One of the most promising developments in recasting Connecticut’s business climate is the attention that Governor Malloy and the General Assembly are giving to improving Connecticut’s regulatory climate.
Addressing this issue is critical for the state’s economy and national competitiveness. Forbes’s 2013 “Best States for Business,” for example, ranked Connecticut only 39th in regulatory climate.
A recent meeting of the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee reveals how Connecticut can rapidly climb in that ranking.
Last October, the governor issued a sweeping executive order calling for the repeal of outdated regulations and a new, more deliberative and collaborative process for developing future regulations.
Since then, lawmakers have advanced several proposals related to the regulation development process as well as regular reviews of existing regulations to make sure they are accomplishing their purpose without placing undue burdens on businesses and other regulated entities.
Unfortunately, some of those involved believe that the focus for improvement should be on the end of the process–specifically, the final approval of the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee.
Getting It Right
In our view, the emphasis should be on getting regulations right, far in advance of the legislature’s final review.
Since all authority for the adoption of regulations begins with legislative action (a bill authorizing or requiring an agency to adopt regulations), it makes sense for the legislature to have a last look at how the state agency exercised that authority before the regulations become final. In fact, that final step of legislative review is enshrined in Connecticut’s Constitution.
Critics argue that the Regulation Review Committee can tie up final approval of a regulation for months. Occasionally, this is true.
However, the reason regulations get bogged down is generally because the sponsoring agency did not sufficiently collaborate with or consider the concerns of affected stakeholders when developing the regulation.
Another stumbling block can be that the agency presented the proposed regulation to the committee in language that the Committee’s legal staff found to be unclear or in a format not in conformance with state requirements.
Last week, the committee met to consider a number of complex and potentially controversial regulations that included proposals for establishing new sulfur content standards for certain fuels , revising state air quality standards, and creating new testing requirements for older drivers.
With the environmental proposals, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Air Management Bureau had:
- Reached out to the regulated community far in advance of finalizing its proposal
- Worked with potentially affected industries to address their concerns while still achieving the goals of the regulations
- Had an experienced regulatory attorney draft the final language to make sure it was clear and consistent with the state’s rules on regulatory format.
Of little surprise to veterans of the regulation adoption process, all of the proposed regulations on the committee’s agenda were approved in about 15 minutes.
Writing sensible and effective regulations takes time, collaboration, and experience. All of these factors are either successfully or unsuccessfully delivered at the agency level–not in the legislature. And when delivered, the final legislative adoption process can be quick and efficient.
CBIA is working with the governor’s office and the legislature to help ensure their laudable efforts to improve Connecticut’s current and future regulatory climate are appropriately focused on the earlier stages of regulatory development process, rather than the end.