Article by: Jeff Poor
If you mention “regulatory capture” to most people, you might receive a lot of puzzled looks, even at the upper echelons of Alabama state government.
State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) hopes to change that because he sees it as a threat to good government.
During an appearance on Wednesday broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show” on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, McClendon explained what the term meant, which he argued has led to “bias” within those bodies.
“Regulatory capture is a situation where regulatory agencies are controlled by the very people or institutions they are supposed to regulate,” he said. “This happens in government, and there are several areas in Alabama. I have been on my soapbox to the Senate as far as trying to educate folks on this concept and spent a lot of the last session at the mic discussing this. I would take 20-minute sessions. Not everybody went to sleep. I had a few people that were just amazed at the idea. But we have regulatory agencies that are biased. There is no question about it. They are biased.”
“In fact, in this last session, we had a bill come before the Senate, or it actually came out of committee,” McClendon continued. “It finally got buried. That bill was the real estate association attempted a takeover of the real estate licensing board — basically, taking away the appointment to it and putting it under control of the very people who they were intended to regulate or control. My situation — I uncovered this.”
The St. Clair County lawmaker cited the state’s bout with COVID-19 as another example given the tremendous authority granted to state agencies, especially the Alabama Department of Public Health.
“COVID brought the board of public health to evening TV,” he added. “You saw the state public health officer almost every night. You still see him occasionally, and it turns out, the state board of public health is, in fact, a state regulatory agency with a great deal of authority. In the case of a pandemic and a health crisis, they’ve got more authority than the governor and they are not answerable to governor or the legislature. They are, in fact, appointed by a private dues-paying association. And this is something that I see as not the role of government at all. It’s controlled by the people that you are supposed to control. It’s an interesting concept. It’s very common.”