Little signs 2 executive orders to reduce Idaho regulations

CBS 2 File Photo

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Gov. Brad Little on Thursday fulfilled a pair of promises in his State of the State speech by signing two executive orders he said will remove outdated or unneeded regulations that are obstacles to economic prosperity in Idaho.

"We need to assure that the cumulative effect of rules and licensing is as citizen-friendly as possible," Little declared, standing in front of a desk with three stacks of blank papers each approaching 2 feet (.6-meter) tall he said represented more than 8,000 pages of state regulations containing some 72,000 restrictions.

The first order, The Red Tape Reduction Act, requires state agencies to identify at least two existing rules to be eliminated or simplified for every new rule proposed. It also requires state agencies to assign a worker to review rules and identify those that are costly, ineffective or outdated. The Idaho Division of Financial Management will provide Little with an annual report on progress in eliminating regulations and streamlining government.

The second order, Licensing Freedom Act of 2019, puts in place a process for modifying or eliminating nearly 250 occupational licenses out of some 450 such licenses identified in the state. The act follows a previous Licensing Freedom Act Little, then lieutenant governor, signed in May 2017. That launched a review of Idaho's licensing requirements. Such a review hadn't been done in some 40 years. Then Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter approved of the plan.

Little in October released the results of that review that are incorporated in the most recent Licensing Freedom Act. Key provisions of the act, Little said, are processes for occupational licenses. That means new licenses or modifications to existing licenses must clear additional hurdles.

The state requires licenses for occupations that include health care providers, electricians, plumbers, outfitters, land surveyors, real estate brokers, massage therapists, midwives, embalmers, credit counselors, taxidermists, jockeys, police officers, car salesperson and more.

Little said proposed changes to rules or licensing requirements required by the two executive orders will go through a public process that's already part of the state's rule-making process that includes the Legislature. The way that process works is that state agencies propose rules and hold public meetings before bringing the proposed rules before lawmakers when the Legislature is in session. Lawmakers can take public comments, and then OK, reject or modify the rules.

Little said the two acts are likely to increase safety by eliminating rules that conflict or are confusing.

"There's a bigger hazard there, in the default position, just adding more rules," he said. "They didn't look at it holistically and say, 'What do we ultimately want to do to make sure things are safe?' Our intent is that public safety is the number one issue."

Little signed the acts Thursday, but state agencies have already been presenting rules to lawmakers this legislative session. Many of those proposals include reductions in regulations and licensing requirements initiated in the 2017 act.

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