In 2014, the General Assembly considered new legislation to address environmental and land-use regulation in the state. Some of the new laws that passed follow in the footsteps of last year’s efforts to minimize the impacts of regulation, environmental and otherwise, on business. Such efforts continue to be important and critical to our economic growth.
Against this, are new laws that help strengthen the state’s ability, albeit modestly, to protect and exercise enforcement over its resources. Finally, legislators continued their work on climate-change planning, codifying the governor’s directive to vest responsibility for this important work within the executive branch.
Highlights of the new laws include:
• Last year saw the passage of a number of new laws designed to streamline environmental regulation and facilitate economic development. This included efforts to standardize and centralize authority over wetlands and septic disposal, a two-year extension to the already extended tolling law applicable to state and municipal land-development permits, and a commission to design and implement statewide e-permitting. While less robust in scope and extent this year, legislation introduced and passed in the 2014 session continues this trend.
As part of regulatory reform, state agencies are required under current law to review their existing regulations every five years. The purpose of the review is to perform an economic-impact analysis and determine whether those regulations should be continued, amended or rescinded.
In 2013, more than 1,000 rules were reviewed for economic impact. Of those, the Office of Regulatory Reform recommended 14 to repeal, 57 to amend and 16 for accommodations to be made for business.
New legislation aligns this mandatory periodic agency review with the secretary of state’s rules and regulations refiling law. Under that refiling law, as of 2002, state agencies are required to file certified copies of all adopted rules in force with the secretary of state.