by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jon Sanders writes in the Clarion-Ledger about a proposal to reduce the regulatory burden in Mississippi.
A bill before the Mississippi legislature would apply sunset provisions with periodic review to all state rules. It’s a good idea: a way to cut red tape and keep state rules current.
Under House Bill 1265, state rules that aren’t reviewed in five years by the state agencies that made them would sunset — that is, be repealed. This reform, sunset with periodic review, is a systematic approach to dealing with a growing heap of state rules. Those regulations affect private individuals and businesses in countless ways.
Without review, old rules can clutter up the regulatory toolshed. They can become increasingly outdated, obsolete, burdensome, vague, ineffective, and inefficient. Agencies might not even remember why they adopted them in the first place. And as rules pile up, they can become real obstacles to economic growth. …
… Getting rid of a useless rule can be a costly expenditure of time and political capital, however, when revisiting rules is discretionary. Having every rule slated for repeal within a set time frame pending review takes politics out of the decision.
In my state of North Carolina, the legislature enacted sunset provisions with periodic review in 2013. Under that reform, a state rule is repealed after 10 years if it isn’t reviewed by its originating agency. …
… About one-eighth (12 percent) of the rules reviewed so far are being removed. Over one-fourth of rules have to undergo further scrutiny through the rule adoption process, meaning more could be repealed. So in just three years since passing sunset with periodic review, North Carolina is already seeing its regulatory burden diminish.
Still, over half (62 percent) of the rules reviewed so far have been retained. As a result, the chairman of the state Rules Review Commission has urged legislators to make the process two-tiered. That would ensure scrutiny of each rule: either the agency repeals the unnecessary rule or sends it back through the rulemaking process as if newly proposed.
In Mississippi, the bill as it stands now would have this scrutiny. It would require each rule to be sunset in five years if not reviewed by its originating agency. Upon review, the rule would be repealed, changed, or replaced. The clock would start over when the rule is changed or replaced, or if the rule is readopted in the interim.
Sunset with periodic review of state rules is a proven way to cut down on regulatory clutter. That would be a good thing for the Mississippi’s economy, her businesses big and small, and her people.