The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would add scrutiny to the process state agencies use to write regulations and allow the Legislature to veto rules deemed too expensive for businesses and local governments.

The bill would give lawmakers the power to reject each proposed state rule or regulation that is expected to cost businesses and local governments more than $10 million.

It would also require an independent economic impact analysis of any new rule proposed by a state agency and allow the state to contract with an outside group to conduct a cost analysis of a proposed rule instead of using state agencies’ staff.

Any rule that costs more than $10 million over two years also would need approval from the full Legislature before it can be enacted. The legislation passed 19-14 on Tuesday and was championed by Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee.

All Senate Democrats and Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, voted against the bill.

“I don’t know why we think we can stop a federal rule. We can’t,” Cowles said.

id. “This bill would say ‘OK, we’re just going to block it’? Then what?”

Opponents of the bill are mostly environmental groups, including Clean Wisconsin. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and other industry groups back the bill.

The bill must pass the Assembly before heading to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk for his signature.

Opioid abuse bills

Senators on Tuesday also passed nine bills aimed at reducing heroin and opiate abuse.

The legislation, now in Walker’s hands, will allow a new University of Wisconsin System office tasked with expanding charter schools in the state to create a school for students recovering from drug addiction. Lawmakers also approved legislation that would protect school employees from lawsuits for administering medication to cure overdoses, expand drug treatment and counseling and pay for more special agents to investigate drug trafficking, among other measures.The bills were mostly approved unanimously, despite some criticism from Democrats that the legislation doesn’t go far enough to help Wisconsin residents struggling with drug abuse.

— Reporter Mark Sommerhauser contributed to this report.


Molly Beck covers politics and state government for the Wisconsin State Journal.