We're not the only ones who got wind of Gregoire's plan. A coalition of environmental and labor groups—including the Washington Environmental Council, Washington Conservation Voters, SEIU 775, Transportation Choices Coalition, the AFL-CIO, and the Sierra Club—wrote a letter to Gregoire on November 15 urging Gregoire not to unplug state agencies.
We are writing to strongly object to the potential issuance of an executive order suspending agency rulemaking. We appreciate the leadership you have shown in these dire economic times, and the challenges your administration faces in maintaining core government services during the ongoing budget crisis. However, a broad suspension of rulemaking is a blunt instrument that would send a damaging political message about the role of government, would do little to limit expenses or create jobs, and would significantly impair your administration's ability to protect the environment, worker safety, public health and other critical government functions in the coming years.
We ask you to consider rejecting a rulemaking suspension.
While we came up with a few examples of rules in this morning's Fizz item, the letter from this ad hoc blue/ green alliance lists several more, including:
Shoreline Management Act Rule Making: This rule will provide guidance to local governments as to how amendments to shoreline master programs can be adopted. This rule creates more certainty for property owners and the general public and is being crafted in response to last year's legislation which passed with support from local governments, business, ports, agricultural and environmental interests.
Watershed Analysis Rule Making: This rule closes a loop hole in the logging of timber on steep unstable slopes. This rule is one step that is being taken among others to prevent the type of catastrophe which created the destructive mix of mud, wood debris and floodwaters that inundated homes and farms in the Boistfort Valley west of Chehalis in 2007.
We have a call in to Gregoire.
Gregoire released her executive order this morning citing GOP themes—lowering costs and making government predictable for businesses—going forward with the new policy.
UPDATE: Kathleen Drew, a policy adviser to Gregoire, says any rules that involve emergencies (like the Four Loko ban) or are necessary to carry out federal mandates or state legislation (like the toxic toys bill) would be exempt from the moratorium.
Drew says the decisions are really up to the agency directors themselves, although things such as simply updating rules—the new regulations of toxics that are part of a longtime process, for example---wouldn't meet exemption requirements. She added that the protest letter from the unions and greens "was sent before they even saw our order," and made it clear that the letter had been taken into account.