For years, Maryland’s over-regulation has been hurting the state’s economy, stifling entrepreneurship and generally creating bureaucratic nightmares for its citizens. Comprehensive regulatory reform is long overdue. Fortunately, in his newest published paper, Nick Zaiac, policy analyst at the Maryland Public Policy Institute, gave a comprehensive outline of what the reform should look like, with a practical title-to-title in-depth analysis.
In the paper, The Case for Common Sense Regulatory Reforms to the Maryland Code, five general recommendations were offered: 1) completely rework the state’s occupational licensing rules; 2) consolidate economic development subsidy programs; 3) get one-stop-shop permitting right; 4) create a state-level office to approve or deny federal grant requests; and 5) involve the private sector in environmental remediation and expand Public-Private Partnership (P3) options. Specifically, the following three aspects deserve a closer look.
Occupational Licensing Reform: As has been long recognized in the ALEC model policy, The Occupational Licensing Relief and Job Creation Act, the damaging effect of too much occupational licensing is clear. Zaiac proposed the state of Maryland should do the following: 1) Assemble a deregulatory commission to assess the state’s occupational licensing laws and propose a unified legislative reform package. A “unified” reform package need only face an up-or-down vote in both the Senate and House of Delegates, which helps overcome entrenched special interests’ efforts to block the deal. 2) Form a board which oversees more than one licensed profession, and require inclusion of at least one economist on the board, aiming to limit the possibility of cartel-like mischief by incumbent professionals.
One-stop-shop Permitting Right: In Maryland, starting a small business is currently a costly endeavor. In order to promote entrepreneurship and boost economic development, Zaiac recommends not only to 1) digitize paperwork; but also to 2) borrow streamlining ideas from the Devens (MA) model, and put all permitting and application functions under one unified commission.
State-level scrutiny on federal grant requests: Federal funding in state-level policy has long been the source of questionable allocation of public resources. Zaiac proposes creating a new state-level office in order to put federal grant applications under greater scrutiny. Modeling on Indiana’s Office of State-Based Initiatives(OSBI), this method will feature the use of cost-benefit analysis.
This battle to reform the regulatory environment in Maryland was thoroughly discussed in more than 30 specific recommendations at the end of the paper. Rationalizing the state’s regulatory environment is the goal of Maryland’s reform effort, meaning both cutting redundancy and adding additional scrutiny. The fact that many of Maryland’s regulatory issues are prevalent across the nation makes these policy recommendations valuable for other states to emulate. While Maryland looks at successful cases across the nation to seek the best way to reform, it is also time for all state legislators to sit back and re-think the rationales for their own states’ regulatory laws.