Wisconsin and North Carolina can learn from each other in the fight against red tape

This year, Wisconsin passed a REINS Act. It’s a reform I’ve long promoted for North Carolina. You can read about it here in my 2015 report “Reining in Regulation.”

Here are James Broughel and Bryce Chinault of the Mercatus Center discussing this reform in the Green Bay Gazette:

With the stroke of a pen last month, Gov. Scott Walker made Wisconsin the first state to adopt the REINS (or “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny”) Act.

It will require that the most expensive state regulations — those expected to cost businesses, local governments, and individuals $10 million or more over any two-year period — are authorized by the Legislature and governor before taking effect.

This sensible approach shifts some authority from unelected state regulators back to elected officials who are more accountable to voters.

Wisconsin immediately becomes a model state in fighting unchecked executive power in the form of unaccountable state agencies imposing deeply impactful rules on people and businesses without deliberation from the actual branch of government tasked with making law.

But that doesn’t mean Wisconsin’s a model state in everything. The authors point out that Wisconsin already has nearly 160,000 restrictions on the books. They write:

[T]here is another kind of regulatory reform that is equally — and in some cases more — important than forward-looking reforms. These encourage a look back at existing regulations. Combing through the piles and piles of rules already in place will likely be Wisconsin’s next frontier.

Here is where North Carolina can serve as a model for Wisconsin with our sunset provisions with periodic review of state regulations. We have had such a reform on the books since 2013.

So far this reform has eliminated one out of every eight restrictions that have been reviewed:

The best part about that is that it could do even more with a minor tweak that has broad support, even within the Rules Review Commission.)

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...