The News & Observer’s editorial today uses the following terms to describe this year’s signature regulatory reform of sunset provisions with periodic review:
- concessions to developers and polluters
- “streamline” regulatory process with a sledgehammer and blowtorch
- uncommon recklessness
As Dorothy Parker reportedly remarked, “What fresh hell is this?”
- North Carolina is bound up in over 22,500 permanent administrative rules.
- It has been exceedingly difficult in North Carolina to block a rule once it is proposed. A 2010 study showed that only about one-tenth of one percent of the 6,510 permanent rules introduced between fiscal years 2004-05 and 2008- 09 were ultimately blocked.
- Over the last 20 years, N.C. lawmakers have added an average 2,360 new pages to the North Carolina Register every year, showing an aggressive regulatory culture.
- Surveys of North Carolina business leaders conducted by the John Locke Foundation consistently found that the state’s tax burden was the No. 1 factor reducing the state’s competitiveness. They also found that the state’s regulatory burden was a growing impediment — quickly ranking second only to taxes.
- Having a sunset provision has been found to have a “robustly statistically significant” effect in reducing a state’s regulatory burden — and consequently to have an economically significant positive impact as well.
But in the economic model in use by the N&O, none of that registers. The model’s governing assumption is, of course, that everything was fine in the state until 2011, when Republicans showed up and started Changing the Way We Have Always Done Things. Now with Gov. Pat McCrory having signed this major regulatory reform, the N&O has revealed another tenet of its Keys to Economic Growth:
- Overregulation enhances North Carolina’s business climate and grows tourism and in-migration.
As the N&O puts it, “North Carolina has a good business climate in large part because it has effective environmental laws and regulations. The beauty of the state and the consistency of the laws that protect it are what have attracted businesses, newcomers, students and tourists.”
Note that: “in large part.” It’s not a contributing factor in the model; it’s the primary one.
That’s why changing the regulatory climate is so uncommonly reckless, in N&O-nomics. Illogical, even. Dangerous.