State legislators, leaders call on overhaul of state’s regulatory system citing bureaucratic red tape


YORK – Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Representative Kate Klunk (R-York) were joined by local senators and representatives as well as local and state leaders at York College today to outline bicameral efforts to reduce and reform the state’s regulatory process.

The lawmakers outlined six major reform measures, including efforts that would require greater oversight of regulations that cost state taxpayers in excess of $1 million, provide for the removal of two regulations for each new regulation added, as well as improve permitting transparency in Pennsylvania.

The leaders called for reforms and improvements to the state’s regulatory process and burden while standing in front of the entrance of the former York Narrow Fabrics Company.

“This site is the perfect location to talk about government red tape,” Phillips-Hill said. “This factory was once a booming operation, manufacturing the actual red tape used to bind the federal government’s regulations. While the factory may be closed, red tape is persistent in all levels of government. I’m pleased to stand with my colleagues to propose significant reforms to overhaul the state’s complicated regulatory process, which will grow our state’s economy, provide more opportunity for employees and drastically improve government accountability.”

Representative Klunk outlined legislation she’s sponsoring along with Phillips-Hill to establish the Independent Office of the Repealer as a way to objectively reform and remove unnecessary and onerous regulations.

“The Independent Office of the Repealer would ensure state government is functioning efficiently and effectively by reviewing existing acts and regulations,” Klunk added. “Though some of these laws and regulations have been on the books for years, sometimes decades, they have never been examined and evaluated for their relevance, appropriateness and cost. All too often, we, as legislators, receive complaints about the burdensome and, in some cases, repetitive regulations that stifle business growth. My bill would provide relief to our current businesses and potential businesses that opted not to come to Pennsylvania because of the amount of red tape they’d have to cut through.”

Representative Dawn Keefer (R-York) is the sponsor of legislation to require an enhanced review process for major regulations that impose a significant cost burden on state or local governments, known as the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny, or REINS Act.

“It’s time to restore the balance of power our Founding Fathers established,” Keefer said. “My REINS Act legislation is a solid first step to restoring this balance by shepherding in enhanced regulatory review to reduce the amount of prohibitive red tape. This would decrease unnecessary and duplicated government oversight to create a free market in which Pennsylvania businesses can thrive and grow, all while attracting more businesses to the Commonwealth.”

A George Mason University-based research center, Mercatus Center, compiled extensive data on Pennsylvania’s regulatory burden as it relates to other states.  

“At last count, Pennsylvania had more than 153,000 regulatory restrictions on its books,” Dr. James Broughel, an economist at Mercatus Center, said. “State economic growth, while roughly in line with the national rate, could be much higher. It is not surprising then that legislators are looking to implement meaningful regulatory reforms as a way to boost economic growth and opportunity for state residents.”

“Legislation introduced today is a step in that direction,” he added.

Representative Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland), who is proposing to overhaul the way in which costly regulations are approved, is supporting efforts that would provide a one-stop-shop for permitting in Pennsylvania.

“I believe good government starts with transparency and that is what I’m looking to accomplish with my bills,” Rothman said. “I’m also proud to be here today with my colleagues in support of legislation which aims to make government work for the people and to reform a job-killing bureaucracy.”

In addition to lawmakers, several groups joined the event to express their support to overhaul the state’s regulatory process as a way to grow jobs at both the local and state level.

“It is wise for us to take a step back and pump the breaks to assess how government can run more efficiently,” Kevin Schreiber, President and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, said. “Doing so modernizes government and ensures it is doing its part to foster success of its businesses and people.”

Speaking on behalf of small businesses, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) expressed the cost of regulations is prohibiting local employers from growing and providing existing employees with new opportunities.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of local communities and the root of Pennsylvania’s economic success, but they are mired in a mound of red tape,” Rebecca Oyler, who serves as the Pennsylvania Legislative Director for the NFIB, added. “Small business owners frequently say they could grow bigger and hire more workers if only the government didn’t get in the way with costly, time-consuming regulations that don’t seem to have much to do with safety and health.”

“We have an incredible opportunity in front of us thanks to our energy assets and a strong performing economy,” Kevin Sunday, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry’s Director of Government Affairs, said.  “To take advantage of that opportunity, though, we need a well-functioning, efficient permitting and regulatory system in place in Harrisburg. We are thankful that members of the House and Senate are championing much needed reform that will help bring about economic prosperity for all of Pennsylvania.”

Several manufacturing sites are cropping up throughout the commonwealth, but Carl Marrara, Vice President of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, said that removing burdens his members face could turn areas overlooked by redevelopment into huge opportunities for attracting large investment, growing jobs and providing family sustaining jobs to struggling regions across the state. 

“Our employers are facing an onslaught of regulations from a breadth of departments at both the state and federal level,” Marrara said. “This creates uncertainty in business planning and results in companies not growing, expanding, hiring, and investing as they could.” 

What they’re saying about the need for regulatory reform for Pennsylvania:

“In the preamble of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers established guiding principles that are sometimes hard to see today. From the time our alarms wake us, government is present through regulations, laws, licenses, taxes, permits, etc.  By the time we go back to bed, it’s almost impossible to avoid some contact with some level of government. We need to again focus on the fundamentals of our Republic – respect for the Constitution, respect for life, personal responsibility, and less government.”

– Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon/Dauphin/York)

“It is no secret I am staunch advocate for improved government efficiency. This package of bills is a step toward the goal of better government and fewer burdensome regulations. The approach we are taking – having members from the two chambers of the Legislature work together on these issues – shows government can work together to improve the lives of all Pennsylvanians.”

– Representative Seth Grove (R-York)

“With the amount of resources we have and our close proximity to some of the nation’s largest cities, Pennsylvania’s economy and job market should be flourishing, but due to the burdensome regulations and red tape our businesses are suffering. I am extremely proud to be a cosponsor of many of the regulatory reform bills and I am proud to stand alongside my colleagues and fight for business owners and their employees.”

– Senator Mike Regan (R-York/Cumberland)

“Businesses considering a move to Pennsylvania all too often find an unfriendly, unwelcoming business climate, and turn to our neighboring states. The administration’s failed attempt to lure Amazon to Pennsylvania showed that tax breaks alone aren’t enough. We need to address our shortage of a skilled and semi-skilled labor, reduce unnecessary litigation, and dramatically reduce the regulatory burden employers face if we expect them to call Pennsylvania their home.”

  – Representative Mike Jones (R-York)

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