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Regulation at the state level

Nancy Marshall-Genzer May 3, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: This election year, you’re going to hear a lot about government regulations — whether they’re too tough, or not tough enough.

Well at the state level, just the argument over regulation is causing trouble, as Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Bob Burnley worked for more than 30 years as a state regulator in Virginia. At one point, he headed Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality. He noticed, toward the end of his career…

Bob Burnley: The number of reports that we had to do increased all the time.

Burnley had to do lots of cost-benefit analyses. And then the Virginia legislature established a panel to review regulations.

Burnley: And those members of the state legislature had the authority to call before them anybody that was making a new rule and make them justify it.

Virginia is not unique. New Jersey regulators now have to file Jobs Impact Statements, quantifying the number of jobs that would be lost or gained because of a proposed rule. The Tennessee legislature formed a task force to root out regulations that it thinks impede job growth. And in Florida, new rules deemed to cost businesses more than $200,000 a year must go back to the legislature for approval.

Stuart Shapiro teaches politics and regulation at Rutgers.  He says almost every state is doing some kind of regulatory reform.  A trend that’s snowballed over the past 10 years.

Stuart Shapiro: In 2010, 136 bills were introduced in state legislatures that required cost benefit analysis of something. That’s a tremendous number. I mean, there are only 50 states.

Shapiro says you do need some analysis of new rules.  But he says the process has become too politicized. With legislators putting up roadblocks to regulation, to win support from voters or business owners who don’t like government oversight.

Jason Schwartz is legal director at NYU’s Institute for Policy Integrity.  

Jason Schwartz: Unfortunately, the trend across the country is toward adding more levels of regulatory review that aren’t particularly helpful.

Especially when, according to Schwartz, states regulate almost 20 percent of the U.S. economy.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

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