Imagine our surprise as Utah was mentioned again and again as a place that is “getting it right” by implementing policies that are leading to real economic growth. I should clarify that we weren’t surprised that Utah was enjoying the results of implementing the action items from the Governor’s economic development plan. What surprised us was that these experts knew about these successes of a small state in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.
In talking to the speakers after their presentation, I asked how they knew what we were doing in Utah. Their reply was “of course we know what Utah is doing – you lead the way in so many categories”. In fact, Utah was mentioned several times in the published report “Enterprising States” distributed at the conference which recognized Utah as the #2 “top ten future boom states” citing our rankings in the top five for all three job growth measures.
One of the efforts the presenters mentioned specifically was the state’s recent regulatory reform. This reform effort was launched by Governor Herbert in his 2011 State of the Union Address where he directed each of his Cabinet officers and agency directors to undertake a thorough inventory and review of all state regulations. The purpose of the effort was to identify what regulations impacted business (we learned that about 50% do) and ask one simple question: Does this regulation serve a public purpose or is it simply a drag on the economy?
This review spanned the next several months, and in close collaboration between the Governor’s Office and state agencies, 368 regulations were either modified or eliminated through the rule making process and in the 2012 general legislative session. We learned through this process that some regulations, like weeds, need to be cleaned from the ditch periodically to maintain the flow of business and empower the private sector to reach the Governor’s goal of creating 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. A regulation that may have made sense years ago may not be needed today but it takes time and effort to identify the regulations that can be eliminated.
We also learned that government must be ever vigilant in ensuring that unnecessary regulations do not get on the books in the first place. So in the spirit of “an ounce of prevention,” Governor Herbert recently signed an Executive Order requiring two important steps before a new regulation is enacted: First, the rulemaking board must deliver to the Governor a personally signed letter stating that the board members conducted a cost and benefit analysis of the proposed rule and found that the benefits outweigh the costs. Second, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) must review each proposed rule to determine the impact on employers, with a special focus on small business.
This regulatory reform is part of Governor Herbert’s economic development plan as one of the specific action items designed to realize the Governor’s vision that Utah will be the “best performing economy in the nation and a premier global business destination.” This review seems like common sense to us in Utah. We wish the federal government would exercise the same common sense and initiate regulatory reform at the national level. Imagine the boost such an effort would give to job growth across the country!
After our meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we have been approached by other states and national organizations and we are now working with them to provide a framework for regulatory reform in other states. Hopefully with Utah as the model, we can help provide this boost to job growth one state at a time.