A bill to impose certain limitations on consent decrees and settlement agreements by agencies that require the agencies to take regulatory action in accordance with the terms thereof, and for other purposes.

Introduced in Senate
Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2017

This bill establishes public notice and comment procedures and motion to
intervene standards for civil actions seeking to compel agency action and
alleging that an agency is unlawfully withholding or unreasonably delaying an
agency action, and for consent decrees or settlement agreements that require
agency action, relating to a regulatory action that would affect the rights of:
(1) private persons other than the person bringing the action; or (2) a state,
local, or tribal government. 

The bill sets forth requirements for:

 * agencies against which such an action is brought to publish online, within 15
   days after receipt, the notice of intent to sue and the complaint;
 * courts to consider motions to intervene and allow amicus participation; and 
 * any settlement proceedings to include intervening parties and to be conducted
   pursuant to the mediation or alternative dispute resolution program of the
   court or by a district judge.

Agencies seeking to enter such a consent decree or settlement agreement must: 

 * publish, and accept and respond to public comment on, the proposed agreement
   or decree for 60 days before filing it with the court; and 
 * make available to the court the administrative record and a summary of public
   comments and any public hearings. 

The Department of Justice, or an agency litigating a matter independently, must
certify to the court its approval of such proposed: (1) consent decrees that
include terms that convert into a nondiscretionary duty a discretionary
authority of an agency to propose, promulgate, revise, or amend regulations,
commit an agency to expend funds that have not been appropriated and budgeted or
to seek a particular appropriation or budget authorization, divest an agency of
discretion committed to it by statute or the Constitution, or otherwise afford
any relief that the court could not enter under its own authority; or (2)
settlement agreements that include terms that provide a remedy for a failure by
the agency to comply with the terms of the agreement other than the revival of
the civil action resolved by the agreement, interfere with the authority of an
agency to revise, amend, or issue rules, or commit the agency to expend funds
that have not been appropriated and budgeted or to exercise in a particular way
discretion which was committed to the agency by statute or the Constitution. 

Courts: (1) shall not approve such consent decrees or settlement agreements
unless they allow sufficient time and procedures to comply with the
Administrative Procedure Act, rulemaking statutes, and executive orders; and (2)
shall grant de novo review if an agency files a motion to modify such a decree
or agreement on the basis that its terms are no longer fully in the public
interest due to changed facts and circumstances or the agency's obligations to
fulfill other duties.



  • Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. (Sponsor introductory remarks on measure: CR S315-316)

    Jan 12th, 2017
  • Introduced in Senate

    Jan 12th, 2017