Good to Great: Expanding & Implementing Statewide Regulatory Reform

The following is our weekly excerpt from NAIOP’s report, Good to Great: Recommendations for the Baker Polito Administration. Comments are encouraged!

In 2012, the Patrick Administration launched a top-to-bottom regulatory reevaluation for all state agencies. The initiative resulted in a review of 1,791 regulations for efficiency and effectiveness. In addition, 255 regulations were amended or eliminated. The goal was to determine which regulations should be rescinded, modified, or made more consistent with a national model or standard.

The Baker Polito Administration should expand upon and strengthen the Regulatory Reform Initiative through the following initiatives:

– Appoint a proactive Regulatory Ombudsman with significant authority operating out of the Governor’s office. This person and a support team will be responsible for implementing the Regulatory Reform initiative by overseeing the following:

  • Seek out and motivate agencies to respond to feedback from the regulated community on problematic policies or regulations.
  • Maintain and reinvigorate the Business Advisory Committee to help the Ombudsman and team identify problematic regulations and alternative processes.
  • Consider initially freezing and reviewing any policies or regulations approved in the final 60 days of 2014, until there is a thorough review by the agency and the Ombudsman. (NAIOP strongly supports the “Regulatory Pause” put in place by the Baker Administration.)
  • Ensure that any newly proposed regulation go through an extensive vetting process that begins first with identifying the need for the regulation and ensuring the benefits of the regulation outweigh the impacts and burdens on business and the public. Any agency proposing a new regulation must complete a “small business impact statement” documenting the potential financial and time costs. This impact statement must include feedback from the regulated community. The Ombudsman and team will be responsible for ensuring the small business impact statement meets certain established standards.
  • Provide authorization on the public comment period for draft regulations.
  • Ensure the implementation of the ongoing periodic review of existing regulations required under the economic development bill passed in 2012 to identify those that should be amended or repealed.

– When regulations are approved for public comment, draft regulations must be posted online and emailed to a list of affected stakeholders (via voluntary sign-up as now done with DEP, DOR, and a few other agencies).

– While guidance can be helpful, it should be clarified by the Baker Polito Administration that guidance is just that, guidance, and does not take the place of regulations in any way.

– The Baker Polito Administration should seriously consider amending or eliminating current state regulations that exceed federal standards or duplicate federal processes.

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