Senate committee approves regulatory relief package

Part of effort to prioritize Pennsylvania small businesses

HARRISBURG – The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee approved legislation that would remove bureaucratic red tape, increase transparency, and provide for legislative input over the state’s regulatory process in Pennsylvania, according to the bills’ sponsor, Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28).

“We have seen several regulations eliminated over the last year to get more front-line workers to help in the pandemic,” Phillips-Hill said. “This package of bills would help streamline the regulatory process in Pennsylvania to help our non-profits, small businesses, education community, local governments and health care providers.”

Senate Bill 28 would require all state agencies that issue permits to increase transparency by requiring agencies to post information about the permits that they grant on their publicly accessible website. State agencies would also be required to create an accessible tracking system for applicants to check the status of their applications and to clearly state the legal authority that the agency relies on when rejecting a permit application.

The tracking system shall include processing time, dates of each permit, completeness review, technical review, elevated review, and an estimated time remaining for each incomplete phase of the permit approval process, as well as a contact person assigned to answer questions about the application process.

Senate Bill 32 represents a sweeping change to the state’s approach to regulations.

The senator’s bill would establish the Independent Office of the Repealer within the Independent Regulatory Review Commission to review regulations, receive and process recommendations, evaluate the merits of recommendations in accordance with decision rules and quantitative and qualitative criteria, and make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor and Executive agencies for repeal, modification, or revision. The bill would also require that for every new regulation added, two regulations must be repealed.  This office would be repealed in 2027.

“We have seen major successes in a one-in, two-out model in other states and nations,” Phillips-Hill said. “By providing a six-year window to review and address our over-regulation, this independent office can fulfill its mission by cutting down on bureaucratic red tape in Pennsylvania. States like North Carolina, which gained enough population to pick up another congressional seat, should be a model Pennsylvania could follow if we want to grow our economy and opportunity in this Commonwealth.”

The bill would also give the duly elected members of the General Assembly more ability to weigh in on regulations.

Under Phillips-Hill’s bill, the General Assembly would be required to vote on a concurrent resolution to approve an economically significant regulation, in order for that regulation to go into effect. An economically significant regulation is defined as an impact on the state, municipalities, and/or the business community of $1 million or more per year.

The General Assembly would also have the ability to initiate the repeal of any regulation in effect in Pennsylvania by a concurrent resolution.

The bill would also require each agency to designate an employee as the agency’s regulatory compliance officer to be available to the regulated community, as well as require each agency to post information about the permits that they grant on their website, which is also incorporated in Senate Bill 28.

Senate Bill 32 is part of the “Prioritize Pennsylvania: Small Businesses” initiative unveiled last month by Phillips-Hill, as well as Senators Ryan P. Aument (R-36), Camera Bartolotta (R-46), Judy Ward (R-30).

The package of bills includes immediate financial and tax relief for smaller employers and regulatory reforms to reduce burdens on small businesses.

“As we rebuild our small business community after the devastating blow it suffered from the pandemic, cutting red tape will be a critical component of that restoration effort,” said Aument. “Senator Phillips-Hill’s comprehensive regulatory reform legislation will the clear the way for small business owners to focus on what really matters – managing and growing their business.”

“One of the many ways that we can support the backbone of our economy is to eliminate the unnecessary regulations which all too often burden our small business community,” said Bartolotta. “That’s why I was pleased to support the passage of Senate Bill 32 in committee because it takes that important step by removing such hurdles. Together, this legislation and the other bills which are part of our Prioritize PA package will provide the kind of relief and reform small employers need to level the playing field and help them rebuild and recover following the pandemic.”

“Onerous state rules stifle employers and their ability to develop their businesses as they see fit,” Ward said. “This legislation takes common-sense steps to eliminate these regulations and create an environment for job creation and economic growth in our communities. I hope this bill along with other portions of our Prioritize Pennsylvania plan continue to make progress toward the governor’s desk.”

Both bills move the full Senate for their consideration.

VIDEO (Phillips-Hill on Senate Bill 28)

AUDIO Phillips-Hill on Senate Bill 28)

VIDEO (Phillips-Hill on Senate Bill 32)

AUDIO (Phillips-Hill on Senate Bill 32)

VIDEO (Bartolotta)

AUDIO (Bartolotta)

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