Federal laws and regulations on the environment often serve only as a “floor,” with states having the leeway to enact tougher rules or statutes of their own. However, some state legislatures and governors have adopted measures (either state laws or executive orders) designed to rein in the actions of their own environmental agencies. Most recently, in February, Indiana’s HB 1082 became law. It applies to any Department of Environmental Management rule that is “more stringent than a restriction or requirement imposed under federal law” or “applies in a subject area in which federal law does not impose a restriction or requirement.”
Earlier this year, to coincide with an open-government initiative known as Sunshine Week, reporters from the Associated Press sent requests for the records of legislative leaders in all 50 states. They asked for lawmakers’ daily schedules as well as emails from their government accounts.In most cases, AP reported in March, its reporters came away empty-handed, as they ran into more denials for the requests than approvals.
This right to deny access to certain records is a long-standing, widespread prerogative of legislators in states across the country — the result of a mix of constitutional language and principles, statutory language, and legal opinions.