"The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) culminated years of effort by state and local government officials and business interests to control, if not eliminate, the imposition of unfunded intergovernmental and private-sector federal mandates. Advocates argued the statute was needed to forestall federal legislation and regulations that imposed obligations on state and local governments or businesses that resulted in higher costs and inefficiencies. Opponents argued that federal mandates may be necessary to achieve national objectives in areas where voluntary action by state and local governments and business failed to achieve desired results. [...] This report examines debates over what constitutes an unfunded federal mandate and UMRA's implementation. It focuses on UMRA's requirement that CBO [Congressional Budget Office] issue written cost estimate statements for federal mandates in legislation, its procedures for raising points of order in the House and Senate concerning unfunded federal mandates in legislation, and its requirement that federal agencies prepare written cost estimate statements for federal mandates in rules. It also assesses UMRA's impact on federal mandates and arguments concerning UMRA's future, focusing on UMRA's definitions, exclusions, and exceptions that currently exempt many federal actions with potentially significant financial impacts on nonfederal entities."
CRS Report for Congress, R40957
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html