One of the banners Republicans began flying when they took control of the General Assembly included just two words: regulatory reform.
With thousands of rules on the books regulating issues ranging from water quality to home repair to podiatry examiners, that covers a lot of territory. Yet GOP lawmakers have embarked on a quest of sifting through the regulations to see what’s needed and what’s not.
Last session, a wide-ranging law focused mostly on environmental regulations came out of a joint House and Senate committee that held a series of meetings around the state. Environmentalists called the fact-gathering process a sham.
The law also requires state agencies to conduct annual reviews of their rules and repeal any that are “unnecessary” or “unduly burdensome.”
House Speaker Thom Tillis has created a standing committee to continue that work. He named one of his close allies, Rep. Tim Moffitt, a Republican from Asheville, to run it. Moffitt says the new committee should have an idea of regulations it will tackle in early February, but that the process would last throughout the long session.
The goal, Moffitt said, will be to promote business, jobs and the economy.
“I’m not entering this with preconceived notions at all,” Moffitt said. “Regulations are necessary. No one can dispute there are very good regulations out there. But there are those of questionable value. We need to take a candid look at those and deal with them in the best interests of the citizens.”
Moffitt said he hopes to set up a website where people can submit examples of regulations they consider unnecessary, like the 1976 requirement a constituent sent him that spells out precisely how to make a bed in a motel (fold the lower sheet under both ends of the mattress, fold the upper sheet over the cover at least 6 inches at the top end, etc.).
“You have to ask yourself about things like that,” he said.
On the Senate side, leader Phil Berger told reporters recently that regulatory reform will be a theme.
“It is something that will be, I think, a highlight of every session that you will see on an ongoing basis,” Berger said. “As long as you have unelected individuals with the authority to pass rules, you have the need for elected members of the General Assembly to review those rules and make sure the bureaucracy is not overstepping its bounds.”
Staff writer Craig Jarvis