This article is a republication of the governor's weekly news column.
Red tape kills jobs. It stifles innovation. And it prohibits growth. That’s why my administration’s mission is to make state government more effective, more efficient, and more customer-focused. Over the past two and a half years, we’ve successfully put environmental quality permitting online. We’re helping nurses get licensed more quickly. And the Legislature and I partnered to abolish unnecessary professional licensing requirements for the banking, medical, and auto industries to create more opportunity for hardworking Nebraskans.
As Governor, I have also worked with the Attorney General to push back on onerous regulations created by the Obama Administration. These include the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule and the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Thankfully, Washington is reversing course on these rules under the new administration. In the past six months, the Trump Administration has moved to repeal the 2015 WOTUS rule, as well as launched a review of the controversial CPP, which was proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2014.
The decision to repeal WOTUS and review CPP will help create more certainty for and spur future growth in Nebraska’s top industries. For example, WOTUS would have allowed the EPA to have regulatory power over practically any body of water in Nebraska—even ponds, ditches, and large puddles. This power would have been easily misused by environmental activists. Not only would have CPP been a major burden to the ag producers in our number one industry, but businesses also would have been required to file expensive and unnecessary permits.
Nebraska was also at the forefront of fighting President Obama’s unnecessary and misguided CPP. Under the CPP, Nebraska would have been required to show a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in less than 10 years. This would not only be nearly logistically impossible, but also expensive for Nebraskans who enjoy low utility rates thanks to our unique public power system. It takes longer to plan new power transmission lines and new sources of power than the Obama Administration was willing to give states for compliance. Additionally, studies estimated that under CPP utility bills would rise by 12 percent to 35 percent. I applaud President Trump’s review of this rule, and hope that he finalizes a full repeal soon.
Both of these moves by the Trump Administration will return power back to the states, where it belongs. We live in a diverse country governed by a diverse set of governors. These governors know what solutions work best for their individual states. In Nebraska, we have clean air and clean water because state and local government have exercised common sense oversight without stifling private sector innovation and job creation. WOTUS and CPP were dramatic overreaches by Washington that threatened significant harm to job creators while providing no real protection for consumers. Regulations should work for the people, not against them.
Here in Nebraska, my administration continues to focus on identifying new ways to make government work better for the people. That’s why I recently announced a review of all regulations in my agencies. Currently, Nebraska’s Administrative Code consists of 7.5 million words with more than 100,000 restrictive words. It would take someone more than 10 weeks to read the entire code! While Nebraska already boasts a growth-oriented regulatory climate, this is a great opportunity to identify additional opportunities to make state government more effective and efficient. If we can’t find a legitimate reason for a rule or regulation, we will work to get rid of it.
Building a regulatory climate with the customer in mind is helping grow our state by bringing new investments here. It’s just one of the reasons why companies like Facebook, Kawasaki, Costco, and Cargill are all choosing to expand or begin their operations right here in Nebraska. In fact, Nebraska has seen over $1 billion in new project announcements, groundbreakings, or ribbon cuttings so far this year.
As this review progresses, I look forward to sharing with you some of the ways that we are working to make state government work better for you. By getting government out of the way, state government can create the framework for more opportunities for you and job creators across the state. I hope that you take the time to share any feedback on red tape that’s impacting you. The best way to reach me is by contacting my office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 402-471-2244. I look forward to hearing from you!