On May 13, bipartisan legislation passed the House that reforms North Carolina’s system of government rules and regulations. House Bill 74 sets up a new framework for the periodic review of existing state regulations and sets up an expiration schedule for those which can no longer be adequately justified. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Regulations — rules that are dictated by unelected state bureaucrats and which carry the force of law — have accounted for an unprecedented growth in state government’s power over the last fifty years. Regulations affect virtually every aspect of our lives, from who can give nutrition advice to how toddlers are required to hang up their coats while attending private day care facilities.
There are over 22,500 regulations in North Carolina — many of which are decades old — and each constituting a hidden tax on our state’s residents. This Gordian Knot of red tape increases the cost of living, hinders job creation, and shackles our economic competitiveness.
“Many people may think that regulatory costs are a business problem. Indeed, they are, but the costs of regulation are inevitably passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices and limited product choices. Basic items, such as toilets, shower heads, lightbulbs, mattresses, washing machines, dryers, cars, ovens, refrigerators, television sets, and bicycles, all cost significantly more because of government decrees on energy use, product labeling, and performance standards that go well beyond safety, as well as hundreds of millions of hours of testing and paperwork to document compliance.” — From “Red Tape Rising: A 2011 Mid-Year Report” by James L. Gattuso and Diane Katz
Over the last century, the General Assembly has delegated most of its authority to codify and review regulations to bureaucrats in state agencies who are not directly accountable to voters. Not surprisingly, the rulemaking system is heavily biased in favor of expanding regulations: it was found that only about one-tenth of one percent of proposed regulations are ever ultimately blocked. Repealing these regulations has proven to be near-impossible too, despite the fact that many have proven obsolete, redundant and even contradictory.
House Bill 74, landmark legislation sponsored by Representative Tom Murry, turns that dynamic on its head. “HB74 is a jobs bill that sends a strong message to the small business community that the North Carolina General Assembly is committed to common-sense regulatory reform,” said Representative Murry. “We have nearly 23,000 regulations on the books that need to be reviewed — and in many cases repealed — so that our small businesses can be flexible and thrive.” (more…)