MADISON, Wis. — Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have asked Congress to get rid of federal mandates they deem unnecessary, such as some pollution permit rules and hospital quality standards, saying the requirements waste resources and infringe on states' rights.
A group of lawmakers led by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The letter cites burdensome mandates that force the state to regulate emissions and air quality, and manage Medicaid programs on behalf of the federal government.
"Our goal is to plainly illustrate that these widespread mandates run up a huge tab on local governments and private sector," Vos said a news release. As an example, he cited a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services requirement that Wisconsin hospitals track 60 different quality measures.
The letter echoes a message Gov. Scott Walker had in December for then-President-elect Donald Trump that asked for more state control over how it spends money. Walker wants federal funding for Medicaid, education and transportation in the form of block grants.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca did not immediately respond to a message left with his office seeking comment.
Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, said the letter was the latest example of lawmakers "trying to take away government's role in helping people protect themselves," and putting increasing power into people financing those campaigns.
Ross also criticized a meeting held Tuesday by the Assembly's Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee — a group created by Vos in anticipation of a Republican-led Washington shifting power to the states — to hear ideas from free market advocates. Ross noted the groups invited to speak — the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty, and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute — are conservative.
Rick Esenberg, president of the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty, urged committee members to identify all sources of federal funding and the conditions attached before drafting a budget. As an example, he said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' federal funding goes toward implementing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, stressing that raising awareness is the first step toward reform.
Reps. Josh Zepnick and Steve Doyle, the state committee's two Democrats, did not respond to messages left with their offices requesting comment.