Yes, you really can be part of the lawmaking process. All too often we, the electorate, feel detached and removed from law making. We feel like it’s reserved only for members of Congress or other elected officials.
Sure, the legislators create and pass laws known as statutes. But that’s only part of the story. Statutes are often nothing more than enabling legislation — broad mandates that require government agencies to put meat on the bones. That meat is also known as rules, or regulations.
Our federal rule-making process is one of notice and comment. That means that before a federal agency can adopt or put a new regulation into effect it must first provide notice of the proposed rule and allow for public comment. That gives us a powerful opportunity to be heard and to make a difference.
Such notices are found in a publication called the Federal Register. It’s the
One of the proposed rule making notices this past week, for example, came from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Their Notice of Proposed Rule Making proposes sweeping changes to the regulations and interpretative guidance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a statute that has bedeviled managers and human resource professionals ever since it was enacted because of it’s broad definition of “disability,” among other things. The proposed changes are specifically identified in the Notice along with
The EEOC notice is merely one example of the types of notices you’ll find in the Federal Register and only one agency. All of the federal agencies publish their notices in the Federal Register. If your business is regulated you can zero in on announcements from the applicable agency.
If you feel your business is too small to allocate resources to such a project you can still get involved through various business groups and trade associations that you, or your employees, belong to. Examples of such groups include the Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers, but there are many more. Check with them about how they monitor topics in the Federal Register that may be of interest to you and then provide them with your input.
Remember, their role is to represent you, their member. When you give them concrete examples of how a proposed rule will backfire in the “real world” it gives them ammunition to help fix it. That’s powerful. But, it only happens when you invest a few moments of your time to share your opinions and views.
Since we’re all going to get stuck with the results of the rule making process, we might as well participate and help make it better. Let’s exercise the freedom and opportunity of letting our voices be heard. Please consider getting involved. Together we can make the process better and fairer.