Regulation Weeding

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Outdated, irrelevant government regulations routinely clog the gears of industry and government, unnecessarily consuming both capital and manpower. Recognizing this, Director Beth Lindstrom of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) has implemented a comprehensive 10-month review of every regulation promulgated by seven OCABR agencies.

The process began with the identification of potentially outdated or unnecessary regulations. To ensure a standardized review of each regulation, OCABR instituted a checklist to help assess the impact each potential change would have.

Some regulations were clearly outdated, like those governing the manufacture and sales of thermometers made with mercury. Manufacturers long ago developed non-toxic alternatives to mercury.

Other regulations, like one that governed contracts between certain banks and bank service corporations, were rescinded for different reasons. Since technology and the market in this area change rapidly, any regulation would quickly become obsolete. The regulation was replaced by a Regulatory Bulletin, which can be easily updated and is written in a more informal narrative tone that is easier to understand.

Once proposed revisions were published, the proposals were discussed in a series of public hearings. These hearings gave OCABR the opportunity to hear from the entities that are directly affected by the regulations and any proposed changes. Once the proposed changes are further refined based on input gathered at the public hearings, revisions will be sent to the Executive Office for Administration and Finance for final approval and on to the Secretary of State for promulgation.

The regulatory review is still in progress, but almost 50 pages of regulations have already been eliminated. Remaining regulations are more precisely tailored, easier to understand, and easier for agency personnel to apply. Leaner regulations also mean fewer employee hours are spent reviewing unnecessary material.

The regulations that were just reviewed and revised will themselves be out of date in the future. OCABR recommends that regulatory review become an annual exercise. Since the process to update them is now in place, future reviews should take significantly less time than the one that is currently underway.


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