Home Ralph Northam Actually, Gov. Northam: Regulations – aka, Protections – Save Lives, Foster Prosperity,...

Actually, Gov. Northam: Regulations – aka, Protections – Save Lives, Foster Prosperity, Enable Society to Function

651
6
SHARE

Governor Northam just announced a bipartisan initiative to cut back on regulations – aka, protections – in Virginia.  While revisiting and reviewing regulations, trying to better understand and balance cost/benefits, perhaps strengthening some while streamlining others, should be a constant part of governance, the press release doesn’t address it in this manner.

“Governor Ralph Northam and House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox today announced bipartisan legislation that will implement a regulatory reduction pilot program to remove burdensome and unnecessary regulatory requirements facing hard working Virginians.”

So many rhetorical four-letter words in American politics. So many of them driven by moneyed interests seeking to manipulate politics for their benefit. Some are pejorative wordings of basic reasonable policy (instead of the progressive “estate tax”, they label it to the dreaded “death tax”) and others are tarring core governmental functions as “evil” or not needed rather than as necessary and valuable.

Regulation is a term that, almost to a person, gets under people’s skins. Sort of like “bureaucracy,” there is a negative connotation simply in saying the word in no small part due to a constant stream of paid-for propaganda from the likes of the CATO Institute, Heritage Foundation, GMU’s Mercatus Center, and other Koch-funded/inspired institutions.

Regulations are, to the contrary, the embodiment of laws — the rules that enable society to function.

  • Regulations as to car manufacturing and safety provide some reasonable confidence when renting a car that it won’t fall apart on you or explode while driving down the highway.
  • Regulations with regard to food enable us to shop at the grocery store without fear that we will keel over from poisonous substances, bacteria, etc.
  • Regulations enable doctors to put a needle in a vaccine with confidence that it isn’t something harmful, even fatal, that they are injecting into a child’s arm.
  • Regulations enable businesses to operate more effectively, understanding the “minimum” conditions that their competitors must bring to the market.
  • Regulations protect workers when they’re on the job, a stark contrast to the bad old days of unregulated sweatshops and other hazardous workplaces.
  • Regulations protect the environment from damage and destruction, so that rivers don’t catch on fire, the air doesn’t burn our lungs to breathe, etc.

Donald Trump and the Republican Party have made much of attacking regulation, with far too little pushback as to how those attacks, the mindless irrationality of “get rid of two regulations for every new one,” endangers American lives. Shortly after the election, Dave Johnson discussed this “absurd plan to dismantle government protections“.

“Government of, by and for the people by definition stops some people from doing things that hurt others. In particular for this discussion, it stops people who have businesses from defrauding others, harming others, polluting our air and water, selling dangerous products, and other destructive practices. But this means that these people make less money, so they complain, and sometimes they use their money to influence those who would regulate to stop them.”

“’Burdensome government regulations’ all cost companies money: food inspection, clean water, fire codes, zoning rules and drug safety rules. They all ‘get in the way’ of a company scamming, hurting, polluting or whatever makes them more money.

Regulations too often come about as a reaction to something terrible happening. Fire codes came from times when entire towns burned down. Drug-safety rules came from ‘snake oil’ scammers selling poison and leaving town before the damage is done. Seat belt regulations came from terrible traffic injuries and deaths.

Regulations are about ‘how can We the People do this better?'”

Sensible examination of regulatory costs and benefits should not include right-wing framing, such as the imperative to “remove burdensome and unnecessary regulatory requirements.” This is an adoption of a framing and approach — an a priori assumption — that “regulation is bad,” rather than that “regulations are about ‘how We the People do this better’.”

The press release’s direct quote to Governor Northam does suggest he sees this:

“Promoting the health, safety, and prosperity of Virginians is the chief mission of our state agencies, and regulations can be a helpful tool in that mission,” said Governor Northam. “However, we have a responsibility to constantly evaluate every regulatory requirement and policy to ensure that it is doing its job in the least restrictive way possible. I look forward to working with the General Assembly on this bipartisan priority to make our regulatory system work better for all Virginians.”

Rep. David Toscano, D, House minority leader, has a vision that makes sense:

This pilot program will help Virginia develop a template for smart regulatory reform. In a dynamic economy, responsible regulation is an important tool to protect workers and consumers from abuses,

Unfortunately, this legislation, as described, seems to be targeting regulation as an evil — not a good, not even as a necessary evil, but an evil.

“The goal of this pilot program will be to reduce regulatory requirements, compliance costs, and regulatory burdens across both agencies by 25% over the next three years. This will make these agencies more efficient, reduce regulatory burdens, and give us a clear model to replicate across state government.”

Note that the pilot’s program’s goals are not to figure out how to leverage regulation to improve Virginians’ lives, environment, and business environment more effectively; nor to determine whether there are regulations that require strengthening as well as regulations that merit streamlining or elimination. No, this is a targeted bill framed with an assumption that regulation is burden and that the priority should be to “reduce regulatory burdens.”

Let’s be clear: there are mediocre regulations. There are duplicative regulations. There are regulatory structures that capture people for which they are truly irrelevant. Regulations and regulatory structures, even under “The Virginia Way,” are certainly not perfect.  But good governance is simply not predicated on the assumption that regulation is a burden, that regulations are bad, that regulations don’t save lives…

 

From: Gomer, Charlotte (GOV) <XXX@governor.virginia.gov>
Date: Mon, Feb 5, 2018 at 3:03 PM
Subject: Governor Northam and Speaker Cox Announce Bipartisan Agreement on Regulatory Reform
To: GOVERNORSUPDATE@listserv.cov.virginia.gov


Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Ralph Northam

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: February 5, 2018

 

Office of the Governor

Contact: Ofirah Yheskel

Email: Ofirah.Yheskel@governor.virginia.gov

 

Governor Northam and Speaker Cox Announce Bipartisan Agreement on Regulatory Reform

 

~ House Bill 883 establishes a regulatory reform pilot program with a goal to reduce or streamline regulatory requirements by 25% over the next three years ~

 

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam and House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox today announced bipartisan legislation that will implement a regulatory reduction pilot program to remove burdensome and unnecessary regulatory requirements facing hard working Virginians.

 

“Promoting the health, safety, and prosperity of Virginians is the chief mission of our state agencies, and regulations can be a helpful tool in that mission,” said Governor Northam. “However, we have a responsibility to constantly evaluate every regulatory requirement and policy to ensure that it is doing its job in the least restrictive way possible. I look forward to working with the General Assembly on this bipartisan priority to make our regulatory system work better for all Virginians.”

“For several years, the House has worked to advance a regulatory reform initiative that would eliminate some of the burdens facing entrepreneurs and small businesses. Thanks to the willingness of Governor Northam and Secretary Aubrey Layne, we have reached a bipartisan compromise on a longstanding priority of the House,” said Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “We know that red tape hinders entrepreneurs, innovators, and small and large businesses alike from creating more of the good paying jobs that our people need. This pilot program will significantly reduce regulations in two heavily-regulated areas and lay the foundation for further efforts to reduce regulations across state government, helping our economy and making government more efficient at the same time.”

House Bill 883 creates a three-year regulatory reduction pilot program that will be administered by the Department of Planning and Budget. The program will focus on the Department of Professional and Occupational Licensing and the Department of Criminal Justice Services, with a goal of reducing or streamlining regulatory requirements by 25 percent.  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.

“We’ve seen the positive effects of regulatory reform on our national economy during the last year,” noted Senator Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules. “By establishing a framework for regulatory reduction, this pilot program has the potential to reap positive benefits for Virginians well into the future.”

 

“I commend Governor Northam and leaders in both chambers for working together on a bipartisan initiative that will make our regulatory system work better for families and businesses all over Virginia,” said Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax). “By piloting this effort in two key agencies, we can calibrate our approach to protect the wellbeing of Virginians without unduly burdening citizens and job creators.”

 

“Regulatory reform has been a major focus of mine over the past several years. I appreciate the Governor and the Speaker for their leadership on this matter and I look forward to working with all involved to reduce the burdens on our citizens and businesses,” said Michael Webert (R-Fauquier), the bill’s patron. “The goal of this pilot program will be to reduce regulatory requirements, compliance costs, and regulatory burdens across both agencies by 25% over the next three years. This will make these agencies more efficient, reduce regulatory burdens, and give us a clear model to replicate across state government.”

 

“This pilot program will help Virginia develop a template for smart regulatory reform. In a dynamic economy, responsible regulation is an important tool to protect workers and consumers from abuses,” said House Democratic Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville). “We can always work together to strengthen our approach and this legislation advances that important cause.”

 

Full Release

  • Adam M

    Maybe they will reduce some of the regulations restricting easy access to Medicaid and making it burdensome for people with disabilities to comply with restrictions that bind our independence and perpetuate a cycle of enforced poverty I’m not holding my breath

  • JG99

    This isn’t fair to Northam at all. The fact of the matter is the Democrats are the minority party in both chambers of the legislature. They HAVE to play ball with the Republicans, at least a little bit, to get anything done.

    And last I checked, it was only Republicans dissing regulations in the announcement. All the Democrats sounded perfectly reasonable to me.

    • A_Siegel

      Tried to write this in a way that was fair … with elements such as “The press release’s direct quote to Governor Northam does suggest he sees this” and quotation of Toscano both highlighting “reasonable”.

      Remembering that this is a press release from the Governor’s office, relook at (a) how the opening paragraph framing highlighted regulations asa burden to be cut and (b) the impression of what the overall bill targets. That is an attempted focus of the piece.

      What if the agreement had focused on creating a standing path for continuous (cycled?) review of regulations: a tool for identifying how to make them work better which could include elements such as when/if:
      – There might be gaps/disconnects between legislative intent and regulation.
      – There are procedures/regulations that are unduly burdensome for the benefits.
      – Paths exist for impo

    • A_Siegel

      As to have to play ball, an item published minutes before this post (http://bluevirginia.us/2018/02/bipartisanship-is-not-an-objective-in-and-of-itself-even-if-a-tool-and-element-of-governorship) concluding paragraphs opens:

      “The reality is that democracy is a checks-and-balances system that involves a process of confrontation and compromise. For Governor Northam to lay out, truthfully, that the Republican Party controls the legislature, and that governance will require compromising with their priorities, is appropriate.”

  • RobertColgan

    It’s interesting that when the word “regulations” is heard it is interpreted by the Democrats as “governing boundaries” and by the Republicans as “blockades to profit.”
    It’s also interesting that typically RepublicanThink perceives the Democrats as pro-regulation, and DemocratThink perceives the Republicans as anti-regulation…
    yet I note that all legislation IS regulation.

    Therein lies the rub.
    Unless the two tribes can find a middle ground denotation of the word “regulations” that conveys “effective rules that make life better” there is ALWAYS going to be this divisive argument without conciliation regarding passing legislation.

    Again, ALL legislations are regulations — either denying or permitting actions:
    “Go” or “No Go” boundaries. Both tribes seek to pass regulations——– and the real argument has to do with the permitting or denying aspect of legislation, not the regulating.

    What we really have is a psychical impasse —- prejudicial relevance meanings of the term “regulations” —– which has already pushed any such discussion to one side or another// drawn lines in the sand BEFORE actual discussion has even begun.

    What to do . . . .
    first, the notion of meeting in a shared common ground WITHOUT prejudice might be facilitated by having someone explain to the two sides that BOTH are engaged in NOTHING BUT REGULATION, i.e., legislation.
    Legislation, Regulation, IS their common ground.
    Grind in the concept until it sticks.

    Second, it might be useful to explain to them that they need to lay aside that inherent prejudicial connotation of the word ‘regulation’ by the process of what I like to call “creating alien mind” : imagining they just got off a spaceship, they are completely new to the planet, and they are nothing but pure curiosity about a world they know nothing about.
    Then when someone says “We need to look at this regulation” they wouldn’t have their prejudice interfering in listening to/reading what is being discussed.

    Sound goofy, but it works. It’s a way of quieting the internal judge that has opinion built-in.

    I suggest some major counseling sessions with the Assembly the first several days they meet to hash those two points above.
    Might be really useful. And then re-tweaking sessions every third day or so.
    In a few short decades they might actually start thinking like aliens….which would be very good for sensible Virginian legislation and possibly useful if we were to be invaded by extraterrestrials.

  • James McCarthy

    The radical right’s campaign against “regulations” is rooted in their hero Milton Friedman who complained he was not allowed to practice law though not a lawyer. This campaign is also pushed by Generation Opportunity a Koch funded not for profit based in the Commonwealth.

    The legislation accepted by Northam focuses on two state agencies, one the Dept of Professional and Occupational Licensing. Now perhaps Mr. Friedman and his allies will be allowed to engage in occupations without being required to be trained. A slippery slope has begun.