Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office issued Virginia’s Second Annual Unified Regulatory Plan (URP) on August 14.
The URP is designed to “improve regulatory transparency, cultivate job retention, and bolster job creation in Virginia” as well as “provide a consistent regulatory approach and review across the entire government,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
The URPs were authorized by Youngkin’s Executive Order 19 (EO19) in 2022.
“Regulations are essential to a best in class state government,” Youngkin stated in EO19. “They are necessary to provide needed explanation and direction of our Commonwealth’s laws to our citizens and businesses. Without regulations, the legislature would be forced to draft even more complex laws.”
Although well-considered regulations are necessary, bad regulations or regulations that go beyond what the legislature intended and delegated in law result in illegitimate and costly interferences in peoples’ lives, Youngkin said.
“However, our regulatory requirements have expanded to encompass almost every facet of our daily lives,” wrote Youngkin. “Oftentimes these requirements are layered upon the citizens of the Commonwealth without regard to the existing regulatory burdens imposed by prior regulations from the issuing agency or other agencies.
“Additionally the regulatory process has grown cumbersome, taking on average two to three years to issue a new regulation,” stated Youngkin.
More than 800 Regulations Targeted
The governor’s office says this year’s URP review determined 379 different regulations across the commonwealth’s agencies need revision, amending, and streamlining. Another 464 regulations require clearer definition of the problem to be addressed and the scope of justified regulation, for which new guidance documents will be issued.
According to the URP, many of these new actions and guidance documents have an eye toward “[reducing] the regulatory burdens on Virginians while also modernizing important health and safety requirements.”
Some of the environmental actions in the 112-page URP include “eliminating redundancies, [correcting] inconsistencies between the erosion and sediment control and stormwater management program regulations” under the Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Act.
In addition, the URP calls for “[adopting] regulations that are technically correct, necessary, and reasonable for dissolved oxygen” in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Mainstem, and “reducing non-relevant requirements for Virginia state parks” under the Virginia Department of Forestry.
Providing ‘Regulatory Certainty’
The 465-page Guidance Documents Plan includes 109 new total guidance documents for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality alone, including fumigation facilities, animal feeding operations and animal waste management, industrial storm water discharges, permit regulations for nonmetallic mineral mining, standard operating procedures for clean metals sampling, vehicle wash and laundry facilities, and obtaining dissolved metal data, to name just a few.
“Burdensome regulations impact businesses across the Commonwealth,” said Youngkin in the press release. “My administration is committed to reducing regulations and increasing transparency.
“Regulatory certainty is one of the deciding factors companies weigh when locating new businesses and the Commonwealth is taking action,” said Youngkin. “Together we are ensuring that Virginia’s transparent regulatory process can continue to attract top-quality business and job opportunities.”
Previous Virginia governors have attempted regulatory reform, but Youngkin’s plan may be the best, most comprehensive effort, says Stephen D. Haner, a senior fellow at Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
“I’ve been around the Virginia Capitol since the 1980s now, and many governors have tried to get their arms around the regulatory process, all of them sincere,” said Haner. “I think this may be the best approach I’ve seen tried but the key is always in the follow through. I have high hopes.”
Tim Benson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior policy analyst with Heartland Impact.
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