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Governor Initiates Regulatory Overhaul; Which Rules Would You Change?

Posted by John Regan on Mar 31, 2015 2:09:00 PM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) will support the Baker Administration’s newly announced regulatory reform initiative by collecting information from Bay State employers about regulations that needlessly impede economic growth.

Baker2014AIM President Richard C. Lord said the association has established a Web page that allows employers to report regulations that are inefficient, ineffective or outdated. The association will forward all of the information it receives to state officials as they conducts their yearlong regulatory review.

“The 4,500 employer members of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) unequivocally support regulatory reform. One of the key objectives of AIM’s long-term economic plan, the Blueprint for the Next Century, is for Massachusetts to develop a world-class state regulatory system that ensures the welfare of society in a manner that meets the highest standards for efficiency and predictability,” Lord said 

“AIM has collected a rich library of evidence over the years from employers about regulations that work and those that do not. We expect to add to that body of information and share it with the administration and the Legislature as we work together to make the vision of effective regulation a reality.”

Governor Charles D. Baker signed an executive order today initiating a comprehensive review process for all regulations enforced by the Executive branch and leaving in place the regulatory moratorium announced by the administration earlier this year. The order requires state agencies to ensure that existing regulations are clear and concise and that any newly proposed regulations are measured for their potential impact on businesses of all sizes.

The administration will encourage public input on proposed regulations. Business and competitiveness impact statements will be made available on the commonwealth’s Web site.

Baker identified regulatory reform as an economic priority during a speech to the AIM Executive Forum last November.

“This will be an intensive process that ultimately makes Massachusetts a more efficient and competitive place to live and work, while driving economic growth,” the governor said in a statement today.

Added Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepoere: “We will ensure that all regulations administered by the Executive Department benefit the Commonwealth without undue burdens or costs and serve a legitimate purpose in making Massachusetts a safe, healthy, and effective place to do business.”

AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century offers several suggestions for improving the state regulatory environment:

  • The governor should appoint an independent ombudsperson to review comments, suggestions and complaints from employers about ineffective state regulations and/or the manner in which those regulations are enforced. The ombudsperson would have the authority to determine which regulations and/or enforcement issues represent real impediments to growth and recommend changes to the Legislature or the executive branch.
  • Encourage regulators and employers to adopt “smart partnerships” to ensure that government-business interactions solve problems instead of propping up bureaucracies.
  • Engage willing employers who are global leaders in productivity and process improvement to streamline the operation of state government agencies. General Electric, an AIM member, provided just such a service for the New York State Highway Department at the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo. GE Capital used its expertise in lean process to help the Highway Department reduce the processing time for curb-cut requests from 70 days to three days.

Please contact Brad MacDougall, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, bmacdougall@aimnet.org, with questions or comments.

Topics: Business Regulation, Regulation, Charlie Baker

Does Massachusetts Have a Business Regulation Problem?

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Jan 17, 2011 9:45:00 AM

Does Massachusetts have a business regulation problem?

Business RegulationIf your answer is no, stop reading.  If your answer is yes, then take five minutes to answer AIM’s survey – “What Massachusetts regulations are unnecessary and overly burdensome?”
 
AIM is attempting to streamline and rationalize the thousands of business regulations that weigh down employers with excessive paperwork and compliance costs. But we face a challenge: The same employers who tell us repeatedly that regulatory complexity dampens productivity and growth often hesitate to identify the specific regulations that most burden their companies.

Such reluctance to speak out is not new. A 2007 study by the University of Massachusetts indicated that while 52 percent of CEOs felt that regulations were an impediment to business growth, 79 percent of those chief executives did not identify the offending rules.

Taking the AIM regulatory survey is your chance to ensure that business regulation does not stifle the still-fragile economic recovery.

Bay State employers deal with scores of “Massachusetts only” laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor.  Each of those laws generates regulations that outline the specific steps employers must take to comply with the law. Unfortunately, the state agencies charged with writing the regulations often overstep the authority granted by the law passed by the Legislature.
 
Result: Massachusetts businesses face enormous legal and compliance costs.  Confusing regulations are a key element of what makes Massachusetts less competitive and business friendly than other states.

Here are some quotes from AIM members who have already answered the survey:

General Comments:

  • Anti-business environment.
  • The state is just too difficult compared to others where we have operations.
  • No one thing....we are operating in deficit, no matter what we have tried to cut. It's more difficult to be in business now than it ever was.
  • Costs of doing business in MA are exponentially increasing making growth consideration impossible. Examples: health benefits, leave and vacation legislation, worker classification (making independent contractor status nearly impossible and destroying long-standing business models), and record-keeping requirements. Manufacturing base is being destroyed in this state.
  • Why doesn’t every state agency accept electronic filings for rate cases or other issues?

Health Care:
Health care regulations that drive my costs up double figures each year. Too many mandated coverages. Causes high premiums.

Energy:
Costs are skyrocketing. We are trying to put a new operation in Cambridge and getting the electrical situation out is more difficult in this state than anywhere else.

Unemployment Insurance:
Takes unreasonable amount of time in most cases to get a decision, then further extended period to get a hearing for an appeal.  The change to the Quest system of quarterly payroll reporting has turned into a huge time-consuming project. What used to take 20 minutes can now take four hours or more. 

HR – Labor Laws:
I live in terror of accidentally violating the employment rules and being liable for treble damages. We don't have an HR person in our small company. Massachusetts day of rest law is overly burdensome and places us at a competitive disadvantage. We lose business, and potential jobs, because of it.

Tax:
MA Department of Revenue (DOR) employees (representatives) are almost impossible to contact. Voice mail box "full" - long wait times "on hold" and no email for most. Corporate filing taxes and property taxes in Springfield are excessive, and were among the biggest reasons we chose to move our business from Massachusetts into Connecticut.  Filings/Payments of taxes should all be achievable through the DOR Web site; unemployment taxes now have to be paid through DUA (whose Website is also much less flexible and user-friendly).

When AIM members take action, you can expect results.  Please take the survey and help AIM improve the Massachusetts economy and your bottom line.

Take the Survey

Topics: Business Regulation, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM

AIM Presses Small-Business Impact Statements for Regulations

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Sep 14, 2010 4:37:00 PM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts is moving to ensure that state government follows a new law that requires agencies proposing new business regulations to also file a statement about the effect those regulations would have on small business.

AIM urged all of Governor Deval Patrick’s Cabinet secretaries in a letter today to notify the association about any new or changed regulations and their accompanying small-business impact statements. The letter included a copy of the new law and a request to the Cabinet secretaries “to follow the new statutory requirements for business impact statements and review of regulations.”

The business-impact law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Patrick last month as part of the Economic Development Bill, represents an important tool in the battle against inefficient regulations that harm the Massachusetts economy. The measure requires state officials to estimate the number of small businesses subject to any new regulation, the administrative and reporting costs of that regulation and the potential of the regulation to deter or encourage the formation of new business.

“The law simply requires government to conduct the same cost-benefit analysis that employers use for their own business decisions. Employers are not against regulation, they are in favor of smart regulations,” said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.

"The Legislature deserves credit for passing the law and Governor Patrick deserves credit for signing it."

Small-business impact statements developed under the law must include:

  • an estimate of the number of small businesses subject to the proposed regulation;
  • projected reporting, recordkeeping and other administrative costs required for compliance with the proposed regulation;
  • the appropriateness of performance standards versus design standards;
  • an identification of regulations of the promulgating agency, or of another agency or department of the commonwealth, which may duplicate or conflict with the proposed regulation; and
  • an analysis of whether the proposed regulation is likely to deter or encourage the formation of new businesses in the commonwealth;

The statements must also examine alternatives that would reduce potential harm to small employers:

  • establishing less stringent compliance or reporting requirements for small businesses;
  •  establishing less stringent schedules or deadlines for compliance or reporting requirements for small businesses;
  • consolidating or simplifying compliance or reporting requirements for small businesses;
  • establishing performance standards for small businesses to replace design or operational standards required in the proposed regulation;
  • an analysis of whether the proposed regulation is likely to deter or encourage the formation of new businesses in the commonwealth; and
  • minimizing adverse impact on small businesses by using alternative regulatory methods.

State officials must file small-business impact statements for each proposed regulation with the Secretary of State. Regan said AIM intends to publish the statements on the association’s Web site as a service to employers.

Topics: Business Regulation, Massachusetts Legislature, AIM, Massachusetts employers, Deval Patrick

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