A memorable Detroit Lions game was the one-point loss to the Green Bay Packers. Detroit played against additional and powerful opponents — the referees. The Lions were crushed by unbelievable penalty calls while players and spectators watched helplessly.

That game describes much of today’s governmental landscape. Government bureaucrats are the referees, calling the definitive and sometimes unfair shots. Hard-working citizens are the players and spectators.

Referees, like bureaucrats, are necessary — but what happens when they weaken the legitimacy and integrity of the institution they were intended to serve?

In high school civics, we learned about the checks and balances system developed to ensure that no branch of government became too powerful. The system divides power between the legislative, executive and judicial.

We never learned about the fourth branch of government: A bureaucratic branch with a stronger impact than the others combined.

Our system is overrun by a self-governing administrative state of departments. Like referees, bureaucrats make unreasonable, biased judgments and set a monetary fine when they determine a person broke the rules. They have the final say and there is no recourse for spectators to undo the call.

Many “laws” are rules and regulations crafted and issued by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. These regulations are often regarded as protective measures for citizens or the environment.

Some believe government knows best, but history repeatedly shows that isn’t always true. Many governmental decisions were rife with unintended consequences.

Recent examples:

  • The Legislature intervened after the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) tried to use its rule-making authority to prevent counselors from practicing in Michigan. This would’ve hurt services across the state, resulting in a loss of jobs and mental health services for vulnerable people.
  • Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) drafts extreme permitting rules that will negatively impact larger family farms. Meanwhile, concerned legislators write opposition letters for the farmers they represent, asking for scientific reasons for these changes.
  • The Marijuana Regulatory Agency, part of LARA, recently proposed rules requiring marijuana retailers and growers to reach union agreements to get a state license. If this takes effect, it would be government extortion: Join a union or don’t get a license to operate.

Some of the worst culprits of departmental overreach lie within the Michigan DNR and the Natural Resources Commission (NRC). The NRC recently banned baiting in Michigan, completely disregarding the ineffectiveness of bans in others states where they were enacted.

I’m contacted weekly by day-care providers who are inundated with rules and regulations that put them out of business.

The list of “laws” made by bureaucrats goes on and on and on.

State agencies aren’t solely to blame. Legislators continue making unnecessary laws forcing the creation or expansion of these agencies. For every law created, an agency must enforce it.

Legislators should target unnecessary, job-killing mandates created by the fourth branch of government, rather than backing legislation that expands these agencies’ powers.

Unless someone wants to introduce legislation requiring NFL referees to experience a quality assurance program — that would have my full support.

About the author: State Rep. Michele Hoitenga is serving her second term in the Michigan House representing residents of Wexford and Mecosta counties, as well as Reed City and the townships of Burdell, Cedar, Hartwick, LeRoy, Lincoln, Richmond and Rose Lake in Osceola County. She previously served as the mayor of Manton.

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