In the news this week are two massive federal regulatory proposals: one a proposed rule to significantly expand the scope of “navigable waters” subject to the EPA’s Clean Water Act jurisdiction; and the other a 600-page proposal to force a fundamental reshaping of our nation’s energy supply via a rule to reduce carbon emissions. The environmental benefits of these proposals are still unclear, but we know that increased regulation prevents job creation, slows investment and hurts the economy.
Fortunately for Arizona, our state and local governments have done what Washington won’t – streamlined regulations and cut red tape to spur economic growth. Governor Brewer made this a priority immediately upon taking office in 2009, by issuing a moratorium on new state government regulations.
The Legislature then took up a sweeping regulatory reform bill in 2010, shepherded by then-Majority Leader Andy Tobin, as a way to spur growth in the depths of the Great Recession. The package granted agencies the authority to repeal obsolete rules, to grant general permits whenever possible, to require a cost-benefit analysis of the impact of rules on Arizonans and to prohibit the adoption of a rule unless the benefits of a rule clearly outweighed its costs.
At the city level, we have seen tremendous leadership from folks like Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and former Councilman Tom Simplot in Phoenix. Thanks to DiCiccio and Simplot, Phoenix is now a nationwide model for regulatory reform.
Back in 2012, they headed up a 125-member citizen Ad Hoc Development Task Force to examine the risks and unpredictability a business faces in moving through the permitting process. The taskforce found that a business faced timelines of four to sixteen months to complete the permitting process.
Those timeline are unacceptable; they cost money and jobs. As Archicon, LLC managing partner Jere Planck told Councilman DiCiccio, “That kind of timeframe just doesn’t fit a lot of the economics that large corporations need – or even small businesses need – to be able to open businesses and create those jobs.”
Additionally, Phoenix implemented a Self-Certification Program to eliminate plan review for eligible projects by allowing a registered professional to take responsibility for and certify a project’s compliance with building code, standards and ordinances. With Phoenix as the model, other cities began to streamline permitting processes: Avondale, Goodyear, Glendale, Peoria have all implemented policies to reduce wait times and red tape for local businesses.
As Arizona and the rest of the country work to recover from the Great Recession, Arizona can be proud that our leaders are working to reduce the regulatory burden on Arizona’s job creators.