PROVIDENCE – The R.I. General Assembly on Tuesday passed two new laws to streamline the state’s regulatory reform process and eliminate statutes exempting certain rules and regulations from review.
Senate bill S2480A and House bill H7520, introduced by Sen. Erin P. Lynch (D-Warwick) and Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Tiverton) respectively, require that state agencies submit an economic impact statement to the R.I. Office of Regulatory Reform and the governor’s office at least 15 days prior to adopting any future regulation that may adversely impact small businesses.
In addition, the legislation amends the 2010 law that created the ORR, which contained initial exclusions from review for businesses such as financial institutions, developers, building designers, utility providers, nonprofit institutions and others. Under these exclusions, 344 of the 1,646 existing state rules and regulations were exempted from ORR review.
As recommended in the ORR’s third review report, the law passed Tuesday eliminates all statutes exempting certain business types from regulatory review, except those for public utilities and broker dealers, insurance companies and other institutions that are extensively regulated under state and federal law.
“This small but important change will help ensure that the full spectrum of regulations is subject to review and reform, so we can accomplish our goal of making it easy for all kinds of firms to do business in Rhode Island,” said Lynch.
Also passed Tuesday were Senate bill S2457 by Sen. Walter S. Felag (D-Bristol) and House bill H7703 by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-West Warwick). The legislation will synchronize the regulatory review processes undertaken by the Office of Regulatory Reform and the R.I. Office of the Secretary of State.
The secretary of state refile process, designed to eliminate obsolete regulations, will begin its next five-year review cycle in January 2017. Under the new legislation, the Office of Regulatory Reform, which was established four years ago by executive order to help improve the state’s business climate, would synchronize its upcoming regulatory reviews with the secretary of state’s refile procedure.
“The synchronization of these timelines will maximize the impact of both reviews, in order to help regulatory reformers do their job better and to make the process easier and more efficient for state agencies,” said Serpa.
Both pairs of House and Senate legislation will now go to Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee for signature into law.