by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A legislative committee could vote early next year to subject more N.C. state government rules to detailed scrutiny. It’s an idea that comes from Garth Dunklin, chairman of the N.C. Rules Review Commission.
He and his colleagues want lawmakers to amend state law. Their proposed amendment would force rules either to go through a formal re-adoption process or to be eliminated.
Right now, the state’s rules review process forces agencies to sift through their rules and separate them into three categories: rules that should go away, rules that should go through the state’s formal rule adoption process again, and rules that should continue in place without any extra review.
As of late October, a review of 8,017 state agency rules had led to 871 recommendations for removal, 2,296 recommendations for formal readoption, and 4,850 rules recommended to remain unchanged.
Dunklin explained today to the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee why that breakdown proves frustrating.
Depending upon when you look, somewhere between 60 and 65 percent of the rules are falling in the “necessary without public interest” bucket, which from a policy perspective, to some of us, feels like it frustrates the intent of the process, in the sense that the rules need … to see the light of day. They need to have the opportunity for the public to comment on them. They need to go through the process if for no other reason than they need to be looked at periodically, which was one of the underpinning concepts.
So what’s the solution?
The idea that we came up with was a fairly simple one: Get rid of the middle bucket, so that you then have two buckets. The rule is classified by the agency as either unnecessary and removed from the code, or it goes through the re-adoption process. One of the things that recommended that concept to me is it really just sort of steps back closer to the original recommendation in the first place, which was that everything should go through re-adoption.
The legislative committee meets again Jan. 3. Lawmakers could consider Dunklin’s idea at that meeting.