Regulatory Reform

The GEAR Task Force’s “Power, Practices, Personnel” Report Draws on State-Level Policy Successes

The Government, Efficiency, Accountability, and Reform (GEAR) Task Force of the Republican Study Committee, chaired by Congressman Greg Gianforte of Montana, released a report that outlines numerous free market reforms for the federal government. Drawing on the principle of federalism, many of these reform ideas proposed by the GEAR Task Force have roots at the state level of policymaking.

Offering 100 policy ideas, the “Power, Practices, Personnel” report proposes a roadmap for how Congress and the President could get the federal bureaucracy under control and restore constitutional limits to the federal government.

The first recommendation from the GEAR Task Force is in support of the REINS Act, a law that would require congressional review of all major federal rules. Many states require legislative review of state agency regulations, such as Idaho, Wisconsin, and Maine. In fact, Idaho requires periodic review and reapproval of all past rules in addition to new ones. In 2019, the legislature declined to move legislation reauthorizing Idaho’s regulatory code and effectively repealed all Idaho regulations. Of course, later action by Governor Brad Little re-enacted many regulations, but the temporary repeal gave the governor the opportunity to comb Idaho’s regulatory code for which rules truly made Idaho function better and which were arbitrary and inefficient.

States are also providing an example on how to consolidate agencies and remove spending redundancies, another key theme of the GEAR Task Force recommendations. In 2018, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a proposal combining 45 distinct agencies into just 15. This year, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt made agency consolidation a key aspect to his plan for administrative reforms in his State of the State speech.

ALEC members are also excited to see many long-time ALEC ideas from the State Budget Reform Toolkit make their way into the GEAR Task Force’s report. Conducting an audit of public assets and selling excess property, as well as enacting transparency measures in financial reporting are two of the ALEC best practices that are recommended in the GEAR report.

Ever since the states created the federal government, states have functioned as 50 testing grounds for policy. From the welfare reforms of the 1990s, to fundamental education reforms, and successful examples of tax relief, states have been first movers when it comes to enacting commonsense, pro-taxpayer policies. ALEC is proud to see states leading the way again to provide the federal government with the policy tools to balance the budget, reduce job-killing regulations, and return the federal government to its constitutional boundaries.

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