A bill that would create a regulatory reduction pilot program has been kicked to the bottom of the House calendar after objections were raised on Thursday.

House Bill 1422 would require the Mississippi Departments of Education, Health, Transportation, Agriculture and Commerce, and Information Technology Services to review their existing regulations, accept written comments from the public for 60 days following the review, and conduct at least two public hearings for citizens and businesses to identify any rule or regulation that is burdensome.

The review would have to be conducted within 120 days of HB 1422 becoming law. Each of the agencies covered in the pilot program would have to reduce their regulations by:

  • 10 percent by December 31, 2020.
  • 20 percent by December 31, 2021.
  • 30 percent by December 31, 2022.

According to the bill, if one of the agencies hasn’t reduced its regulations by 30 percent by February 1, 2023, the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees would conduct a budgetary audit to determine the obstacles preventing the agency from reducing its regulations by 30 percent. The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) would also have to conduct a review of the regulatory reduction efforts of the agencies involved in the pilot program and make a report to the legislature.

The bill was initially placed on the noncontroversial calendar which helps to speed up the legislative process by passing bills that are deemed noncontroversial in short order. However, just a small number of legislators need to raise objection. They did that with HB 1422 and it is now at the bottom of the general calendar in the House. 

Various questions were asked about what we’d be cutting, why this is needed, etc. We can just look at the data, and what it means. According to a study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, wading through Mississippi’s morass of regulations would take 13 weeks to absorb its 9.3 million words and 117,558 restrictions.

Reform is something that has considerable momentum across the country. And for good reason.

Regulatory growth has a detrimental effect on economic growth. We have a history of empirical data on the relationship between regulations and economic growth. A 2013 study in the Journal of Economic Growth estimates that federal regulations have slowed the U.S. growth rate by 2 percentage points a year, going back to 1949. A recent study by the Mercatus Center estimates that federal regulations have slowed growth by 0.8 percent since 1980. If we had imposed a cap on regulations in 1980, the economy would be $4 trillion larger, or about $13,000 per person. 

On the international side, researchers at the World Bank have estimated that countries with a lighter regulatory touch grow 2.3 percentage points faster than countries with the most burdensome regulations. And yet another study, this published by the Quarterly Journal of Economics, found that heavy regulation leads to more corruption, larger unofficial economies, and less competition, with no improvement in public or private goods. 

For Mississippi to grow our private sector economy, we must push for regulatory change and a smaller government footprint. Otherwise we’ll continue to stand in the way to entrepreneurs wanting to pursue their dreams and begin careers.