Michigan announces net reduction of 2,100 rules

By David Eggert
Associated Press

LANSING (AP) — An office created by Gov. Rick Snyder to make government more efficient reports hitting a milestone — the net reduction of more than 2,000 state rules and regulations over four years, including a requirement that child care workers smile.

The Office of Regulatory Reinvention, which oversees the administrative rulemaking process for Michigan departments, said there are nearly 17,100 rules now. That is 2,127 fewer than the 19,200-plus that were in place when the office launched in early 2011.

Part of the office’s mission is eliminating rules deemed as “burdensome, obsolete or unnecessary.”

It rescinded as unenforceable a mandate that child care workers smile. Also scrapped as unnecessary was an old requirement that the Agricultural Commission determine whether food products should have a state “Seal of Quality.” The office decided that rules requiring payments by check or money order were obsolete and those mandating drivers to park their
vehicles frontward in state government parking lots were burdensome.

While nearly 3,600 rules were removed, more than 1,400 new ones were adopted. New regulations, for instance, govern the certification and hiring of sign language interpreters.

Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Mike Zimmer said he was “extremely thrilled” to have 2,000 fewer rules, saying that revisiting thousands of regulations — many of which had not been reviewed in decades — is part of a broader effort to alleviate barriers to business without risking citizens’ health and safety.

“We don’t view this process as over,” he said in a phone interview last week. “We will continue to weed out unnecessarily burdensome regulations.”

Of the state’s 16 departments, LARA had the most net rule reductions, 642, because it has the most regulations due to its role. Other agencies each totaling hundreds of fewer rules were Agriculture & Rural Development, Environmental Quality, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and Technology, Management & Budget.

In some cases, lawmakers have been called upon to strike regulations included in laws. A 2014 law, for example, dissolved the Board of Dietetics and Nutrition and deregulated the dietitian and nutritionist occupations. Though a 2006 law said they should be licensed, no one was actually licensed, partly due to unresolved talks over establishing credentialing and education requirements.