Regulatory Reform

States Removing Regulatory Roadblocks

On June 30th, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order #19, establishing the Office of Regulatory Management (ORM) to address regulations in Virginia. Among other responsibilities, the new office will create institutional controls, conduct cost-benefit analyses, and review all Virginia regulations every four years. That this order comes less than a year into his term, seemingly indicates that Governor Youngkin wants to move quickly on regulatory reform.

Governor Younkin clarified in his press release that he does not seek to wipe away all regulations; he recognizes their necessity for a “best in class state government.” However, he also recognizes that many proposed regulations in Virginia have no cost-benefit analysis conducted to determine whether they will actually serve Virginians and create an efficient government. With reforms like the new ORM, Governor Youngkin seeks to refocus the regulatory process on preventing undue and inefficient impositions on private citizens. He also has set a goal of reducing Virginia regulations by 25%.

ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance, and Economic (CIED) Task Force similarly maintains that good governance requires streamlining the processes by which the government operates. Its related model policies reflect this foundation and provide recommendations for reforming the way new regulations are considered and the way old regulations and rules are reviewed.  

CIED’s model Administrative Procedures Act provides a detailed and comprehensive approach (click here for a summary) to reforming bureaucracies within a single state. Other CIED model policies provide a narrower approach to regulatory reform. The Targeted Legislative Review Act creates a special unit to conduct economic analyses on proposed rules. It also requires legislative approval of any rules determined to be a “major rule,” which it defines in Section 4. CIED’s Act to Establish a Cap on Government Red Tape seeks to reduce a state’s regulatory requirements by 35% via a one-in-two-out approach that is similar to President Trump’s initiative, until the target 35% is achieved. The Accountability in Rule Making Act requires governor approval before an agency promulgates a new rule.

Other states have also taken up the effort to address the steady growth and inefficiencies of regulations, rules, and state agencies and departments. Idaho famously sunset its entire 8,200-page state code in 2019, forcing state legislators to vote to reinstate each rule during the next session. Due to this sunset and additional executive orders, Governor Brad Little reports that Idaho has “cut or simplified” 95% of regulatory red tape. Ohio’s SB 9, which was signed into law in early June, gives state agencies three years to reduce their regulatory restrictions by 30%. In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order at the beginning of this year to renew an existing moratorium on new regulatory rulemaking by state agencies. 

At the federal level, there is interest in using regulatory review to address overcriminalization, or the proliferation of deeming actions criminal. Congressman Chip Roy (TX) has sponsored the Count the Crimes to Cut Act, which would require a full report of all federal statutes and regulations “with criminal penalties.” The Mercatus Center and Heritage Foundation have already partnered to use an algorithm to identify such instances of codes creating a crime. As of January 2022, they had identified 5,199 crimes created by the 186,000-page U.S. Code.

As Governor Youngkin acknowledges in his press release, state agencies and departments should exist to ensure the proper exercise of government; they are not meant to inflict undue burdens on Americans. With reforms like his executive order and those in the above CIED model policies, states can reform their bureaucracies to keep them accountable to constituents and remove inefficient, unneeded regulations restricting American freedom. 

In Depth: Regulatory Reform

In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson said that “the sum of good government” was one “which shall restrain men from injuring one another” and “shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry.” Sadly, governments – both federal and state – have ignored this axiom and…

+ Regulatory Reform In Depth