BOISE — After more than 40 public meetings hosted by state agencies since the end of this year’s legislative session April 11, Gov. Brad Little announced Tuesday that 139 full chapters of state administrative rules have been proposed for expiration as of June 30, 19% of Idaho’s entire administrative code.
In addition, sections within another 79 chapters are being proposed for expiration, and 31 chapters are being rewritten to be “significantly simplified.” All in all, more than 34% of Idaho’s administrative rule chapters are proposed for expiration or simplification.
“An opportunity arose, and the good people who work for the state of Idaho rose to the occasion and addressed all of that,” Little told the Idaho Press on Tuesday afternoon.
In a news release, he said, “This effort is transforming Idaho’s Administrative Code into a set of regulations that are simpler and more user-friendly for the public. I want to thank my agency directors and their staff for fast-tracking the rules review process that I started with my executive orders earlier this year. Identifying one-third of rule chapters to cut or simplify in four weeks is no small feat, and the hard work within my administration helps to improve transparency and invigorates public confidence in state government.”
The governor noted that agencies already had begun reviewing administrative rules under two executive orders he issued earlier, the Red Tape Reduction Act and the Licensing Freedom Act of 2019. When the state Legislature failed to pass the annual bill to reauthorize all existing administrative rules by the end of this year’s legislative session, all were up to automatically expire June 30 unless the administration reauthorized them; rules that were deemed still needed are being reauthorized as of July 1.
All reauthorized rules then go back to the Legislature for review during its session that starts in January; the entire administrative code currently stretches for 8,278 pages and includes 736 chapters and at least 72,000 individual rules.
The rules proposed for expiration are posted on the state Division of Financial management website, dfm.idaho.gov, in a 48-page document that includes links to all rules proposed for reauthorization; all proposed for expiration; and all proposed for revision or simplification.
Unlike the others, the rules that are proposed for expiration won’t got through the state’s formal public comment and hearing process, so the Little Administration is accepting public comments on them through June 11. After reviewing the comments, the governor himself will decide whether to let those rules expire.
The expiring rules, which start on page 14 of the 48-page document, cover everything from rules for how the Idaho Commission on Aging should administer an older workers program that was eliminated in 1998; to rules that merely duplicate state statutes regarding behavioral health community crisis centers; to a rule regarding paper forms for health insurance claims that now are handled electronically.
A few make substantive changes: One being eliminated from the Department of Insurance, for example, eliminates annual re-certification requirements for fire code officials, which was deemed “an unnecessary regulatory burden.” The administration noted that the State Fire Marshal is only required by law to provide training, not certification.
Another rule being eliminated, from the State Athletic Commission, requires female combatants in boxing, kickboxing, martial arts or mixed martial arts to have two uniforms “in contrasting colors, each uniform consisting of a body shirt, blouse, and shorts.” The administration determined, “Market forces and industry practices address this issue.” The same rationale was given for eliminating a rule requiring a manager to manage no more than three combatants in any one program without written permission from the commission.
Other rules were identified as simply outdated. One 1993 rule, for example, placed restrictions on the creation of new credit unions that overlap the field of membership of an existing credit union. That’s no longer considered grounds for denying an application to charter a credit union, the administration found, noting, “The notion of overlapping fields of membership has little current utility.”
A rule regarding the official seal of the Board of Registration for Professional Geologists is up for elimination because, “The seal of the board has not been used in more than a decade and does not need to be defined in the administrative rules.”
“I said I wasn’t going to do any mischief,” Little said Tuesday afternoon. He said he’s impressed with the number of rules his administration was able to identify for pruning.
Little said the public comment period will allow problems with any of the rule eliminations to be identified before he makes the final call.
“There might be some downside, but in this period of time, we can unwind some of those,” he said.
Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.