a reasoned analysis why it selected the interpretation and why it rejected other permissible interpretations of the statute.

Amends the Tucker Act to grant the United States Court of Federal Claims jurisdiction to render a claim for monetary relief against the United States based on the invalidation of any Act of the Congress or any regulation of an executive department that adversely affects private property rights in violation of the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Grants such court the power to: (1) grant injunctive and declaratory relief; and (2) render judgment on tort claims in cases properly before it.

Prohibits a court from enforcing a consent decree that imposes upon an agency an obligation to initiate, continue, or complete rulemaking proceedings in a way that divests the agency's discretion to respond to changing circumstances, make policy or managerial choices, or protect the rights of third parties.

Makes it an affirmative defense in any enforcement action brought by an agency that the regulated person or entity is complying with a rule of such agency or other agency that is inconsistent with the agency rule being enforced.

Prohibits the imposition of civil or criminal penalties against a defendant for an alleged violation of a rule, if the defendant, prior to such alleged violation: (1) reasonably determined, based upon an explanation contained in the rule's statement of basis and purpose, that he or she was in compliance with, or exempt from, the requirements of the rule; or (2) was informed by the agency that promulgated the rule that he or she was in compliance with, or exempted from, its requirements. Prohibits, in such cases, consideration from being given to any interpretive rule relied upon by the agency which had not been published in the Federal Register, or communicated to the defendant, prior to the alleged violation.

(Sec. 6) Requires an agency, before a major rule can become final, to submit to the Congress a report containing a copy of the rule, the notice of proposed rulemaking, the statement of basis and purpose for the rule, a complete copy of any regulatory analysis, and the proposed effective date of the rule. Prohibits a rule from becoming final if the Congress passes a joint resolution of disapproval. Prescribes procedures for congressional consideration of such a resolution.

(Sec. 7) Directs the President to submit biennially to the Congress: (1) an accounting statement that estimates the annual costs of Federal regulatory programs and corresponding benefits; and (2) an associated report that contains analyses of impacts of Federal regulatory programs on State and local governments, small business, productivity, wages, consumer prices, and other matters, and recommendations for reform.

Requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to develop guidance for Federal agencies to standardize the format of the accounting statements.

(Sec. 8) Directs the Administrative Conference of the United States to: (1) conduct an ongoing study of the operation of the risk assessment requirements under this Act and submit annual reports of its findings to the Congress; and (2) study and report to the Congress on the operation of the Administrative Procedure Act.