You have to love the irony of this one.
In 1992, a Republican-controlled Legislature - outraged by what it said was bureaucratic overreach by the Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies - successfully pushed a constitutional amendment to give lawmakers the authority to overturn administrative regulations.
Today, a Democrat-controlled Legislature is trying to use that authority to overturn the Christie administration's controversial "waiver rule" at the DEP.
Republicans are probably thinking about that old line, "Be careful what you wish for," right about now.
The waiver rule, which would take effect Aug. 1, would allow any business, individual or government entity to apply to the DEP commissioner for a waiver of environmental regulations. The idea is to streamline government and eliminate red tape.
Waivers will be granted only if one of four conditions apply: a public emergency exists; conflicting rules are blocking a project; there will be a net environmental benefit to granting a waiver; or if the rules are creating an undue hardship.
But critics, including us, have noted that the rule would give the DEP commissioner unprecedented - and possibly illegal - authority to waive duly promulgated regulations on a case-by-case basis.
Regulations must be based on an underlying statute approved by the Legislature. And indeed, lawmakers have written a waiver process into many environmental rules to make them more flexible.
But critics says there is no underlying statutory authority for the wholesale waivers that would be allowed under the new rule.
And that's why the Assembly used the 1992 constitutional amendment to approve a resolution last week saying the waiver rule violates the Legislature's intent.
Under this process, if the resolution is now passed by the state Senate, the DEP would have 30 days to either change or scrap the waiver rule. If it does not, the Legislature can pass another resolution that would eliminate the rule entirely.
That's the process Republicans pushed for in 1992. And now they have to live with it.
The waiver rule is bad public policy. There is no automatic provision for public input into the waiver process. Every developer who was ever denied a permit can claim undue hardship. And what do you think will happen when it's a politically connected developer who is claiming the need for a waiver?
Republicans pushed the 1992 amendment specifically to hamstring the DEP. Now, they are trying to hamstring the DEP with the waiver rule. And that '92 amendment - which has rarely, if ever, been used - may block them.
That's a sweet irony.