Cutting Red Tape: Regulatory Reform in Wyoming
If we need to know whether municipal landfills must be tested for groundwater contamination or if hunters with physical disabilities can hunt from stationary vehicles or whether importers can bring one-hump camels into the state, the answers should not be buried in government regulations. Regulations should be easily available, understandable and assist us in complying.
When rules and regulations are obscure, overly complicated or difficult to find, state government is not doing its job. Rules that do not serve the public interest should be rooted out. Fewer and more clear-cut rules reduce the burden on people and businesses, while accomplishing their goal.
In 2013, as part of my commitment to streamline government, I asked state agencies to reduce existing rules by one-third in number and one-third in length. Regulations should be limited to those that are necessary and effective. I urged agencies to use more precise, plain language and to eliminate rules that no longer served their original purpose.
Wyoming has made major progress. Most agencies have reduced rules by the one-third in the number and length. Many agencies have been able to eliminate 50 percent or more of their regulations. This means simpler, more accessible rules – rules necessary to do business and provide protection without the excess.
Another success of this initiative is the creation of a new administrative rules website maintained by the Secretary, of State’s Office and found at rules.wyo.gov. In years past, searching for state rules could be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Determining which agency maintained which rules was time consuming and laborious. This website makes it easy to find current, proposed and past rules.
As an example, if you need to find rules on public swimming pool health and safety, a simple and swift key word search on the new website leads to the Department of Agriculture’s regulations on the subject. All administrative rules and rules history are searchable online and available to anyone. Public comment on proposed rules may be made directly using the public comment link on the website.
Uniform rules have been adopted for actions that are common among various agencies. Contested cases are one example. Historically, each agency had agency-specific contested case rules. One agency might allow 45 days to file an objection, another agency 30 days. The lack of uniformity and consistency was confusing. Now, uniform rules apply to contested case practice and procedure.
Another good illustration is public records requests. Agencies receive many requests under the Wyoming Public Records Act ranging from correspondence on homelessness to grizzly bear and gray wolf management. Procedures varied widely agency to agency. Now, uniform rules on procedures and fees related to inspection, copying and production of public documents are being adopted by agencies. This will provide greater accountability, easier access and more effective protections.
As for landfills, disabled hunters and one-hump camels, a few clicks on the state’s new rules website reveals that every municipal landfill is tested for groundwater contamination, hunters with physical disabilities may obtain permits to shoot wildlife from stationary vehicles not located on public roadways, and disease-free camels may legally roam the Wyoming plains and prairie.
Regulatory reform and rules reduction are delivering greater accountability, discipline and transparency to state government and easing the burden on people and businesses.