Too Many Regulators and Too Many Regulations

By Josiah Dalke
December 10, 2021

Mississippi has a challenge in front of them as it continues to address the economic problems that face our nation.  One factor that needs to be addressed in this complex issue is the number of regulations within the state. As an underlying cause of these regulatory excesses, the state has dozens of regulatory boards and agencies, with many barely even cataloged by the state government itself.

The number of regulatory boards has become bloated to the point that it is hard to keep track of what board oversees what regulation. To date, there is not even a comprehensive list of all the agencies, boards, and commissions that exist within the state.

Ultimately this reflects on government inefficiency and excessive control of the economy. Given the right context and purpose, regulations can serve as a helpful tool in ensuring fair and open competition.  Now, however, regulations are often used as a political weapon to stomp out competition and economic progress. The proliferation of new rules, boards, and agencies is commonplace. In fact, this is so much the case that the legislature has no standardized system in place to notify stakeholders in government and the populace when a board is created or repealed.

Having so many regulatory boards has practical consequences. In 2018, the George Mason Mercatus Center and the MCPP reported a snapshot of Mississippi’s current regulatory scheme.  We found that Mississippi’s Administrative Code is far more expansive in terms of regulations than it needs to be.  In fact, it totals 117,558 restrictions, is comprised of 9.3 million words, and if you sat down and read it, it would take 13 weeks to read!

This does not necessarily mean regulations do not have their place.  Regulations are, after all, enumerated powers given to state legislatures as a tool to govern.  However, such power must come with limits.  For one, overregulation stifles innovation and economic growth, a necessary component to society, especially during these times.  As Broughel notes, such a system of regulations, over time, has a detrimental impact on the economy.  In fact, if a cap on regulations was established and the state simply kept that number for a couple of years, the economy could grow substantially.

On another note, overregulation places a greater burden on the government to ensure that various provisions are met.  When a government grows, it becomes harder to manage it efficiently.  The net result is an economy that is snuffled out by too much oversight and a government that is overwhelmed with too many rules and regulators to keep track of.

If Mississippi desires to become a top state that provides incentives for families and businesses to come and settle there, the state has to get a handle on its regulatory schemes.  In previous legislative sessions, policies have been proposed to do just that.  However, there have not been enough significant policy reforms that would manage this problem effectively.  As we move into the next legislative session, it should be a top priority to lessen the state government's hold on the economy by diminishing the extensive nature of its state regulations. While the government uses regulations as a context to insist that the people are accountable to its authority, how can the people themselves hold the government accountable if the state itself does not even know how many regulators there are? Rather than having a system that lacks accountability and burdens its people, the Magnolia State needs a regulatory overhaul. Meaningful reforms would ensure that every regulation serves a legitimate purpose and that every regulatory authority has transparency before the people it serves. It’s time for Mississippi to move forward.


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