Since 2010, the federal government has rolled out over 600 new regulations through the executive branch. Whether you’re washing cars or building houses or collecting bills, these laws make your life harder.
That’s not to mention the state laws. In Nebraska alone there are nearly 200 different occupations that require a government license, and 43 chapters of regulatory code, spanning thousands of pages.
In an effort to make their state more competitive for businesses and workers, Wisconsin is considering a regulatory reform act based on a federal bill called a REINS Act. REINS stands for Regulations from Executive in Need of Scrutiny.
In Wisconsin, the bill would require any new regulation that executive departments create, like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, to be submitted to a joint committee of the legislature for approval if its cost exceeds $10 million.
In addition to limiting regulations that hurt businesses, the legislation is also an attempt to restore the balance of powers in government. Throughout the past century, the power of the executive branch of state and national governments has swelled in proportion to other branches.
Rather than elected representatives, bureaucrats employed within the executive branch make most of the rules and regulations that affect the majority of Americans’ daily lives. By submitting new regulations to oversight by an elected body, Wisconsin lawmakers are looking to give the rule-making power back to its citizens.
Although some of Nebraska’s regulations are among the least burdensome in the country, our neighbors in Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota all rank even better for the friendliness of their regulatory climate.
One area where Nebraska is currently disadvantaged is our 44th place ranking in occupational licensing and our dead last ranking in regulatory flexibility. In the tight competition for talented workers and creative entrepreneurs, Nebraska lawmakers should do all they can to entice small businesses.
By adopting a REINS Act of its own, Nebraska would have an edge over neighboring states in the contest for growth, and return the power to make the rules to Nebraska’s elected representatives.
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