On Jan. 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan-supported bill that calls for increased accountability and transparency from legislators who wish to impose new regulations. The bill — HR 185: The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015 — would require a thorough analysis of any new proposed regulation, including a cost-benefit analysis. It also calls for increased public participation throughout the regulatory process.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, and Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, introduced the legislation in early January. “The effects of excessive government regulation are real for the American people,” Goodlatte said in a press release. “The bill passed by the House of Representatives reforms the executive branch and the problem of overreaching federal regulation. I applaud the House for passing this real and permanent regulatory reform for the American people.”

The HVACR industry, which has struggled over the past few years to keep up with an unprecedented tidal wave of regulatory action, largely supports the legislation, which encourages government leaders and businesses to work together to create regulations that are beneficial for the industry and the American people.

“HARDI has always sought to improve the process of regulatory development,” said Talbot Gee, CEO of Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI). “To that end, we applaud the House’s resolve to strengthen it. Increased collaboration with the people the proposed regulation matters to most will help our legislators ascertain the full impact of their regulatory decisions. As the collective voice and advocate of HVACR wholesale distributors, HARDI wholeheartedly supports this bill that lets our members’ voices ring louder.”

Karen Madonia, co-chair of HARDI’s Government Affairs Committee and CFO, Illco Inc., called the bill sensible and good for businesses.

“Federal regulations have an impact on all aspects of our business — from the products we sell to how we operate internally,” she said. “It’s only sensible the government would impart all due diligence in assessing the impact of a regulation upon small businesses.”

Charlie McCrudden, senior vice president of government relations at ACCA, said the organization supports the bill and its potentially positive impact on small businesses.

“It was good to see this bill pass so quickly and early in the legislative session — that means it is a top priority for House Republicans,” McCrudden said. “The regulatory process is broken and needs serious and thoughtful reform. As this industry has seen over the last few years, federal agencies have not been completely transparent when setting new rules. When agencies pass ‘significant’ rules that cost the economy more than $100 million, it hits small businesses the hardest.”

HVAC, water heating, and refrigeration manufacturers are pleased to see Congress tackle reforms to the regulatory structure of the agencies, said Guido Zucconi, assistant vice president of congressional affairs for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). “Everyone knows how heavily this industry is regulated. The recent rush of new rules, along with an upcoming 18-month rush of future regulations, adds great uncertainty and creates serious concerns for the industry,” he said. “AHRI understands the political challenges ahead for HR 185, but its legislative progress is indicative of a broader concern from all industries that rules and regulations have become onerous.”

Despite the widespread support from the business community, the executive office of the president said in a statement that it strongly opposes the bill. “The Regulatory Accountability Act would impose unprecedented and unnecessary procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from efficiently performing their statutory responsibilities,” the statement announced. “It would also create needless regulatory and legal uncertainty and further impede the implementation protections for the American public.”

If the bill, which had been referred to the Senate at the time this issue went to print, passes a vote and goes before President Obama for his signature, the White House has already indicated Obama intends to veto the bill.

“We are disappointed the White House has already decided to not take this opportunity to repair a broken system for the benefit of all Americans,” Melchi said. “Even though the White House has threatened a veto, we believe it’s important for our members to see where their representatives in Washington stand on important issues like regulatory reform.”

“We urge Congress, the White House, and industry to use HR 185 as a stepping stone toward finding an appropriate and consensus way to reform the regulatory process in this country,” Zucconi said. “Smarter rules will help the national economy and help maintain the U.S. as a leading global economic power.”

For more information and to track the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015, visit http://bit.ly/RegulatoryAccountability.

Publication date: 3/30/2015

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