State Commission Tasked with Job Growth Says Regulations are “Overly Burdensome”
Yesterday I participated in a press conference held by Senators Holmquist Newbry, Braun, Brown and Representative Manweller to highlight the pro business bills passed by the Senate that now await House approval.
Three of the bills, SB 5679, SB 5680 and SB 5718, would significantly reform and simplify our state’s onerous regulatory climate and improve the state’s business environment. All three bills have companion bills in the House—HB 1591, HB 1403 and HB 1757, respectively. HB 1403 passed the House and will be likely be passed by the Senate given unanimous passage of its Senate companion bill.
SB 5679/HB 1591 would require certain state agencies to “streamline” regulations by establishing a recurring, formal review process of existing rules with the goal of reducing the regulatory burden on businesses.
SB 5680/HB 1403 would direct state agencies to participate in the state’s Business License System, the state’s primary business portal, by providing all information and applications for each agency’s business licenses, permits and inspections on the BLS website.
SB 5718/HB 1757 would set in motion the development and implementation of a comprehensive one-stop business portal for businesses to conduct all interactions with state government in a single, web-based location.
These bills essentially put into action the recommendations of the State Auditor in last year’s critical Performance Audit on regulations. The Auditor’s report found agencies are not effectively providing information to business nor are they streamlining regulations, as the legislature and Executive Orders have repeatedly directed them to do. Demonstrating the issue of streamlining and simplifying regulations appeals to both sides of the aisle, all three bills passed the Senate unanimously and the companion bill HB 1403 passed the House with no dissent.
Based on our research and longtime proposals to reform the regulatory process in our state, Washington Policy Center recommends lawmakers pass the bills to reduce the regulatory burden on employers and improve the state’s business climate. In fact, all of these bills reflect longstanding WPC recommendations to streamline, simplify and centralize regulations.
Adding more support to the bipartisan cause of providing the much-needed regulatory relief in these bills is the jobs growth plan released Wednesday by the Washington Economic Development Commission (WEDC). “Driving Washington’s Prosperity—A Strategy for Job Creation and Competitiveness” details the Commission’s five recommendations to “accelerate job growth and become the leading innovation hotspot of the world.” Among the five recommendations is to reform our state’s regulatory policies.
In a strongly worded condemnation of our state’s regulatory climate, the WEDC, which is comprised of stakeholders representing business and labor, agency directors and lawmakers from both parties, says, “Washington’s overly burdensome regulatory system must be addressed as a top economic development priority.”
Acknowledging that “regulatory processes impose costs-of-doing business, and significantly influence investment behavior, location decisions, start-up activity, expansions and hiring” and referencing the Auditor’s report of the state’s regulatory short-comings, the WEDC includes a comprehensive list of specific recommendations to revamp how the state regulates businesses. Among the recommendations are to streamline, simplify and centralize regulations in order to reduce the regulatory burden on business, as would be accomplished with SB 5679/HB 1591, SB 5680/HB 1403 and SB 5718/HB 1757.
Regulatory reform to spur job creation is finally getting the attention it deserves. The trio of bills passed by the Senate is a much needed first step toward overhauling the state’s regulatory policy to account for cost-effectiveness and results while guarding against overlapping, outdated and conflicting rules. The House should follow the Senate’s lead and pass these bills quickly to signal their commitment to improving our state’s business climate.