Kansas constitutional amendment would limit rulemaking – and ‘lawmaking’ – by unelected bureaucrats

In a victory for government accountability and self-governance, the Kansas Senate this week approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would set limits on the state bureaucracy’s ability to impose rules and regulations on citizens.

If approved by voters in the Nov. 8 election, House Concurrent Resolution 5014 would give the legislature the authority to suspend or revoke rules and regulations issued by the executive branch.

The proposed amendment cleared the Senate Wednesday by a vote of 27-12, after passing the House last month 85-39. Both vote totals surpassed the two-thirds majority needed to pass in each chamber. The proposed amendment now goes directly to the voters.

“Over the past few decades, legislators at all levels of government have gradually given broad authority to regulatory agencies to not only carry out the law, but also to create it,” Elizabeth Patton, state director of Americans For Prosperity, said in testimony supporting the amendment. “This has created an imbalance of power in an otherwise balanced system.”

When it comes to lawmaking, the buck is supposed to stop with the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a press release applauding the vote. “But the reality of the modern regulatory state is that the Legislature often passes the buck by granting broad power to regulatory agencies and then has no meaningful recourse. 

“As a result, government regulations with the binding effect of law too often are conceived, written and enforced by regulatory agencies – an unelected bureaucracy acting as the proverbial judge, jury and executioner.”

Passage of the amendment would allow elected officials to have the final say on rules and regulations implemented by unelected officials, and provide oversight of those regulations by the legislators elected by Kansas voters.

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