New Research on State Regulation, Gerrymandering, and Australia

Restoring Economic Opportunity in Ohio through Meaningful Regulatory Reform

James Broughel | Policy Brief

From the brief: "As the Ohio General Assembly considers legislation aimed at reducing the growing burden of state regulations, it would do well to consider how regulations contribute to economic disparities in the state. Regulatory reform is a smart way to make Ohio more competitive, boost productivity in the state, and ultimately raise living standards, but it is also likely to reduce economic inequality and raise the incomes of the very poorest state residents. Ohio, like many other states, is struggling with sluggish growth in real income in recent decades; at the same time, inequality has been rising. It seems likely that regulation is contributing to both of these issues, given the empirical connection between regulation, inequality, and productivity, and because Ohio has so much more regulation than the average US state. At the time of writing, the Mercatus Center has analyzed 40 state administrative codes as part of its State RegData project. The average state has 137,336 regulatory restrictions, compared to Ohio with 246,832. In other words, Ohio has about 80 percent more restrictions than the average state.”

RegData: Australia

Patrick McLaughlin, Oliver Sherouse, and Jason Potts | Working Paper

From the summary: "In this paper we introduce RegData Australia (RDAU1.0) and present some preliminary and comparative findings using this new panel. RDAU1.0 applies the RegData method to create a unique Australian database that extends from 1997 to 2012. RegData uses text analysis to quantify restrictive clauses in legislation, significantly improving the accuracy of measurements of regulatory incidence. RDAU1.0 extends and adapts the RegData methodology to Australian regulations and legislation.”

Performance Standards vs. Design Standards: Facilitating a Shift toward Best Practices

Laura Montgomery, Patrick McLaughlin, Tyler Richards, and Mark Febrizio | Working Paper

From the summary: "Performance standards are generally accepted as a best practice in regulatory rulemaking. Yet agencies often default to design standards instead. In “Performance Standards vs. Design Standards: Facilitating a Shift toward Best Practices,” Laura Montgomery, Patrick McLaughlin, Tyler Richards, and Mark Febrizio examine the advantages of performance standards over design standards. They also consider the drawbacks of performance standards and how those drawbacks can be overcome.”

Tracking the Progress of Kentucky’s Red Tape Reduction Initiative

James Broughel | Policy Brief

From the brief: "Kentucky has taken steps in the right direction with its Red Tape Reduction Initiative, but progress remains slow. Fortunately, it may not be too late for this reform to gain traction. One simple but meaningful change would be to mandate that state departments report counts of their regulatory requirements or restrictions annually. This would add a degree of transparency and accountability currently missing from Kentucky’s reform effort. Another option would be to implement a regulatory cap of some kind. For example, a one-in, one-out policy, such as was implemented in Texas, or a one-in, two-out policy, following Idaho’s example, would lock in reductions and help keep regulatory creep from returning in the future. The state legislature could also take decisive action and legally mandate that the governor’s goal of a 30 percent reduction be met.”

A Snapshot of Delaware Regulation in 2019

James Broughel | State Snapshot

From the snapshot: "State RegData also reveals that the 2019 DAC [Delaware Administrative Code] contains 104,562 restrictions and 6.7 million words. It would take an individual about 374 hours—or more than 9 weeks—to read the entire DAC. That’s assuming the reader spends 40 hours per week reading and reads at a rate of 300 words per minute. By comparison, there are 1.09 million additional restrictions in the federal code. Individuals and businesses in Delaware must navigate these different layers of restrictions to remain in compliance.”

Gerrymandering Reform Shouldn’t Be about Politics

Charles Blahous | Policy Briefs

From the brief: "The current politically focused discussion of the genuine problem of gerrymandering ill serves the objective of durable reform. Gerrymandering’s reformers would do well to abandon initiatives and metrics that focus on balancing partisan interests, and refocus their efforts on the historical purpose of legislative districting—which is, simply, that Americans who vote within the same constituency should live reasonably near one another.”