Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order Tuesday intended to improve the state’s business climate. The order requires closer scrutiny for newly proposed business regulations.
Raimondo said Rhode Island deserves its reputation for excessive business regulation. She said rules are important, but they should be in the public interest and not place unfair restrictions on business.
"Too many businesses now tell me that they feel like our regulators are adversarial," Raimondo said during a Statehouse news conference attended by business people and a few union leaders. "We need to go from adversarial to partnering. They have to follow the rules. But our job is to make the rules plain and simple and necessary and easy to follow."
The governor said her initiative is about "getting rid of regulations which are poorly written, which are hard to follow, which slow down business, and which don't make sense."
Raimondo said the effort will be led by Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor; Janet Coit, director of the state Department of Environmental Management; Macky McCleary, director of the state Department of Business Regulation; Jonathan Womer, director of the state Office of Management and Budget; and Erik Godwin, director of the Office of Regulatory Reform.
Under Raimondo’s executive order, new regulations will come with a cost-benefit analysis, guidelines meant to foster the use of plain language, and the state Office of Management and Budget will have to sign off on the regs. The governor said the state plans to take a separate look at existing regulations as part of an effort make Rhode Island more business-friendly.
Raimondo pointed to an existing requirement for "adequate lighting" at childcare centers as an example of overly ambiguous regulations that put an unnecessary burden on businesses.
Raimondo's predecessor, Lincoln Chafee, also focused attention on reforming regulations. Raimondo called past efforts incomplete, and she said her initiative will build on Chafee's approach.
"It's not magic. but what's going to happen is over time is we're going to make things different," she said. "And this is over time, a year from now, six months, a year, two years, three years from now, we'll know we have been successful if when I go out and I talk to small businesses, they tell me it was a pleasure to work with DEM, DLT [Department of Labor Training], DBR, because the regulations were clear and they helped us comply with them. And over time when that happens, people are going to realize it's different in Rhode Island, something is happening here, and it's a good place to start a company, it's a good place to keep your company, it's a good place to be an entrepreneur and it's a good place to innovate."
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