It is not often that we hear members of the legislature complain that there are too FEW rules and regulations. But that complaint has been raised by the chairman of a committee that specializes in state rules and regulations, Senator Eric Schmitt of Kirkwood, who heads the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The committee was set up in 1975 to keep state agencies from making rules and regulations without legislative scrutiny. Sometimes the rules committee rejects an agency proposal.
But the legislature’s probe of the revenue department’s document scanning operation has opened the issue for investigation for Schmitt and his committee. He says the number of rules set forth by the revenue department has shown a “dramatic” decline in the last two or three years. He thinks there is a “growing trend” of agencies to do what they want to do and hope the legislature doesn’t notice.
Lawmakers investigating the revenue department says it has changed the process for getting driver’s licenses without publishing a new rule. Schmitt says the department finally has admitted it should have done that. But he worries agencies operating in a term-limited world avoiding legislative oversight. He targets natural resources and elementary and secondary education as other agencies that should have advocated rules for some of the things they’re doing, but haven’t.
Schmitt says Jay-car, as the JCAR committee is called, is a check and balance on government growth. He says agency failure to have rules reviewed by the committee weakens public confidence in government.