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Head and Webert: Virginia on cusp of historic regulatory reform

Monday, February 12, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bannon Squirewell
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Head and Webert: Virginia on cusp of historic regulatory reform

Roanoke Times


Over the past several weeks there has been a great deal of discussion about the bipartisan tone set by Speaker Kirk Cox and other House leaders. While many expected this session to be consumed by partisan bickering, one of the biggest regulatory reform packages to ever be proposed in Virginia is supported by the governor and the leadership of both parties in both chambers.

Regulatory reform has been a major focus of the House over the past several years. Along with our colleagues, we have put forward legislation to help small businesses get ahead, help hard working parents find work to care for their family, and encourage businesses to hire more hard working Virginians. However, this year we are honored to carry House Bill 883 which, once passed and signed by the governor, will be the most comprehensive regulatory reform bill to ever become law in Virginia.

We appreciate Gov. Northam and Speaker Cox for their leadership on this issue and for their willingness to bring all parties involved to the table to work out a practical solution that works for everyone. We were founding members of the Business Development Caucus, formed several years ago, and are honored to put forth this legislation which will help businesses thrive.

House Bill 883 establishes a regulatory reform pilot program with the goal of reducing or streamlining regulatory requirements by 25 percent over the next three years. The program will be administered by the Department of Planning and Budget. This pilot program will focus on the Department of Professional and Occupational Licensing and the Department of Criminal Justice Services. Further, the Department of Planning and Budget will track and report on the extent to which agencies comply with existing requirements to periodically review all regulations every four years.

The bill sets yearly goals so that Virginians will begin to see results right away. By July 2019, the two agencies must reduce regulations equivalent to 7.5 percent. If, by the completion of the program in October 2021, the 25 percent goal has not been reached, the Secretary of Finance must report on the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing a 2-for-1 regulatory budget (for every 1 new requirement, 2 requirements of equivalent or greater burden must be streamlined, repealed or replaced) for a period of no more than three years.

Further, HB 883 allows for the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee to direct the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to initiate a budgetary audit of each agency participating in the pilot program to assess what obstacles exist to meeting the 25 percent reduction goal. And if needed, the Speaker and the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee may ask for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to review the regulatory reduction efforts of both agencies.

During the most recent election, we heard from constituents over and over again saying that bureaucratic red tape has prevented them from starting a small business or from expanding their current business. Every time we hear that it means Virginia is missing out on new job creation. In an economy that is on the rebound we simply need every job we can get.

We have already seen on the national level the boost that cutting regulatory burdens can have on job creation and on our national economy. Once this bill is fully enacted, those benefits will further enhance our national economy but it will give a much needed boost to our economy here at home.

And, while we have gone to great lengths to describe the benefits of the specific bill, there is another point that bears pointing out. This deal, reached by leaders of both the Republican and Democratic party, marks a stark difference between Richmond and our neighbors 90 miles to our north. Unlike Washington, in Richmond we work with anyone who is willing to come to the table to identify problems and work together to achieve a bipartisan solution. Sadly in Congress, good public policy often comes second to partisan gridlock.

HB 883 is just starting its path through the General Assembly. The bill has a long ways to go before becoming law. However, we encourage our colleagues on the right, left, and center, in the House and in the Senate to work together on passing something that will be truly historic. Together, we can pass meaningful legislation that will better the lives of the people who sent us here. 

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