State Rep. Chester Crandell, R-Heber, wants the state to regulate federal regulators.
Crandell is pushing HB2077, which would require visiting officials from any federal regulatory agency to register with the sheriff of the Arizona county they are working in.
HB2077 also would require federal officials to pay a “reasonable fee” for the processing of the registration application.
In addition, the state stands to make a profit if the bill becomes law. If the federal agency is investigating an Arizona business, and the agency determines the business must pay a fine for violating federal regulations, the money would be given to the sheriff who will pass it on to the county treasurer who will send it to the state general fund.
In opposition to the bill, Jennifer Sweeney of the Arizona Association of Counties is concerned with how the logistics of implementing the bill would pan out.
“From a county sheriff’s perspective, we don’t feel that the sheriff is the entity to which these federal agencies should be registering,” said Sweeney. “Nor should they serve as the collection point for any kind of funds because then you are asking the county sheriff to be the pass-through agency, essentially to the county treasurer’s office.”
On Feb. 8, the House Committee on Government voted 5-4 in favor of HB2077. The vote was mostly along party lines, with five Republicans voting “aye” and the three Democrats voting “no.” One Republican, Rep. Steve Urie from Gilbert, joined the three Democrat dissenters. The bill will next be heard in the House Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee.
“The reasoning behind the bill is to basically give the people who are being monitored and regulated by the federal regulatory agencies the opportunity to know that they are coming into their backyards,” Crandell said.
Crandell said that as far as he knows, the money collected from fines imposed on businesses by federal regulatory agencies goes back to those agencies.
“I think it’s a conflict of interest when you have an agency that has the power to levy fines, and then that’s what they survive on,” Crandell said. “The more fines they get, the bigger they’ll get.”
So if the bill becomes law, not only will the agencies be losing a portion of their funding, but they also may be forced to spend extra money to enter each of the state’s 15 counties.
“One of the consequences out of this is that we will receive less regulation,” Crandell said. “If there is no motivation for them to come in, if they’re not getting any money and it’s going to cost them, I would hope that we would cut down on some of the federal regulation that we’re getting.”
The bill would make it mandatory for agencies to register and pay the fees that are required by that sheriff every time they entered a county. Each county may decide a fee to cover their administrative costs.
Crandell said that the bill does not provide any penalties in the instance that a federal agency chooses not to register with the sheriff.
“Coming into the state they should comply,” he said. “They require us to comply with federal law. I’m not sure that there is anything in that bill to actually arrest them or do anything like that. I would hope that because it is a state law, they would take a look and respect that.”
Examples of agencies Crandell said would be affected by the proposed legislation are the Internal Revenue Service, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The Fourth Amendment gives us the right of privacy and unreasonable search and seizure,” Crandell said, “and in my opinion, the federal regulatory agencies are overstepping their boundaries, by showing up unannounced and manufacturing things that seem to be hazardous.”
Crandell said the bill would protect the rights of Arizona businesses and residents.
“If (the agencies) are not getting the money, then maybe they won’t be quite as anxious to be as arbitrary and capricious in levying fines, because they are not going to benefit,” he said. “It’s almost an impossible task to work with some of the regulations that we have both from the state and the federal government.”