The year 2016 has come and gone, and it featured one of the most interesting and divisive presidential elections in U.S. history. No matter which side you were pulling for, there will be a new direction for the country in the new year, and that is particularly important for the federal government. The agencies and bureaus regulating in Washington D.C. have grown in recent years to make up almost an entirely new branch of government: the regulatory branch.
For those highly regulated industries that are subject to Washington policies, this election could mean big change is on the horizon. And few industries are more regulated than trucking. Because it is an industry that travels (at high speeds) across state lines, it is subject to the many regulations issued every year by different Washington D.C. agencies. As a result, the trucking industry is wondering how a new administration will affect them.
One of the issues being raised more and more now is the idea of decreasing agency powers through different legislative reforms that would put power back into the hands of Congress. One of those proposals was already passed in 2015, but never signed into law; it is known as the REINS Act. REINS stands for Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny, and it is meant to make certain regulations subject to congressional approval before they can be enacted.
If passed with the new administration, the REINS Act would reset how many regulations are implements. Under the provisions of the act, if a regulation has an economic impact of more than $100 million, than it would require an up or down vote from Congress before it could be enacted. This would indeed put more responsibility on Congress when it comes to regulations, but some are questioning whether the REINS Act would be constitutional.
Constitutionality of REINS Act
Under our federal system of government we have distinct powers that act separate and equal from each other. Of course, these are the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. When any one seeks to take power from the other, it can be viewed as an unconstitutional power grab. This is what happened in INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983). That case invalidated a law that gave Congress veto power over immigration decisions on deportation.
The Chadha is not exactly on point with the REINS Act, but it does raise some of the same questions. For example, once Congress delegates power to an executive agency to enact rules, can they take it back without passing specific legislation to do so, and simply vote up or down on agency rules? This and other questions will have to be answered if this reform is enacted.
Living by Regulations
No matter what changes the new year and administration bring, certain facts will remain. For example, there are endless regulations and rules your company must abide by to ensure its success. Often times you will need the counsel and help of a great legal team to guide your company through the different questions that will arise, and we are the legal team your company needs.
At Anderson and Yamada, we have decades of experience helping trucking companies work with federal, state, and local regulations. As your needs become apparent, contact us so we can help guide your company too.