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By: Evin Bachelor, Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Less than a week into the administration of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a new approach to watersheds in distress has emerged.  Director Dorothy Pelanda assumed the helm of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (“ODA”) earlier this week.  (Read more about the new director below).  By Tuesday, ODA had changed the status of the proposed watersheds in distress rules in the Register of Ohio to “To Be Refiled.”

Watersheds in Distress Proposed Rules “To Be Refiled”

The change in status of the proposed rules signals that ODA plans to change its earlier proposal.  The Register of Ohio, which is where state agencies post rules and proposed rules, defines a proposed rule with a “To Be Refiled” status as one “that has been temporarily removed from JCARR consideration by the rule-filing agency.”  Until a sponsoring agency acts, the proposed rule remains in the “To Be Refiled” status and off of the agenda of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (“JCARR”).  As we mentioned in a previous blog post, JCARR was set to consider the controversial proposal at its January 22, 2019 meeting.  However, the change in status of the proposed rules means that JCARR will not consider them until ODA takes further action.  ODA may revise the proposal, refile as-is, take no action, or withdraw the proposal.

Readers may recall from a previous blog post that the Kasich administration sought to expand the number of watersheds designated as “in distress,” which would impose additional regulations and restrictions on farmers who apply manure and nutrients to the land.  Further, the proposal would have required impacted farmers to submit a nutrient management plan to ODA, and ODA would have to audit at least 5 percent of those plans.  ODA’s Soil and Water Conversation Division held a hearing on November 21st, and a number of stakeholders attended to provide comments.  A summary report of the hearing is available here.  Currently, the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed is the only watershed in Ohio subject to the additional requirements.

Dorothy Pelanda Assumes Directorship of Ohio Department of Agriculture

Director Pelanda steps into Governor Mike DeWine’s cabinet as the 39th Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  She served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2011 until the end of the previous General Assembly, and held leadership positions within the Republican caucus.  Prior to her appointment to the Ohio House, Director Pelanda practiced law in Union County.  She is a graduate of the University of Akron School of Law, Miami University, and Marysville High School.  Director Pelanda is the first woman to serve as the Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  For more information about Director Pelanda, visit ODA’s website here.

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

The legislative Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) has voted  to send the "watersheds in distress" rule revisions back to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).   JCARR reviews administrative rules to make sure they follow legal requirements, which we explained in a previous blog post.   The "watersheds in distress" rules seek to address agricultural nutrient impacts on water quality, also explained in an earlier post.  At its meeting yesterday, JCARR members voted 8 to 1 to recommend that ODA revise and refile the rules for consideration at JCARR's next meeting on January 22, 2019. 

The January 22 meeting date efectively removes Governor Kasich's administration from the rules revision.  Kasich issued an executive order last July directing his agencies to prepare the controversial rule package.  But the incoming DeWine Administration will control the fate of the rules since DeWine takes office on January 14, 2019.    JCARR is apparently counting on the new administration to take a different approach on agricultural nutrient pollution reduction. 

"There will be a new administration and we'll have maybe more productive talks," stated JCARR's chair, Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland).  "The DeWine Administration has demonstrated an interest on working with stakeholders on this issue." 

The lack of stakeholder involvement was a common concern voiced by JCARR members, who stated that the rules had been rushed and did not involve all of the interested parties.  Several committee members also suggested that the rules are inconsistent with legislative intent and will have a significant adverse impact on farmers.  The Ohio Soybean Association, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, and Ohio Farm Bureau echoed those criticisms to JCARR members while several local residents, local groups and the Ohio Environmental Council testified that the rules would not sufficiently protect water quality.

If ODA fails to refile the rules proposal for the January meeting, JCARR will have 31 days to recomend that the Ohio General Assembly invalidate the rules.  That action would allow each chamber five days to pass a resolution invalidating the rules; if the concurrent resolution does not pass within that time period, the rules would stand.  Alternatively, ODA could remove the proposal from JCARR's agenda and refile revised rules at a later date, a likely course of action for the incoming DeWine administration. 

Read the minutes of the December 10, 2018 JCARR meeting, which will be posted here.  The proposed rules are here and here.

By: Ellen Essman, Sunday, December 09th, 2018

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) plays an important role in Ohio’s government. Its review of new and old rules assists in verifying that administrative rules are not duplicative, overly-burdensome, or costly.  Among other things, JCARR also helps to confirm that rules in fact carry out what the legislature had in mind when passing the law.  In fact, on Monday, December 10, 2018, JCARR will decide the fate of the controversial watersheds in distress rules (we explained the proposed rules in this blog post) prompted by Governor Kasich’s July 2018 executive order

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, often referred to by its acronym, JCARR, was enacted by the Ohio General Assembly in 1977, and is codified in section 101.35 of the Ohio Revised Code.  JCARR is charged with “review[ing] proposed new, amended, and rescinded rules” from Ohio’s administrative agencies.  The state’s administrative agencies are numerous and include the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, just to name a few.  The administrative agencies are responsible for making the administrative rules to help carry out the Ohio General Assembly’s legislation. 

Make-up of the committee

JCARR is made up of five members of each house of the Ohio General Assembly, meaning that five members from the house of representatives and five members from the senate make up the full committee.  The speaker of the house appoints the five representatives, and the president of the senate appoints the five senators.  The appointments must be bipartisan; each house may only appoint three members of the same political party.  During the general assembly’s first regular session, the speaker of the house chooses the chairperson of JCARR from their house appointees, and the president of the senate chooses the vice-chair.  During the second regular session, the chair and vice-chair are chosen in the reverse. 

Conditions that rules must meet

If JCARR reviews an administrative rule and finds that rule to “violates one or more” of six requirements, the committee may “make a recommendation to invalidate the rule.”  The six requirements are as follows:

  1. The rules do not exceed the scope of the rule-making agency’s statutory authority;
  2. The rules do not conflict with a rule of that agency or another rule-making agency;
  3. The rules do not conflict with the intent of the legislature in enacting the statute under which the rule is proposed;
  4. The rule-making agency has prepared a complete and accurate rule summary and fiscal analysis of the proposed rule, amendment, or rescission (Revised Code 127.18);
  5. The rule-making agency has met the incorporation by reference standards for a text or other material as stated in Revised Code 121.72, Revised Code 121.75, or Revised Code 121.76; and
  6. If the rule has an adverse impact on business (Revised Code 107.52), the rule-making agency has demonstrated through the business impact analysis, the Common Sense Initiative office recommendations, and the agency’s memorandum of response to the recommendations, that the regulatory intent of the rule justifies its adverse impact on business.

Rule Invalidation

If a rule is found to violate any of the conditions listed above, a member of JCARR can move to recommend a resolution to invalidate the rule.  The motion for invalidation must include the reason for the invalidation specifically based on one or more of the above conditions.  The motion can be to invalidate the whole rule, or just part of the rule.  If the motion for invalidation is seconded by another committee member, the members of JCARR can then vote on the motion.  A majority of the committee is required to recommend a resolution for amended, revised, and rescinded rules.  A two-thirds super majority is required to recommend a resolution to invalidate a no-change 5 year review. 

If a motion for invalidation passes JCARR, the rule is put into suspension, meaning the administrative agency cannot proceed with the rule.  A member of the committee then writes a concurrent resolution about invalidating the rule. Then, depending on which house the writer of the resolution comes from, the resolution goes to the house of representatives or senate, where the body has five session days to act on the resolution.  If that time lapses, or there is no majority vote within five days, then the resolution dies, meaning the rule would no longer be suspended.  If the resolution does pass the first body by majority vote, it then goes to the other house of General Assembly.  Again, in the second body, the resolution must be voted on within 5 session days and be passed by a majority vote.  If the resolution does not pass or is not voted on, again, the rule comes out of suspension.  Finally, if the concurrent resolution for invalidating the rule passes both the house and senate, the rule is invalidated. 

5 Year Review of Rules

Administrative agencies in Ohio must review their administrative rules every five years.  The first part of the review requires the agency to ascertain whether or not the rule has a harmful effect on business in the state of Ohio. If the agency decides that the rule does have a bad impact on business, then the rule must be sent to the Common Sense Initiative office (CSI).  The CSI is charged with finding ways to diminish the effects on business. 

After the analysis of the effect on business, the agency decides whether or not the rule needs to be updated or removed.  Upon deciding that a rule needs to be changed or removed, the agency must then file the rule with JCARR as a five year amended or rescinded rule.  Then, JCARR goes through the process described above—the committee determines whether the amended or rescinded rule violates any of the six requirements, and if it does, the committee follows the process for rule invalidation. 

If the agency determines that the rule should remain as it is, then it should file the rule as a five year no-change rule.  JCARR then considers the following questions as pertains to the no-change rule:

  • Should the rule be continued based on the intent of the statute under which the rule was adopted?
  • Should the rule be amended to give more flexibility at the local level?
  • Should the rule be rescinded or eliminated because of unnecessary paperwork?
  • Does the rule meet the standards for incorporation by reference?
  • Does the rule duplicate, overlap, or conflict with other rules?
  • Is there a continued need for the rule?
  • If the rule has an adverse impact on business, did the rulemaker demonstrate through the business impact analysis, CSI recommendations, and the memorandum of response that the regulatory intent of the rule justifies its adverse impact on business?

If JCARR finds that one of the above questions was violated or not sufficiently addressed by the agency, then the committee can entertain a motion for invalidation of the rule, triggering the rule invalidation process discussed above. 

More information

JCARR has an excellent website with informative videos and other information about its purpose and how it carries out the review process, available here.  For a deeper dive into JCARR and the review process, the committee’s procedure manual is also very helpful. 

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