Earlier today, Carolina Journal published an opinion piece by senior political analyst, Mitch Kokai. Kokai’s piece centers on the recently passed H.B. 590 titled, “Amend Administrative Procedure Laws.” Kokai explains:
[T]he bill amends an important element of the state’s ongoing campaign of regulatory reform. It’s known formally as “sunset with periodic review.” The idea is that state government regulations should go away (sunset) unless regulators can continue to justify their existence. An occasional (periodic) review of the regulation determines whether it should stay or go.
The bill piggybacks off of the Regulatory Reform Act of 2013, which, according to Kokai:
required state agencies to assign rules to one of three categories. “Unnecessary” rules would be stripped from the books. Rules dubbed “necessary with substantive public interest” would be subjected to the full rule-making approval process. Rules labeled “necessary without substantive public interest” could stay in the books without any further review. Agencies would determine “public interest” based on comments or objections raised about the rule.
While Kokai admits he was skeptical that any substantive progress in reducing regulations would come out of this process, he found the results to be surprisingly effective:
Jon Sanders, the John Locke Foundation’s director of regulatory studies, has tracked the numbers regularly over the years. As of July 22, Sanders reports that the state Rules Review Commission had applied the periodic review process to 19,361 rules. More than 2,000 rules (about 10%) have been scrapped. Another 5,500 (29%) returned to the rigorous rule-making process.
While this does mean 61 percent of the rules have avoided strict scrutiny, it also means nearly 40 percent have either been scrapped or gone under review. Even with those impressive results, the Chairman of the Rules Review Commission, Garth Dunklin, testified to a legislative oversight group that his commission could be reviewing even more regulations. Kokai writes:
[Dunklin] told lawmakers the commission could assume a larger workload. He recommended scrapping the “necessary without substantive public interest” category. That change would force every state government rule to face additional scrutiny or head to the scrap heap.
According to Kokai:
Two-and-a-half years after Dunklin’s plea, H.B. 590 follows through on his suggestion. Controversial or not, each rule will face new scrutiny on a regular basis. If they can’t withstand the review, they will go away.