In the latest of a series of steps to keep Massachusetts ahead of its economic competitors, Governor Deval Patrick today announced the initial results of a systematic review of state regulations and new steps to streamline regulations for small businesses. After reviewing 200 regulations that were each more than 12 years old, Governor Patrick has approved changes to nearly 150 regulations. In addition, today the Governor launched a new effort to make sure that no new regulation is issued without serious consideration of its impact on small businesses.
Governor Patrick outlined his reforms, the first effort of its kind in Massachusetts since 1996, this afternoon at a meeting of The Alliance for Business Leadership. Governor Patrick also launched a video message to state employees responsible for writing, reviewing and issuing regulations. The video is designed to improve awareness of the connection between state regulation and the health of the small business community, and to encourage state regulators to present their best ideas for regulatory reform and government innovation.
"Our collective growth and prosperity depends on the growth and prosperity of small businesses," said Governor Patrick. "We can strike a better balance between protecting consumers and enabling entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses here, and government must constantly strive to do so. These changes may seem small, but not to the small businesses that have to deal with them -- and we are not stopping here."
"Reevaluating our current regulations and assessing what may not be necessary will improve doing business for Massachusetts companies," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "Our Administration understands the needs of Massachusetts companies and we want to continue to work with them to foster a strong, sustainable business environment in the Commonwealth."
"Sound regulatory policies are critical to creating a fair, transparent, and sustainable markets for businesses of all sizes," said Andrew Tarsy, president and executive director for The Alliance for Business Leadership. "By reviewing and removing rules that inhibit healthy growth and investment, Governor Patrick is demonstrating a commitment to a high performance economy that is good for business and good for the Commonwealth. We welcome the effort and offer our full partnership in going even further in the days ahead."
INITIAL RESULTS PROMISING:
The first phase of regulatory reform included a review of more than 200 regulations representing approximately 10% of the total regulations in state government. Out of that pool, the Administration identified 41 regulations to eliminate and 107 regulations to improve. These recommended changes cover a wide range of topics and include streamlining licensing requirements, simplifying standards for business practices, and eliminating duplicative reporting requirements.
The reviews to date have found some regulations that are duplicative or unwieldy, with changes made to simply small-business practices. This includes collapsing 10 separate sets of rules for food manufacturers and replacing them with a single, modernized food safety regulation; eliminating repetitive counting of surf clams; and the annual reporting of sea bass catches which are already counted weekly and monthly. The recommendations cover a wide range of topics and include streamlining licensing requirements for salons and funeral homes, simplifying registration requirements for architectural licensure exams, and clarifying licensure requirements for mental health counselors and child care facilities.
STREAMLINING ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS:
Over the past year, the Department of Environmental Protection has done a top-to-bottom review of its regulations to find smarter ways to protect the environment while reducing regulatory burdens on businesses and on the agency. The Department worked hand-in-hand with both business and environmental stakeholders to identify more than 20 changes to its regulations and policies that cut across the agency. The package of reforms will streamline environmental permitting requirements, eliminate state permits that are of low environmental protection value or that duplicate local approvals, and encourage better environmental outcomes by reducing barriers to environmentally beneficial projects like renewable energy sources.
COORDINATING NEXT STEPS:
Governor Patrick has directed the Administration-wide review of 1,000 old regulations by the end of 2012, seeking to find at least 250 rules that can be streamlined or rescinded to reduce burdens on small businesses and improving government efficiencies. All 2,000 regulations will be reviewed by the end of 2013. During the reviews, all agencies are directed to consider the appropriateness of adopting a national model or standard to align the state's practices with those in place elsewhere in the country.
The regulatory reform effort also includes a first-of-its-kind coordinated effort across agencies to identify the potential small business impacts of all new regulations, and to introduce those impacts into the public discourse during the rulemaking process. To assist in this effort, the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (HED) has appointed April Anderson Lamoureux, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, to act as a regulatory "ombudsman" between the Administration and business leaders on the topic of regulation.
HED will continue to bring together business leaders, chambers of commerce and trade associations throughout this process and will conduct monthly check-ins with all stakeholders. Ongoing input from businesses will contribute to the success of our reform efforts.
Regulatory reform was identified by the Governor's Economic Development Planning Council as a priority action item for increasing the ease of doing business in Massachusetts, and is cited in the Council's recent report, Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century: An Economic Development Policy and Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
"As the state's largest small business advocacy organization, the NFIB and thousands of small business owners we represent are heartened, indeed excited, about Governor Patrick's initiative to systematically review, modify, streamline, and eliminate hundreds of state regulations," said Bill Vernon, Massachusetts State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business. "We applaud this effort not only because it will make business owners' lives simpler, although it will, but also because it will improve our state's business climate and result in job growth among small businesses -- the job creators. We look forward to working with Governor Patrick and his economic development team as we undertake this important work."
"There is a direct connection between regulatory reform and the creation of jobs for Massachusetts residents," said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Office of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. "Eliminating inefficient and outdated regulations means that existing companies will expand, abandoned buildings will take on new life, and entrepreneurs will feel the confidence they need to start businesses. We commend the Patrick-Murray Administration for its business-like approach to the regulatory challenge."
"I want to thank MassDEP for its leadership in undertaking this important regulatory reform effort that all state agencies have been asked to support," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan. "This reform effort is a model for other agencies to follow, and I am committed to implementing regulatory reform across all of our energy and environmental agencies."
"As an agency that has suffered extensive budget cuts in recent years, MassDEP has had to continually find ways to improve and streamline the way it does business," said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. "Through this effort, MassDEP is poised to serve as a model for remaking government agencies for the 21st Century."