Lifting PA’s Heavy Regulatory Burdens

Tackling one regulation at a time, House lawmakers released a regulatory overreach report aimed at responsibly lightening the commonwealth's heavy regulatory burden.

It takes 18 weeks to read the Pennsylvania Code. The overwhelming number of regulations, voluminous regulating bodies, delays in issuing permits, and other enforcement uncertainties overload job creators while providing minimal accountability to taxpayers.

For example, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission is a multi-state commission that manages water use  and has the ability to fine small municipalities and companies. Yet, the commission is not subject to right-to-know requests.

The House State Government Committee, chaired by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, showcased the report and solutions during a Tuesday press conference. CF's COO Nate Benefield spoke at the event, highlighting a few examples of regulation gone amok.

. . . It’s also Pennsylvanians like Sally Ladd, whose small business posted AirBnB listings on behalf of other families. The Department of State tried to shut her down, contending that to post listings on the Internet, she needs a realtors’ license.

But Ms. Ladd refused to give in [and] filed [a] lawsuit which is now before the Commonwealth Court. It speaks volumes about the regulatory climate we’ve created when individuals are driven to sue our state just to exercise their constitutional right to earn a living.

Last week, Gov. Wolf declared a state of emergency to deal with the opioid crisis. At least five of the changes resulting from this declaration dealt with regulations. To be clear, Gov. Wolf suspended regulations on health care providers to make it easier to address a statewide emergency. Why? Those regulations created obstacles to helping people with sometimes deadly drug addictions.

In their report, House lawmakers focused on three principles for reforming the regulatory machine;

  • Make regulations collaborative, not punitive: In other words, regulators should work with not against businesses, giving these job-creators opportunities to fix violations before suffering from fines/fees.
  • Establish regular regulations reviews: Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill's HB 209 would establish the Independent Office of the Repealer to undertake an ongoing review of existing regulations.
  • Create a review process for proposed regulations: HB 1237, proposed by Rep. Dawn Keefer, enhances reviews for economically significant regulations, those with an annual fiscal impact of $1 million or more. This bill resembles Sen. John DiSanto's SB 561, which passed the Senate in June 2017.

Lawmakers highlighted two additional bills. Rep. Kerry Benninghoff's HB 1792 allows the General Assembly to repeal state regulations concurrently in effect. HB 1959, sponsored by Rep. Greg Rothman, requires agencies to develop a navigable online permit tracking system.

Regulatory reform is essential to ensuring equal economic opportunity for all.