Dan Way’s Carolina Journal piece this morning, “Rules review head wants more regulations scrapped,” contains the latest numbers of on the progress of the periodic review and examination of existing rules:

  • 8,964 total rules reviewed so far
  • 5,550 rules to remain unchanged
  • 2,337 rules subject to the readoption process
  • 1,077 rules to be removed

The bulk of economic literature demonstrates regulation’s harmful effects on the economy. Cutting red tape and clearing out overregulation would therefore have beneficial effects for economic growth.

My 2013 Spotlight on sunset provisions with periodic review showed that, of all the rules review processes states have used, only sunset provisions with periodic review has a “robustly statistically significant” effect in reducing red tape. Not surprisingly, it has a significant, positive impact on the states economy as well.

The numbers show that this reform is working for North Carolina. Nearly one-eighth (12 percent) of the rules reviewed so far are now slated to be removed. Another 26 percent must return to the rule adoption process as if new. Over half (62 percent) of the rules reviewed so far were retained without change.

Culling about one out of every eight state rules is one bit of encouraging news. Here is, to my way of thinking, another bit: Garth Dunklin, chairman of the state Rules Review Commission, doesn’t think that’s nearly enough. According to CJ:

“When 61 percent of the rules that are going through this process are staying in the code with no change, they’re not getting the full exposure to public comment or careful examination,” Dunklin said. That “bothers us from a policy standpoint.”

In early December, Dunklin appeared before the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee and recommended the General Assembly revise the law to eliminate the option allowing agencies to simply maintain rules without review. …

“The concept there was to make agencies pick up and look at their rules, and examine their continuing usefulness and efficacy, expose them to the process of public comment that is a part of our rulemaking process,” Dunklin said. Outdated rules could be stricken from the code, and the remaining rules could be improved with renewed scrutiny.

Dunklin noted that many agency heads who were asked by a Rules Review Commission member what a particular rule was, “the response, disturbingly frequently, would be, ‘I’m not really sure, it’s just always been there,'” he said.