Repealing a state’s entire regulatory code

By Aaron Rice
May 16, 2019

According to a recent study, it would take more than 13 weeks to wade through the 9.3 million words and 117,558 restrictions in Mississippi’s regulatory code. Yet we know little about many of those regulations, such as if they are even necessary today.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University’s James Broughel and Jonathan Nelson wrote a policy snapshot of Mississippi’s regulatory state as part of a national project to analyze regulatory burdens nationwide.

These regulations can impose huge costs as businesses are forced to comply with them and can also become anticompetitive devices, since many of them are written by the industries that are being regulated.

Mississippi is roughly mid-pack in the amount of its regulatory framework. But the one consistent among most states is that the number of regulations are only increasing.

That changed in a big way in one state.

Idaho has a somewhat unique regulatory process. Each year, the state’s regulatory code expires unless reauthorized by the legislature. While this does provide a check that is missing in places like Mississippi, it is normally a formality. But not this year. 

Now, Idaho Gov. Brad Little is tasked with implementing an emergency regulation on any rule he would like to keep. The legislature will consider them next year. And there are certainly needed regulations, just as there are unnecessary or outdated regulations that serve little purpose. 

But, as Broughel has pointed out, the burden on regulations now switches from the governor or legislature needing to justify why a regulation should to be removed to justifying why we need to keep a regulation. 

To reduce red tape, Mississippi could move toward a sunset provision similar to Idaho or introduce a regulatory cap that orders the removal of two old rules each time a new one is added. A thriving economy is one with fewer regulations, a lighter government touch, and more freedom for small and mid-sized businesses.

If a regulation is so important, prove it. 


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