As policymakers in Washington, D.C., wrangle over whether regulations hamper job creation, governors in a number of states are already waging their own war on red tape, angling to improve their state’s business climates along the way.
On the vanguard of that battle are Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Maine Gov. and NFIB member Paul LePage.
In Oklahoma, Fallin has pushed a slate of small business-friendly reforms through the Legislature in her first year as governor. Her early legislative victories included workers’ compensation and lawsuit reform bills, as well as several proposals designed to cut the state’s red tape. A new law this year created a one-stop shop for small business owners to get necessary licenses for their firms. In Maine, LePage has been mounted a full-court press against cumbersome regulations. He championed and signed into law L.D. 1, a landmark red tape-cutting bill that streamlines the permitting process for small business owners.
Here, in a MyBusiness exclusive, they talk about their efforts to improve their state's regulatory climate.
MyBusiness: Gov. LePage, you’ve exerted a lot of political effort to reform your state’s regulatory environment. Why is that such a pivotal agenda item for your administration?
Gov. Paul LePage: Government red tape stifles business growth in our state. Right now, Mainers care about jobs and unemployment. L.D. 1 is a good down payment on the necessary reforms we must make to transform Maine's business climate, and create a more prosperous Maine.
MB: Gov. Fallin, improving your state’s regulatory environment was one of the key initiatives you mentioned in your inaugural address. What actions have you taken since then to reduce red tape for small business owners?
Gov. Mary Fallin: During my first legislative session as governor, we saw many pro-business reforms signed into law all aimed at lowering the cost of doing business in Oklahoma, including workers’ compensation reform, lawsuit reform and various government modernizations to cut red tape and make state government more customer friendly toward small businesses.
MB: What results do you expect to see given the reforms you’re pursuing on the regulatory front?
MF: We’re already seeing workers’ comp rates lowered for many Oklahoma businesses, and we expect businesses, especially in the medical field, to reap the benefits of lower business costs due to our comprehensive lawsuit reform. Additionally, through the creation of a “one-stop shop” for business licensing, we hope to provide a central location that will make it easier for small business owners to get the necessary permits and documents.
It is imperative that
we understand the
consequences of every
rule and regulation.
Is the rule or
regulation going to
stifle the private
to expand and prosper?
MB: What remains on your legislative wish list for this next session when it comes to regulatory reform?
MF: There is always more that can be done to make Oklahoma more business friendly. The attitude that I bring to the governor’s office is that we should always examine ways we can do things more efficiently and in a more cost-effective manner
MB: Gov. LePage, you’ve championed the idea of having each state department and agency doing a jobs impact analysis as they form new rules and regulations. How do you expect that to help reduce red tape? Is that something you think could work at the federal level?
PL: Yes! We need to find a proper balance. It is imperative that we understand the consequences of every rule and regulation. Is the rule or regulation going to stifle the private sector’s ability to expand and prosper?
MB: As an NFIB member, what about red tape do you find particularly threatening to job creation by small business owners?
PL: Small business owners multi-task just to keep their operations afloat. By requiring these folks to spend an inordinate amount of time on paperwork and [trying to understand] state government, [we] take away from their primary focus.
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