Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, has placed regulatory reform on the agenda for the fall legislative session. The Senate leader has made a wise decision as Michigan’s oppressive regulatory regime is a significant obstacle to job creation in the state. Excessive environmental bureaucracy is a major problem, but it is not the only barrier to job creation. Employers who wish to expand or locate in Michigan are faced with extensive state and local requirements such as difficulty in obtaining business licenses and complex zoning requirements that they do not face in other states.
Senators and their House counterparts would do well to launch a regulatory reform effort with the following action plan:
- Do no more harm. The Legislature should place a moratorium on all new regulations that would negatively impact business resulting in less job creation.
- Finish the job on already passed regulatory reform bills. Both the House and Senate have passed several regulatory reform bills that would help to remove obstacles to job creation. Legislators need to finish the job reconciling minor differences between House and Senate versions and send the legislation to the governor for signature.
- Pass legislation sun-setting regulations. Legislation should be passed that requires that all new regulations sunset in five years unless reauthorized by the Legislature. Existing regulations should also be placed on schedule for review to determine if they accomplished their intended purposes or have resulted in unintended consequences.
- Return wetland oversight to the federal government. Legislative efforts to reform the state wetland program have been a failure. The wetland program should be returned to the federal government to bring Michigan in line with the other states. If the Legislature opts to not return the wetland program to the feds, it should at a minimum clearly define what constitutes a wetland and exempt minor wet areas. Following a clear statutory definition of a wetland, legislators should appropriate funds to have a qualified contractor do an on the ground inventory of what constitutes a state regulated wetland.
Now is the time for bold action. The state’s unemployment rate is once again on the rise and the Legislature and governor’s office are controlled by elected officials who have expressed their commitment to seeing job creation in the state. If regulatory reform not now — when?
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