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Governor says Utah has too many rules

Published December 7, 2011 10:47 am

Government • His staff reviewed nearly 2,000 regulations and say 20% need changes.
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South Salt Lake • Nearly 20 percent of Utah's government rules and regulations are either antiquated, overburdensome or too complicated and could be hindering business, Gov. Gary Herbert said Tuesday.

Herbert said many necessary changes have already been made and others are in the works, the product of a regulatory review he announced during his State of the State address earlier this year, aimed at making Utah even more business-friendly.

"Regulations just kind of accumulate," Herbert said. "The appropriate purpose is to make sure we have regulations in place that protect the public, that ensures there's a level playing field, but we always want to make sure we don't have undue regulations that inhibit the entrepreneur."

The governor's staff reviewed 1,954 state regulations enacted by all of the departments in state government and determined that 368 either have been changed or are in the process of being rewritten.

Similar reviews were ordered by Gov. Scott Matheson in 1979 and Gov. Norm Bangerter in 1986.

Many are low-hanging fruit, either changes that have already been made, some more than 18 months ago, or simply fixing references in the rules to sections of state law.

Some are fairly straightforward tweaks to streamline operations, like allowing charitable organizations to register online to raise funds or allowing driver license examiners to enter scores electronically.

Others are more complicated. For example, the report to the governor recommends legislation to "disambiguate" the definition of "reasonable risk" when it comes to radioactive waste disposal sites.

Brad Johnson, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality, said the aim is to let waste companies know what the expectations will be when they go to the board with requests. He said the board, for example, won't require facilities to withstand a meteor impact, but there need to be clearer standards in code regarding what is expected.

"We found that nearly half of all the regulations that we placed on the books … impact business," Herbert said. "Sometimes that impact is not necessarily helpful."

He said 295 rules need to be changed or are being changed; 32 required some organizational change; and 41 require statutory changes.

Laurie Ryerson, the human resources manager for Conveyors & Equipment, said a few of the employees at her company don't have bank accounts, so they can't deposit paychecks into the account. She wanted to issue the workers pre-paid debit cards, but it required a rule change from the Labor Commission, which was enacted last year.

Dan Hull of the Utah Association for Homecare, which provides bathing, cleaning and other services, said a state rule has required registered nurses to sign off on a client's treatment, even if it is non-medical.

"This regulation was put in many years ago and I worked for four or five years trying to get that removed, because it just costs us a lot of money and doesn't really serve any good purpose," Hull said.

The governor's office surveyed 323 businesses and determined that 53 percent believe there is too much state regulation and nearly half said that the cost of complying with the rules doesn't justify the benefits they might yield.

One respondent blasted the state's "RIDICULOUS regulations regarding liquor licenses," and said they discourage economic development and make "Utah look strange, provincial and unwelcoming."

Herbert said he has seen the burden of regulation first-hand. His wife, Jeanette, runs a day care and he said the children have to be given milk in small cartons instead of a large jug. It adds to the cost and is not more sanitary, he said, since caregivers' thumbs end up where the mouth goes on each carton.


Twitter: @RobertGehrke




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