Thursday, November 18, 2010

No New Regs!?! Fewer New Regs, Anyway

Yesterday Governor Chris Gregoire issued an executive order (Exec. Order 10-06) suspending and limiting the state rulemaking process through the end of 2011. The Governor explained:

State rules are essential to protecting the health, safety, welfare and quality of life for Washingtonians. However, in these unprecedented economic times, this action will provide businesses with stability and predictability they need to help with our state’s recovery. The time and effort small business owners would put into meeting new requirements would be better spent in improving their bottom line, and adding new employees. This action will also allow local governments to focus their limited resources on the most critical issues in their communities.

Some rulemaking will continue. The Office of Financial Management issued a memo to state agencies with guidelines. For instance, rulemaking should go forward if it is required by state or federal law or a court order; necessary to manage budget shortfalls; necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare or necessary to avoid an immediate threat to the state’s natural resources. Rulemaking should also go forward if it is beneficial to or requested or supported by the regulated entities, local governments or small businesses that it affects.

On its face, the executive order only applies to agencies that report to the Governor. But the Governor "invite[s] all other elected officials, institutions of higher education, agencies, boards, commissions and other entities with rule making authority to follow the requirements of this Order."

We'll have to see how much difference this makes. There's a lot of room in the exceptions for continued rulemaking -- but this is still quite extraordinary.

UPDATE (2:45 pm)
Some reaction and news coverage:

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