Haley: Cabinet directors ordered study of regulations
COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley has ordered state agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of their procedures and regulations, calling on departments to help create a more business-friendly government.
“At a time when you see me focused on jobs, jobs, jobs, this where your agencies come into play in terms of us doing that,” Haley told her Cabinet agency directors Tuesday.
The first-term Republican governor issued an executive order Tuesday directing the 16 agencies in her Cabinet and encouraging other state agencies to review all their current and proposed laws, statutes, rules, regulations and processes.
The agencies’ mission, Haley said, is to assess the impact of the regulations to determine whether their costs to businesses and employers outweigh their intended benefits. The reviews will then be evaluated by a new panel appointed by Haley and legislative leaders, with representation from business groups and a conservation group.
Agencies ripe for review are the Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and Department of Health and Human Services, Haley said.
Environmental groups are taking a wait-and-see approach, saying they are looking for more clues to Haley’s intentions.
Dana Beach, executive director of the Charleston-based Coastal Conservation League, cautioned that the panel could either be a “thoughtful committee or an ideological charade.”
“If it’s real, then it isn’t necessarily the case that regulations need to be eased. It could just be that the processes need to be smart or better-funded,” he said.
Ann Timberlake, executive director of the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, said the state’s Republican leadership in the past, particularly in the Senate, has shown that it can balance environmental and business concerns.
Timberlake has recommended several candidates to Haley’s administration for the environmental appointee to the new panel.
She said her group is concerned about the direction the panel will take based on Haley’s previous comments about environmental regulation.
Haley said residents’ safety will still be a top priority throughout the reform effort, which won praise from the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses and South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance.
She said a top goal of the panel will be to have state lawmakers review more agency regulations before they simply take effect after 120 days with legislative inaction.
“Part of the problem is because nobody looks at them and they go into effect,” Haley said.
Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, a Charleston Republican, calls the proliferation of regulations “government without representation,” and a way for agencies to increase fines and fees with little oversight.
The public should demand that lawmakers not allow regulations to take effect without legislative approval, said McConnell.
In recent years, bills have been introduced to require legislative approval for regulations, but the proposals have died before securing enough support to pass.
McConnell said Haley’s new panel can help, “but the problem is bigger than that,” he said. “It’s systemic.”