Executive branch regulations in Missouri may soon be rolled back.
State agencies are beginning to comply with Gov. Eric. Greitens' February order aimed at trimming the number of regulations present in executive departments.
Signed by the governor just one day after his inauguration, the order is intended to remove "needless and burdensome regulations." It included a period of a little over a month that froze implementation of all new regulations.
The order will result in a departmental review from every state agency, including some commissions and boards that work within an executive department — like the Public Service Commission within the Department of Economic Development, for example. Agencies must show how any regulations they wish to keep are in the best interest of Missouri residents.
This review, due at the end of May 2018, must "incorporate comments and advice" from the public given both by mail and during at least two public meetings. The reviews are to be led by an appointed employee in each department.
Various departments have begun to roll out the dates of these public meetings.
Some agencies, like the Department of Natural Resources, have outlined goals in their releases. DNR, which has 23,617 regulations, hopes to reduce regulations by one-third. DNR spokeswoman Connie Patterson said the department is mirroring statewide efforts communicated internally.
"The one-third reduction is the statewide goal set by Gov. Greitens," she said. "We have adopted it as the goal for our agency as well."
Some agencies, like the Department of Revenue, have finished the order's public meeting requirements.
DOR spokeswoman Michelle Gleba said the agency hopes to gain more public comment remotely.
"We are disappointed with the turnout (at the public meetings), but we hope to double our efforts to encourage more citizens to submit any comments they may have via email, through our website or by mail," she said.
Regulations brought up during the Department of Revenue's July 17 meeting included complaints the agency's consumer complaint investigation process was too heavy-handed.
Mike O'Connell, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said the meetings not only allow people to lodge complaints but also serve an educational role for the process.
"The public hearings are only one aspect of (the regulation rollback), and in some cases, people came in to ask questions and learn more about the process. And they told us they would be sending in their comments," he said.
The departments of Revenue and Public Safety have received two and 25 comments online, respectively, their spokespeople told the News Tribune.
The public can also comment on regulations for public universities. The Department of Higher Education has created links directly to the rules of two of the state's universities, Central Missouri State University and the University of Missouri.
"The reason that those two were pulled out separately is that there were some statutes that affected those directly," DHE spokeswoman Liz Coleman said.
Besides universities and related commissions and boards, DHE also controls regulations for the Fertilizer Control Board due to its connection to the University of Missouri.
All departments that responded to email queries stated the review will cost no extra money as it implements current staff.
Frank Jung, general counsel for the secretary of state, said any regulation that might be rescinded must first go through a round of review — including publication in the state register and a public comment period.
"The proposed rescission does not become effective until all of the statutorily prescribed steps have been taken," he said.
Any proposed regulatory removal would fall under Greitens' powers for the agencies under his control, Jung said. If the regulation is under the control of a board or commission, it would have the final say.
This order does not allow for removal of state statues, which define the "level of authority" granted to an agency to define rules and regulations, said Maura Browning, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's Office.
Greitens, who ran as a conservative outsider, has continued his attack on what he views as burdensome regulations — or "red tape." Earlier this month, the governor launched the website nomoredtape.com as another route to public feedback on regulations. According to the governor's statement announcing the website, the state has more than 113,000 regulatory requirements.
The site gives the name of the contact in each agency for visitors to send complaints about or defenses of current regulations.
Parker Briden, Greitens' spokesman, said more than 300 comments have been submitted through the website, and 1,500 comments in total have been submitted by the executive agencies.
Some dates have already passed — the departments of Revenue and Public Safety have held both of their meetings already, and the Department of Transportation's public comment period is over. A few have not yet declared meeting dates, but most agencies have at least one meeting coming in the next few months.
Upcoming public meetings
This article was edited July 31 to correct the name of the Missouri secretary of state's general counsel.