Last week Governor Gina Raimondo joined small business leaders to discuss how Rhode Island's new regulatory system--which won an Innovation Award from the National Association of Secretaries of State--is helping businesses succeed in Rhode Island.
According to a press release, “Led by the Office of Regulatory Reform, Rhode Island's executive branch agencies have undertaken the single largest effort to cut regulatory red tape in the state's history.”
"I'm excited to announce that we have eliminated over 8,000 pages of regulations--over 30 percent of all regulations on the books," said Raimondo. "Finally we have a regulatory code that saves businesses time and money and eliminates unnecessary red tape."
This initiative required agencies to review and reformat every regulation, improve their requirements, and remove unnecessary regulations. The result is a 31% reduction in the statewide volume of regulation, removing over 8,000 of the 25,842 pages of regulations that were on the books as of July 2016. Agencies repealed 159 regulations, and streamlined or amended over 900 more, to ease regulatory burdens on Rhode Island businesses and residents.
"We have worked hand-in-hand with businesses and municipalities on ways in which we could eliminate barriers to success, and we have accomplished several of our goals," said DBR Director Liz Tanner. "Our work is not complete and we will always be looking for ways to improve our state's business climate, but we are moving in the right direction."
"For too long, Rhode Island businesses have been burdened by complex and outdated regulations. Not anymore," said Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. "This unprecedented effort to reform our regulatory code is making it easier to do business in our state, saving companies time and money so they can better serve the people of Rhode Island. I'm grateful to the Governor and Legislature for their leadership on this issue."
"Hope Street is full of eclectic small businesses, and every business owner understands the headache that often comes with navigating complex red tape," said Susan Benzuly, owner of Evolve Apothecary and President of the Hope Street Merchants Association. "That's why this reform is so important and so groundbreaking. Never before has Rhode Island streamlined and reduced regulations in such a comprehensive manner, and businesses down Hope Street and all around the state are better off because of it. Rhode Island is moving in the right direction, and we need to keep building on this progress."
In just two years, Rhode Island's agencies and branches have worked together to launch a new Rhode Island Code of Regulations. The new system improves transparency and increases efficiency with a state-of-the-art online regulatory portal. The efforts led by state agencies are part of a larger initiative by Raimondo to streamline onerous regulations, including two bills signed this year that eliminate the so-called "keg tax" and streamline food truck permitting, respectively.
"The recent elimination of the brewery keg tax as well as the state bonding requirement are small but important steps in making it easier to do business in Rhode Island," said Nick Garrison, president and founder of Foolproof Brewing Company in Pawtucket. "I hope that the state continues this crucial work to support our growing yet fragile industry."
"As small business owners food truck operators are in favor of any legislation that helps keep them behind the wheel going from location to location to share their food and passion," said Eric Weiner, Owner of Food Trucks Inc. "This legislation will not only save food truck owners money but it will significantly reduce the amount of redundancy that currently exists. They will no longer need to provide the same information and documentation from city to city and town to town. The new state food truck permit will effectively be a clearing house for the trucks to provide all of the required paperwork and inspections in one place making it easier to operate."
The effort to streamline and improve Rhode Island's regulatory environment was sparked by the signing of Executive Order 15-07 in 2015 and the enactment of an updated Administrative Procedures Act (APA) 2016. Taken together, these actions have brought about the most significant improvement to Rhode Island's regulatory environment in state history.