Regulatory Improvement Act Is in Need of Support

October 8, 2013

A commission with teeth is needed to review and eliminate outdated and inefficient regulations, says Thomas Hemphill, associate professor of strategy, innovation and public policy at the University of Michigan-Flint's School of Management.

On July 30, 2013, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Angus King (I-Me.) introduced the Regulatory Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 1390). If passed into law, the act will create in the legislative branch a nine-member, bipartisan "Regulatory Improvement Commission" with the intention of reducing compliance costs, encouraging economic growth and innovation, and improving national competitiveness.

  • The commission is charged with researching, reviewing and providing recommendations for modifications, consolidation or repeal of administrative rules ("covered regulations") governing an industry sector or specific area that are considered outdated, duplicative or inefficient.
  • During this review process, the commission will evaluate the effectiveness of specific regulations by employing quantitative metrics; industry, federal agency, and public testimony and comment; and staff research to reach its final conclusions and recommendations in a report delivered to both houses of Congress.
  • After expedited congressional committee review, the recommendations will be considered by members on a straight up-or-down vote without amendment.

The proposal of a heavy-handed retrospective regulatory review mechanism, as embodied in the Regulatory Improvement Commission, is a public acknowledgement that our democratic institutions are not effectively working.

The Regulatory Improvement Commission offers a pragmatic solution to reining in regulatory expenses by holding the federal government accountable for its decisions -- at least, in this case, for a modest, reasonable expectation of reducing the economic impact of outdated, duplicative and inefficient regulations on a sputtering U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, S. 1390 should be regarded as the "least-best" potential solution for a public policy problem with long-term, negative economic consequences. Over the last two months, there have been no additional Senate co-sponsors of S. 1390, any companion bill introduced in the House of Representatives, or a groundswell of support from traditional business interests, leaving one to conclude that this will be an uphill battle for eventual congressional passage.

Source: Thomas A. Hemphill, "The Regulatory Improvement Act: A 'Least-Best' Solution for Regulatory Inefficiency," The American, September 30, 2013.

 

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