The last time the Rules Review Commission updated the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee on the progress of sunset and periodic review of state rules was in January 2018. At that time, 13,469 rules had been reviewed, with the following outcomes:

  • 1,633 rules removed (12.1%)
  • 3,517 rules sent back through the rules adoption process (26.1%)
  • 8,319 rules automatically reupped (61.8%)

As you can see, about one out of every eight rules up for review were being removed. But by far the biggest category was that of rules being automatically reupped. If a state agency determined a rule up for review was necessary, and it didn’t receive any public input, the law allowed it to bypass any further scrutiny of having to go back through the rules adoption process.

On July 19, the governor signed into law House Bill 590, eliminating that category. Now rules under review that aren’t removed as “unnecessary” must go back through the rules adoption process. It’s a common-sense reform, a top regulatory reform promoted by the John Locke Foundation, and it passed the House and Senate unanimously.

How has the process gone since early January 2018? I asked research intern Nick Wilkinson to check. Here are numbers he received from the Rules Review Commission. Of the 5,854 rules reviewed starting in 2018:

  • 361 rules removed (6.2%)
  • 1,995 rules sent back through the rules adoption process (34.1%)
  • 3,498 rules automatically reupped (59.8%)

Two things stand out here. One, rule removal has slowed by about half (to 6.2 percent when it was 12.1 percent). The other is, more rules are being sent back through the rules adoption process (now 34.1 percent when it was 26.1 percent).

Overall, that means that after reviewing 19,361 rules, about one out of every 10 rules has been removed. That’s still a significant outcome, removing that many old, unnecessary rules. I would of course have liked to see more.

The most up-to-date numbers:

  • 2,008 rules removed (10.4%)
  • 5,542 rules sent back through the rules adoption process (28.6%)
  • 11,811 rules automatically reupped (61.0%)*

Nevertheless, it’ll be worth watching to see how the new law affects the periodic review process. It should at least ensure more rigorous oversight over rules that have come in for periodic review.

The more streamlined the state’s administrative code is, the more it will promote faster economic growth.

* There is a slight disparity between the new report’s numbers pre-2018 and the numbers reported to the APO, which is very minor and may reflect a change in categorization of a few rules.

Post Script: This piece was cited in the Federal Register on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, in support of a rule proposal that would place sunset provisions on Department of Health and Human Services rules.