Regulatory Reform

Massachusetts Governor Sets the Bar for Regulatory Reform

Massachusetts-Capitol

In late March, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued Executive Order NO.562 to enforce regulatory pause and review by the Executive Department in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As a result, Massachusetts will benefit from greater government accountability and a more business friendly environment.

Executive Order NO.562 implements a one-year review of state regulations in an effort to eliminate those that are overly complex, costly and burdensome. The order declares that no state regulation may exceed federal requirements and only regulations essential for the public health, safety, environment or welfare may be left in place. Furthermore, the executive order states that agencies seeking to implement a new regulation will be required to submit business and competitiveness impact statements.

Importantly, the review process will be transparent and open to the public. Following review, regulatory proposals will be given to the Governor’s Secretary of Administration and Finance who will “establish such processes for encouraging public input, standards and schedules as she deems appropriate to accomplish the review of regulations required by this Order.” Business and competitiveness impact statements will also be made available on the Commonwealth’s website.

The need for regulatory review and limitation is clear as onerous state regulations in Massachusetts have imposed unnecessary costs and burdens on individuals and businesses alike. Regulations govern nearly every aspect of the economy and their implications are vast. In addition to regulations put in place by the federal government, states directly regulate 20 percent of the economy. Although there is a necessary role for regulations in helping to protect the public, states have a responsibility to ensure the regulations they enact are fair and find the right cost-benefit balance.

State regulations should be up-to-date, relevant and least burdensome to consumers and businesses, and the recent executive order ensures all three of these principles apply in Massachusetts. When announcing the executive order, Governor Baker said, “This will be an intensive process that ultimately makes Massachusetts a more efficient and competitive place to live and work, while driving economic growth. I encourage all other areas of state government to put in place a similar process.”

For more information, please see the ALEC Regulatory Review and Rescission Act which, among other things, calls for regular agency review of regulations, and the ALEC Regulatory Flexibility Act, which analyzes the availability of more flexible regulations for small businesses.


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 …

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