Friday, June 22, 2012

Rules are falling but the sky isn’t

Can state leaders protect the public interest while slashing regulatory costs for Washington’s businesses? You bet they can! In 2011, for example, lawmakers enacted huge Unemployment Insurance reforms (SB 5135) that helped unemployed workers while saving businesses nearly $300 million.

Lawmakers also added real teeth to the Regulatory Fairness Act (SB 5500) and insisted that state agencies give businesses more time to fix problems before issuing fines (HB 1150). This year’s ongoing reform-work included strengthening the state Office of Regulatory Assistance (SB 6359) and revamping industrial storm-water permitting rules  (HB 2651).

But the big regulatory-relief news this week is the terrific success of a pair of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Executive Orders (10-06 and 11-03) that directed state agencies to help businesses (and save state tax dollars!) by suspending non-critical rule-making. A new report shows the governor wasn’t kidding when she ordered agencies to curb all non-essential rulemaking:

  • 75 rules were eliminated
  • 483 rules were put on hold
  • 186 adopted rules were required by law
  • 118 adopted rules were requested by the regulated communities
  • 69 adopted rules were related to managing budget reductions and related government reforms
  • 28 rules were adopted to address public health or safety concerns
  • 5 rules were necessary due to court order
  • 30 rules were adopted after negotiated or pilot rulemaking

In short, as Gary Smith, president of Independent Business Association, was quoted as saying in a recent press release from our governor, “They have proven to be successful.”  Of course, there’s always more that can be done, and House Democrats are already working on reform ideas for next year. Have any ideas? If you do, please share them with one of our HDC lawmakers You might be the inspiration for the next great state reform!

To read this story in Spanish, click here.